Reflective practice in child care social work: the role of containment

Ruch, Gillian (2007) Reflective practice in child care social work: the role of containment British Journal of Social Work, 37, (4), pp. 659-680. (doi:10.1093/bjsw/bch277).


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In recent years, there has been growing interest in reflective practice as an approach that acknowledges the complexity and uncertainty inherent in contemporary social work practice. Whilst attention has been paid to how reflective practice is defined and understood, less consideration has been given to the conditions that facilitate its development. Drawing on recent doctoral research, this paper suggests that a particular type of reflective practice—holistic reflective practice—has the potential to encourage thoughtful and creative practice capable of addressing the challenges of contemporary child-care practice. Findings from this research indicate that for holistic reflective practice to be facilitated, the interdependence of the practitioner, team and organizational contexts needs to be recognized. Practitioners need to work within safe containing contexts characterized by: clear organizational and professional boundaries; multifaceted reflective forums; collaborative and communicative working practices; and open and ‘contextually connected’ managers. Drawing on these findings and theorizing them in relation to Bion’s concept of containment, the paper concludes by proposing a model of containment for the promotion of reflective practice.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1093/bjsw/bch277
ISSNs: 0045-3102 (print)
Keywords: reflective practice, containment, knowledge, safe spaces
ePrint ID: 35153
Date :
Date Event
June 2007Published
Date Deposited: 19 May 2006
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2017 22:10
Further Information:Google Scholar

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