Reflection is one of the most
significant discussions in Social Work; it is a constructive way of showing
your ability to take responsibilities for your own personal development, which
will help you develop positively as a reflective practitioner (Bruce, 2013).
This essay will therefore explore on the importance of reflection in Social
Work practice, using relevant examples and theories to elaborate on it. I will
also be reflecting on the interaction between my group and a service user,
using Gibb reflective circle.
Johns (2013) Defined reflection as a
way of thinking deeply and carefully, it serves as a mirror that portrays
images and self-impressions of situations and events that have occurred in a
very realistic way. In other to understand, challenge and look at ways of
preparing for forthcoming events.
Schon (1983) also emphasises that
reflective practice involves, making connections between knowledge and
practice, and considering your own experiences whilst learning at the same
time. In his theory, Schon argued that professionals have failed to follow the
right process of educating individuals on being a reflective practitioner. He
stressed the importance of professional actions, which would enable learners to
learn and compare from their own experiences and practices, therefore leading
to development and improvement. However, I quite agree with this theory,
because, every individual need to learn from their own practice and not
comparing from the practice of another. Schon (1983) also went further to
identify the two aspects of reflective process, which he called, Reflection in
Action and Reflection on Action.
Gibb cycle on the other hand, acts as
a guideline that encourages us to think systematically, about an activity, or
an experience that took place, by enabling us to structure our reflection on a particular
subject. (Gibbs, 1988).There are six different stages and they include the
description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion and actions.
During the group discussion, we
engaged in an exercise with a trained service user to discuss about a
particular topic in Social Work, to give our own ideas and opinions on the
topic. In addition, looking specifically on how we can engage in a conversation
with service users. The scenario took place in a learning environment, which
felt comfortable for my group and the service user who appeared relaxed. At the
start of the conversation, I observed that I struggled to articulate my words
coherently as I was a bit nervous, speaking to the group as a whole. The
service user was ready with his writing materials, patiently waiting to receive
the questions, which will be discussed.
Many significant questions came to
mind, but I did not present them to the group. In hindsight, I believe my
communication skill and confidence was poor and will need improvement
especially in large groups. I believe I
was also unsure of the service user’s response and withdrew my level of
communication, which made me feel uncomfortable. I felt unhappy with myself
that I could have made a better opportunity of this meeting. I kept these disquiets to myself, and did not
The exercise in general was a success;
nevertheless, the communication process was not effective. Communication is the process of exchanging
information, ideas and opinions, either by verbal or nonverbal form (Pierson
& Thomas, 2002), but during the session, I felt we were asking the service
user questions more than exchanging our own ideas and opinions. (Koprowska,
2010) explains about the effective use of body language, eye contact, gestures,
open posture and facial expressions in communication. However, in hindsight,
the use of these skills as explained was poor, perhaps due to the nervousness
of us a group and I as a person. Subsequently, we settled into the conversation
after sometime after which we introduced ourselves, and the rest of the
exercise was completed.
According to (Tuckman, 1965)
communication among groups should be of four different stages, and they include
the forming, storming, norming, and performing. His theory supports good
communication, especially in a group conversation. It supports good
understanding, and improves both verbal and nonverbal form of communication.
However, if we have applied this theory, the session would have been easier,
well composed, and more effective. I have also reflected that good
communication skills are necessary skill in social work that I need to develop
and improve from the onset as this can help service users that I will be
working with, in the nearest future, to feel valued and listened to.
I have reflected on this exercise and
reached the conclusion that I would do things differently if I find myself in a
similar situation; I will apply different models of communication while working
in a group, to ensure that it is effective. My communication will need to be
clearer, especially in situations where I will need to speak directly to
service users, health professionals and work together as a group. I will pay close attention to my body
language and others, and take into consideration the use of Tuchman’s model of
group stage development (Tuckman, 1965). From this experience, I have learnt
that it is very important to apply good interpersonal skills, especially when
working with service users. I realised that I was very nervous during the
session despite having the knowledge and good understanding of the topic.
However, I believe further exposure in one to one and group work will help
In future, I will focus on developing
my Communication skills, by reading variety of books on communication and
interpersonal skills. Carrying out some research on the different theories of
communication, and making sure that I understand them. This will however, help
build up my skills in speaking to service users, or any health professionals
that I will be working with in the nearest future, I will make this a goal
learning for myself, whilst working on overcoming my anxiety. Furthermore, I
will ensure that I take part in-group activities and role-plays seriously, to
be more confident in working with individuals from different walks of life.
This experience has made me realised that I need to work very hard, and engage
more in-group activities. Just as (Korowska, 2010) explained, that in order to
work more efficiently in the context of social work, one need to recognise,
analyse and build communication behaviours, especially when working as a
In this part of my essay, I will be
discussing the importance of reflection in Social Work Practice.
Reflection provides us with an
opportunity to review our decisions and decision-making processes; it helps us
to look back at events that have previously occurred, and in hindsight, looking
at ways and means of improving the practice (Bruce 2013). I quite agree with
Pocket and Giles (2012) where they explained that critical reflection needs to
be taught and learnt, in order to maximise particular type of learning, because
I believe that every individual need to learn how to reflect, and at the same
time put in into practice which will however, begin to build a body of informal
knowledge, that will help participate theoretical learning.
According to (Johns, 2013) Reflection
is very useful in Social work because, it improves the quality of care been
provided to the service users, the service user will be person- centred, and
their needs will be fully met. For
example, communicating with a service user with hearing difficulties might not
have gone well during the first assessment, but looking back at the event, and
putting self into the experience, exploring personal and theoretical knowledge,
will help find other means of communicating with the service users, this will
therefore, make the second assessment and communication very effective. The needs
of the individual will be fully assessed, different therotical information.
Theoretical models such as Gibbs reflective cycle (Gibbs1988) have been used to
further explain reflection and how any individual or professionals can use it.
They are different stages of this theory, and they help us understand more on
how we process and analyse information, in other to become reflective
practitioners (Gibbs 1998).
Social work in its various forms
addresses connections between people and their environment, especially the
vulnerable ones who requires additional support, in their day-to-day lives.
They are three different objectives of social work, one of which is Providing
Social order, providing social welfare services efficiently and also helping
people achieve their personal goal of been independent (Payne, 1996). However, been a reflective practitioner, will
contribute to these characteristics, improves the way we live and also relate
as humans, which will eventually bring about professional practice.
Another potential reason why
reflection is useful in Social Work practice is that, it enhances the skills of
Social workers, and an essential way of improving their professionalism. Schon
(1987) explained in his theory that reflection is more about thinking and doing,
considering own experience, and also to make the connection between knowledge
and practice. Without reflection it will be very difficult to analyse and
understand critical situations, we need to be aware of what we are doing
instantly, and also doing something about it. This was referred to as
reflection in action For example, attending a team meeting about the health and
wellbeing of an individual whom you are supporting, might not have been very
effective, due to lack of research or gathered information, however, thinking
about the situation and, thinking of solutions instantly, will help break any
awkward silence of unprofessionalism that might occur, it could be asking
colleagues to share the little information they have gathered, or thinking of means
that will bring about positive result which will facilitate change (Schon
1987). He also went further to describe Reflection on action, which I quite
agree with, because, it focuses on developing previous events through self-
inquiry, and formulating plan of action for the future. For example,
participating as a student in a group activity, that includes different
professionals. In reflecting, one will need to recall the session, what was
discussed, the outcomes and recognising the strengths and weaknesses of the
skills that was used.
Another significant factor of
reflection is that, it helps social Workers to have time to think and
optimistically avoid errors, which will contribute to greater sense of
confidence, self-esteem, and motivation, especially when dealing with
complicated cases that needs to be analysed critically (Knott and Scrag 2013).
A Social Worker can become confident when reflecting on an incident that has
previously occurred, for example when a procedure has gone as planned, the
social worker will reassess the positive incident, looking at how well it was
carried out, and achieved. The Social Worker, will strive to acquire the same
result therefore, become more confident. In other words, reflection promotes
professionalism, it helps one to recognise and highlights own strengths,
weakness and also acknowledge different perspective. On the other hand, it
could be argued that Reflection is time consuming because, it requires
different theoretical applications, and takes a long time and energy to analyse
previous events, especially when dealing with too many workloads (Cooper,
Regardless of the advantages of
Reflection, they are also disadvantages of using reflection in social work. For
instance, been reflective as a Social Worker might lead to lower self-esteem,
This could be as a result of reflecting on an incident, and recognizing that
the mistakes were uncommon, and could have been improved with little
application of knowledge and also avoided. Having good self- esteem is very
essential, as it promotes the health and wellbeing of an individual, it helps
one to function well both physically and psychologically (Maslow, 1970). If the
need for self-esteem is unfulfilled, a person might feel inferior and therefore
will be unable to function effectively (Maslow 1970)
In Conclusion, The importance of
reflection in Social Work cannot be overemphasized because, it is something
that can be applied in our everyday practice, it focuses on changing practice
to ensure stability and its productivity. Just as I have explained in the
paragraphs above. Before a Social Worker
undertakes any visit or deals with a case, they will need to gather valuable
and reliable information, which is an easy step to show an understanding of the
case, and for all that to be achieved, they have to access their experiences of
similar situations to identify the knowledge and skills that was used,
therefore, applying or improving the skill (Scragg and Knott 2013). I somewhat
agree with Gibb (2010) where he argued that learning should be an expression of
freedom given to individuals, to create, explore and deliver their own ideas.
Because, we learn from our own personal experiences, accessing ourselves by
looking at the strengths and weakness, which will help broaden our understanding.
Nonetheless, this is very important in Social Work because, it improves
practice and helps us to manage our boundaries, to maintain professionalism,
and manage any ethical issues in the profession.
Reflection is very essential in all
aspects of living, especially as Social Workers, it is very important to
question our own practice, in other to get a holistic understanding of an
event, rather than making assumptions and repeating the same mistakes, leading
to poor assessment.