The indispensable perspective of experts by lived experience in social work education and research

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Abstract

This workshop is about sharing how including experts by experience benefits all those who are
involved in social work (education) and contributes to change the nature and discourse of social work
education and research. Participants in this workshop will learn about our learned lessons and are
invited to contribute their own ideas, to further develop the employment of people with lived experience
in social work..
Faculty members at the Applied University of Amsterdam, (one of) the oldest and largest universities
for social work in the world, felt that social work education was lacking something very vital: the voices
of the people that it’s all about. Therefore, experts by experience, people who have been or are on the
other side of the fence of social and mental health services and are able to use their experiences in a
qualified manner, are invited to join social work education programs. Together with students and social
workers they reflect on an extensive list of issues, for example, the importance of humane contact, the
loopholes in the welfare system, the omnipresence of prejudice and power lingering in social and
mental health services also, and the thin line between being an accepted member of the system and
being a person in need. The overall positive responses affirm that hearing the perspective of
experience helps students to gain a profounder understanding of the complex issues people in
practice are facing and their own role as social workers.
Structurally collaborating with experts of experience, our university holds a unique position. We are
regularly approached by other academic and social organisations to introduce our unconventional way
of teaching whilst warranting a high educational standard. We believe that incorporating lived
experience as an equal source of knowledge should be at the core of all social work education and
research.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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