Self-Care in an Interprofessional Setting Providing Services to Detained Immigrants with Serious Mental Health Conditions

Jan 13, 2020

social work journal cover 0ct0ber 2019 cropped 3A special issue of the journal Social Work, published by NASW and Oxford University Press, seeks to deepen the social work profession’s conceptualization of self-care and promote effective implementation of self-care in professional practice. The issue’s coeditors and contributors advocate for self-care as an essential element of ethical professional practice. One article in the issue was authored by social workers and lawyers in an interprofessional setting providing legal and social services to detained immigrants in deportation proceedings who have serious mental health conditions.

Hannah C. Cartwright, Megan E Hope, and Gregory L. Pleasants drew on direct experience working in the setting, as well as survey responses and feedback from other involved providers. In doing so they:

  1. identified barriers to self-care for social workers and lawyers that prevent them from effectively addressing the effects of secondary trauma;
  2. proposed a relationship-centered framework that, as an alternative to individualized practices of self-care, serves as a way to overcome those barriers; and
  3. applied that framework to a case example from their interprofessional setting.

Furthermore, in the article the authors advocate for a relationship-centered, recovery-based approach to self-care to manage trauma exposure responses for social workers and lawyers in their specific interprofessional setting and for those working together in similar settings.

Study authors:

Hannah C. Cartwright, MSW, JD, is a supervising attorney, Detained Project, National Immigrant Justice Center, Chicago, IL. Megan E. Hope, MSW, MA, is social service project director, Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, Westminster, CO. Gregory L. Pleasants, MSW, JD, is program director, National Qualified Representative Program, Vera Institute on Justice, Los Angeles.


The journal Social Work is a benefit of NASW membership. It is available online or, at a member’s request, in print. Children & Schools, Health & Social Work and Social Work Research are available by subscription at a discounted rate for NASW members, either online or in print. You can find out more about the journals and subscriptions at this link.

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