The uses of humor in social work practice: analysis of social workers’ experience

Gabrielė Vaitulionytė, Rasa Naujanienė

Abstract


The article discusses how humor could enrich social work practice and guideline social workers. Social work feld is not that traditionally relates with humor. While social work scholars argue that social work feld is full of contradictions and humor is relevant tool to express those contradictions and paradoxes. In micro level practice Giterman (2003) suggests humor could be a creative tool that “must be used differently based on client background, level of functioning, and specifc situation”. Article presents results of qualitative study. The analysis of social workers’ professional experiences is based on social constructionism perspective with the aim to explain how humor is used in everyday practice and how use of purposive humor could be helpful in social work intervention. Episodic interviews with six social workers working in intercultural social work feld were conducted. Transcripts of interviews were analyzed through conceptualization, developing story and maximizing aims of the study. Anonymity and confdentiality was considered. The results of analysis demonstrate that humor is unique experience in the sociocultural context. Discursive categories explain the purpose of humor for practice, circumstances and conditions for using that determine how the use of humor could contribute to the success of a social worker-client interaction. Using humor is considered as professional competence, which suggests that “having a good sense of humor” and appropriate use of humor with ability to demonstrate empathy and honesty in social worker-client interaction is an important part of social worker competence. Humor as a professional competence contained understanding of the humorous taboo. During analysis were explored how using humor and cultural stories of clients create mezzo level strategies for professional social work practice.


Keywords


humor in social work practice; social work process; humor taboo

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7220/2029-5820.18.2.3