Reimagining social work case studies: a social work—creative writing collaboration

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Social Work Education


Taylor & Francis


School of Arts and Humanities




Boxall, K., McKenzie, V., Henderson, G., Aishath, S., & Mazza, D. (2018). Reimagining social work case studies: a social work—creative writing collaboration. Social Work Education, 1-14. Available here


This paper describes a joint social work and creative writing project which analysed case studies from textbooks on reading lists for the Bachelor of Social Work course at Edith Cowan University. The textbook case studies were analysed from the perspectives of both social work and literary craft and it was found that they presented simplified scenarios which were limited in terms of diversity and rarely portrayed depth or complexity. The case studies were also often bereft of information about social workers’ or service users’ human qualities and frequently portrayed service users in terms of the problems they presented to the social worker. The authors argue that depicting social workers and service users in this way can create the impression that social work is a distanced procedural activity and can also serve to distance service users’ lives and experiences from social work students. Drawing on research in creative writing craft, as well as analysis of the textbook case studies, principles for writing engaging text-book case studies were developed and the paper concludes by arguing for the use of these principles when crafting social work case studies.



Access Rights

subscription content