Social work learning practice
Social work learning practice

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Social work learning practice

7 Reflection

In this audio clip, practitioners reflect on the experiences they have lived through, and the way they work. The speakers vary from experienced to newly qualified staff. All of them work in both the child care and adult services.

Thinking things through is regarded as the most common meaning of reflection, which is essential in the complicated nature of people's predicaments.

Activity 7

0 hours 35 minutes

Make some notes about what reflection means to you. Then listen to the clip and compare your views with those of the speakers you hear.

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Transcript: Reflection

I think one of the most important things to remember perhaps is that, regardless of what experience you've gone through life, somebody else having the same experience won't necessarily go through it in the same way as yourself. I mean, all my experiences are valid, and I tend to take them to my work. But I don't automatically believe that my clients will need what I might have needed. They will have their own coping mechanisms. They might need to have something totally different to what I needed at different stages in my life. And so, from that point of view, you can't just say, “Well, I've experienced this, so you're going to experience it the same”. That's not true, is it?
Your life's never easy, is it really? I mean, you've got to appreciate that they've families, have ups and downs, and it’s part of accepting that people are able to change, and people are able to … one stage in your life, you might be going to social services and asking for help. It's not a weakness, and its stuff like that are important. And I always put myself in other people's situations, and try and imagine how they feel, although it doesn't ... some issues are sensitive, and some issues are quite complex, and I can't start to imagine what it would be like. But at least, if I'm able to recognise these issues and plan what my intervention's going to be, to be sensitive to their needs, then I think that I I'm achieving something.
Being able to reflect on yourself does help you not to impose things perhaps unrecognised … experiences in your life that have had a great effect on the way that you see yourself, but perhaps you might not have got a full objective, perspective on that. You can’t view yourself from the outside. You don’t see how these things have perhaps shaped the way you respond to people. And I think, having learned how to reflect on your own practice, you can look at something and think, “Well, that reaction was a bit odd,” or, “That seemed to have been out of place,” or, “I don’t understand why I did that,” or, “Why I said that”. And often the answers are in your own history, I think. And, having the skills to be able to recognise that, means that you’re perhaps less likely, and certainly, as you gain more experience, less likely to let that adversely affect your work, and be able to use it, rather than it taking over.
I think you’re also facing some of your own fears perhaps, in this work, because you’re working with people who are experiencing things that … in situations that you would personally not want to be in yourself. You may have your own agenda almost in how you’re going to deal with that, and how you’re going to support somebody through whatever it is that they’re experiencing. Certainly myself, in the work that I’m doing at the moment, I’m working with people knowing that my family have been through similar situations, with illness, and with bereavement. If it was something that perhaps happened in the past, something that you’d already come to terms with, then it’s something you can apply and use, and your practice can be well informed by those experiences. Obviously, some things can be very close to home for people. But I do think that our own personal experiences, to an extent, help us to, in some way, support people, if we have a personal knowledge of situations.
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