Taking active steps towards the competent use of self in social work
Keywords:reflective practice, social work, critical reflection, students, teaching
Good preparation for reflective practice is a challenge for social work educators. Opportunities for facilitated reflection in the placement are often compromised due to field educator focus on ‘doing’ in the practice context. Equipping students with a tangible set of awareness skills that engages them with a ‘being’ mode of mind augments their capacity for reflective practice and competent ‘use of self’ in the field. We report the use of mindfulness as a pre-placement teaching intervention designed to facilitate acquisition of awareness skills in a Bachelor of Social Work programme in a New Zealand university. The teaching interventions developed are described, enriched by excerpts from reflective writing undertaken by participating students who consented to inclusion in the study. Notable shifts in student awareness accompanied the method trialled. In arriving at this point, students progressed from a simple noticing to taking steps toward the initiation of critical consciousness. An emergent model of mindful reflexivity concludes the paper.
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