PORTFOLIO ITEM 10: Reflective practice as a Social Worker involves one critically analysing ones approach to and contact with their service users. This is mainly done to assess the suitability of the theory and approach that was used and seeing how appropriate it was to have been used with a particular service user. A question that may be asked could be “would the cognitive behavioural approach have been better applied than the task centred approach? ”
In my experience theory does not totally prepare one for every eventuality, working in the human services with people who are not homogenous and unpredictable at times means that as a social worker you have to think fast on your feet. Theory does, however, give me a firm basis from which to start to understand and approach my service users. By understanding and being aware of a wide range of techniques I am therefore able to apply theory to practice more quickly. Evaluating ones self also enables one to learn from past experiences and develop skills for future practice and also highlight areas that need further training and development.
“Learning does not happen automatically as a result of experience. Our experience has to be ‘processed’ (reflected upon, related to previous learning and applied to practice) in order for learning to take place. This ‘processing’ is, in effect, part of applying theory to practice” Thompson 1995 (page6). During the course of this portfolio item I plan to critically reflect on my performance with regards to each of the six core competences. Methods used to collect my data were: – ? Supervision records ? Direct observations of practice
? Case study ? Assessment ? Summary of placement setting Upon embarking my placement at Nacro Services I had no real prior practical experience of working with young people of this age who were disaffected. During the course of my placement I have been able to observe other staff and model practical ways in which to communicate, approach, empower and engage young people. The sessions on the programme enabled me to engage the young people, find out their needs and discuss in collaboration with them practical ways to deal with their difficulties.
An example of this would be the session that took place where I was able to discuss with a small group ways to handle and cope with conflict in school. During the course of the programme I have on occasions attempted to contact the schools to get regular updates from them regarding the progress of the young person in school for that particular week. Specific schools did not tend to return calls if they were unavailable to speak to me on the occasions I called. I found this at first difficult as I also felt it was important for the school to see how the young people were progressing on the programme.
After discussion with my practice teacher I was able to go away and develop a letter that could be faxed as a follow up to my unsuccessful calls to the school. Please see appendix nine. I found this to work well as we found that we received better responses from all the teachers involved. Meetings were held twice weekly with the workers on the supporting achievement programme. It was at these meeting we were able to formulate ideas, and update each other on the young people’s progress.
I found in these meetings I was able to share my experiences and ideas developed and applied from working in a statutory organisation. It was at these meeting I was able to inform other staff members of the difficulties one of the young people on the programme was experiencing with particular regards to being unable to maintain his concentration. This young person had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. My past experience of working with young people with this diagnosis enabled me to be able to reflect and apply techniques to this young person.
An example of this would be ensuring he was looking at me before I spoke to him. This ensured I had his concentration and I was able to communicate with him more effectively. The reviewing, planning and evaluation that took place in these meetings enabled us to monitor resources, reflect regularly on the individual progress of the young people and alter the programme to suit individual need, I was therefore able to provide input into the effectiveness and efficiency of the programme. These meeting were also used to prioritise our workloads with the supervisor.
During my time on the programme I have been able to come more familiar with other parts to legislation that I was already familiar with for example the Children Act 1989. The coincidence of the human rights act had a major impact on the ways in which Nacro delivered a service to young people. I was also able to see how this applied to future practice with young people. The main aim of the programme on which I was placed was to promote rights of the young people to receive an education. The young people were either: – ? At risk of being excluded from the school?