Critical Social Work Theories

Introduction to Critical Social Work Theories

A social worker is a very active and responsible duty that ensures that the delivery of services to the needy people is fair and equal (Blakemore et al., 2019). The use of critical self-reflection is considered of great importance in social work practices. It ensures that the social worker or the social worker student conducts self-evaluation and self-assessments for his practices for better future performances. It helps to learn and improve for professional life and ensures that the ethics and values of the social working practices are maintained (Blakemore et al., 2019). The conflicts and complex situations can be easily handled by a social worker with critical thinking and the use of a positively interactive attitude will help to develop a strong relationship with a co-worker and the people for a better understanding of practice events (Koshy et al., 2017). In this essay, the following sections will discuss critical self-reflection and its importance for social workers in their practices, description of my social location including various factors that determine one’s social location, my unearned privilege, and experiences, and the changes to my future practice for non-judgmental practices as a social worker.

Critical Self-Reflection and Its Importance for Social Workers

According to Amble (2012), critical self-reflection is a process of cross-questioning self-presuppositions, meaning perspectives, and self-assumptions that help in continuous learning and development for improvement in professionals' social work practice. With critical self-reflective practices, social workers become more self-aware, learn, and gain knowledge about how to reflect-on-action and reflect-in-action. This involves evaluating, analyzing, and examining their past practices and responses, to improve future practices, connect more effectively with their feelings, and increase the relation of experiences and practices with relevant theories. This practice has various benefits as it promotes critical thinking and the generation of new ideas. It promotes new ways of learning and thinking that helps in informed practices. A critical self-reflection helps to improve the decision-making and encourages the social workers to examine the knowledge and decisions made for improved practices; thereby increasing the professional and personal development of the social worker in its practice and it also helps to increase professional and personal competence. It constructs a deeper and new understanding of the experiences so that the social workers can think about what works, what did not work, and how it can be worked out in a better or different way in the future, what can be the new solutions, and many other factors (Ganzer et al., 2013). These new factors have the potential to generate new strengths, abilities, and conscious thinking. With the help of evidence-based practices, the workers get to know about the ways with which they can successfully and effectively deal with stressful situations, come-up with productive ways, professionally engage in reflective practice, and become more responsible. The few major benefits are better understanding with the client, prevention of burnout conditions, self-consciousness, self-awareness, and effective problem-solving method, self-knowledge, and many others. Critical self-reflection enables the social workers to learn about the concepts of open-mindedness, stop blaming, reflect positively on situations, and record the weaknesses and strengths for better relationships with clients. This attitude will help the social worker to be more accountable and be non-judgmental while interacting with the clients; this will ensure effective performance and more client satisfaction (Gale et al., 2014). If a social worker works with such practices in collaboration with practitioners then the ethics, justice, professionalism, and values of the practice will be maintained (Koshy et al., 2017). I think that if a social worker uses open-mindedness while solving complex situations then he should never show anger, should be curious to listen to the ideas of others, have empathy for others, and should also think about the feelings of others. I will be benefitted in various ways if I use self-reflection approaches such as I can have new experiences, become mentally strong, feel more optimistic, and learn new things. 

Social Location

Social location is defined as a term that is used as a collective term for various factors such as geographic location, sexual orientation, religion, ability, age, social class, race, and gender (Marquis et al., 2020). I belong to the precariat class in Australia. This class mostly consists of a good chunk of young students that are struggling to get a good job because of issues of unemployment. I belong to this class because I am a student and not yet earning. I am a White Causianand I do not believe in any religion. I am a 22-year-old male who came from Spain to Sydney, Australia to study as a student. My able-bodiedness tells about my body conditions such as I am a strong and healthy man and I have no physical disability. The social workers have a very hectic schedule during their duties as they have to meet and address the needs of society and their clients; these can be met if a social worker has a healthy mind and a healthy body (Praetorius et al., 2018). Moreover, I have no family in Australia because I am all alone in the country, but I am raised by my mother and I have a sister as well. Being white I felt very privileged throughout my life and I have various friends from different cultures and communities. Being a person who is familiar with people of different cultures I think I can effectively work as a good social worker by communicating and interacting with children, old-aged or any other age group people in my future social work practices. My sexual orientation indicated that I am sexually attacked by females. As I am a student so I have not experienced any social work practice till-date in my life.

Unearned Privilege and Experiences

I think that many people of my community think that being white in Australia will help to get various advantages such as I might get offers or services more easily or someone might accept me over any other individual because of my background. Therefore, I sometimes think that this white privilege might affect my social work practices in the future and there can also be a few cases where people might feel reluctant to work with me. A social worker must try to eliminate the cases or experiences of discrimination or privileges that are experiences in society due to which accessibility might get impacted. It is the duty of the social worker to address racial inequality and provide justice, support, and fair services to those who face difficulty in terms of their identity (Howard et al., 2016). Although, I have till-date never experienced privilege in my life, and neither I myself was not biased to someone nor other people were biased to me. I never faced any racism or discrimination due to my race or community. However, I was shocked to observe the experience of people of other communities and culture such as I was surprised to see how arranged marriages are so important in other cultures, how Australia does not recognize their own heritage and I have also observed the Asian culture and was shocked with its rituals and beliefs. A social worker who has exposure to various cultures and has knowledge about diverse sectors enables better interaction with society (Hunt, 2020).In Australia, I observed that Aboriginals and Whites experience various gaps counting from housing, access to services, education, basic life support offers, and various other factors. A social worker, who has no bend to religious beliefs and considers all individuals equal, can deliver fair services to society (Monani et al., 2018). The services of the social workers should always be client-centered so that the major needs or concerns are met rather than merely model framed services that revolve around the programs and offer no benefit to the needy people of the society (Monani et al., 2018). Moreover, I have also experienced that people of my community never faced any discrimination and have access to exercise their rights, life is never affected by racism hatred and any restrictions or oppressions. The people have felt that their voices are listened to actively by the authorities, they can travel freely in taxis, never feel harassed, can move freely, and can get medical care without racism.

Changes to My Future Practice

I think that the above-mentioned factors such as the feeling of being privileged and accessibility of services are more in Whites but less in other non-whites and other communities in Australia. Although, I personally never faced and also never observed in my surrounding any cases of biases still the mindset of the people can impact their practices as a social worker in the future. As I have lived in Spain and Sydney and have experienced various varieties of beliefs and feelings of the people, I think that can help me in the generation of the new solution for the society that connects more with the feelings of the people and it will ensure evidence-based practices. I feel empathy for non-Whites, aboriginals, and other communities of the country that feel underprivileged. Although, I do not feel that there are any biases because the social workers and government have focused on aboriginals and other under-developed regions and communities to offer them equal access that has faced inequalities in the past. I will ensure that I do more research, feel empathy, act as an active listener, and become more pro-active in my future practices so that I can act as an advocator and provide better solutions to the problems of the people in society. It is my duty to make sure that my team or my co-workers feel comfortable while working with me. I believe that a healthy environment for the team and co-workers will help me to develop leadership skills so that the team can achieve the goals as soon as possible. It should be the priority of social workers to create a healthy unbiased environment for working. I will ensure that the clients feel safe, comfortable, and engage with me in an interactive, friendly, and voluntary. To ensure non-judgmental practices I will use verbal, nonverbal-communication, always be non-judgmental about the feelings and experiences of the clients. A social worker should understand the perceptions, have knowledge about the culture and beliefs of the clients, collaborative skills, management skills, critically think and document the outcomes, and show professionals commitment (Kam, 2020). I will ensure that I exhibit patience during complex situations and avoid hasty decision-making. I will ensure that I argue, represent, and connect with the clients to make them understand the resources and opportunities. As a future social worker, it is required to make sure that every individual of the country feels equal on the basis of the distribution of the resources and in terms of active response to their raised voices.

Conclusion on Critical Social Work Theories

It is concluded that critical self-reflection is of great significance for a social worker as it ensures the overall learning and development of the individual. It offers various benefits as well such as self-awareness, critical-thinking skills, evidence-based practices, prevent burnouts, generation of new ideas, and more connectivity to the profession and with the clients. It is found that being a White in Australia I and many in my surroundings felt privileged whereas the people of other communities never felt it. Being a White, I never noticed any biases or any discrimination with others due to culture but I think that thinking can impact the practice of the social worker. As a social worker, it is my duty to ensure that there is effective communication, equal and fair delivery of services, connectedness with the clients, understanding of the feelings, and documentation. I will ensure that show empathy, do research, and show professionalism with critical self-reflective practices. A social worker should never be biased in terms of delivery of services to the different people of the different communities and should also never judge the clients over their experiences. A social worker with self-reflective practices will ensure to become more responsible and more accountable.

References for Critical Social Work Theories

Amble, N. (2012).Reflection in action with care workers in emotion work. Action Research, 10(3), 260–275. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1476750312443572

Blakemore, T., & Agllias, K. (2019). Student reflections on vulnerability and self-awareness in a social work skills course. Australian Social Work72(1), 21-33. https://doi.org/10.1080/0312407X.2018.1516793

Gale, C., &Schröeder, T. (2014). Experiences of self-practice/self-reflection in cognitive behavioural therapy: A metasynthesis of qualitative studies. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 87, 373–392. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24677534/

Ganzer, C. A., &Zauderer, C. (2013). Structured learning and self-reflection: Strategies to decrease anxiety in the psychiatric mental health clinical nursing experience. Nursing Education Perspectives, 34(4), 244–247. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24187728/

Howard, A., Katrak, M., Blakemore, T., & Pallas, P. (2016). Rural, regional and remote social work: Practice research from Australia. Routledge. Retrieved from: https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=eQQ9DAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=Rural,+regional+and+remote+social+work:+Practice+research+from+Australia&ots=ICu0wXiBn4&sig=H4whb1HkmKCEIVf3WSm8zZlW3Bo&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Rural%2C%20regional%20and%20remote%20social%20work%3A%20Practice%20research%20from%20Australia&f=false

Hunt, T. L. (2020). Critical reflection: Dismantling white privilege from within. Social Work & Policy Studies: Social Justice, Practice and Theory3(1). https://openjournals.library.sydney.edu.au/index.php/SWPS/article/view/14376

Kam, P. K. (2020). ‘Social work is not just a job’: The qualities of social workers from the perspective of service users. Journal of Social Work20(6), 775-796. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1468017319848109

Koshy, K., Limb, C., Gundogan, B., Whitehurst, K., & Jafree, D. J. (2017).Reflective practice in health care and how to reflect effectively. International Journal of Surgery: Oncology2(6), e20. https://dx.doi.org/10.1097%2FIJ9.0000000000000020

Marquis, E., Guitman, R., Nguyen, E., & Woolmer, C. (2020). ‘It’sa little complicated for me’: Faculty social location and experiences of pedagogical partnership. Higher Education Research & Development, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2020.1806789 

Monani, D. (2018). At Cross roads: White Social Work in Australia and the discourse on Australian multiculturalism. Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal10(2), 87-98. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/deref/http%3A%2F%2Fdx.doi.org%2F10.5130%2Fccs.v10i2.6077

Praetorius, G., Österman, C., &Hult, C. (2018). Have a healthy lifestyle or organize work–Creating healthy shipboard work environments. Congress of the International Ergonomics Association, 455-464. Springer, Cham. Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-96089-0_49

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