Relational Reflection: the sound and feel of reflecting in action, thinking about how to move on

Sharon Walker

As a social work educator, I often reflect in action. While listening to audio recordings of my teaching, I noticed pauses and changes to my pace and tone of voice that were taking place while in the process of these reflections. As I recalled these moments, I was stuck by the memory of how I felt and the range of emotions I experienced; sometimes anxious, excited, uncertain. I wondered how my students experienced these times and what (if anything) did they notice about me as I reflected. The aim of this discussion paper is to consider how my reflections in actions were relational; in response to my students and how my cognitive and emotional responses might also be impacting on the students. A further consideration is the emotional toil that can exist for the practitioner when reflecting in action. For social workers, particularly those adopting a relationship-based approach, they may have emotionally charged, reflective experiences that affect their service users and their practice. As this is a discussion paper I do not conclude with any definitive answers, rather I hope to begin a dialogue highlighting the complex emotional and relational elements of reflection in action.


Emotion, relational practice, relational responsivity, relationship-based practice, reflection, pace, tone.