There has been a recurrent recognition in inquiry reports following high-profile deaths of children known to welfare services of shortcomings in social workers' analytical and assessment skills. There is an urgent need to explore what might help supervisors and practitioners ‘think about their thinking’. This paper draws on cognitive interviewing (CI) and examines its applicability/transferability to the professional domain of child-care social work supervision. Focusing on how practitioners make sense of their practice, this approach homes in on cognitive understandings but, in so doing, heightens practitioners' awareness of the emotional and affective dimensions of practice and of their thinking. The integration of cognitive and affective ways of knowing resonates with psycho-socially informed ideas about the interrelationship between thinking and feeling and the importance of emotional containment for effective thinking. This paper suggests that combining the psychological underpinnings of CI with psycho-socially informed concepts, such as containment, creates a more robust and holistic theoretical framework for supporting the application of CI in practice. The paper proposes that the adoption of a cognitive and affective approach to supervisory practice has considerable potential for enhancing practitioners' critical thinking skills and decision-making capabilities, to the benefit of the children and families with whom they work.
- Cognitive interviewing
- decision making
- critical thinking
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- School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work - Emeritus Professor