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Title: Reflecting on mistakes in practice among social workers in China
Authors: Lu, W
Chen, J 
Issue Date: Jan-2022
Source: British journal of social work, Jan. 2022 , v. 52, no. 1, p. 461-479
Abstract: Reflection is widely practiced in human service professions, but little research has examined whether reflection actually translates into action and, if so, how. This article explores the possibilities and limits of reflective practice by drawing on data collected through reflective interviews with fifteen Chinese social workers on mistakes in practice. The findings demonstrate that social workers in China are aware of being reflective, even critically reflective, by pondering mistakes and failures they have encountered. Their reflections, however, do not extend to future action plans. Rather, they prefer to rely on manual-based knowledge providing explicit guidance, reflecting their developing reflective capacity and low professional identity. The article argues that social workers’ reflective awareness needs to be built up, while fully recognising the limits of reflection. To address mistakes, not only do we need to create opportunities for practitioners to reflect, but also to address the risk-management strategies of social work organisations and the independent roles that should be performed by professional social work associations in Mainland China.
Keywords: Mistake
Reflective interview
Reflective practice
Social worker
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Journal: British journal of social work 
ISSN: 0045-3102
EISSN: 1468-263X
DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcab005
Rights: © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.
This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in The British Journal of Social Work following peer review. The version of record Wei Lu, Juan Chen, Reflecting on Mistakes in Practice among Social Workers in China, The British Journal of Social Work, Volume 52, Issue 1, January 2022, Pages 461–479 is available online at:
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