N E I L   T H O M P S O N

19 Neil Thompson  19 Esculape

I began working life in residential child care before training as a social worker. After a career spanning five decades, I am now focusing my efforts on writing and the development of online learning resources. I run the Avenue Professional Development Programme, an innovative online learning community geared towards self-directed learning and reflective practice ( My latest book is The Authentic Leader (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), and I have also produced a number of e-books, with several more in the pipeline. You can connect with me online through my website and blog at


I chose Esculape because …

… This bronze figure was given to me by a Dutch colleague to thank me for helping him with his social work toolbox book. It depicts Esculape, the Greco-Roman god of healing. Wooden versions are produced by families in Senegal, but this bronze version was sculpted to serve as an image for the book cover. As well as appreciating it as a beautiful piece of artwork, I am very fond of this object because of its strong symbolism. One of my main areas of interest is loss, grief and trauma, so the fact that it represents healing is very significant. There is also the symbolism of providing support (is that the world they are holding up?). The way two people merging into one is represented is also of interest, suggesting that we put our individual concerns to one side and work together – supporting each other to enable us to support others too, which is very much what social work is all about. The fact that it was a gift, from one social work professional across national boundaries to another, in a spirit of shared scholarship, also adds meaning to the piece for me.

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