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An introduction to social work
An introduction to social work

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Developing your self-awareness

An important part of developing professional identity is understanding yourself better. Increasing self-awareness allows practitioners to understand what might influence their relationships with service users. It is important to be aware of what they bring to the relationship themselves – in terms of skills and experiences but also in terms of assumptions and even subconscious reactions.

Activity 12 Awareness of your self

Timing: Allow 15 minutes to complete

As you have worked through this course what have the activities revealed about your personal attributes and experiences? How might these have an impact on your relationships (both good and bad), whether you already work with service users or not?

Think about these questions and make some notes on what you have learned about yourself and your relationships.

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You might be surprised to learn how many different activities in this course are related to personal awareness. For example, you considered how you define your identity in different settings. You also considered some stereotypes that you might hold. It is important to acknowledge such reactions, so that you can deal with them. Similarly, everyone has their own blind spots and automatic reactions. If you are aware of these, you can deal with them and take this into account in your social work relationships. You have to be prepared to consciously put your prejudices aside. Rather than just reacting automatically, you need to examine the reasons behind your reactions. Consider, for instance, the practitioner who reported that he has problems with people who smell. Once he acknowledged this prejudice, he was able to take it into account and adjust his reactions accordingly.

In addition, you have considered your personal values. Again, it is important to be aware of your own values so that you can see where they differ from those of other people.