Professional competencies in Social Work Students: Emotional intelligence, Reflective ability and Empathy-A comparative and longitudinal analysis.

SELWYN STANLEY, Mettilda Buvaneswari G

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Social work education and training seeks to develop professional competence in students in terms of knowledge, values and skills to effectively enable them to discharge the core functions of the profession, which is the alleviation of distress and enhancement of well-being. Emotional intelligence, reflective ability and empathy assume significance in this regard. This study investigated the manifestation of these competencies in women social work students in India using a longitudinal design (n = 34). An equal number of nonsocial work students were also enlisted as a reference group for comparison. Standardized instruments to assess the key variables were administered to both groups using survey methodology. Findings revealed that reflective ability scores significantly predicted the manifestation of emotional intelligence. No statistically significant change in the manifestation of the attributes studied was evidenced as students progressed from course entry to completion at the end of their social work degree. At the point of course completion, social work students had significantly higher scores than the reference group. The implications of these findings are discussed in terms of the need to focus consciously on the development and enhancement of these key attributes by providing appropriate curricular inputs to students in undergraduate social work programs.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages34
JournalSocial Work Education
Early online date3 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2020



  • Social work students
  • emotional intelligence
  • empathy
  • professional competencies
  • reflective ability

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