why is reflective practice important in social work
Field Educator and student use reflection and values exercisesP to consider core social work values in social work practice ie Respect for persons, social justice, professional integrity AASW (2010) and how these apply to the setting. See AASW Code of Ethics (2010). Website:
See ALPS (Assessment and Learning in Practice Settings) choose downloadable version of the ALPs Ethical Practice Map: FE and student discuss in supervision what reflection and critical reflection entail in practice. See: Fook Gardner: For what is reflection: Student practices social work tasks in role plays and reflects on these in learning journal and in supervision. Student engages in social work tasks as appropriate and reflects on these in learning journals and in supervision. Field educator breaks down the concept of reflection into its component of observation, documentation, analysis skills, self-awareness.
See: Creating a positive learning environment (pp. 55+) in See a Guide to supervision in social workP field education:P Student observes, reflects on Pand discusses key roles/tasks of social workers, other team members and understanding of organization in wider political, social and economic context Student engages in ongoing scholarly reading relevant to the practice/policy/research area. Student is encouraged to take up opportunities to reflect on and discuss respectfully differing views and diversity. Student practices reflection in practice as well as reflection on prior practice. Here is an example of how each of the element in Kolbвs cycle of learning was used to reflect on an experience of some voluntary work undertaken by a male practitioner. Read his concrete experience extract below and then think about what you would draw from this at each stage of the cycle of learning before reading what the practitioner in question took from the experience.
What observations and reflections would you take away from this experience? I came away worried about Susanвs situation. I wasnвt sure we communicated clearly because of her deafness. I donвt think she always heard what I was saying and so nodded or agreed to placate me. I felt, with my general physical discomfort in the room, I hadnвt been very clear or assertive in my communication. I would just be another person wandering through her home. It was easy to think of her as confused because of this, but I wasnвt sure if this was just because she hadnвt got the full picture. Her situation wasnвt ideal, but I didnвt know if the social worker had made a proper assessment and had weighed up the balance of risk and choice. I felt bad about doubting the thoroughness of the judgement of another professional about this situation and felt I should just know my place in the professional and service hierarchy в i. e. an unqualified worker in a voluntary agency.
What abstract concepts and generalisations might you take from this experience? Service users sometimes have different priorities from those of agencies and their workers. It is important to be alert to this. If someone is hearing-impaired then workers need to do everything they can to augment their communication and ensure they have been understood. For instance, the worker should sit in a good light so the person can see their face, be prepared with paper and pen to write down key messages, ask specific or closed questions to check they have been understood. If you are confident the person has understood, choice and control is an important value base and this needs to be respected, even when people are making choices you donвt think are good ones.
The judgement or assessment about risk, or even potentially safeguarding concern needs to be shared and recorded with the social worker involved so that they can ensure they are getting as full a picture as possible about someoneвs situation. What are the implications for new situations? I decided to always carry a blank notebook and a clear felt tip pen with me to help communication if it was needed. I got a card and leaflet from the agency with my name and number printed on it so that the person I visited could always have a record of where I had come from, or show it to other visitors. I reported and discussed my anxieties with my supervisor. She suggested I phone the social worker and talk to them. I also wrote the social worker a letter to report what I had seen and Susanвs decision not to come to the lunch club.
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