Reflective social work practice
Reflection forms a central part of social work practice and education, and it is particularly important for social workers in placement settings or newly qualified social workers (D’cruz et al, 2007; Parker, 2010). In its simplest terms, reflection ‘provides us with an opportunity to review our decisions and decision-making processes’; however, in practice, reflection is a far more complex concept (Trevethick, 2005: 251). It is essential that social workers have the confidence to question their own practice, the organisation that they work in, and dominant power structures in society at large (Fook, 1999). Reflection, and in particular critical reflective practice, forms a key part of this, as social workers are called on to reconsider and reconstruct the dominant social discourse. In this essay I will explore my experience of reflection during my practice placement, and in particular in relation to a specific case study. I will start by outlining my practice setting, and the details of the particular case study. I will then explore my experience of reflection, and how reflective practice supported me to apply theory to practice. Finally take a critical look at my practice, and suggest things that I could have done differently.
Although I engage with and explored multiple models of reflection during my placement, the model of reflection that I found most useful was Schon’s theory of reflection (Schon, 1983; 2002). Schon advocated 2 types of reflective practice. Firstly, reflection-on-action, which involves reflecting on an experience that you have already had, or an action that you have already taken, and considering what could have been done differently, as well as looking at the positives from that interaction. The other type of reflection Schon notes is reflection-in-action, or reflecting on your actions as you are doing them, and considering issues like best practice throughout the process. Due to the limits of...