Deconstructing self-efficacy

Implications for social work practice with adults and older people
Published on 1 Dec 2020

Summary of research

While potentially complex in its entirety, Bandura’s (1977; 1982; 1994; 1997; 2008) concept of self efficacy can be simplified into a person’s self-belief in their ability to meet a challenge and succeed. The phenomenon of self-efficacy is recognised by various disciplines, however, there is a gap in the research pertaining to the enabling role of social work in supporting the development of service users’ self-efficacy beliefs. Where there is a range of literature that informs social development and anti-oppressive practice, there appears to be a specific dynamic relationship worthy of further exploration into how self-efficacy is both achieved and sustained within risk assessment and service provision, underpinned by relationship-based practice.

Limited personal experiences within Adult and Older People (AOP) Social Care has highlighted that priority that should be given to enabling adults and older people to live as independently as possible. However, there has been limited discussion and agreement on how practitioners can support service users by nurturing the personal efficacy beliefs necessary for strengthening autonomy and self-determination. This points to the need for further investigation into the ‘care vs control’ dichotomy within the lived experiences of service users, i.e. how to better support maintaining independence through social work intervention.

Drawing on conceptual, theoretical and systemic issues, this dissertation mobilises a reflexive tone to acknowledge some of the existing tensions for practice. Bandura’s (1977) self-efficacy model is deconstructed to focus on mastery experience, as this was proposed as the prevailing source for developing self-efficacy. By exploring the reciprocal roles of self-efficacy, risk and service provision, this paper presents a thematic exploration, which aims to address some of the gaps in the existing literature for relationship-based practice with adults and older people.

Completed: August 2020.

About the author

Jaclyn Miller has been awarded the MSc in Social Work from the University of the West of Scotland (2018-20) and has a BA (Hons) in Painting and Printmaking at the Glasgow School of Art (2014-17). She is currently practising as a newly qualified social worker within South Lanarkshire’s Adult and Older People community social work team. In the near future, she would like to undertake Mental Health Officer training.

Following some years in practice, Jaclyn is interested in revisiting research opportunities, to further develop where tensions exist between service-led practices and the values taught within social work education.

Copyright © 2020 Jaclyn Miller. All rights reserved. The author has given permission for this work to be downloaded and shared in the attached format for educational purposes only. For other permissions, please contact the author. 

Contact email: Jaclyn187@gmail.com