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Social Work: People


Mary Mitchell

Mary Mitchell
Dr Mary Mitchell
2.02 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK
+44 (0)131 6511530
Research Interests
Participation, Childhood and Youth Studies, Child Welfare, social work interventions, families, repositioning positions of power, looked after children, Recognition Theory in social work practice, community social work, reimagining outcomes, Qualitative Research Methods

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • by appointment


A qualified social worker, I  have over thirty years professional experience in social work and community work, with a particular emphasis on work with children, young people and families. I have worked extensively in the voluntary, non-government and government sectors in both Australia and Scotland. I have also taught social work, community education and childhood practice at a number of academic institutions. In 2018  I  completed my PhD (Social Policy)  ‘Reimagining Family Group Conferencing (FGC) ‘Outcomes’’, which focused on investigating the contribution FGC makes towards outcomes for looked after children at risk of being accommodated, and their families.

My current  research interests lie in investigating Family Group Conferencing as a decision-making process . I am  particularly interested in looking at issues, such as “who defines outcomes?”, the role of recognition in childcare and protection and young people’s participation in decision making.  

Winner – 2018 Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences Impact and Knowledge Exchange Award for “Reimagining Family Group Conferencing ‘outcomes’’.

Current research projects:

2019-2020 Recognition Matters: the value of recognition in child care and protection. This is a collaborative Knowledge Exchange and Impact project with Dr Ariane Crtchley, Edinburgh Napier Unievrsity and Family Group Decision Making Service, City of Edinburgh Council. 

2020- 2023 Barnahus: Child's House of Healing :  A new £1.5m project funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery. The Child’s House is based on the Barnahus model, and is a partnership between Children 1st (the lead organisation), Victim Support Scotland, Children England and our department. On welcoming the announcement Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The Scottish Government supports the concept of a Barnahus for Scotland and is committed to bringing forward Scottish Barnahus Standards to support a trauma-informed, co-ordinated and effective response for child victims and witnesses of violence and abuse by placing the child or young person’s rights, well-being and best interests at the centre.”  Lead for evaluation.

2020-2021 The mental health and wellbeing of youth in care and care-leavers: Development of a national collaborative research network: This project seeks to address the deficit in our knowledge about how we understand the mental health needs and trajectories of young people who are looked after, and how we can respond in ways which are likely to be helpful. Funded by the Medical Research Council, the project will bring together researchers, individuals who work with this group of young people in schools and care settings, policy makers and individuals with lived experience of being looked after by the state to better undertand mental health and wellbeing for children and young people in care and care leavers. Co Investigator.


I teach on both the undergraduate and Master in Social Work programmes. My teaching interests include child and family social work, communicaty social work, social work skills and values, community based soical work and qualitative research methodology.

PhD Supervision

Lauren Lamberton - New challenges in mental health provision: e-mental health support

Ruibing Sha - Exploring the feelings of foster carers on the departure of children from their care

Hamindo Megahead - The transitioning of young Egyptian males in residential care from mixed sex provision to single-sex (male only) provision


Mitchell,  M., (2020) The value of Recognition Theory to Family Group Conferencing and child-care and protection, British Journal of Social Work (forthcoming)

Critchley, A. and Mitchell, M., (2020) Can knowledge exchange forge a collaborative pathway to policymaking? A case study example of the Recognition Matters knowledge exchange project.  British Journal of Social Work (forthcoming)

Mitchell, M.  and Ali, S., (2020) Adaptive Family Group Conferencing practice: keeping families at the heart of decision making during COVID19, Social Work 2020 under Covid-19 Magazine, edition 5

Recognition Matters Knowledge Exchange Materialsreleased on 23.6.2020

Recognition Matters Film -

Azaria's Story - 

Briefing Note, June 2020

Heather: -

Nicky: - 

Julie: -

Other publications:

Mitchell M. (2020) Reimagining child welfare outcomes: Learning from family group conferencing. Child & Family Social Work. vol 25 (2) pp 211-220

Cree, V., Morrison, F., Mitchell, M. and Gulland, J. (2020) Navigating the gendered academy: women in social work academia. Social Work Education

Mitchell, M., Tisdall , K., Riddell C.,(2018) Learning from FGC: Reimagining approaches and outcomes to child care and protection FGC, Research Briefing Paper:  CRFR and Children 1st

Mitchell (2018) Reimagining family group conferencing 'outcomes' . The University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom), ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2018. (thesis) 13831240.

McMellon, C. and Mitchell, M. (2018) ‘Participatory Action Research and Young People’ in Building Research Design in Education: Theoretically informed Advanced Methods, John Ravenscroft and Lorna Hamilton (eds) , Bloomsbury publishing Ltd

McMellon, C. and Mitchell, M. (2016) Reinvigorating young people’s participation in Edinburgh, CRFR Briefing Paper 85 

Young Edinburgh Action and CRFR Knowledge Exchange Project: A film exploring young people's experiences of being a young researcher 2016


PhD (Social Policy), 2018, The University of Edinburgh

Family Group Conferencing Certificate, 2013 (distinction), Robert Gordon University

MSc Childhood Studies, 2013 (distinction), The University of Edinburgh

MSc Integrated Service Improvement 2012, The University of Edinburgh 

Master of Social Work and Diploma in Social Work/CQSW 1996-1998, The University of Edinburgh 

Bachelor of Arts 1985 – 1990, Macquarie University 

If you are interested in being supervised by Mary Mitchell, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Social Policy; PhD in Social Work; MSc (R) Social Work