Dermot Hurley


Associate Professor and Acting Director, School of Social Work

Courses that I teach:


  • SW 3314A/B Family Development Perspectives
  • SW 3316A/B Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families
  • SW 4463A/B Social Work with Children and Adolescents (since 1978)


  • SW 9601 Critical Appraisal of Social Work Practice


Areas of Research


Children in Child Protection Care

A 3 year Inter-disciplinary retrospective investigation of 1000 child protection files identifying multiple adversities in children’s lives including intergenerational poverty, parental mental health and addictions, exposure to violence, chronic unemployment, low education, poor housing and dependence on social assistance leading to a number of publications in child and family social work journals

Resilience in Child Protection Practitioners

A multi-site project, focusing on how practitioners in the field of child protection avoid burn out and emotional exhaustion. The work involved field visits with colleagues in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Dublin, Ireland where much of the original material was collected. The study highlights the importance of vicarious resilience and how it operates in the lives of children and families facing adversity. Findings from the original studies have been published in journals in Argentina and Canada and further collaboration has resulted in a second level study looking at resilience based supervisory practice in child protection in Argentina, Canada and Ireland. More recently the I’ve had the opportunity to interview social work authors in Argentina who have written on the adoption of children in the 1970’s in Buenos Aires (now adults discovering the truth) by the then military regime who were complicit in the murder of their parents.

Child Trauma & Recovery from Domestic Violence

A clinical research program examining narrative constructions that children employ in the service of adapting to the reality of living with violence. The process involves “internalized other interviewing” which allows the clinician and child to access the inner voice of the child in order to distinguish the child’s voice from other more powerful internalized voices that inform and condone violent behaviour

The link between Resilience & Mental Health

King’s University College has recently approved funding for this project investigating the link between resilience and mental health which is an extremely important area in the promotion of wellness and positive mental health

How does your program make a difference?

The social work program at the Undergraduate (BSW) and Graduate (MSW) levels at King’s prepares a student to make a difference in the lives of people who have been seriously disadvantaged and marginalized by structural inequalities and systems of oppression.  Students acquire critical skills and knowledge embedded in ethical practice that allows graduates of the program to intervene in complex social environments enabling clients to be more functional and effective in negotiating resources in their lives. In collaboration with over 150 agency partners and practitioners in the social work field students have the opportunity to shadow and be mentored by seasoned social work professionals in diverse fields of social work practice.

What is it that you enjoy about working at Kings?

I’m always struck by the general air of affability and good natured interaction that one encounters among King’s employees on a regular basis. I also very much enjoy the sense of genuine collegiality and academic interest among faculty. I like the fact that work gets accomplished and that meetings generally have a purpose. The physical location in the shadow of the Seminary is a nice environment to work in and I frequently take advantage of the meditative walking paths along the river trail which we share with ancestors of First Nations peoples. There is serious attention paid to grounds keeping and trees to preserve and encourage an ecofriendly environment. I also enjoy being part of the vibrant student life at King’s by participating in such events as the Cultural Festival in February

Interest outside of King’s

Hiking: I know most walks on the Bruce Trail between Collingwood and Owen Sound particularly the Bighead and Beaver valley areas where there are a number of good B&B’s located. I can also recommend an excellent tavern or two in Meaford or Thornbury for a good meal following a day’s stroll on the hillside. Last summer I met up with a group of hikers from Ireland (old friends) and walked part of the Appellation Trial in New Hampshire in an area close to the famous Mount Washington Inn near Bretton Woods.

Family:  Love spending time with my wife and daughters and especially Felix my 3 year old grandson who refers to me as “abuello”. He suggested recently that he come to one of my social work classes and when I asked him what he would teach the students he replied ‘I teach them how to play’.. .. definitely got his priorities right!