The home visit in child protection social work: Emotion as resource and risk for professional judgement and practice

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This article conceptualises the role of emotion in social work home visits. It draws on findings from a qualitative study of initial child protection home visits in the United Kingdom. The research used narrative interviews and focus groups to examine how emotions arising from visits were registered in social workers' narratives. These visits were often challenging; social workers needed to manage their own emotions and those of the family, while at the same time investigating concerns and assessing need. This article identifies seven key emotional experiences associated with the home visit from the perspective of the social worker: going into the unknown; being intrusive; being disliked; fear of harm to self; fear of causing or allowing harm; pain, disgust, and distress; and “absorbing” emotion. It is argued that emotion plays a central role in home visiting and that professionals' emotional responses have important implications for the way they make sense of, and manage, home visits. Emotion is therefore conceptualized as both a potential resource and risk for social workers' professional judgement and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-26
Number of pages9
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Issue number1
Early online date24 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • home visits
  • child protection
  • emotion
  • professional judgement
  • practice
  • reasoning
  • assessment

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