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British Journal of Social Work Special Issue 2015

The Editors of the British Journal of Social Work invite submission of abstracts for this Special Issue to be guest edited by Dr Martin Webber (University of York) and Associate Professor Lynette Joubert (University of Melbourne):

Social Work and Recovery

People with mental health or substance misuse problems; women experiencing domestic violence; or families overcoming difficulties, for example, seek resolution of their problems through a process of recovery, often with the support of social workers. Recovery is a process whereby individuals or families restore rights, roles, and responsibilities lost through illness, disability, or other social problems. It requires hope and empowerment, supported by a vision for a different way of being. Recovery is a concept at the heart of social work practice, though the profession is frequently following others in articulating and evidencing good practice. Yet despite the theoretical basis of recovery finding synergy with social work, there is limited research informing social workers on how best to intervene effectively and to influence the social factors enabling or impeding recovery.

The term ‘recovery’ has now become part of routine mental health service delivery and policy frequently without acknowledging its social origins. Internationally, recovery is being framed as core to community mental health service delivery, but all too frequently with reference to symptom reduction and service rationing rather than regaining control over one’s life. Social work theory and practice largely adopts a holistic, bio-psycho-social systems approach, which is central to models of social recovery. Practitioners are working daily to support the recovery of the individuals and families they are working with, frequently using highly effective approaches such as strengths or asset-based assessments, self-directed support or enhancing social inclusion. However, ‘recovery’ is rarely taught as a social theory informing social work practice on qualifying programmes, possibly because it is under-theorised and lacking a well-developed evidence base.

This Special Issue will publish internationally relevant contributions to social work research and thinking about recovery across multiple social work fields. Social work researchers and practitioners who are researching and working in the field of recovery are invited to contribute their work to make a distinct social work contribution to the growing evidence base about recovery.

The main aims of the Special Issue are:

  1. To reclaim recovery discourses for social work and bring them back into the discipline’s mainstream thinking;
  2. To identify the social work contribution to the evidence base for recovery practice and make a distinctive contribution towards it;
  3. To explore social work interventions which are effective in promoting recovery and exploring service user experiences of recovery;
  4. To focus across a range of social issues (not just mental health or substance misuse problems) to explore their recovery narratives for social work;
  5. To provide a clear focus on recovery for social workers internationally.

Key themes are:

  1. Recovery from trauma and abuse.
  2. Recovery from mental health and substance misuse problems.
  3. Effective social work interventions in supporting recovery.
  4. Narratives and discourses of recovery.
  5. Recovery in its social context.
  6. Recovery and oppression.

When formulating abstracts, all prospective authors should note that we expect papers to:

  • Offer original insights and critical perspectives on recovery in relation to social work.
  • Demonstrate informed and reflective focus on substantive social work issues, whether in relation to theoretical developments, research, practice, policy, and/or education.
  • Reflect the international scope of the BJSW and ensure that international perspectives are integrated into the discussion.

Papers are particularly welcome that:

  • Are submitted by authors from outside the UK who can offer international perspectives on the themes of the Special Issue;
  • Clearly articulate the concept of recovery in the context of social work practice;
  • Provide new empirical evidence about effective social work approaches to recovery;
  • Bring original insights about theoretical perspectives on recovery as a concept for social work practice.

Timescale for Special Issue publication:

Prospective authors must be in a position to meet the following key deadline if their abstract is accepted:

Full drafts of all papers will be due at the latest by September 5th 2014.

NB: Papers may be submitted in advance of May 9th. In accordance with BJSW’s normal publication procedures, all accepted papers, including those not selected for the Special Issue, will be published online on the BJSW website in advance of publication in the printed volume.

Guidelines for abstract submission:

Abstract proposals not exceeding 800 words in length should be sent by email to arrive no later than May 9th 2014 to Dr Martin Webber, Anniversary Reader in Social Work, Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York,

Please ensure that you include your full name and email contact details.

We look forward very much to receiving your contribution. If you have any queries, please email and we will be happy to address them.

Martin Webber
Lynette Joubert