Preparatory studies for traineeships in social work

A traineeship is a compulsory part of studies in all disciplines represented at Soc&kom. Social work is a professionally oriented field of education, for which the preparatory studies for traineeships are particularly important.

The traineeships in social work consist of five courses at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. During what is known as the long traineeship, students of social work practise in the field under the supervision of qualified social workers and gain valuable experience in working with clients.

In essence, the teaching associated with traineeships in social work consists of three pillars: theoretical knowledge, reflective self-awareness and social interaction skills.

For several years, Soc&kom has cooperated with actors in improvisation exercises.

Theoretical knowledge is a basic precondition for this teaching. Theoretical knowledge contributes to practical skills, and it is useful for social workers who often work with complicated issues to understand various social phenomena in a wider framework. Theoretical knowledge also contributes to a critical understanding of how traineeships and activities in social work are linked with both social structures and various institutional and organisational circumstances and routines. Consequently, education in social work can be seen as a combination of theory and practice, and social work is a field in which it is possible to apply a hands-on approach to social sciences.

Reflective self-awareness means feeling secure in your ability to work in a helping profession and knowing why you have chosen social work as a profession. People may choose social work as a profession for a variety of reasons that do not have to be dramatic, but students should develop an overall understanding of their fundamental values, the circumstances in which they grew up, and their own significant life events and relationships as well as their impact on their personal attitudes when meeting people in various situations. It is important that such issues can be discussed during the traineeship supervision process. The issue of self-awareness is, above all, an issue of quality when working in a role that can be emotionally draining.

Social interaction skills are required in the actual day-to-day activities of a social worker meeting vulnerable individuals. For the most part, social workers develop professionally through practical work, but this should be based on an investigative approach. The development of social interaction skills at work occurs, on the one hand, through the employment of different methods and interventions as well as their critical assessment and, on the other, through cooperation and creativity. For several years, Soc&kom has cooperated with actors in improvisation exercises. The idea is that small groups of students play out improvisational client meetings, taking on the role of either client or social worker. The students are given the opportunity to experiment with different approaches in a variety of situations. As a rule, students themselves decide on the situations they wish to work on. Many choose fairly difficult situations, such as clients behaving in a threatening manner or being very upset. The participants then consider together how the situations could be handled and experiment with different approaches. The exercises are challenging, but students have mostly given positive feedback. In fact, the majority say that the improvisation activities have been among the most important exercises during their studies.

Students work on these three pillars and develop their skills, for example, during their long traineeship in real workplaces, such as in child protection, adult social work and social work in the healthcare sector. The role of school social worker is also something that many students wish to take on.