Exploring the Development of Reflective Capacity in Young People Academic Article uri icon


  • People use reflection and reflective practice for many different reasons, including for self-care and to make sense of their experiences. In this study, social workers spoke about how they learned to be reflective, with many participants describing activities in their childhood that developed their reflective capacity. The aim of this article is to apply these ideas and examine the factors that enhance reflective capacity in children and young people. This research was part of a PhD study that involved interviews with 35 social workers in USA, Canada, UK and Australia. This exploratory study found that activities like story reading and asking children to reflect on their behaviour are early steps in the process of becoming reflective, but this needs to be followed up with conversations that deconstruct assumptions to make sense of experiences and explore multiple perspectives. This research is important for health and human service workers and others who want to develop reflective capacity in children and young people, particularly for children subject to disadvantage who need to overcome trauma and adversities.

publication date

  • 2016