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Dr Sarah Vicary

Profile summary

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Professional biography

As an experienced practitioner and academic Sarah’s interests in social work with adults, especially mental health, is long standing. Qualifying in 1987 and still registered as a social worker (Matthews SW81040 ), Sarah’s practice roles have included frontline posts such as an Approved Social Worker under the Mental Health Act, 1983, the development, creation and management of an innovative multi-disciplinary mental health crisis service and service manager for inner city emergency mental health services.  Sarah worked for ten years as an Area Commissioner for the Government appointed body that oversees the operation of the Menatl Health Act, the Mental Health Act Commission. Moving into academic posts in early 2000, Sarah is now Associate Head of School, Nations, holding strategic and operational responsibility for academics based in all nations of the United Kingdom in health and social care, social work, nursing and other professional programmes.


  • PhD ​(University of Manchester)
  • MA Social Work (University of Nottingham)
  • BA Hons (History) University of Lancaster
  • Senior Fellow Higher Education Authority (HEA)
  • Practice Teacher Award (University of Keele)
  • Certificate of Qualification in Social Work, Central Council for the Education and Training of Social Workers       

External examining:

PQ Social Wok Manchester Metropolitan University

MSc Social Work Birmingham City University

BSc Hons Social Work University of Northumbria

Health Care Professions Council and College of Social Work Validation University of Chester

BA Hons Social Work Goldsmiths University, London External Examiner 

BA Hons Social Work Studies Duale Hochshule Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany Revalidation 

MA Social Work University of Central Lancashire External Examiner 

Editorial work

Guest editor of special edition:

           Vicary, S. Cree, V. and Manthorpe, J (2018) Social Work education: a local and

           global challenge Practice: Social Work in Action. Volume 30 Issue 4

Guest editor of special edition:

           Vicary, S. Copperman, J. and Higgs, A. (2018)

           Social work education through distance learning: challenges and opportunities.

            Social Work Education: the international journal Volume 37 Issue 6

Article reviewer for the following journals: Qualitative Social Work; British Journal Social Work; Journal of Social work; Journal of Mental Health; Journal of Social Work Education: the international journal.

Book proposal reviewer Policy Press and Routledge.

Inaugural editor of Social Work History Network Ebulletin, published biennially:

Member of the editorial board of the Journal Practice: Social Work in Action and reviewer               

Research Funding

Principal Investigator Mental Health Social Work in an integrated settingHealth Education North West £67,000

Bruising in older people: what do social workers need to know? Open University £1,500

Independent Reviewing officers and thresholds Open University £1,500



Research interests

Interested in the way in which practitioners understand and undertake professional mental health work, Sarah is widely published. Primarily concerned with a statutory role, Sarah’s doctoral study explored the role and experiences of Approved Mental Health Professionals(AMHP) particularly the impact, if any, of professional background on its accomplishment. Sarah is currently researching the experience of social workers as Approved Clinicians, a further reassigned role which came about following amendments to the same mental health legislation that intorduced the AMHP. Sarah is also interested in encouraging practitioners to undertake research and, with colleagues, runs an AMHP Research network. An inaugural conference was held in 2019 and a second is to take place in 2020; a special issue of a journal to be published in 2020 has been commisioned as a consequence.Sarah's research interests lie in mental health especially the fulfilmment of professional roles:

Sarah has a particular interest in qualitative research methodologies inclduing Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis and uses visual research methods to collate data.

Her other primary research interests lie in the history of social work. Sarah coordinates the Social Work History Network and edits the e-bulletin.

Sarah has undertaken reserach into the awareness and training of social workers and nurses in bruising as a sign of non-accidental injury in older people and also on the impact on mental health social workers of integration.

ORCID 0000-0001-9070-2695

Follow me on Twitter @sao_sarah

Teaching interests

Sarah’s teaching  interests lie in mental health social work and social work law.

Impact and engagement


  • Sarah coordinates the Social Work History Network and is joint covenor of the Europen Research Association Special Interest Group on the history of social work research and from which a book on the History of Settlements is to be published in 2020
  • Sarah was the academic advisor on the award nominated BBC documentary Psychosis and Me 
  • Sarah is joint convenor of European Social Work Research Assocition Special Interest Group on mental health which held its inaugural meeting in 2019
  • Sarah sits on the editorial board for Practice: Social Work in Action and has been guest editor for a special issue on the history of social work education. A second issue on practitioner research in mental health is due in 2020
  • Sarah sits on the Mental Health Policy, Practice and Education Group, British Association Social Workers
  • Sarah was appointed specialist social care advisor and vice chair for NICE guidance on transitions between hospital and community care and act a specialist advisor on Quality Advisory Committeee for the same:

Sarah has delivered lectures at a number of international conferences for the European Conference on Social Work Research in Denmark, Belgium and Edinburgh and the International Association for Law and Mental Health in Vienna, Prague and Rome.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Social Work Research GroupResearch GroupFaculty of Health and Social Care