Decolonising self-care in social work from an Afro-Brazilian perspective: The self-intertwined with collective care


  • Sharlotte Tusasiirwe Western Sydney University
  • Iris Silva Brito Australian College of Applied psychology


Self-care, Collective care, Decolonisation, Social work, Afro-Brazilian


The article questions the current conceptualisation and usefulness of self-care as a universal concept in social work practice and education. The authors consider the epistemological, cultural and ideological assumptions informing self-care practice. The current view of self-care is exceptionally Western in essence, and it carries with it, neoliberal tendencies. That is, the concept is overly centred on the individual, and tends to remove the responsibility for solutions from the public to the private sphere, encouraging professionals to bear the onus for their personal and professional wellbeing. In addition, the concept assumes social workers can, and ought to, disconnect from others to protect themselves from professional stresses and burnout. We argue that the conceptualisation of self-care lacks epistemological diversity. Social workers (consciously or unconsciously) risk perpetuating colonisation by ignoring this lack. The authors call for a re-conceptualisation of self-care. The starting point in this journey is the interrogation of what is, or could be, an Afro-Brazilian perspective on self and self-care. Our contribution is in sharing these worldviews and knowledge systems. They assist a broader conceptualisation of self-care in social work, reflecting people’s lived realities in collective, non-anthropocentric communities around the world.


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