Reflexivity: a concept and its meanings for practitioners working with children and families
journal contributionposted on 2007-01-01, 00:00 authored by H D`Cruz, Philip Gillingham, S Melendez
Reflexivity is a concept that is increasingly gaining currency in professional practice literature, particularly in relation to working with uncertainty and as an important feature of professional discretion and ethical practice. This article discusses how practitioners working in child and family welfare/protection organisations understood and interpreted the concept of reflexivity for their practice, as one of the outcomes of larger, collaborative research project. This project was conducted through a series of workshops with practitioners. The overall research that aimed to expand practitioners’ practice repertoires from narrowly-defined risk assessment, to an approach that could account for the uncertainties of practice, included the concept of reflexivity as an alternative or a complement to instrumental accountability that is increasingly a feature in child welfare/protection organisations. This article discusses how the concept of reflexivity was explored in the research and how practitioners interpreted the concept for their practice. We conclude that while concepts like reflexivity are central to formal theories for professional practice, we also recognise that individual practitioners interpret concepts (in ways that are both practically and contextually relevant), thus creating practical meanings appropriate to their practice contexts.