Dr Calvin Swords

Applied Social Studies

Lecturer/Assistant Professor

Auxilia, North Campus, Maynooth University
Level 3
(01) 6473


Calvin Swords is an Assistant Professor of Social Work in the Department of Applied Social Studies, Maynooth University. As part of his core duties (teaching, research, scholarship, and service), Calvin is the Year 2 Coordinator of the Master of Social Science (Social Work).
Prior to his appointment in August 2021, Calvin worked as a CORU registered Social Worker. He brings with him experience in a wide range of practice settings within Ireland, the most recent of which was in a hospital setting working with people across all life stages. Calvin is also a graduate of the Master of Social Work from Trinity College, Dublin.
Calvin submitted his PhD in August 2021, which explored how recovery is socially constructed in Irish Mental Health Services. It was a qualitative case study design, which adopted an interpretivist methodology, using semi-structured interviews to gather the experiences of key stakeholders regarding their conceptualisation of recovery. For this study, Calvin was a recipient of the prestigious Irish Research Council postgraduate scholarship. This is one of the most competitive funding processes for doctoral research in Ireland.
During his PhD from 2018-2021, Calvin contributed to the social work courses in Trinity College, Dublin and Maynooth University as a part-time lecturer. He has lectured across a range of topics relevant to social work education in both Irish Universities. Some notable areas of teaching and scholarship include health-related social work, sociology of mental health, mental health recovery, critical social theory, and human development across social contexts.  
Calvin has published in both Irish and International journals. His research interests are informed by a focus on seeking to make sense, and address, the social injustices faced by people through connecting the micro and macro levels of our social systems in order to drive positive change. This includes looking at social recovery in mental health, the influence of sociology on health-related social work, the role of interdisciplinary work, using philosophy in social work practice, and the role of lived experience and co-production withn human organisations.

Research Interests

  • Social Recovery in Mental Health Service Delivery
  • Peer Support Work in Mental Health
  • Developing the Sociological Perspective in Social Work
  • The Social Work Role in Health-Related Settings
  • Interdisciplinary work
  • Role of Lived Experience within Social Work and Social Policy
  • Co-Production and Co-Creation in Mental Health Settings
  • Qualifying and Transitioning into Social Work Practice 

Research Projects

Title Role Description Start date End date Amount
Meeting the Needs of Children in Direct Provision from a Best Practices Perspective: An In-depth Literature Review PI 01/07/2021 30/11/2021 6004.89

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2024 Calvin Swords; Stan Houston (2024) 'Service User Perspectives on Recovery: The Construction of Unfulfilled Promises in Mental Health Service Delivery in Ireland'. Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, . [Full-Text]
2023 Michael John Norton; Philip Archard; Calvin Swords (2023) 'The Ethics of Informality and Dual Relationships in Peer Support'. Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.), 74 (2). [DOI]
2023 Calvin Swords; Stan Houston (2023) 'Exploring the Evidence for the Paradigms of Recovery and Social Work Converging in Mental Health Service Delivery Worldwide: Reflections from an Irish Case Study'. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20 (15). [Link] [DOI]
2023 Rebekah Dempsey; Calvin Swords (2023) '“A Critical Review of Elder Abuse and the Barriers to Disclosure and Reporting to Health and Social Care Professionals: Considerations & Possibilities For the Role of Social Work”'. Irish Social Worker, .
2021 Houston, S. & Swords, C. (2021) ''Responding to the 'Weight of the World': Unveiling the 'Feeling' Bourdieu in Social Work''. British Journal of Social Work, . [Link] [DOI]
2021 Houston S.; Swords C. (2021) 'Critical realism, mimetic theory and social work'. Journal of Social Work Practice, 22 (2):345-363. [DOI]
2021 Swords, Calvin and Houston, Stan (2021) 'Using Social Constructionism to Research the Recovery Movement in Mental Health in Ireland: A Critical Reflection on Meta-theory Shaping the Inquiry'. Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies, 21 (1). [Link]
2021 Norton, MJ; Swords, C (2021) 'Social recovery: a new interpretation to recovery-orientated services - a critical literature review'. Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, 16 :7-20. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2021 Swords, C & Houston, S (2021) '“The ‘Social’ can really work in Mental Health Social Work: A Critical Literature Review of how the understanding of recovery has evolved and converged towards the skillset of Social Work”'. Irish Social Worker, (1). [Full-Text]
2021 Norton M.J.; Swords C. (2021) 'Creating Equality for those in Crisis Transforming Acute Inpatient Mental Health Services through Co-Production'. Academic Quarter, 23 :64-79. [DOI]
2020 Houston, S. & Swords, C. (2020) 'Analysing a Parents capacity to change: towards a model for child protection social workers'. Journal of Social Work Practice, . [DOI]
2020 Swords, Calvin and Houston, Stan (2020) 'Exploring the Concept of Recovery in Irish Mental Health Services: A Case Study of Perspectives within an Inter-Professional Team, Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies : Vol. 20: Iss. 1, Article 4'. Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies, .
2020 Swords C.; Norton M.J. (2020) 'Is sharing really caring? A vision or an aspiration? Irelands new mental health policy 2020'. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, . [DOI]
2019 Swords, C. (2019) 'Recovery and Co-Production: Understanding the Diverging Paradigms and Potential Implications for Social Workers'. Irish Social Worker, .

Conference Contribution

Year Publication
2023 Calvin Swords (2023) Critical Perspectives on Learning from Mad Knowledge Deconstructing personal recovery to seek transformative meaning to the concept within Irish mental health services: an Irish case study told through the lens of social constructionism University College Cork, .
2023 Calvin Swords (2023) Limerick Mental health Association “What does ‘social recovery’ mean and why it is important in mental health?” Limerick Mental Health Association, .
2023 Calvin Swords (2023) n/a What does ‘social recovery’ mean & why it is important in mental health? Arches Recovery College, Clonskeagh Hospital, .
2021 Calvin Swords (2021) An exploration of the social construction of the concept of recovery in mental health and how this may impact on the delivery of services – an Irish case study Provided an overview of the preliminary findings from the authors PhD, which focused on exploring how recovery is socially constructed in Irish Mental Health Services Trinity College Dublin, .
2021 Calvin Swords (2021) n/a Reaching the Intersubjective Space and Face of the User of Mental Health Services: Findings from an Irish qualitative inquiry exploring how recovery is socially constructed St Patrick's Mental Health Services Dublin, .
2019 Calvin Swords (2019) An exploration of the social construction of the concept of recovery in mental health and how this may impact on the delivery of services – an Irish case study’ The presentation focused on the early stages of the authors PhD research, exploring recovery in Irish mental health services Dublin, .


Year Publication
2021 Norton, M. & Swords, C. (2021) Creating Equality for those in Crisis Transforming Acute Inpatient Mental Health Services through Co-Production. [Article] https://doi.org/10.5278/academicquarter.vi23.7029

Newspaper Articles

Year Publication
2023 Michael John Norton; Calvin Swords (2023) What does recovery really mean in mental health today?. [Newspaper Articles] https://www.rte.ie/brainstorm/2023/0912/1404876-what-does-recovery-really-mean-in-mental-health-today/
2022 calvin swords (2022) Why the conversation around mental health can be misleading. [Newspaper Articles] https://www.rte.ie/brainstorm/2022/1107/1333676-mental-health-illness-narrative-stigma-isolation/

Other Publication

Year Publication
2023 Swords, C.; Norton, M.J. (2023) Individual recovery or collective recovery? Do we really consider both in current Irish mental health policy and provision?. [Link] [DOI]

Book Chapter

Year Publication
2024 Kirwan, G.; Swords, C. (2024) 'When objects speak louder than words: Material ethnography in social justice research' In: Rights and Social Justice in Research: Advancing Methodologies for Social Change. [Link]

Published Report

Year Publication
2023 Michael John Norton, Paul Clabby, Belinda Coyle, Julie Cruickshank, Gavin Davidson*, Katherine Greer, Martina Kilcommins, Claire McCartan, Emma McGuire, Sinéad McGilloway, Ciaran Mulholland, Mary O'Connell-Gannon, Derek Pepper, Ciaran Shannon, Calvin Swords, Jim Walsh, Paul Webb (2023) Peer support work: an international scoping review. QUB, . https://pureadmin.qub.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/543700214/Peer_Support_Work_Scoping_Review_Main_report.pdf
2023 Clabby, P., Coyle, B., Cruickshank, J., Davidson, G., Greer, K., Kilcommins, M., McCartan, C., McGuire, E., McGilloway, S., Mulholland, C., O'Connell-Gannon, M., Pepper, D., Shannon, C., Swords, C., Walsh, J., & Webb, P. (2023) Peer support work: an international scoping review - summary report. QUB, . https://pureadmin.qub.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/545603311/Peer_Support_Work_Scoping_Review_Summary_report.pdf
2023 Gloria Kirwan; Breda O'Driscoll; Calvin Swords (2023) See Me See Child A Holistic Approach to Supporting the Participation of Children in Decisions that affect their Lives. Applied Social Studies, .
2022 Gloria Kirwan; Calvin Swords (2022) Stronger Together: The Troy Social Club Model of Peer-Led Participation and Mental Health Support. Trinity College Dublin, .
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2024) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.

Professional Associations

Description Function From / To
National Reference Group for Irish Mental Health Policy Review & Monitor Implementation Process of Sharing the Vision: A Mental Health Policy for Everyone' 05/01/2022 -
CORU Registered Social Worker 22/06/2017 -

Honors and Awards

Date Title Awarding Body
01/09/2020 Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholar for PhD Irish Research Council
20/09/2019 1252 Studentship PhD Trinity College Dublin


Start date Institution Qualification Subject
Trinity College Dublin

Teaching Interests

  • Social Work Theory
  • Social Work Skills
  • Critical Debates in Social Work
  • Health-Related Social Work
  • Mental Health Policy
  • Mental Health Social Work 
  • Critical Social Theory 
  • Mental Health Social Work 
  • Lived Experience Involvement 

External Collaborators

Name Role Country
Professor Gavin Davidson Professor of Social Work Ireland
Dr. Stan Houston Professor of Social Work Ireland