Critical reflection to identify gaps between espoused theory and theory-in-use

Soc Work. 2012 Apr;57(2):145-54. doi: 10.1093/sw/sws037.


Critical reflection (CR) is a process by which one may identify the assumptions governing one's actions, question them, and develop alternative behaviors. This article presents two cases that demonstrate the use of CR to raise social workers' awareness of gaps between what Schon and Argryis term social workers' "espoused theories" and the "theories-in-use" that actually guide social workers' practice and to help them to develop more effective models of practice based on the understanding they gain. With this, the cases also show that CR can be a painful, even wrenching, process, in which practitioners confront previously unacknowledged qualities or tendencies in themselves that can evoke strong feelings.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Cognition Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Decision Making* / ethics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Male
  • Patient Advocacy
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Social Work* / ethics
  • Task Performance and Analysis*