Centre for Social Work Practice

Clare Winnicott Essay Awards for Social Worker Practitioners and Social Work Students

Published April 18, 2017


Clare Winnicott (née Britton, 1906-1984) was first a social worker and subsequently also a psychoanalyst. Through her work with deprived children and evacuees, she made an outstanding contribution to our understanding of children’s development, the importance of play, and the significance of children’s connection to their families. Alongside Donald Winnicott, who latterly became her husband, she provided clear-sighted conceptualisations of children’s everyday emotional experiences. She was also highly influential in the training and education of social workers, and recognised the crucial role of supervision. Her ideas were novel and she showed wisdom and tenacity in her efforts to bring about change. In describing the professional relationship,

She wrote:

Our professional relationship is in itself the basic technique, the one by means of which we relate ourselves to the individual and to the problem. But what of the professional self that relates? If we look at it objectively we find that it is the most highly organised and integrated part of ourselves. It is the best of ourselves, and includes all our positive and constructive impulses and all our capacity for personal relationships and experiences organised together for a purpose – the professional function which we have chosen.

Essays submitted for the award may refer to any field of social work, with children, families, adults or organisations. They will show emotional and intellectual sophistication. Essays will be explicitly informed by psychodynamic, systemic, or relationship-based theory, or a combination of these, in keeping with the remit of the Journal of Social Work Practice, where winning essays will be published.

  • Word length: up to 3500 words
  • Submission: electronic
  • Essays must be anonymised and accompanied by an application form
  • Submission date and time: 5.00pm on May 26th 2017
  • Notification of judges’ decision: July 28th 2017

We regret the judges are unable to offer feedback on essays.


Please go to the GAPS Website for further information, an application form and guidance on the referencing style adopted in the Journal of Social Work Practice.

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