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Reflective Practice in Public Work

Keywords: cultural work reflective essay, public work reflection

"Representation is central to good cultural work practice, but only when enhanced action derive from that reflection" (Williams, 2006: xi)

The underlying guidelines for this project are to critically examine my professional development in a practice positioning setting up and record reflections for future learning. Within this essay, I will include my reflections on the communal work process of evaluation, planning, intervention and review, and will critically analyse what I feel was successful and unsuccessful in each process, with initiatives to recognize what could be changed to enhance future practice. I will likewise incorporate my knowledge, skills and beliefs contained into my practice with two service users and my group work, while detailing my efforts to promote anti-oppressive practice. Throughout my project I'll endeavour to portray my learning journey right from the start to the end of my location and conclude with future learning needs, to improve my practice as a interpersonal worker.


The practice positioning I received was a Courtroom Children's Official (CCO), founded at the Belfast Family Proceedings Courtroom. It forms area of the Belfast Health and Social Care and attention Trust. My role as a CCO, formerly known as a Child Welfare Official, was to use my training and experience to see the wants and thoughts of children and their families in private legislation concerns. The role falls within family and child health care services and decides that the child's hobbies stay paramount in courtroom proceedings. As the CCO my role was to cope with instances where assistance was needed to help parties concentrate on the needs of their children, as opposed to continuing the incriminations as to who was in charge of the break down of their relationship. Being a CCO I got then asked to present the info to judge in oral or written survey format. The CCO is employed if other attempts to obtain the parties to attain a choice in the interests of the children have failed. That is to avoid the courtroom process itself adding to a lengthy breach in contact before it grows to a decision. Being a CCO I was also responsible to do something as liaison official between the court docket and HSS Trusts, or other organizations (e. g. NSPCC etc) according of the court's decisions. Although utilized by the Trust, I got liable to the court.

Before commencement of this placement I put limited understanding of the court process, and the legislation involved in private law cases. I was excited about the prospect of the knowledge I would gain having performed law and judge modules, and went to court for several flexible learning days and nights, but I had been also stressed about discovering the sociable work role within such a specific placement. "Personally i think nervous and uneasy. I'm locating the role intimidating being surrounded by lawyers and legislation (being only a student). I'm worried about needing to provide dental and written proof to the court docket, and perhaps having to disagree with the legal representatives views in court. I feel deskilled and restless" (PPDW: 21/01/10). After this initial anxious stage I began exploring private regulation and knowledge, and used my practice teacher and on site supervisor to ask questions.

Having completed a practice placement last year I already recognized of the benefits of using representation as a crucial aspect of my practice and learning. Thompson (2005) talks about that it's important that professionals use not only established ideas, but use their own knowledge and experience to meet the needs of service users. He remarks that "reflective practice should help us to acknowledge the top links between theory and practice and appreciate the problems of treating both elements as if they were individual domains" (Thompson, 2005: 147).

I was stressed to identify the cultural work process within my position, as it was not evident on commencement. I had been familiar with the process of assessing, planning, intervention and review having possessed a previous location with adults with learning disabilities. In a court, however, this is very different, as a course of the courtroom determined my involvement with service users. Sch¶n (1987) recognizes that more than 'a process' is necessary with service users - experts need to incorporate experience, skills and intuition for outcomes to be successful. The data and skills i identified, in my Specific learning plan, were skills in working with children, assertiveness skills, article writing and presenting skills, organisational skills, and group facilitation skills. I also wanted to enhance my value base as my previous position helped me issue issues around learning disabilities and the current placement is a very different setting. I needed to build up my beliefs around children's feelings about parental parting, and also employed in collaboration with children to ascertain their wants and thoughts about contact issues.

I have outlined below the three conditions I plan to use that will help identify my professional development within my placement setting. I am going to use these to offer an evaluation of how my knowledge, skills and beliefs have been developed through the interpersonal work process.

Family C: Polish origin

Child C (Get older 7) presently resides with her father. The parental relationship lasted for seven years. Mom (Ms C) relocated out of the family home to get alternative accommodation when the partnership broke down. Ms C and the child's contact have been very sporadic since. Contact has not occurred since December 2009. Mr C can be involved with Ms C's new accommodation being unsuitable for the child's security staying over night - claiming liquor misuse and the kid coming home "smelling of smoke cigarettes". Ms C requires an interpreter and is also seeking a Contact Order.

As aimed by the judge I carried out an assessment of Ms C's home, and also used mediation and counselling when meeting with the people to concentrate on the child's best interests. The child's wishes and emotions were also ascertained.

Family E:

Child E (14) currently resides along with his father (Mr E). Mom (Ms E) is seeking a Residence Order. Father currently resides with the kid in a family hostel provided by the Belfast Housing Exec, which Ms E can be involved about. Court direction stipulated me to see the child's desires and feelings about residence with his father and contact with his mother. In addition to this I used mediation as an intervention to try to help the get-togethers reach contract about the kid. I concluded my work with the family using a Person Centred Review with Child E to determine if the plans implemented earlier in my practice were working, and what he would prefer to change when his case was anticipated for review in court.

Group Work:

My group work consisted of dealing with teenage females at a higher college in North Belfast; they were aged 14/15. I functioned alongside medical for Children through Peer Education (Media hype) team who regularly visit classes to promote erotic health awareness. I co-facilitated this group and did the trick to educate the group about sexual health and relationships. This was to promote the necessity for the provision of correct information to prevent teenage pregnancies and STI's, which were highlighted as statistically higher in this area of North Ireland.

Preparation of placement

As mentioned above, to prepare for this placement, I started out by growing my knowledge platform around the court docket setting and private regulation, so that I could be responsible to the judge and the Trust for my actions. Trevithick (2000:162) boasts to be responsible denotes 'professionalism' - by using knowledge, skills and requirements, and sticking with ideals and ethics when portion a client. I began to listen in to the positioning preparing using knowledge, skills and principles, with legislation like the Children (NI) Order 1995, The Family Law Function (NI) 2001 along with the Human Rights Action 1998.

I tuned in to the court setting and the rights of the service users who used it. Article 3 of the kids (NI) Order 1995 says that the judge should act in the best interests of the kid, and I was enthusiastic about discovering if this happened or if parental hobbies were considered higher. I tuned in to the effects that divorce and separation have on children, and centered on gaining knowledge about how to minimize the negative impact this might have on children. The problem of contact in private law proceedings is a sophisticated subject which raises questions of rights, duties and 'ownership' of children (Kroll, 2000: 217). I was initially thinking about researching if children knowing both parents were in their finest interests, and just why.

Having had a positioning with individuals and learning disabilities last year I had reflected on the medical model versus the cultural model of disability, this placement was very different in that it would be the a legal context versus the sociable work role. I found this in the beginning difficult as the legal responsibilities of the courtroom over-shadowed the interpersonal work process. Judge guidelines dictated the areas of work to be done, which I found difficult as service individual needs were not necessarily established and fulfilled.


Ms C's analysis required me to meet with her, discuss problems with respect to contact with her child, and research her living environment to find out if it was suited to the child to have contact in. Prior to Ms C's assessment it was essential for me to listen in to contact disputes between parents. I accepted that there surely is significant animosity with both gatherings, but that having contact with both parents is in the child's needs to market for attachment, individuality and positive relationships. To initiate Ms C's assessment I had formed received court guidelines, a referral and attained with her legal consultant. I was at the moment I was up to date that Ms C was Polish and required an interpreter. The Individuals Rights Action 1998 and the Competition Relations Amendment Work 2000 both stipulate that an interpreter should be provided for health services to promote anti-discriminative practice and similar opportunities.

I was then necessary to make a referral to the Trust interpreting service, plus they prepared me that they might make initial connection with Ms C. I came across this unnerving, as the interpreter would be making first connection with the service customer, and I would have liked the opportunity to describe my role. Having carried out earlier assessments, I understood that communication was needed for the diagnosis and central to the process of gathering information and empowering service users (Watson and Western world, 2006), therefore to not be able to make initial contact with a service consumer I found to be restrictive and stressful.

On initial contact with Ms C (and the interpreter) communication was difficult to establish. I came across that by connecting through an interpreter I had been limited in gathering information. I found it difficult to concentrate on Ms C, especially observing body language and modulation of voice; instead I centered on the interpreter and actively listening to her. Ms C found as frustrated and disengaged, showing signs of closed down body gestures. I noticed empathetic to Ms C because of the court docket process she was involved with, and the fact that she experienced to go to court to get connection with her child. I thought the initial ending up in Ms C had not been as successful as I got hoped, I had not been in a position to discuss the issues affecting her, and unable to establish an effective working relationship because of the barrier with an interpreter. I kept the meeting feeling deskilled and questioning my practice. After some consideration, I will have provided additional time to Ms C due to the vocabulary obstacle and compiled more information on her behalf issues. I should have focused on Ms C rather than the interpreter, and used the interpreter more effectively to establish a relationship. For future learning I will endeavour to use these reflections.

The next part of Ms C's assessment was her home assessment. I was initially reluctant to handle a home assessment, as I acquired no prior experience, and did not know very well what was classed as an "unsafe" environment for children. I started out tuning in and determined a home analysis required strong observational skills for child safety concerns. I also mentioned the home diagnosis with my practice educator and on site supervisor for aspects I should take into account within the home. It was suggested that a protected climate for a child did not need to be extremely clean, just safe considering where the child sleeps, flame hazards, will there be evidence of drug or alcohol use, or smelling of smoke (as Mr C alleges).

On joining Ms C's home, as the interpreter hadn't arrived yet, I had been reluctant to try and converse with Ms C. Ms C spoke limited British, and I did so not need to mistake or alarm her by striving to discuss the case issues. However, I did so try to use body gestures and cosmetic expressions to attain for thoughts and try to build a rapport by asking general questions about weather and work etc. I feel this helped our romance, and helped me empathise about how exactly difficult it must be to not be able to speak effectively. By enough time the interpreter experienced arrived I experienced more at ease with Ms C, and attended to her (as opposed to the interpreter) with non-verbal cues such as nodding and body gestures. I felt more comfortable talking with Ms C, I felt more in a position to understand her frustrations at the courtroom process, her ex-partner and his allegations.

Prior to the diagnosis of the home I had formed gained stereotypical perceptions about Ms C's home. I thought that the house, as it was in a working school area, would be unclean and neglected. However, the analysis of the house, using observational skills, mentioned no child cover concerns, a clean environment for a kid, and Mr C's allegations unfounded. After some consideration of my perceptions I feel I was oppressive to Ms C having been so judgemental, and I sensed guilty about my ideas having been class discriminatory.

Throughout the examination with Ms C I came across that by using an interpreter Ms C could stay prepared and in charge over her situation (Watson and Western world, 2006). Personally i think that by dealing with Ms C has helped my problem my future practice with those who are non-English speakers. It will help me consider the needs of the service customer, before judging them exclusively on terminology or their country of source to provide similar opportunities. I now feel interpreters are required for an equilibrium of power between your employee and service end user, and promote anti-discriminatory practice.


According to Parker and Bradley (2008: 72) Planning as part of the social work process is a way of continually reviewing and assessing the needs of most specific service users. It really is based after the diagnosis and recognizes what must be achieved and what the results may be if it is completed.

Prior to the start of placement I had formed limited experience of planning, or group work. It was very important to me understand the facilitation and communication skills needed for successful group work, and help develop my understanding of group dynamics, group control, and peer pressure for this generation.

The key purpose of planning the group was to permit the young people to build up their knowledge and skills to be able to make enlightened decisions and alternatives about personal associations and intimate health. I commenced preparing for the look stage of the sociable work process by meeting with the HYPE team and researching their work. I got thinking about the sexual health training for young people at school, as my very own experience at school showed that the info was often limited, and I was interesting to find out if it had been challenged.

I then began by tuning directly into how I wanted to proceed through the look process, and researching the issues of different sessions as I considered I had formed limited knowledge on erotic health awareness. WHEN I needed to plan weekly independently it was important to listen in to each and use knowledge, such as group work skills to inform my practice.

During initial sessions I observed how group members were tranquil and withdrawn, this is important to notice as the subject of sexual relationships may have been embarrassing for them to discuss. I too believed uncomfortable speaking about the material, as I had limited knowledge of sexual health, but it was very important to the group to defeat these anxieties and sort out them along. I determined that 'glaciers breaking' techniques were necessary to aid trust and partnership.

As the sessions progressed, one of the main obstacles found was that peer impact was a major issue, with a few of the participants handling other quieter people. I experienced it was essential to include all participants and encouraged participation using games. However, it was important never to motivate individuals when they truly became uncomfortable, as this may lead them to withdraw and disengage, disempowering them. Another challenge was that despite time management of the classes, inevitably there needed to be flexibility. Some of the group monopolised additional time than others and it was essential to be able to alter the plans according to time restraints.

I also would have to be aware of my own ideals when planning erotic health consciousness training, as it continues to be regarded as a controversial concern, especially in Catholic institutions with teenagers (www. famyouth. org. uk). I considered erotic health awareness to be a great benefit in universities, but obviously credited to religious things to consider many Catholic colleges continue simply to instruct abstinence as really the only form of contraception. This was important to consider as the group was facilitated in a Catholic institution and many of the customers or their instructors could have had spiritual views and opinions on the consultations, creating stress or animosity. Reflecting upon this parental consent had been provided for the group, but the group itself were necessary to take part throughout a free period. I think about this to be an moral issue as the children's views weren't thought to be highly as their parents. If executing this group in future, Personally i think it would be necessary to ask the group if indeed they wish to participate, and present the chance to withdraw - promoting anti-oppressive practice.


Prior to the practice placement I had fashioned limited experience using intervention methods. My previous placement centered on task centred use service users, but in the judge children's service this could not be facilitated because of the time constraints of the judge. I needed also previously used Rogerian person centred counselling that i found I could use a few of the idea and put it to this environment.

After gathering a range of information from the judge referral, C1 and other professionals, I began to tune in to E's case. I have been directed by the courtroom to ascertain his desires and feelings in regards to residence and contact arrangements, and mediate between his parents to find arrangement about the child's residence. As Child E is fourteen, I experienced it was necessary to research levels of development because of this age group and understand, corresponding to psychologists, what level Child E would be at emotionally, in physical form and psychologically. I came across that Child E should be at a level to become more 3rd party, having his own ideals, and having the ability to make informed alternatives.

One of the most crucial issues, through mediation, was challenging my own beliefs and becoming aware of my own stereotypical views on adults who have segregated, and the consequences on the children. I had fashioned to challenge the idea that Child E just wished to reside along with his daddy as he was the less disciplined mother or father, or that Child E would most likely be participating in his parents off against one another to get his own way. However, by challenging these views, and dealing with the gatherings through mediation, I came up to realize that E had strong views about living with his daddy and had a stronger connection to him. By reflecting on my values I realised that it was oppressive to consider the child as manipulating and may have affected might work with him.

I discovered that having to be considered a neutral 'third' party in mediation was difficult, I came across myself having a job as a see, a referee and a peacekeeper looking for common ground. Not surprisingly I feel a 'third part' was necessary to help the celebrations sort out issues. I came across the most difficult facet of this role to be impartiality as I found myself empathizing more with the mother (as the kid refused to live a life with her). However, I also grasped the child's reasons behind his decision.

During mediation, and in courtroom, I also challenged my judgements on gender and the notion that the mom is the 'nurturer' or 'major care giver' in the house (Posada and Jacobs, 2001). The child clearly stated that he wished to reside along with his father, so when using questioning skills to probe relating to this, he claimed he had a stronger connection with his dad, and that his mother was continually ridiculing him. I came across myself needing to change my views about connection and mom being the primary care giver and concentrate on what the kid wants.

As the intervention advanced I used family mediation period to sort out issues. I came across that effective communication was primary in ascertaining Child E's wishes and emotions, and aiding the people consider his views, as opposed to their own romantic relationship incriminations. This not only empowered E by promoting collaboration, but also gave him the data that the court would be considering the info he provided. Within the meeting I believed I possibly could have paced the meeting better and made better use of silences with E, when i dominated the discussion.

I consider mediation to reach your goals as it helped the get-togethers concentrate on the needs of the kid, and helped them realise that they had a child's emotions to consider rather than the adversarial romance built from court.


Prior to the review process I put experience of undertaking person centred reviews (PCR) through my past practice placement. I put prior training on PCR's and found those to become more effective than traditional reviews, due to the service user engagement. A PCR is an example of a person centred way and the information from an assessment could possibly be the foundation of a person centred plan (Bailey et al. , 2009).

Within the family proceedings court the goal of reviews are to reassess interim strategies, and either change them, or confirm they will work for the kid(ren). In Child E's circumstance an assessment was essential to indicate if coping with his father was working, and also to discuss if he wanted to change anything about his interim plans, which were launched three months before. Within the judge children's team a review is fundamental to consider what is in the child's needs, assess what's working and what's not working, and exactly how to advance (considering the child's wants and thoughts).

Child centred preparatory use Child E was fundamental to the review success as it set up what was important to him (Smull and Sanderson, 2005). Reflecting on my person centred work last year; I accepted that it was important to acquire preparatory use Child E as it marketed choice and options to explore. I needed also recognised that the info gathered from the preparatory work could be the foundations of the review itself, particularly if Child E felt embarrassed or shy speaking out in front of his family on the day of the review (Smull and Sanderson, 2005)

I conducted the review with Child E and his parents present, but reflecting on this it could also have been useful including his university educator or other friends to have a holistic approach. Through the entire review I feel I was able to engage the members successfully using goals to focus on, and we were able to make a person centred plan for Child E. During the preparation for the review Child E had expressed that he noticed he was having too much contact with his mother, and would like to limit this, he also expressed that was an awkward subject to consult with his mom present. I determined this in the review as child E didn't wish to. I used skills such as facilitation and communication showing that Child E thought strongly relating to this issue, and both parents said they understood his view point. The review was also useful in showing the info in court docket, as the child could not be present and I could advocate on his behalf.

On reflection of Child E's review Personally i think it was a successful measure to determine what was working rather than working since ideas were put in place from the previous court date. I put confidence in facilitating the review, but I did feel I perhaps dominated the dialogue as both parents were hostile towards one another, and Child E was shy and unassertive about expressing his emotions. During future reviews I am going to endeavour to promote communication between functions, while empowering of the kid. I will use better use of silences and encourage energetic involvement.


"No matter how skilled, experienced or effective we could, there are, of course, always lessons to be discovered, improvements to be made and benefits to be gained from reflecting on our practice" (Thompson, 2005: 146)

I feel this PLO has provided me with learning opportunities and identified my learning needs. It offers encouraged me to think about my knowledge, skills and ideals and ensured that we used my reflections to learn from my practice.

At the start of placement I was concerned I would oppress the service users insurance agencies limited knowledge of the court process, and unable to work effectively because of this. However, through training, help from my practice educator and knowledge, I soon realised that the location was about providing support, not as an expert. I feel I could set up a balance of the legal requirements of court and social work role, which includes added to my learning experience and future knowledge.

As my placement progressed I used tuning in and evaluations to analyse my practice, and utilize them to study from. My placement has enabled me to boost my court report writing skills, presentations skills and legislation knowledge, which I consider to be invaluable for future years.

In terms of future professional development, I am going to endeavour to challenge my stereotypical assumptions about service users, I will seek advice and instruction from more experienced members of staff, and I will use knowledge and theory to inform my practice prior to conference service users.

Future learning requires me to continue to build up skills in dealing with children, to work with silence as an art, as listen actively to what the service consumer desires. Having an opportunity to work within the judge system has been invaluable, but I would also like the chance to have significantly more experience dealing with children to enhance my knowledge, skills and worth further.

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