Exploring the potential mechanisms of action of the mindfulness-based social work and self-care programme

Alan Maddock*, Pearse Mccusker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mindfulness-based social work and self-care (MBSWSC) programme was created in order to support social work students and practitioners to develop enhanced social work and self-care skills. This programme was found to improve feelings of stress, anxiety, mental well-being and burnout of thirty social work students. An explanatory sequential mixed methods design was chosen in order to generate a comprehensive understanding of what the potential mechanisms of action of MBSWSC might be. Data were collected using validated quantitative measures and through an open-ended qualitative questionnaire. The quantitative data were analysed using regression analyses. The qualitative data were thematically analysed. Though this study contains limitations, it’s results suggest that social work student stress, feelings of burnout, anxiety and wellbeing can be improved by supporting students to develop approach-oriented stress coping skills and capacities in acceptance, mindfulness, self-compassion, non-attachment, attention regulation/decentering and non-aversion. This study suggests that these skills and capacities can work individually or collectively to directly improve these outcomes and also indirectly by reducing a student’s tendency to think negatively when they are stressed. The results provide some preliminary evidence on what the mechanisms of MBSWSC might be, enhancing our understanding of how mindfulness-based programmes might achieve positive outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2022


  • burnout
  • mechanisms
  • mindfulness
  • social work students
  • stress
  • well-being


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