‘Professionalism is not determined by external boundaries and standards, but by a comprehensive understanding of the development, maintenance, disruption, and repair of relationships required for positive growth.’
This statement appears in our Roots to Growth model and at the time of writing, we thought nothing of it however as we started to share the work it was a statement that orchestrated reflection and discussion.
For me, the statement represents the skill set I believe is needed to undertake any intensive work with others. Relationships are what we do, creating, maintaining and using the relationships as a foundation for growth. I believe what is harmed by relationships can be healed by relationships. The trauma experienced by the young people we work with has most often happened within relationships and recovery, therefore, happens best within safe, trusting relationships.
The statement is not a slight at external standards but recognition that the external standards are only part of the picture.
Being professional cannot be achieved simply by complying with standards set by SSSC or expectations of the Care Inspectorate, it has to come from within individuals and organisations. The external standards are important, but I believe true professionalism also requires having the underpinning knowledge and experience to know yourself and your impact, be clear about your own values and the shared values, and the ability to use the relationships you form to benefit others.
Being able to articulate needs and your work in reports is important, but the use of jargon and acronyms does not make you a professional or increase your standing with other professions. Respect for your role comes from recognition of your understanding of the task and the impact you make on the people you work with.