What is a person? Deepening students’ and colleagues’ understanding of person-centeredness

Monica Short, Karen Dempsey, Janice Ackland, Emma Rush, Eric Heller, Helen Dwyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What is a person? This article deepens students', field educators' and colleagues' understanding of person-centred and other personalisation approaches. A group of field educators and aca-demics observed students' tendency to apply personalisation approaches in their field education tasks and supervision sessions without reference to the person receiving the intervention. In response, the field educators began conversing about personhood, personalisation approaches and field education with colleagues from philosophy, chaplaincy, theology and sociology. A cross-disciplinary investigation between the university, field educators and the field emerged leading to this co-operative inquiry into the question: "What is a person?" This inquiry considers contemporary personhood debates and how such debates can influence field education. Personalisation approaches are considered capable of grounding students', field educators' and professionals' theoretical knowledge in reality by ensuring that they listen to the person they are working with and that they provide that person with agency, power, control and choice over their life. This article invites students, field educators and colleagues to engage with contemporary discussions about personhood and how they apply to field education. It hopes to invigorate their application of personalisation approaches within the human services sector by arguing for a clear reference to the person receiving assistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-156
Number of pages17
JournalAdvances in Social Work and Welfare Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


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