Episode 28 | Wellbeing for Newly Qualified Social Workers with Aga Buckley

Jun 14, 2024

In this episode my guest Aga M. Buckley, shares her experience and motivations for her research regarding the wellbeing of Newly Qualified Social Workers exposed to compassion fatigue.

Aga M. Buckley is a social work academic, registered social worker, social pedagogue, and doctoral researcher. She works in the Department of Social Work and Social Care at Kingston University London, where she is leading Master of Social Work programme.

She qualified as a social worker in 1999 with a Diploma in Social Work and a degree in Social Pedagogy and worked in various roles within health organisations and local authorities. She used a social pedagogic lens in social work while developing specialist practice in mental health over the years. She completed postgraduate qualifications and a Master of Advanced Mental Health Practice at Bournemouth University, while working in acute psychiatric and front-line mental health in NHS and Local Authorities. She worked as mental health social worker in crisis and home treatment, community mental health and as an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) and Best Interests Assessor (BIA). She later supported practice development and supervision of social workers, while implementing an Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) programmes for Newly Qualified Social Workers in different local authorities. While working as a Practice Lead, and later as a Principal Social Worker she developed a keen interest in secondary traumatic stress and compassion fatigue in social work.

Aga joined Kingston University’s Department of Social Work and Social Care, first appointed as Honorary Senior Lecturer in 2016 while continuing in direct social work. She led modules across postgraduate and undergraduate courses, teaching social work theory, legislation, applied social work practice and social pedagogy. She continues drawing on her mental health practice experience in her External Examiner role in specialist post-qualifying courses with the University of Manchester. As a lifelong learner, Aga remains a keen explorer of interprofessional and multidisciplinary teaching and learning. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) and recently completed secondment in the University’s Learning and Teaching Enhancement Centre, which reignited her long-standing ‘affair’ with critical and social pedagogy.

In her doctoral research, Aga uses hermeneutic phenomenology and adapted photovoice in studying lived experiences of compassion fatigue among early-career social workers. She is passionate about creativity and its integral place in human existence, her academic practice draws on humanistic, relational approaches, favouring creative methods and active, authentic learning strategies. She advocates for equity and neuro-inclusion, often contesting uniformity in her personal life, social work, and education. Aga is an active member of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW): Neurodivergent Social Workers Special Interest Group, while also supporting the University’s Network of Equality Champions, Faculty EDI Action Group and Social Justice and Inclusion Special Interests Group.