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Observation As A Social Work Tool And Skill

1188 words - 5 pages

This assignment is going to look into observation as a social work tool and skill. Firstly, it is going to briefly describe the observation. Secondly it will analyse the interactions using a reflective approach. And finally, it will look into some relevant social work skills and values that relate to the discussed topic.

The observation exercise was carried out on the upper deck of a London Bus on a weekday evening and lasted approximately fifteen minutes. The subjects of the observation were a male in his late twenties that appeared to be of Afro-Caribbean origin and a female of a similar age with an Eastern European accent. The male was wearing a tracksuit and had a set of headphones ...view middle of the document...

On the other hand, by being an anonymous observer a degree of spontaneity could be achieved. Moreover Tanner and Turney (2000, p344) argue that “the absence of active participation can give the practitioner the opportunity to think about and digest what is both seen and felt”. Although I was not actively participating I did feel emotionally engaged during the observation. There were times during the observation in which the girl’s body language did not match what was being said. In one occasion, the male asked her where she was going to which she replied: “I am going to meet a friend at the pub”. From an observer perspective she looked uncomfortable, her body moving away from the male while fiddling with her mobile. At that point the male persistent questioning made me feel uneasy too. I understood the complexity of Schon’s (cited in Briggs 1999, p148-149) idea of reflection in action (“being able to reflect during practice encounters”) taking into consideration the range of factors, such as thought and emotions, involved in the process of observation.
Once the observation had finished I felt relieved and a bit bewildered. On later reflection I have come to realize that the emotional state that I underwent during that process might have had a direct relationship with my own personal values and the conscious need to observe in a way in which I was not accustomed.
Finally we are going to look into some social work skills and values that relate to the observational task. Coulshed and Orme (2006, p25) argue that “assessment is core social work skill and involves core skills” such as observation, communication, reflection and evaluation. I did not make an assessment in this observation, although I underwent some of the processes that a practitioner would experience in similar circumstances. During the observation I was aware of some social work values such as non-judgemental attitude as well as empathy (Thomson 2009, p 100-120). Also I was made aware of the importance of cross-cultural observation (Briggs 1999, p152) in regards to anti discriminatory practice. The people I observed were from a different ethnic background. On reflection, it made me comprehend why some people might have issues or could jump into conclusions while observing someone whom, for cultural reasons, could express himself / herself in a way that could be interpreted as violent. Body language could be interpreted wrongly if the observer fails to acknowledge those cultural differences.
Furthermore, Thomson (2009, p 100-120) identifies no less than fifteen basic skills in...

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