Complexity lies at the heart of social work practice and this book is designed to help students and newly-qualified social workers plan for and manage complex cases in an increasingly complex environment. Split into two parts, this book reflects the journey of qualifying social work students from preparation for practice in an educational context to learning ‘on the job’ through working with service users in practice settings, and eventually assuming a more senior role in management, administration and training. Key topics covered in the chapters include, managing volatility and uncertainty; making judgements and decisions; building and maintaining relationships; using reflection and supervision; working interprofessionally; managing risk; exploring cause and effect.

Reflecting on Practice

Reflecting on Practice

Chapter Summary

The chapter examines the role of reflection in helping social workers to understand and manage complexity. It begins with some overarching theories and concepts from the work of John Dewey and Donald Schön before exploring what is meant by reflective practice and critical reflection in social work. There follows an account of key areas for reflection, such as emotions, ethical dilemmas, and power dynamics, with common applications and tools designed to help practitioners think about these issues. The chapter concludes by putting the reflective process in a wider institutional context, outlining the concept of the learning organisation and the importance of supervision for reflective practice.


Reflection means different things to different people, and its prominent place in social work ...

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