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Seamus Prior

Seamus Prior

Master of Social Work 1995

Graduated: 1995

A BSc in Theoretical Physics and then an MSc in the Sociology of Science left me wanting to move from theory to practice and working with people rather than ideas and books. So I left University in 1990 to work full-time in childcare practice and community work and then found my way into the 1993-95 MSW, wanting to get a full professional training in working with people. I was particularly attracted to the three placements in two years and to the academic standing of the department.

My final placement at the Young People’s Unit/Royal Edinburgh Hospital, working under Anne Dewar, was the highlight of my two years. Wendy’s fantastic support, Jane’s professional skills groups, Chris’ ethics course and Viv’s challenging sociological theories – were also all highlights. Group dynamics in the cohort weren’t always good though and I recall that keenly too. 

I didn’t feel ready to commit to just one area of practice – especially as I stayed interested in mental health, CYP practice and therapeutic work – so for my first PQ I did a few different part-time jobs simultaneously and then worked full-time as a mental health social worker in the US for a year, wanting to gain some international experience. After two years then I settled into working in an intensive support service for young people and families in Barnardo’s, completing two years there, and then did five years in a Barnardo’s therapeutic service, focused on CSA. In that time, I trained in practice teaching and then in counselling, and started doing some part-time teaching in counselling too. When a lecturership in Counselling and Psychotherapy came up in 2005, I applied and moved full-time into academic work in that field. Edinburgh’s training kept me thinking broadly and questioning, which served me well in my PQ years. Despite moving into the counselling field, I’ve kept up collaborations with SW colleagues and have done some writing for the Blackwell SW Handbook. I’ve always been committed to working in services free at the point of delivery and have retained part-time therapeutic work in voluntary sector counselling/SW agencies since 2005.     

As I’m now in a different, though cognate, discipline these days, I think it would be presumptuous of me to give advice to the next generation of SW students. I hope they are finding their training experience as challenging and rewarding as I did and I hope it leads them onto long and fulfilled careers.      

Source: own contribution (4.1.2017)