Over the past two decades the use of ethnographic research methods, in combination with a range of discursive, conversational and multi-modal analytical approaches, have provided vivid accounts of the complex nature of social workers’ everyday communications. This paper discusses the potential and the problems of combining a video stimulated recall (VSR) methodology with an explicit theoretical framework, in order to generate critical reflexive ‘insider’ accounts of social workers’ direct encounters with children. The framework employed was based on an adaptation of Goffman’s concepts of ‘framing’ and ‘footing’, which were integrated into an analytical process designed to theorise social workers’ critiques regarding the nature of their communication with children. Three detailed case exemplars are used to demonstrate the potential of this methodology to explore the ‘delicate’ agency required by social workers in the practice of authentic communication in complex professional inquiries with children. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the theoretical and practical issues associated with utilising reflexive methodologies in professional contexts.