It has been known that the ability to reflect upon a field of practice in an ongoing and systematic way is regarded as essential to a responsible professional development

It has been known that the ability to reflect upon a field of practice in an ongoing and systematic way is regarded as essential to a responsible professional development (Urdang, 2010; Fook & Gardner, 2014). It generally builds competence, prevents burnout and create life-long learning within professionals across all spectrum (Loughran, 2000; Yip, 2006; Finlay, 2008; Urdang, 2010). It is then a great avenue for social work practitioners, like myself, to unearth, examine, and change very deeply held assumptions (Fook & Gardner, 2014). I would say it is a tangible way of reflecting on personal practice or experience in order to develop a deeper understanding of ourselves within a social context as knowers or makers of knowledge. As Dewey (1938) states that while we cannot learn or be taught to think, we do have to learn how to think well and especially to acquire the practice of reflection. As a student, it is a great training ground to use knowledge critically and forebear the situation at ‘face value’ rather to look beneath the surface to assess the situation holistically, resulting in critical depth to understanding. These enable us to develop a fuller understanding of experiences so we are better equipped to manage similar future situations (S. Thompson & Thompson, 2008). However, this ability to think critically is developed over time (Crowe & O’Malley, 2006) through guidance and support so it is crucial to practice critical reflection the earlier the better.
In my ongoing reflective practice, I often find myself stumbling into dreaded methods, models, and theories which I feel like a ‘plate of linguine”. Credits to the notes in social work practice methods unit and external sources has made this linguine less of a tangle, and more of a lasagne – like social work practice being multilayered.
For example, I always consider the ecological theory with respect to micro, mezzo and macro system to find out effective ways to develop reciprocal or causal effects or relationships between the clients and their environment (Ashford & LeCroy, 2010). Also, the ego psychology under a strengths-based framework, which assumes clients can better achieve their goals if they reflect on their ways to address life challenges and solve their problems through person situation reflection intervention (Walsh, 2010).
In order to effectively respond to clients’ needs and demands, professional social workers should be equipped with a wide range of knowledge. For us, students, the field practicum is the first exposure in which we are able to integrate and apply social work theory, values, skills, and knowledge whilst upholding professional values and ethical codes of conduct. Without the integration of theory and practice, social workers (as humans) could be easily and overly affected by their own attitudes, moods, and reactions, which may result in infectiveness, inefficiency, even harm clients (Walsh, 2010)
Human behaviour is way too complex for any of us to understand in its entirety so a theory is just a perspective or a lens that we assume so that we can narrow down what we are looking at and do the best we can at understanding people and their experiences. As Simon (1994) insisted, it is crucial for social work practitioners to learn theoretical knowledge because theory can serve as an anchoring frame and a conceptual screen for case assessment, causal explanation, intervention planning, and outcome evaluation.