The Birthing of a Social Worker Through a Phenomenological Study of Suicide Research

  • Elizabeth A. Mitchell Retreat coordinator at the Carolina Christian Camp in Huntsville, Texas
  • Regina T. P. Aguirre Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work


This narrative chronicles the growth of a social work student whose first master's level social work practicum was a phenomenological study with people bereaved by suicide. The student grew not only in her research skills, but also, surprisingly, in her clinical skills. The process helped the student better use evidence-informed practice, interview clients, and understand the human condition at its darkest moments. The following is a reflection of her growth; sometimes painstakingly slow, at other times, in spurts. As with a child's growth spurt, there is often discomfort and even pain. The purpose of this narrative is to demonstrate the utility of phenomenological research in developing clinical skills, perhaps inspiring others to use the practice setting for research, and vice versa, through phenomenology.
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