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About this book

This book provides social workers with a framework for reflecting on their day-to-day practice. Using a social worker's diary as a starting point, it provides valuable insight in to how reflection enhances skills and how factors such as values and emotions can shape social work practice.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction: the social work context

Welcome to Reflective Social Work Practice. This book is designed to locate the process of reflection within the ordinary, day-to-day practice of front-line social workers.
Richard Ingram, Jane Fenton, Ann Hodson, Divya Jindal-Snape

Chapter 2. Dynamics of critical reflection and reflexivity

In the previous chapter, when discussing the social work context, the reader was introduced to the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ features of social work practice. This chapter will introduce the reader to critical reflection and reflexivity with the purpose of developing the ‘soft’ aspects of social work practice. It will be developed through the following key themes:
  • Key definitions and models of reflection and critical reflection
  • Key aspects of critical reflection
  • Methods of undertaking critical reflection
  • Key aspects of reflexivity.
Richard Ingram, Jane Fenton, Ann Hodson, Divya Jindal-Snape

Chapter 3. Communication skills for building and sustaining relationships

Social work communication takes place in a range of contexts and with a range of individuals, although this chapter will focus purely on the relationships indicated in the case study. It will develop the ideas explored in the preceding chapters by applying them in the context of social work communication and by linking them to a case study. The key themes of this chapter, which are transferable across a range of contexts, are listed below:
  • Reflection and the use of skills
  • A framework for reflecting upon communication in practice
  • Working with resistance
Richard Ingram, Jane Fenton, Ann Hodson, Divya Jindal-Snape

Chapter 4. Undertaking life-changing assessments

Social workers undertake many different types of assessment, including assessment of need, risk assessment, parenting skills assessment, and assessments of financial circumstances. This chapter will consider how reflection can enhance and enable effective assessment processes and outcomes, by considering the following:
  • Assessment and influencing factors
  • Understanding the role of reflection in assessment
  • Emotions and assessment
  • Power, empowerment and the value base of assessment.
Richard Ingram, Jane Fenton, Ann Hodson, Divya Jindal-Snape

Chapter 5. Critically informed interventions

This chapter will build on the previous chapter on assessment and look at social work intervention. In order to begin to understand social work intervention and the role of reflective practice, this chapter will cover the following themes:
  • The linking and differentiating between assessment and intervention
  • Identifying the beginning and end of intervention and the influence of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ features
  • Intervention and anti-oppressive practice
  • Applying the reflective practitioner models to intervention.
Richard Ingram, Jane Fenton, Ann Hodson, Divya Jindal-Snape

Chapter 6. Making significant risk decisions

This chapter will explore the role critical reflection plays in making risk decisions. With a view to counterbalancing the well documented tendency in social work for risk-averse, rational-technical risk practices (Fenton, 2013), the following points will be examined:
  • Defensible risk decisions
  • Engaging with risk and need
  • Critical reflection
  • Risks and Rights
  • Subjective factors affecting risk assessment.
Richard Ingram, Jane Fenton, Ann Hodson, Divya Jindal-Snape

Chapter 7. Meetings

This chapter looks at the reflective process in social work meetings. What are the specific features of a meeting that impact on work practices and why do social workers need a reflexive awareness of them? This chapter will explore:
  • the meeting: a particular context
  • group dynamics and knowledge
  • power dynamics
  • strategies in meetings
Richard Ingram, Jane Fenton, Ann Hodson, Divya Jindal-Snape

Chapter 8. Records and report writing

Written articulation and recording is an important facet of social work. This chapter will explore the role of critical reflection under the following themes:
  • The place of writing in social work
  • Reflection and writing
  • Writing professionalism and relationships
Richard Ingram, Jane Fenton, Ann Hodson, Divya Jindal-Snape

Chapter 9. Effective supervision: reflection, support and direction

This chapter explores the opportunities that social workers may have to engage in critical reflection within the organizations in which they work. Supervision is a key source of support and guidance for social workers, and this chapter will examine the challenges and opportunities inherent in this relationship and consider ways in which workers can navigate their way through such a variable landscape. The following topics will feature in this chapter:
  • The role of supervision
  • Differing constructs of supervision
  • Informal peer support
  • The role of organizational culture
Richard Ingram, Jane Fenton, Ann Hodson, Divya Jindal-Snape

Chapter 10. From a reflective social work practitioner to a reflective social work organization

In this book, especially Chapters 3 to 9, the authors consciously deconstructed the processes of social work practice, to engage the reader in an in-depth understanding of the role of reflection and reflexivity. Different aspects of social work practice were also related to the ‘hard’ features and the soft features discussed in Chapters 1 and 2. Similarly, the case studies highlighted particular dimensions of a social worker’s practice. In reality, the same social worker would undertake all aspects of practice, namely assessment, intervention, attending meetings, communicating, making decisions related to risk and interacting in support and supervision.
Richard Ingram, Jane Fenton, Ann Hodson, Divya Jindal-Snape
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