School of Sociology and Social Policy

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Kirsten Morley

Assistant Professor in Social Work and BA in Social Work Programme Director, Faculty of Social Sciences



Kirsten is a practising social worker registered with Social Work England. Having worked in adult social care for over 27 years, Kirsten's experience encompasses a range of service user groups in various settings with a focus on mental health and learning disability. Prior to qualifying as a social worker, one of Kirsten's roles was Area Group Manager responsible for four residential services for adults with learning disabilities in London and since qualifying she has worked within local authority community learning disability and mental health teams in Nottingham City Council, including many years as an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP). Kirsten currently works with asylum seekers and refugees within the voluntary sector organisation Social Workers Without Borders. This role involves direct social work support with individuals, children and families whose human rights are impacted by borders, undertaking Best Interests and Human Rights Assessments.

Kirsten completed her MA in Social Work here at the University of Nottingham and since then has maintained links with the Centre for Social Work as a sessional lecturer/practitioner and tutor, joining the social work team full time as Assistant Professor in June 2016.

Kirsten has a keen interest in values-based and trauma-informed practice in social work as well as social approaches to mental distress. Tensions between human rights, self-advocacy and the use of compulsion under the Mental Health Act 1983 are also areas of research interest as is the relationship between the state, social work and social justice.

Kirsten teaches on the following modules: Human Growth and Development Across the Life Course; Critical Perspectives in Social Work; Contemporary Issues in Adult Policy and Practice; Social Work Theories, Models and Methods; Mental Distress: Social Contexts.

Kirsten is External Examiner for the MSc in Mental Health at Canterbury Christ Church University.

Recent research includes an Independent Evaluation of Trevi House Mother and Baby Rehab Unit (Nov 2019) with Dr Lisa Warwick and ongoing work with Derby City Council's Preparing for Adulthood Team with Prof. Rachel Fyson. Kirsten is a member of the national Forced Marriage Working Group alongside UK Registrars, police specialists and representatives of the Forced Marriage Unit - (a joint Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Home Office unit which leads on the government's forced marriage policy, outreach and casework) led by Dr Rachael Clawson. Kirsten is currently working with Research in Practice exploring the applicability of the Power Threat Meaning Framework in social work and became an External Peer Reviewer (social care) for the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) in 2021.

Kirsten received an Individual Lord Dearing Award in 2020 and is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Conference papers:

Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference (July 2021) - How do we stop our social work students from turning into robots? Instilling long-lasting principles of values-based practice. Fringe event accepted May 2021.

Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference (Sept 2019) - Using the Power Threat Meaning Framework in social work education.

9th International Conference in Social Work and Mental Health (July 2019) - The importance of personal narratives in assessment: using the Power, Threat, Meaning Framework in social work education.

Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference (Sept 2018) - Assessing the communication skills of potential social work students: reflections on the use of actor role play in the admissions process

Membership details:

British Association of Social Workers

Critical Values-Based Practice Network in Mental Health, Nottingham.

Social Work Action Network

Social Work England (Regulatory body for social work)

Diversity and Equality Working Group (School of Sociology & Social Policy)

Centre for Applied Social Research (School of Sociology & Social Policy)

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Network (University of Nottingham multi-disciplinary group)

Forced Marriage Working Group (in collaboration with the Home Office Forced Marriage Unit)

Recent Publications

School of Sociology and Social Policy

Law and Social Sciences building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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