Dawn Whitaker

Dawn is head of region for the North West. Dawn worked as a mental health social worker for many years, before joining a local authority training department. She then joined the NHS as a local implementation lead, with particular responsibility for implementing mental health law and practice.

Dawn subsequently worked as a social work lecturer at Lancaster University, teaching on preparation for practice, human rights, mental distress and safeguarding.

For the past six years, Dawn has also worked as an independent social worker. She has been regularly instructed as an independent social work witness by the Official Solicitor for the Court of Protection, specifically in cases where there is a health and social care dispute, or safeguarding issue.

Research interests

Human rights, and rights-based social work practice

Generating new and innovative approaches to safeguarding

Critical perspectives on mental distress, neurodiversity and mad studies

Conference Presentations

‘The Emotionally Intelligent and Reflexive Use of Insider Knowledge in Practice’ for the National Court of Protection Practitioners Conference (CoPPA) [2018]

The Ministry of Justice: ‘Participation in the Court of Protection’ for the UK Judicial College[2017]

39 Essex Street Court of Protection Chambers Seminar: ‘Facilitating the Role of P in Court of Protection Proceedings’- ‘Happy 10th Birthday to the Mental Capacity Act’ [2017]

The Law Society: ‘Putting P at the Heart of the Court of Protection’ for the National Court of Protection Practitioners Conference (CoPPA) [2017]

Whitaker, D, and Morgan, H. (2015) ‘A gilded cage is still a cage… yet vulnerability remains inherent: optimism, contradiction and dissonance in Court of Protection judgments and its influence on safeguarding adults at risk practice’. Conference Paper: Nordic Network on Disability Research 13th Research Conference

Other external engagement:

‘Person Centred Communication as Strengths-Based Practice’ for Cumbria County Council Adult Social Care Managers [2018]

‘Using Person Centred Communication for Supported Decision Making’ for the Older Adult and Mental Health Ward Staff at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust [2018]

‘Facilitating Person Centred Communication and Supported Decision Making’ for Focus Independent Adult Social Work – Lincolnshire [2018]

CCrAMHP [Critical and Creative Approaches to Mental Health Practice]: Mental Health and Human Rights, specifically the UNCRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) [2015]

Selected publications

Forthcoming Book: Developing Skills and Knowledge for Social Work practice. Sage Publications. Second Edition. Rogers, M., Whitaker, D., Edmondson, D., Peach, D. (2020)

Rogers, M., Whitaker, D., Edmondson, D., Peach, D. (2016)

Developing Skills for Social Work Practice. Sage Publications [5 Chapters by D Whitaker, including: ‘Person Centred Communication’; ‘Understanding Values, Ethics and Human Rights’; ‘Court Skills’; ‘Person-Centred Social Work’; ‘The Social Models of Disability and Distress’]

Whitaker, D. (2014) ‘Social justice for safeguarded adults deprived of their liberty in the United Kingdom?’. Disability and Society. 29 (9). p. 1491-1495

Whitaker, D. (2014) ‘Cheshire West: The Independent Social Worker’. In Mental Capacity Law Newsletter. 45, p.17

Whitaker, D. (2013) ‘Introducing Risk in the Context of Social Work

Practice’. In Edmondson, D. (ed.) A Complete Guide to Social Work Learning. London: Sage. p.121-137

Fletcher, D. (2004) Reform of the Mental Health Act 1983: opportunity or catastrophe for social work? Norwich: University of East Anglia. [Maiden name]


Preparation for practice

Theory and legal literacy

Human rights

Mental distress



PhD by Practice ‘Lessons from an Autoethnographic Approach to Safeguarding’ (Ongoing)

PGCert in Academic Practice

MA (PGDipSw) 1st with Distinction

PG Best Interest Assessor (Mental Capacity Act  / DoLS 2005)

Post Graduate Professional ‘(ASW), then Approved Mental Health Practitioner’ Award

Post Graduate Professional ‘Mental Health Award’ (PQ1)

BSc (hons) Psychology

Location: London

Coram Campus
41 Brunswick Square