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Emerging Theory
of Professional Adaptation
Annie Pullen-Sansfacon, Marion Brown,
Amy Fulton, Alice Gerard Tetrault &
Steph...
Theory building
• Grounded Theory seeks to understand
processes, continually asking “how does this
happen?”
• In this stud...
We theorize that
adaptation is an interaction between
external systems & structures
and
internal factors, such as ways of ...
Adaptation is an interaction of
External Factors:
socio-cultural similarity/differentiation between country of origin and
...
and
Internal Factors:
personal disposition
+
proficiency with language
+
capacity for reflective practice
Each of the external and internal factors is on a
continuum from
protective vulnerabilizing
The external and internal fact...
protective
protective
protective vulnerabilizing
vulnerabilizing
vulnerabilizing
ease finding social work position +
timel...
Socio-cultural similarity/differentiation between
country of origin and Canada
Protective examples:
I think New Zealand is...
Vulnerabilizing examples:
It is so different here from Germany, it comes out in lots
of ways. The Canadian life style, it’...
Similarities & differences between socio-cultural
context of country of origin and Canada
paralleled the degree of similar...
Similarity/differentiation between ethics and practice in
social work between country of origin &Canada
Protective:
…we sp...
Protective:
…there is a kind of universality of social work knowledge
which is there in my social work knowledge and in
Ca...
Vulnerabilizing:
…you have no idea how social working here really
works, how the field is, what kind of field I will see
a...
Vulnerabilizing:
I received a phone call from a woman who asked for
our services and who told me "My protection worker
tol...
A distinction was made, however, when working
with distinct populations. This participant from the
US acknowledged socio-c...
Experiences with policies for licensure
Protective:
…like in terms of the work Visa and just being here as
a worker, I fou...
• Vulnerabilizing:
…they sent it back and said ‘there’s a gap in your
employment history’. And I said ‘no, there’s not’. W...
Workplace climate, relations with
colleagues & networks
Protective:
Fortunately, I started working in a place where
collea...
Protective:
[I] ended up finding a job through a personal
connection. So even though I had a very limited
network, in the ...
Vulnerabilizing:
Sometimes you arrive at work, and the night before,
you had a very big issue with you child, and you
woul...
Proximity to Discrimination
Protective:
I have to say, just as a comment, and I know it’s very
sad that I’m saying that, b...
Vulnerabilizing:
…I said, ‘it’s unfair. I feel unfairly treated. At this point I
feel targeted and I feel discriminated ag...
Vulnerabilizing:
I felt sometimes some people don’t trust your skills and I felt this also in
that job. I don’t want to ju...
Internal Factors
All external factors are negotiated through a lens through which we
interpret the world, a combination of...
The capacity and supports to stay positive and
motivated to adapt was identified by about a
quarter of the participants as...
For me, I think the best way to adapt is to really be
open to others. ... (laugh)... For me, it is about being
flexible wi...
… it’s a hard process, right? Apply for credentials, apply
for job, getting used to a new environment, so if you kind
of, ...
Vulnerabilizing
I am a really, really quiet and sometimes it's to my
disadvantage because people feel that they don’t
know...
Proficiency with the Language
All participants had a functional level of English
or French (required for licensure). More
...
Vulnerabilizing:
I remember my first family [case] was a nightmare. I
met with father of one of my patients and he had a
m...
Reflective Practice
• Participants all had a sufficient level of knowledge
of social work to practice in Canada; they all ...
• Participants characterized reflective practice
as the capacity to:
• make links between past experiences and the new
con...
We need to adapt ourselves according to the place
you are, you know? I cannot do some things here,
like I said I was more ...
A variety of interpretations of
experience:
I've been me ... I do see how I adapted and I ... I was
really very, very dete...
The experience of immigration is ... I think it is that
each person will get an opportunity to feel a little bit
like a mi...
Experiences taken into practice:
I think I am very lucky because I work for a service to
immigrants and I can definitely u...
…because my clients know that I immigrated ... that
changes things. It's difficult, and sometimes you can get
through diff...
Conclusions
• Participants described in detail the experiences,
systems and structures that have been
problematic and the ...
We theorize that
adaptation is an interaction between
external systems & structures
and
internal factors, such as ways of ...
Adaptation is an interaction of
External Factors:
socio-cultural similarity/differentiation between country of origin and
...
and
Internal Factors:
personal disposition
+
proficiency with language
+
capacity for reflective practice
The process involves a continuum of:
education & experience in social work & life
+
experiencing moves, changes & challeng...
AND Each of the external and internal factors is
on a continuum from
protective vulnerabilizing
The external and internal ...
protective
protective
protective vulnerabilizing
vulnerabilizing
vulnerabilizing
ease finding social work position +
timel...
Where we started:
We wondered if the adaptation of
internationally educated social workers
might be difficult given the co...
The research participants have talked of their abilities and
methods of negotiating internal and external factors, and
the...
Process of Professional Adaptation
Vulnerabilizing
possibilities: internal
and external factors or
a combination of both
P...
• Does this emerging theory have ‘face validity’ to you?
– Does it make sense in reference to your experiences?
• What str...
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KEF Emerging Theory

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KEF Emerging Theory

  1. 1. Emerging Theory of Professional Adaptation Annie Pullen-Sansfacon, Marion Brown, Amy Fulton, Alice Gerard Tetrault & Stephanie Ethier
  2. 2. Theory building • Grounded Theory seeks to understand processes, continually asking “how does this happen?” • In this study we were seeking to understand how the process of adaptation occurs: What constitutes adaptation? How does adaptation happen?
  3. 3. We theorize that adaptation is an interaction between external systems & structures and internal factors, such as ways of interpreting, ways of being & ways of engaging in experiences each of which sits on a continuum from protective vulnerabilizing
  4. 4. Adaptation is an interaction of External Factors: socio-cultural similarity/differentiation between country of origin and Canada + similarity/differentiation between ethics and practices in social work between country of origin & Canada + experience with policies for licensure + workplace climate & relations with colleagues + proximity to discrimination
  5. 5. and Internal Factors: personal disposition + proficiency with language + capacity for reflective practice
  6. 6. Each of the external and internal factors is on a continuum from protective vulnerabilizing The external and internal factors are overlapping & not mutually exclusive, which, combined with each being on a continuum, suggests the process of adaptation is non linear and multidimensional.
  7. 7. protective protective protective vulnerabilizing vulnerabilizing vulnerabilizing ease finding social work position + timely experience with credential recognition Depending on one’s unique interaction among the external and internal factors, the balance can shift: experiences of discrimination + lengthy process for SW licensure proficiency with language challenges with new field of practice
  8. 8. Socio-cultural similarity/differentiation between country of origin and Canada Protective examples: I think New Zealand is not considered too foreign so I suspect that was an advantage to me too. ... I think New Zealand and Canada are very aligned in some important fundamental things that make for a very smooth transition and I have spoken to Canadians who have moved to New Zealand and they have said that same thing. So I think culturally it’s easy. (New Zealand) I do realize that I am from the Netherlands which is a, kind of a rich country, like it’s a like a western country, much like Canada kind of I guess. Which is why my cultural barrier isn’t as big. I talk about humour and rudeness whereas other people might talk about way more life changing things and so I do understand that my background isn’t as radically different than what other people might experience. (Netherlands)
  9. 9. Vulnerabilizing examples: It is so different here from Germany, it comes out in lots of ways. The Canadian life style, it’s completely different than German…they’re more laid back I would say in Canada. In Germany we’re really strict. (Germany – did not find social work post in __ of being in Canada) Everything that is related to legislation, this is complicated because during all your life, you learn automatically those things by listening to the conversations between your parents and other people around you... the retirement system, or the health system... how medical care works, etc. This is the sort of thing I had no idea about when I arrive and I had to lean it al, very quickly, in order to be functional. (France)
  10. 10. Similarities & differences between socio-cultural context of country of origin and Canada paralleled the degree of similarity to differentiation in social work practice between country of origin and Canada: socio-cultural similarities socio-cultural differentiation similarities in social work differentiation in social work between country of origin & Canada protective vulnerabilizing
  11. 11. Similarity/differentiation between ethics and practice in social work between country of origin &Canada Protective: …we speak the same language so that helps, we’re similar in our social work ethos, I would say between the two countries, and I found, generally that I didn’t have a problem. ….Working as a professional team, that’s transferable, that’s the same across the two countries, and the States…and confidentiality, that’s the same, the whole process of confidentiality and disclosure of information, that was exactly the same. (England)
  12. 12. Protective: …there is a kind of universality of social work knowledge which is there in my social work knowledge and in Canadian context also, so especially when we talk about say for example when we talk about a key concept in social work, communication, social work interviewing and all that, it was very easy for me because I had been doing the same kind of training and counselling all that stuff, back home and it was ok, alright for me to understand, communicate. (India)
  13. 13. Vulnerabilizing: …you have no idea how social working here really works, how the field is, what kind of field I will see available…my experience from Brazil coming to here, how much I could use that, or how much I could not. What kind of resources I have here, how people accept me, what kind of agencies I could apply, I was totally ignorant and I feel of course, incompetent. (Brazil)
  14. 14. Vulnerabilizing: I received a phone call from a woman who asked for our services and who told me "My protection worker told me that I must ask for your services because I have 4 kids from 4 different fathers, one of which is in the family of my ex husband, the second with his father and two small children are placed in foster homes." That [family constellation] I have difficulty understanding . Four children, four different fathers, youth protection, it is a little difficult for me…. (Lebanon)
  15. 15. A distinction was made, however, when working with distinct populations. This participant from the US acknowledged socio-cultural similarity between the US and Canada, and between social work ethics and values between the US and Canada, however he struggled in adapting to working with a new population: I was much more comfortable where I was in Rhode Island working with a large Hispanic population and a large African American population because I’ve known these people my whole life and I kind of felt a little bit more culturally adaptable to that….[working with First Nations people] was a bit of a challenge and I’m not sure that I ever got very far with that. (US)
  16. 16. Experiences with policies for licensure Protective: …like in terms of the work Visa and just being here as a worker, I found the process pretty straight forward and pretty accepting and pretty much, welcoming, really. Then, in terms of the social work credentials, generally, very good all around. (England)
  17. 17. • Vulnerabilizing: …they sent it back and said ‘there’s a gap in your employment history’. And I said ‘no, there’s not’. We had several hiccups…just them reading paperwork. They wouldn’t read it correctly. So they’d send it back and say ‘you haven’t provided this information’. I was extremely thorough….But I couldn’t talk to them. (Australia-2)
  18. 18. Workplace climate, relations with colleagues & networks Protective: Fortunately, I started working in a place where colleagues were... had much experience and have helped me to experience this stage of anxiety while giving me much support, accompanying me in this process... they reassured me and from that, I know I was good at doing the job. (France) You know good working environment, good managers, good agencies that I’ve worked with and support and them embracing me as a person, my profession and giving me the opportunity also to grow and show my potential and my capacity. (Philippines)
  19. 19. Protective: [I] ended up finding a job through a personal connection. So even though I had a very limited network, in the end that was how I got a job. (New Zealand) It has been easy [to find work]. It was really the networking. It was a girl I had met here who worked for the same organization, the same employer than me, who had to intermediate resources and told me there was a place in one of them. It was extremely fast. (France)
  20. 20. Vulnerabilizing: Sometimes you arrive at work, and the night before, you had a very big issue with you child, and you would like to have some support with that. But I feel that my organization is not the place to talk about this. And I feel that this lead me to become isolated.... and this has contributed to my burn out. (Lebanon)
  21. 21. Proximity to Discrimination Protective: I have to say, just as a comment, and I know it’s very sad that I’m saying that, but …I was lucky that I’m Caucasian. It’s very sad for me to tell this. I know that that’s a factor in the ability to get a job. It’s unfortunate. (Israel)
  22. 22. Vulnerabilizing: …I said, ‘it’s unfair. I feel unfairly treated. At this point I feel targeted and I feel discriminated against because I’m the only person of color here and I don’t think you’re giving me the support.’ (Nigeria) …in my job itself, there was some complaints against me by some staff which my bosses told me were frivolous. And in my opinion I don’t think - I think if I was mainstream Canadian - I don’t think that would have made any - that would have been a big deal that someone would make such a frivolous complaint (Liberia)
  23. 23. Vulnerabilizing: I felt sometimes some people don’t trust your skills and I felt this also in that job. I don’t want to judge anybody but especially Canadian co- workers tend to - not to judge, but you know to think if you didn’t do your training in Canada, then maybe it’s not the same or good enough. I had over all a good experience working everywhere in this field but of course there are different people everywhere so I met people that didn’t really trust my skills and they were looking at me differently (Romania) …in my job itself, there was some complaints against me by some staff which my bosses told me were frivolous. And in my opinion I don’t think - I think if I was mainstream Canadian - I don’t think that would have made any - that would have been a big deal that someone would make such a frivolous complaint (Liberia)
  24. 24. Internal Factors All external factors are negotiated through a lens through which we interpret the world, a combination of factors we are calling personal disposition. Protective: I think it is more of a state of mind, and a personality trait. Like, as soon as you have decided to get involved in a process of migration, and that you have a certain capacity of adaptation, I think this help me to adapt to my context, in fact. (Czech Republic) I am very flexible in my practice and even with my managers. When they ask me “can you do this?” I say “I don’t know how to do it but if you show me how to do it I will know how to do it”. So I am open up to learning new things and to developing new skills. (Liberia)
  25. 25. The capacity and supports to stay positive and motivated to adapt was identified by about a quarter of the participants as being important: I really wanted, I care about social work and I wanted to be a good social worker, it motivated me to learn as quickly as I could and spend my free time figuring things out, figuring out resources and so, I think it made me adapt really quickly because I had to and because I wanted to. (England)
  26. 26. For me, I think the best way to adapt is to really be open to others. ... (laugh)... For me, it is about being flexible with regard to my values, with my way of thinking, my way of being.. this is really what allowed me to adapt. (Venezuela)
  27. 27. … it’s a hard process, right? Apply for credentials, apply for job, getting used to a new environment, so if you kind of, if at any point you stop and look, like the self-pity and being sorry for myself, I don’t think that’s very useful, you kind of have to think about what’s at the end. ...the benefits you will get eventually. (Czech Republic) I think one needs to be open minded. You have to accept that you will have to question yourself along the way. Because we have a diploma, yes, but in another country which operate with a different legal contact, other ways of doing, other habits. And you need to accept that to start with, other colleagues will scrutinize your work, you need to accept to start from scratch again. (France)
  28. 28. Vulnerabilizing I am a really, really quiet and sometimes it's to my disadvantage because people feel that they don’t know me. And I don’t know, maybe I'm a little mysterious ... and not very charming. I have had trouble with it here. ( United States) I need a little time to tell a lot about my life and really reveal myself. Often I seem a little cold at first glance. Here it’s been three months before I started to get along with my colleagues. (France)
  29. 29. Proficiency with the Language All participants had a functional level of English or French (required for licensure). More challenging were the subtleties of language. This example is in between protective and vulnerabilizing: It’s not about English, it’s about accent. Because we have a kind of British system of education, like British accent, British language. And Canadian and North American accent is much different. (India)
  30. 30. Vulnerabilizing: I remember my first family [case] was a nightmare. I met with father of one of my patients and he had a mental illness himself and I had no idea what he was talking about, because I didn’t understand and it was hard to follow anyway because he was all, he wasn’t really consistent in what he was saying but I remember that it was like my first week I started at the job and I thought maybe I should give up and just go back to babysitting because I had no clue what he was saying. (Czech Republic)
  31. 31. Reflective Practice • Participants all had a sufficient level of knowledge of social work to practice in Canada; they all had their qualifications recognized and were members of their provincial regulatory body • However, not all knowledge & experience gained in the country of origin was always directly transferable to Canadian context • In those situations, reflective practice and introspection assisted the process. Together, these offset some of the external factors explored earlier.
  32. 32. • Participants characterized reflective practice as the capacity to: • make links between past experiences and the new context of work • identify gaps • being open to ongoing learning • engage with questions and critiques of their knowledges, experiences and practice …all of which are shaped by one’s internal frames: ways of interpreting and being in the world
  33. 33. We need to adapt ourselves according to the place you are, you know? I cannot do some things here, like I said I was more involved with more political side of the story and here my work it’s more involved the clients and groups, community not so much, but more clients individually. You have to adapt yourself into reality, you cannot be 100% what you just wanted, but you need to adapt yourself according to the reality, according to your needs as well, you need to survive, you need to work as well, right? And sometimes the things you believe, you need to put in a drawer, waiting for the right time. (Brazil)
  34. 34. A variety of interpretations of experience: I've been me ... I do see how I adapted and I ... I was really very, very determined. But I will not deny that I did that to the detriment of my health because at some point, I had a burnout. (Lebanon) It gave me, it made me shed, it brought me back to myself, as I say. I can tap into my resources and build the best I could. It is an identity crisis I think, feeling vulnerable like that. (Romania)
  35. 35. The experience of immigration is ... I think it is that each person will get an opportunity to feel a little bit like a minority. So whether it is a big change like immigration or just to travel or do ... to live off your, out of your comfort zone. I think it helps in your journey as a social worker in any case, to live a little the experience of others. Not always be at home and be so comfortable. (USA)
  36. 36. Experiences taken into practice: I think I am very lucky because I work for a service to immigrants and I can definitely understand them better. (Romania) Canada is a country full of immigrants and many people I see in my work are immigrants - either from another country or another part of Canada, or their parents are immigrants.... [ My experience ] gives me empathy. (New Zealand)
  37. 37. …because my clients know that I immigrated ... that changes things. It's difficult, and sometimes you can get through difficult experiences by making changes .... I used myself as an example to better understand them. (United States) When I'm with someone who has cancer and is dying….I don’t have cancer and I'm not dying, but it's as if I could perhaps understand the …difficulty to adapt. I had to adapt myself to something strong and hard, and not just a job. Because for sure when I started working there was adaptation. In my life, I had different adaptations. It was really a big adjustment.... It's hard to express, it’s probably not as clear as it is in my head! (France)
  38. 38. Conclusions • Participants described in detail the experiences, systems and structures that have been problematic and the interpretations, connections and structures that helped to facilitate their adaptation in the Canadian context. • Participants have both influenced and been influenced by the changes to their context; they both have experienced changes and have enacted changes. • These changes have been at the level of the personal, professional, and structural.
  39. 39. We theorize that adaptation is an interaction between external systems & structures and internal factors, such as ways of interpreting, ways of being & ways of engaging in experiences each of which sits on a continuum from protective vulnerabilizing
  40. 40. Adaptation is an interaction of External Factors: socio-cultural similarity/differentiation between country of origin and Canada + similarity/differentiation between ethics and practices in social work between country of origin & Canada + experience with policies for licensure + workplace climate & relations with colleagues + proximity to discrimination
  41. 41. and Internal Factors: personal disposition + proficiency with language + capacity for reflective practice
  42. 42. The process involves a continuum of: education & experience in social work & life + experiencing moves, changes & challenges + negotiating & strategizing
  43. 43. AND Each of the external and internal factors is on a continuum from protective vulnerabilizing The external and internal factors are overlapping & not mutually exclusive, which, combined with each being on a continuum, suggests the process of adaptation is non linear and multidimensional.
  44. 44. protective protective protective vulnerabilizing vulnerabilizing vulnerabilizing ease finding social work position + timely experience with credential recognition Depending on one’s unique interaction among the external and internal factors, the balance can shift: experiences of discrimination + lengthy process for SW licensure proficiency with language challenges with new field of practice
  45. 45. Where we started: We wondered if the adaptation of internationally educated social workers might be difficult given the contextual nature of the profession. As we continue to develop a theory of adaptation grounded in the experiences of internationally educated social workers, we are drawn to the question: Might being a social worker facilitate the process of adaptation, given that social work is based on the importance of building relationships, reflective practice, systems analysis, and recognition of internal capacities and strengths?
  46. 46. The research participants have talked of their abilities and methods of negotiating internal and external factors, and their protective and vulnerabilizing effects, which is central to social work to “encourage people and structures to meet the challenges of life and improve the wellbeing of people.” ( IFSW, 2014) Perhaps being a social worker - having the knowledges, values, ethics and skills – facilitates the process of adaptation, given the profession’s focus on negotiation among the external and internal domains of influence (marginalization, oppression & privilege) and their vulnerabilizing and protective effects.
  47. 47. Process of Professional Adaptation Vulnerabilizing possibilities: internal and external factors or a combination of both Protective possibilities: : Internal and external factors or a combination of both Negotiating, strategizing & adapting at individual, professional and structural levels
  48. 48. • Does this emerging theory have ‘face validity’ to you? – Does it make sense in reference to your experiences? • What structural changes can be made to facilitate the adaptation of internationally educated social workers? • What are the mutual benefits for internationally educate social workers, communities, schools, clients and agencies when we facilitate the migration of internationally educated social workers?

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