Amid the unprecedented financial crisis in Greece, which began unfolding in 2010, a major radical reform of the welfare state was implemented. This reform was presented, by both mainstream academics and politicians, as a ‘painful yet necessary’ step due to the broader extraordinary sociopolitical circumstances that can only be compared to a ‘state of emergency’. In this article we argue that, despite the dominant rhetoric about the urgency of these policies, they should be seen as a continuation and further acceleration of previous neoliberal changes in the welfare state. While showing the continuity of the structural reforms, we place particular emphasis on the devastating impact these have had on both social services and service users. In doing so, we use the experiences of frontline social workers who have been at the epicentre of the ongoing reforms, directly witnessing their catastrophic impact. In the light of these overwhelming experiences, Greek social workers have started challenging the orthodoxies of ‘traditional’ social work and engaged with an exploration of alternative forms of social work theory and practice (reconceptualisation).