Relationship-based and reflective practice in contemporary child care social work
Child & Family Social Work, 10, (2), . (doi:10.1111/j.1365-2206.2005.00359.x).
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The renewed interest in relationship-based practice can be understood in the child care social work context as a response to the call to re-focus practice in this field. Relationship-based practice challenges the prevailing trends which emphasize reductionist understandings of human behaviour and narrowly conceived bureaucratic responses to complex problems. In so doing practitioners engaged in relationship-based practice need to be able to cope with the uniqueness of each individual's circumstances and the diverse knowledge sources required to make sense of complex, unpredictable problems. This paper argues that if relationship-based practice is to become an established and effective approach to practice, practitioners need to develop their reflective capabilities. An outline of contemporary understandings of relationship-based and reflective practice is offered and findings from doctoral research drawn on to identify how reflective practice complements relationship-based practice. The product of this complementary relationship is enhanced understandings across four aspects of practice: the client, the professional self, the organizational context and the knowledges informing practice. The paper concludes by acknowledging the inextricably interconnected nature of relationship-based and reflective practice and emphasizes the importance of practitioners being afforded opportunities to practise in relational and reflective ways.
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