Reflecting on Professional Practice

By Support

Reflecting on Professional Practice

CHCPRP003 Introduction to Reflecting on Professional Practice

This unit is part of the Diploma of Community Services (Case Management), an interactive and supportive course that will guide you through a number of strategies when working with clients. Practical application will provide you with valuable real life industry experience that will allow you to build upon the skills and knowledge learned throughout the course.

Each week you will be required to read your learning resource, watch either a TED talk or YouTube clip and read from other text. If at any time you have a question, please contact your trainer who is here to support you through your learning journey. On the left hand side of your page you will see a discussions tab, here you can interact with other fellow students in a forum that is not only supported by your trainer but you are able to share ideas and thoughts with like minded people.

This unit describes the skills and knowledge required to evaluate and enhance own practice through a process of reflection and ongoing professional development. This unit applies to worker in all industry sectors who take pro-active responsibility for their own professional development.

All professionals have a duty of care to practice continual reflective practice, as it is an important aspect of being a professional person. Reflective practice refers to a workers ability to observe their behaviour, feelings, thoughts, skills, attitudes, biases and professional conduct from an outside perspective. Being a reflective practitioner allows you to be exposed to a variety of perspectives which exposes you to different ways of understanding situations or completing a course of action. Reflective practice assists you in being able to meet challenges that arise from competing positions, with confidence. It offers the practitioner a more thorough understanding of ethical dilemmas in their practice and promotes new ways of thinking (Thompson & Thompson, 2008).

A better understanding of the assumptions on which actions are based, as a practitioner, and an awareness of a subjective position, can lead to making changes to the way a worker performs. This ultimately enhances professional development and practice and ensures that the skills and knowledge that are being applied are always the most effective, efficient and up to date approaches.

Reflective practice relies on an individual being able to approach their own behaviour, attitudes, skills, knowledge, manner and professional conduct from an external perspective. It allows the practitioner to examine their skills critically and look for ways to improve their work, rather than simply defending their professional practice and assuming all is well with how they conduct themselves in a work environment (Thompson & Thompson, 2008).

CHCPRP003 Undertake a Self Reflection

Professional practice is what you bring to your workplace. It is the application of your knowledge, skills and abilities and involves theoretical knowledge, professional skills and self-awareness.

Professional practice constantly changes over time and evolves every time you have a new experience or obtain new knowledge. The benefit of this evolution is that you will be able to maintain a high standard of service delivery. In order to maintain the right level of empathy, concern and understanding for our clients, it is essential that you are aware of how life and work affects the service you provide. If you are unable to resolve issue yourself, or your focus is in other areas, you will have less ability to concentrate and work with clients who have their own problems.

Community services involves interaction between two or more people who bring their own mix of knowledge, skills and attitudes. There is no guarantee of shared meanings or values, other than that the community service worker is seen by at least one of the parties as a resource for offering support, understanding and insight. Working in the community services sector is comprised of verbal and non-verbal communication, with more significance to be placed on the non-verbal cues.

The engagement with working with vulnerable people in the community sector can be both a theoretical and an emotional process. The two streams of insight run simultaneously and they may impact on each other. Therefore, to be an effective community service worker, you must have these two processes operating in your mind simultaneously.

CHCPRP003 Benefits of a Reflective Practice

Reflective practice increases awareness of ourselves as professionals and is an important tool that offers workers a range of benefits including:

  • Affirming current practice validates aspects of our current practice that we believe we do well.
  • Furthering knowledge and skills development, staying current with up to date research and literature that can inform practice and training that develops skills further.
  • Disconfirming refers to aspects of practice that requires further growth and improvements which may challenge thoughts, attitudes, biases and actions.

Reflection can occur in several ways – some are more comfortable doing this than others; some choose the privacy of meditation, while others look for self-disclosure in group settings. At this level of community service practice, you will need to be able to use both processes.

Self-evaluation should not simply be conducted on oneself in isolation but the process should involve other people as well. This is important so that process benefits from the complexity, neutrality and necessary insight that can only come when people with varying observations and capabilities offer their insight.  It is for this reason that self-evaluation of professional practice should be entered into with the insight of supervisors or other work colleagues, depending on which would suit the situation better.

People can find the evaluation process threatening. There is a belief that with the concept of evaluation only weaknesses will be focused on and that professional practice may be in question. In reality, however, evaluations are just as much about finding positive aspects of professional practice as they are about overcoming gaps or difficulties. Evaluation should never be used as a way to humiliate people but rather as a means for assessing current practices, acknowledging their positive aspects and identifying the areas for improvement.

It is important to be clear about exactly what is being evaluated and why. Some of the reasons for self-evaluation may include:

  • To understand the impact of a behaviour on others
  • To develop an appreciation of the needs of others in the context of interpersonal relationships, including relationships with clients and colleagues
  • To assess whether behaviour impedes or enhances professional practice
  • To identify and improve poor professional practice

There are a number of strategies you could use to undertake self-evaluation in conjunction with a supervisor and/or peers, these include but are not limited to:

  • Ask colleagues for feedback about specific aspects of your work – either face to face or anonymously via a survey
  • Ask for an opportunity with your manager or supervisor to reflect on your professional practice
  • Ask your manager or supervisor if they would shadow you (where appropriate) and offer feedback on your professional practice

Reflect and Recognise the Effect of Values, Beliefs and Behaviours in Practice

Reflection is a form of self-appraisal, and encourages you to look back at what you did or said in order to improve or further develop your skills. Reflecting upon your own professional practice enables you to think about the client experience, what is occurring in their life, what have they told you about their situation, what recommendations have you made? It can help you to make sense of what is going on and allows you to step back and look at the situation in a logical manner. Reflection is also beneficial for the client, as it allows them to reflect back upon what they have said, what they have done and how they could have done something differently. It also allows them to make sense of a situation and allows them time to reflect.

When you reflect you consider the following questions about what you are doing

  • What features do I notice when I recognise this thing?
  • What are the criteria by which I make this judgment?
  • What procedures am I enacting when I perform this skill?
  • How am I framing the problem that I am trying to solve?


Self-awareness refers to how well you know yourself, your strengths and limitations; what you can and cannot offer; your goals; attitudes and personal biases. Self-awareness is a complex and difficult characteristic that practitioners must master in order to participate in self-evaluation and the subsequent professional improvement that comes from it. Workers must be effective in observing the self; understanding, interpreting and motivating themselves to be able to self-evaluate (Pockett, Napier & Giles 2013).

The way you see yourself can be quite different to the way that others see you. For example, you might think you are a good listener who always offers support and advice to others, yet others see you as quite self-obsessed always changing the focus of a conversation to when something similar happened to you. Being self-aware makes it possible to see these inconsistencies and to assess attitudes and behaviours more objectively. It develops an awareness of your attitudes, beliefs, values, behaviour and assumptions which gives insight into how you might think, act and feel. Without this insight, it can be difficult to understand the effect you have on others and when, how or why you may need to modify a behaviour.  Self-awareness thus allows you to clearly see your strengths and weaknesses honestly and aids in your personal growth and development (Zimmerman, 2002).

In your journey to self-awareness, it is important to understand and develop awareness of the fact that your values may vary quite significantly to those of your clients. Your own personal values and attitudes, and those of others, are develop from many different sources, including personal experience, feelings, first impressions, the influence of others close to us, facts and data, stereotypes and the law. Your values are fluid and change as you progress through your lifetime but they will constantly impact on your decisions.  Most conflict in any type of relationship whether it be personal, professional or client practitioner, can be caused by incongruence in value systems.  It is then important to have a firm understanding of yourself and your personal values and beliefs and be sure not to judge, project or react in an appropriate way to those of others.

There is a limit to what each of us can do alone, it is critical to have a supervisor to help shape and frame our reflection. Reflecting on professional practice is a critical piece of development as a community service worker that links theory to practice. Reflective practice involves being able to think about your own behaviour, attitudes, skills, knowledge, manner and professional conduct critically, looking for ways to improve the way you work.


Metacognition can be used a reflective process. It is awareness and knowledge of what cognition (learning) is and enables you to have the ability to control cognition (learning), i.e. the attitudes and habits that support and drives learning. The key operations of metacognition is planning your learning, monitoring your learning and assessing your learning.


Watch Brief Intro to Metacognition


The Reflective Practice

The reflective practice increases our awareness of ourselves as professionals and can be a very powerful tool, producing a range of positive outcomes including;

  • Affirming what we do well
  • Becoming aware of aspects of current practices that could be improved
  • Identifying areas that require considerable attention

Reflective practices can be used to

  • Recognise and continue good practices
  • Change and improve what is not working well
  • Challenge practices that are taken for granted
  • Monitor all aspects of practice on an ongoing basis
  • Know when to find more information or support from others

The purpose and process of reflective practice is to personally reflect and review what happened in the counselling session. To examine the pros and cons and learn from both the successes and mistakes. Over time the skills of reflective practice becomes a professional way of being for an effective community service worker . The skills of reflection help the community service worker to reflect with depth and flexibility and to consider a broader range of meanings and possible options that may assist clients to make changes.

Cultural Competence

Cultural competence involves the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary for effective interactions within diverse social, cultural and organisational contexts (Sue, 2006). Importantly, for individuals, cultural competence requires more than becoming culturally aware or practicing sensitivity. It can be defined as the ability to identify and challenge your own cultural assumptions, behaviour, prejudices, values and beliefs.

Cultural awareness and sensitivity requires practitioners to be aware of their own biases, stereotypes, values and assumptions about people.  Workers must recognise that these may differ from those held by other cultural groups and they need to develop inclusive practices that take into account their client’s historical, cultural and environmental context.

Cultural competence needs to be considered within a broader system wide social, historical, political and economic context, as well as at the level of individual professional practice. By connecting cultural competence with the notion of a broader social system, it recognises the need to consider different levels of a system that must be considered in promoting culturally competent practice and service delivery. At a system level, all health sector and organisational staff members need to develop significant aspects of cultural competence. Organisations need to respect and cater for cultural diversity, through their physical layout and presentation and the implementation of policies, procedures and practices that promote culturally safe, responsive environments.

As practitioners it is important to consider how your own social, cultural and professional positioning will influence the interactions you have with different people who seek your assistance. It means examining your own social and cultural identity. The process of professional reflection is a powerful tool for producing new knowledge and processes, and contributes to improving fundamental social justice outcomes for clients from a range of social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds and with physical and mental abilities.

According to Lawrence (2004) some common areas of misunderstanding when communicating cross culturally can include:

  • Use of silence: a lack of response may be an indication if misunderstanding but may also be a sign of respect so be mindful of your interpretation of silence.
  • Nonverbal communication: the ‘rules’ relating to non-verbal communication vary from culture to culture and from generation to generation, so it is important to be mindful of the differences in the following:
  • Tone of voice
  • Body language
  • Gestures
  • Posture and facial expressions
  • Distance from other people
  • Use of time and how punctuality is viewed
  • Polite forms of language: if their English is not good then instead of “please close the window” it might come out as close the window. Be aware this may not be rudeness but simply a language barrier.

The following are some simple strategies for effective cross-cultural communication:

  1. Speak slowly and clearly.
  2. Use short and simple sentences.
  3. Maintain normal volume.
  4. Use different words to express the same idea.
  5. Prioritise and sequence your instructions.
  6. Avoid jargon.
  7. Respond to expressed emotions.
  8. Be aware that residents from some cultural backgrounds may avoid disagreement at the expense of being honest.
  9. Allow time for questions and clarification.
  10. Use communication aids when necessary.

CHCPRP003 Open and Evaluative Feedback

Feedback is an integral element of professional development and refers to information received about your performance on a task or activity which is used as a basis for improvement (Links to an external site.) (Hazelwood, Avery & Karantzas, 2013). As a practitioner, it is important to know whether you are doing a good job or not and whether or not the work you do is achieving what it should achieve. Seeking feedback from others can give you the insight you need to assess your performance.

The art of giving and receiving feedback in a way that is enabling, positive and constructive requires commitment and experience. It can be confronting and challenging to request honest information from others about your own performance and behaviour. It takes a large amount of trust in the people you have asked for feedback, and courage to open yourself up to this analysis. Feedback has the potential to be an enlightening and empowering experience when conducted with consideration, as it can offer a new perspective of yourself and your performance. It can highlight the strengths and weaknesses that you may have been unaware of, or that you had decided were not relevant. In order for feedback to be constructive, empowering and enlightening it needs to be delivered in an appropriate way.

Asking for Feedback

The key to eliciting effective feedback lies in the steps below. Adherence to these general principles will ensure that when asking for feedback you receive the necessary information you require to make changes or adjustments to your practice.

  • Outline the issue: Be clear about what it is you are wanting feedback on. Do not ask vague or unfocused questions such as “Do you think I am suited to community service work?” When people are confronted with such generalised questions, their response is likely to be an equally unhelpful, “yes sure”. It is more productive to ask for feedback that is focused on a specific aspect of your personal manner or professional practice. For example “I am worried that I am too emotional for community work, what are your thoughts on that?”
  • Select your “feedback people” with care: Seeking feedback can put you in quite a vulnerable position, so make sure the people who you select to evaluate your professional practice, are people who you trust and who you believe respond to the task with integrity. It is often best to avoid people who are close to you, as they may not feel comfortable being completely honest for fear of being hurtful so they may restrict their feedback making the activity unsuccessful and pointless. It is important to seek feedback from people who have seen you in the environment you are seeking the feedback for. So in a professional setting select someone who has seen you operate in a professional capacity on a regular basis.
  • Set boundaries with your “feedback person” and ensure you request honest, fair and constructive criticism. Ensure that your “feedback person” understands what you are asking for. Explain why you have asked for their input and what you hope to get out of it. Discuss your definitions of constructive and fair feedback before you begin and address how best to deliver this feedback.
  • Be ready for the evaluation: If you have defined the issue you want feedback on well, and you have selected an appropriate “feedback person” then you need to be prepared for whatever they might say. Try to accept feedback in a non-defensive manner and be willing to set pride and ego aside in the interest of improving your professional practice and development.

The Use of Socratic Questions

Named after the early Greek philosopher Socrates, Socratic questions are rigorous and enable us to explore complex ideas and to get to the truth behind an issue. It can uncover assumptions and is used to analyse different concepts. There are a number of different types of Socratic questioning which challenge what people are saying such as;

Conceptual Clarification Questions

Get them to think more about what exactly they are asking or thinking about. Prove the concepts behind their argument. Use basic ‘tell me more’ questions that get them to go deeper.

  • Why are you saying that?
  • What exactly does this mean?
  • How does this relate to what we have been talking about?
  • What is the nature of …?
  • What do we already know about this?
  • Can you give me an example?
  • Are you saying … or … ?
  • Can you rephrase that, please?

 Probing Assumptions

Probing their assumptions makes them think about the presuppositions and unquestioned beliefs on which they are founding their argument. This is shaking the bedrock and should get them really going!

  • What else could we assume?
  • You seem to be assuming … ?
  • How did you choose those assumptions?
  • Please explain why/how … ?
  • How can you verify or disprove that assumption?
  • What would happen if … ?
  • Do you agree or disagree with … ?

 Probing Rationale, Reasons and Evidence

When they give a rationale for their arguments, dig into that reasoning rather than assuming it is a given. People often use un-thought-through or weakly-understood supports for their arguments.

  • Why is that happening?
  • How do you know this?
  • Show me … ?
  • Can you give me an example of that?
  • What do you think causes … ?
  • What is the nature of this?
  • Are these reasons good enough?
  • Would it stand up in court?
  • How might it be refuted?
  • How can I be sure of what you are saying?
  • Why is … happening?
  • Why? (keep asking it — you’ll never get past a few times)
  • What evidence is there to support what you are saying?
  • On what authority are you basing your argument?

 Questioning Viewpoints and Perspectives

Most arguments are given from a particular position. So attack the position. Show that there are other, equally valid, viewpoints.

  • Another way of looking at this is …, does this seem reasonable?
  • What alternative ways of looking at this are there?
  • Why it is … necessary?
  • Who benefits from this?
  • What is the difference between… and…?
  • Why is it better than …?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of…?
  • How are … and … similar?
  • What would … say about it?
  • What if you compared … and … ?
  • How could you look another way at this?

 Probe Implications and Consequences

The argument that they give may have logical implications that can be forecast. Do these make sense? Are they desirable?

  • Then what would happen?
  • What are the consequences of that assumption?
  • How could … be used to … ?
  • What are the implications of … ?
  • How does … affect … ?
  • How does … fit with what we learned before?
  • Why is … important?
  • What is the best … ? Why?

 Questions About the Question

And you can also get reflexive about the whole thing, turning the question in on itself. Use their attack against themselves. Bounce the ball back into their court, etc.

  • What was the point of asking that question?
  • Why do you think I asked this question?
  • Am I making sense? Why not?
  • What else might I ask?
  • What does that mean? (Links to an external site.)

Rolfe (2001)

Rolfe reflective model is based upon three simple questions:

Below is a list of questions that you may choose to answer in response to the three elements.

The value of reflective practice is that it is an important aspect of training of professionals in any discipline but in counselling it enables the community service worker the ability to reflect on their own practice. Reflection can be facilitated by questioning and dialogue and it is a skill that can be learnt.

Giving and receiving feedback in a positive and empowering manner is an important skill. Giving and providing feedback can be challenging and confronting as we are asking for our own behaviour and manner to be critiqued and requires personal courage and trust.  Feedback can help you explore what you are saying and doing, and it can help you discover your personal strengths and resources. Feedback provides a reality check and positive feedback provides reinforcement for what is being done well, and constructive corrective feedback provides assistance when things are off track. Feedback is change or improvement oriented.

CHCPRP003 Giving Feedback

Consideration, empathy, honesty and tact are integral to giving constructive feedback. The aim should be to offer feedback to your peers, supervisors or colleagues in a way that assists them to strive to improve their performance. It is a skill that takes time to harness and should be practice regularly.

Feedback is something that you will be called upon to provide in both your professional and personal lives. You will be asked to provide your opinion of people and they will expect a considered and honest answer from you. Giving feedback requires use of a range of interpersonal communication skills including, attending, active listening, paraphrasing, positive body language, eye contact and empathy.  The way you deliver feedback, and the content of the feedback, will influence the feelings and behaviours of the other person. As a community services professional, particular attention should always be paid to your feedback interactions with others to ensure the usefulness of the information that you are giving.

The Sandwich Feedback Technique for giving constructive feedback consists of beginning the feedback process with affirming what the person is doing well; offering validation and praise where it is due.  This is followed by ‘corrective feedback’ which aims to bring to the person’s attention an area of concern in their performance, attitude or behaviour that requires self-evaluation and improvement.  It is then important to then end the feedback process with a positive statement.  This process can be effective with people who are particularly averse to feedback and have a tendency to become defensive.  Overall, it can be a good process to use with all people when offering feedback as it ensures that the feedback is respectful and helpful, rather than negative and de-moralising.

According to Hazelwood et al. (2013) when giving feedback it is important to adhere to the following:

  • Ask the person their perspective on their performance. This gives you a benchmark for how different your feedback may be to their perception, which will assist in how you proceed with the delivery of the feedback.
  • Start and finish with the positive feedback. The process can be confronting so leading and ending with the positive can help everyone.
  • Be precise with your feedback and complement it with an example so it’s clear what you are referring to.
  • After providing constructive feedback check in with the recipient and see if they agree with your assessment. Ask them if they would like to add anything. This will help the recipient feel like it is not a one sided process.
  • Justify and clarify your assessment, if necessary, based on the presentation of any new information.
  • Consider the impact of your feedback on the recipient. It is important for you to be aware of your intellectual and emotional reactions to the feedback process.
  • Ensure that the feedback you are giving relates directly to the context for which the feedback is sought. The feedback process is not a platform to air personal grievances, make character assumptions or debate the integrity of the individual based on their outside of work choices. Remember that the way you deliver feedback says as much about you and your own professional integrity as it does about the practice of the person you are evaluating.

 Guidelines for Giving Feedback

Always start with the positive and be specific. Offer alternatives, describe but don’t judge and own the feedback. If you picture feedback like a sandwich, the first layer is the good news, the middle is the area for improvement, whilst the last point ends on a high notes of encouragement.

For example;

“You did a good job using a range of attending skills to develop rapport (positive). However, I was thinking that when you are asking the client about their needs, it might be helpful to consider paraphrasing what they said to ensure the client knows you have heard them (area of improvement). Generally you did a good job establishing the client’s key concerns” (encouragement to finish)

When you are providing constructive feedback you need to define the issue, be honest and fair. When requesting evaluation and feedback from others, it can be frightening, and it places you in a vulnerable position. Ensure that the person you choose is someone you can trust to be honest. Avoid choosing friends, unless you know that they will take the process seriously and will feel comfortable being honest in their feedback.

 CHCPRP003 Actively Seeking and Reflecting upon Feedback

When requesting feedback on your professional practice, be sure to choose people who see you operate in a professional capacity on a regular basis. Make sure that the people from whom you have sought feedback understand what it is that you are requesting. Discuss with them why it is that you have asked for their input and what you hope to gain from this process. Share with them your expectations and request that they be honest and fair in their appraisal of you. Take time to discuss what you each believe constructive criticism to be, and the best way to give constructive criticism that is both respectful and meaningful.

If you have chosen your respondents well and have defined the issue in such a way that the feedback they give you is specific, then you need to be prepared for whatever they might say. Try to accept feedback in a non-defensive manner, and be willing to set ego and pride aside in the interests of improving your professional practice.

Receiving Feedback

Receiving feedback requires as much skill and practice as giving it. It can be hard to be critiqued and it can be just as awkward to receive praise. Feedback is often avoided due to concern over faults being found in our performance or concern over reactions to the feedback.  It is completely normal to be apprehensive about receiving feedback but it is important to learn to be comfortable with feedback from colleagues, clients and supervisors as they can offer objectivity. Things that need to be done when receiving feedback:

  • Be receptive to what others are saying
  • Be willing to see yourself from another person’s point of view
  • Ask for clarification if something does not make sense or is confusing
  • Ask that examples are used to highlight an observation
  • Give yourself time to process before responding
  • Acknowledge that feedback is ultimately an individual’s observation and that while it can be valuable it not always without its own flaws
  • Consider the feedback in light of what you already know about yourself, your skills and the areas of professional practice you may already know (or have been told) needs attention
  • Be willing to be assertive if the feedback is inaccurate or misinformed

If you find yourself become angry, upset and defensive to feedback, pause and consider where this reaction is coming from. If it is pride and/or ego then you will need to put these aside for the sake of professional development, your work and your clients. If it is the idea that perhaps you are being judged unfairly and that the feedback is not about your professional practice but more about your individual differences with the giver, then the easiest way to assess whether the feedback is genuine is to assess whether it resonates with your understanding of yourself and the way you do your job.

  • Does the feedback align to other points that may have been raised about you professional practice by other colleagues or supervisors?
  • Is it feedback you have heard before?

Chances are if the feedback is similar to other feedback and your own awareness of your professional practice, then the feedback is legitimate and worth considering to enable you to take advantage of development and growth opportunities.

CHCPRP003 Enhancing your Own Practice

Base Improvements on Evaluation and Feedback from Others

There needs to be a willingness to examine your own thoughts and actions and an openness to the results of an evaluation. It is important to understand that the evaluation may involve some scrutiny, not of your character but of your knowledge, skills and actions.  It is not helpful to personalise this scrutiny, instead recognise it for what it is; a chance to improve and advance professionally.

Questions that you could ask yourself when assessing your work performance might include:

  • What area of your job do you feel most comfortable doing? Why?
  • What aspect of your job do you feel most uncomfortable about? Why?
  • Which elements of your job do you most enjoy? Which elements (if any) do you resent?
  • Which skills are you proudest of?
  • Which skills do you need to work on? How might you be able to work on these skills?
  • Have you demonstrated any initiative in your role over the last 12 months? If so, in what area and what inspired you? If not, is this because there are organisational structures that prohibit or discourage worker-initiative, or is it due to other reasons?
  • What positive personality traits and characteristics do you bring to your work environment?
  • What traits do you bring to your workplace that might be considered unproductive, offensive or indifferent by others?
  • What training have you undertaken in the last 12 months? How did this training improve your work performance, job satisfaction and overall team cohesion?
  • What training objectives do you feel you need to concentrate on in the next 12 months?

There are various strategies that can be employed when undertaking self-evaluation, and where ever possible more than one approach should be adopted. According to Sutherland and Nishimura (2003) you could:

  • Keep a journal of your work practice for a week or two, using it to identify things you believe you do well and things you believe require attentions.
  • Ask colleagues for feedback about specific aspects of your work – either face to face or anonymously via a survey
  • Ask clients if they would could fill out anonymous questionnaires regarding their experience with you
  • Ask for an opportunity with your manager or supervisor to reflect on your professional practice
  • Ask your manager or supervisor if they would shadow you (where appropriate) and offer feedback on your professional practice
  • Participate in regular performance evaluations where you and your supervisor evaluate your work performance against key performance indicators for your role and organisation
  • Ask friends and family who you trust what their opinions are on your greatest and inferior traits. This information can be used as a benchmark for you to gauge these traits in your professional work
  • Conduct an audit of your professional knowledge and skills as a means of identifying your strengths and assessing gaps.
  • Research evidence based practice in your area and assess how well your own practice compares to the recommended standards
  • Conduct a SWOT analysis

Using a SWOT Analysis Process

A SWOT analysis is a method of examining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that are present in any given situation. While the SWOT analysis was originally developed to be used in organisational and group contexts, it can also be used by an individual as a simple approach to examine where they excel and also to address areas to improve to reach maximum professional potential (Fisher, 2009) . It is a four step process, with each letter in the title representing a step:

S – Strengths: refer to aspects of your professional life that are most successful. These are the things that you do well and that are relevant to your professional practice. Perhaps they are personal attributes such as patience and empathy, or professional attributes such as being aware of legislative and organisational requirements.

W – Weaknesses: refer to areas that need improvement. They may be things that are necessary to your professional practice that require further improvement. Perhaps you struggle with challenging clients when it is in their best interest.

O – Opportunities: refer to options that encourage and support optimal professional practice. These can be personal, such as, having a partner who supports your professional growth and development or they can be directly related to the workplace, such as, opportunities for further training. Consider which opportunities will help you use strengths to the greatest advantage.

T – Threats:  refer to factors that might make it difficult to improve professional practice. This can be the most difficult aspect of the analysis. Some threats can be obvious, such as, a lack of resources to attend further training opportunities, but some threats can be obscure, for example, having self-limiting thoughts or low morale in the workplace.

The Johari Window

Watch Johari Window in Interpersonal Communication


The Johari Window is a simple and useful tool, developed by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham.  It is depicted as a four quadrant grid which can be used to improve self-awareness. The model represents information such as, feelings, experience, views, attitudes, skills, intentions, motivation, within or about a person, in relation to their group, from four perspectives. Johari Window terminology refers to ‘self’ and ‘others’, where ‘self’ refers to oneself (Hazelwood & Shakespeare-Finch, 2011). The 4 quadrants are:

  1. Open Area refers to what is known by the person about him/herself and is also known by others.
  2. Blind Area refers to what is unknown by the person about him/herself but which others know.
  3. Hidden Area refers to what the person knows about him/herself that others do not.
  4. Unknown Area refers to what is unknown by the person about him/herself and is also unknown by others – or unknown to self.

CHCPRP003 Networks

Internal and External Networks

Professional networks involve individuals and groups working together to share information, ideas and resources to help them meet a common goal. The term networking is often used to describe the process of making contacts with others to foster mutually beneficial and supportive relationships. It can be a wonderful opportunity to build relationships, practice communication techniques, share resources and skills, learn from other organisations and colleagues, and gain a better understanding of community needs and collaborative practice. Networks can be both formal and informal.

  • Formal networks will usually be outside your organisation and would usually be made up of representatives from various organisations who work in related areas. In most cases, formal networks have membership requirements and obligations, clearly defined processes and regular meetings or activities. Formal networks are set up to achieve specific objectives, such as providing a forum to discuss issues and share information between organisations working in the same sector, or setting up a working party to address an issue of concern (for example, youth suicide). Examples of a formal network would be local organisations, interest groups or support groups.
  • Informal networks are likely to be made up of members from your organisation such as work teams, colleagues, supervisors or your close social circle – friend’s, family or neighbours. It is a more relaxed form of a network that often assists in breaking down barriers and developing rapport.

Membership to Professional Associations

By taking out membership to professional organisations you not only keep well-informed of industry news and research, but you also get to support organisations that in turn support and strengthen the community services industry. Professional organisations organise training opportunities, publish bulletins for their members, and provide a range of other services that help you keep abreast of changing needs and offer you specific and tailored professional support and guidance. Examples of these organisations include:

  • Case Management Society of Australia & New Zealand (CMSA)
  • Australian Community Workers Association (ACWA)
  • Australian Counselling Association (ACA)
  • Australian Guidance and Counselling Association (AGCA)

Subscriptions to Professional Journals and Publications

It is important for practitioners to keep abreast of up to date research and literature.  Journals and books that are specific to your professional industry are a valuable avenue for staying up to date and informed about new trends, industry standards, research and focus areas in the field of community work and case management.  This type of research allows for you to gather an overview of the information gathered through recent studies, the literature reviews and articles written by academics and professionals in the industry, and the current models of best practice to inform us which aspects of our professional practice require attention and what professional goals should be set.

Any good University library will have subscriptions to thousands of professional journals that can be searched through various databases. If you are no longer a student, you can become a public member of these libraries and take advantage of these resources. Becoming a member of more than one University library can prove to be extremely beneficial. You may also choose to invest in a personal or organisational library of resources.

Subscribing to organisational newsletters; professional journals and publications is a way to access relevant and current information on practice standards and models in community services, for example Family Matters Journal (Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Further Training

Professional training can be an excellent way of expanding your professional knowledge and networks. These opportunities also serve as way to recharge enthusiasm for your work and its possibilities. When selecting training ensure that it is relevant to the areas of your professional practice that you have identified as needing attention. You should avoid attending workshops that simply reinforce what you already know and do well, instead you should choose training opportunities that challenge you in new ways.

Professional training can take many forms and all community services organisations should provide staff with information on the variety of professional development opportunities available to them. Such professional development opportunities can include:

  • workshops
  • internal and external training seminars
  • conferences
  • mentoring programs
  • professional supervision

There are many private and public organisations that provide training in the community services sector. Some of these training providers include:

  • Government departments such as the NSW Department of Health (and its counterpart in each state and territory) regularly provide workplace training for case managers and community workers.
  • Universities and technical and further education institutions offer a range of tertiary and postgraduate training opportunities.
  • The Education Network of Australia (EDNA) provides online educational support and resources for community service training providers.
  • The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) publishes and regularly updates the Training Bulletin (which provides a current list of training courses in the community welfare and social policy sector) on its website; similar state and territory organisations (such as NCOSS – the NSW Council of Social Services) do

CHCPRP003 Self care and Additional Support

When you work in the community services sector there is a very real risk of stress and burnout caused by various aspects of therapeutic work, for example close contact with emotional pain and suffering. Stress can also occur when there is conflict between client needs and organisational polices, uncertainty regarding expectations and conflicting or incompatible roles. All of this can eventually result in ‘burnout’ which is associated with a reduced sense of accomplishment and job effectiveness. It is important to take steps to maintain a sense of emotional and physical well-being.

Watch Self-Care for Therapists: How Do You Know When You Can’t Keep Giving?


Community service workers need to look after their own needs, emotionally, physically, intellectually and spiritually. They have a responsibility to themselves and their clients to maintain their own effectiveness, resilience and ability to work effectively. Helping others who are experiencing distress can be draining, though also rewarding. Clients may disclose terrible suffering that is confronting and difficult to hear, continual draining of energy can lead to mental and physical exhaustion

A balance is needed between work and personal life and may require planning for experiences that refresh and renew enthusiasm and energy outside of work. Prevention is key to avoiding stress and burnout.

Watch Off Balance On Purpose: The Future of Engagement and Work-Life Balance: Dan Thurmon at TEDxPSU

Stress and Burnout

Burnout is different to the everyday stress faced when dealing with a particular client’s case. It is a component of ‘compassion fatigue’, associated with feelings of hopelessness and difficulties in dealing with work or in doing your job effectively. Feelings of unrelenting emotional stress can also lead to burnout.

Causes of stress and burnout include;

  • Being unable to help distressed clients feel better
  • Heavy caseload
  • Not liking clients
  • Having self-doubt about the value of your work
  • Conflicts with colleagues
  • Feeling isolated from other professionals
  • Over-identifying with clients, and failing to balance empathy with appropriate professional behaviour
  • Finding it difficult to leave client concerns behind when away from work
  • Feeling sexual attraction to a client
  • Not receiving expressions of gratitude from clients
  • Counselling a difficult population, such as clients who are resistant and/or involuntary

Professional quality of life scale (ProQOL)

The effects of burn out can include:

  • Perceive that projects or cases have no meaning
  • Feel that work is not appreciated, recognised or important
  • View counselling as mechanical and routine
  • Derive no results and outcomes from efforts
  • Feel oppressed by institutions or agency policies
  • Stifle personal initiative to improve
  • Become isolated and fail to reach out for help and support
  • Every day is a bad day.
  • Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy.
  • You’re exhausted all the time.
  • The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming.
  • You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.

Stress versus Burnout

General Adaption Syndrome ‘GAS’

Han Selye in 1936 created the stress model ‘General Adaption Syndrome’ which explains the stress response. This can also be explained through the fight or flight response. If you are nervous about a race, you would go into the alarm stage but your body would adapt to the stressor. If you are compounded by stress at work, you would go into the resistance stage and eventually become exhausted.

Alarm Stage

  • Upon encountering a stressor, the body reacts with “fight-or-flight” response and the sympathetic nervous system is activated.
  • Hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin are released into the bloodstream to meet the threat or danger.
  • The body’s resources are now mobilised to respond.

Resistance Stage

  • Parasympathetic nervous system returns many physiological functions to normal levels while body focuses resources against the stressor.
  • Blood glucose levels remain high, cortisol and adrenalin continue to circulate at elevated levels, but outward appearance of organism seems normal.
  • Increase HR, BP, breathing
  • Body remains on red alert

Exhaustion Stage

  • If stressor continues beyond the body’s capacity, the organism exhausts resources and becomes susceptible to disease and death.

Managing Stress and Burnout

Watch Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend


Recognise – Watch for the warning signs of burnout

Reverse – Undo the damage by managing stress and seeking support

Resilience – Build your resilience to stress by taking care of your physical and emotional health

  • Prevention is preferable
  • Self-care
    • Learning how to say no to certain people
    • Putting yourself first
    • Engaging in pleasurable activities
    • Becoming aware of stress triggers
    • Findings adaptive ways to manage stress
    • Positive self-talk (courage)
    • Connect with others (resilience)


The process of self-reflection is a continuous cycle

Reflection Writing

Reflection writing encourages you to reveal personal thoughts about yourself in a journal, log book or diary.  Writing a journal is a great way to look at your own values and become more self-aware and mindful. The processes that contribute to effective reflective practice consist of;

  • Evaluating own performance
  • Developing self-awareness
  • Monitoring potential for burnout
  • Ensuring adequate self-care

Writing in a journal is a great way to do reflective writing, some key points to remember are;

  • Use descriptive sentences
  • Layered with your reflection using emotions
    • Your awareness of yourself in the action
  • Layered again with what you learned from reflection and awareness
  • Layered again with how what you learned through your reflection has changed you
    • Future learning, thinking, behaviour, ideas

An example of layers of reflection

  1. I took the dog for a walk this morning
  • Level 1: Descriptive
  1. I took the dog for a walk this morning, which I don’t usually do.
  • Level 2: Descriptive, some reflection
  1. I took the dog for a walk this morning, which I don’t usually do. It really woke me up!
  • Level 3: Descriptive, reflection and awareness/learning.
  1. I took the dog for a walk this morning, which I don’t usually do. It really woke me up! I think I will do that every morning before work.
  • Level 4: Descriptive, reflection, learning and future action

What you need to consider in reflective writing

  • your motivation
  • your strengths and weaknesses
  • your attitudes and ideas, and changes in these
  • the skills you need for different components of your practice
  • what (if anything) is blocking your progress
  • the gaps in your knowledge and skills, and how you might best work towards filling these

What you can write about

  • Events
  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Attitudes
  • Behaviour
  • Outcomes and learning
  • What to do differently next time
  • Reflection itself

 Questions you need to consider

  • What were you trying to do? Intended outcomes
  • How did you do it?
  • What worked or did not work?
  • What did you learn from the experience
  • positive or negative – academic and personal
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses? – areas to develop
  • What are your competencies or skills in this area?
  • How do you change in order to improve?

 To be an effective reflective community service worker , you must recognise that learning from what does not work is on the same path as learning what does work. There must be room for failure in the reflective process.


Meditation is another important method of reflection. It focuses on the inner state of being; it is a methodology with known mental and physical health benefits; it reduces anxiety and tension. It has a calming influence on a person and their feelings.

Meditation is about finding the quiet side of your personality. It can be confronting, as you listen for the voices within your mind. Part of meditation involves clearing the mind of distractions. Meditation brings clarity to the mind.

The history of meditation is extensive. It has been part of historic civilisations and religions; it is still practised widely as a personal development method.


Mindfulness is a process that draws from the history of ancient Buddhism, where the ideal state of being was the ‘still mind’. This was a state of inner peace that was devoid of the influences of the human ego. Academic research from western universities has discovered that mindfulness or mindful awareness can be used as a psychotherapy technique for connecting the feelings of people to their experiences when, traditionally, there is a disconnection between feelings and experiences.

Psychiatry professor Dan Siegel from the University of California has successfully trialled this process of emotional reconnection with a range of patients. He is researching interpersonal neurobiology processes as part of the explanation for how this therapy operates. (For further information follow the website

The key to the technique is to understand how the brain works. Certain parts of the brain can be suppressed in their activity because of low or underuse. For example, the emotionally labile or melancholic person may have lost the ability to laugh because they cannot experience positive feelings from funny or absurd events. Through a process of psychotherapeutic rebuilding, these feeling patterns in the brain can be reconstructed. It takes time and reflection to overcome these blockages.

For community service workers, mindfulness can be a tool for caring for one’s own sensitivities and feelings. In the world of counselling, the therapist often gets swallowed up by the needs and demands of the clients and client systems.

CHCPRP003 Self-Development Plan

Practitioners, irrespective of their field of interest and experience, know that there is always something more to learn, skills needing refinement, issues needing to be addressed. Setting professional goals is part of the process of acknowledging that there will always be aspects of our professional practice requiring additional training, practice, knowledge, experience and attention. Identifying goals In order to determine the professional goals you would most benefit from, it can be useful to consider the following factors:

  • What areas of your professional practice have you become aware of that require attention?
  • Have colleagues or supervisors mentioned any aspects of your practice that they are concerned about?
  • Are there elements of your job that challenge you or that you feel unsure of?
  • Have professional practice issues been raised during performance appraisals?

Once you’ve assessed the issues that need to be addressed, it is then important to determine the resources available to you that can help you meet these. For example:

  • What training opportunities are available?
  • Will your employer be willing to pay for further study or will you be required to finance this yourself?
  • What are your time commitments?
  • Will further training encroach on an already full life, or will you be able to undertake training opportunities during work time?
  • What support is available to you within your organisation?
  • Are you able to access professional supervision in your workplace, or is there a mentor you could work with to improve your professional practice?

Be sure to consider as broad a range of resources as possible, including texts, seminars, conferences, workshops, study (either class-based or online) and mentoring. Once you have determined the elements of your professional practice that you wish to improve, establish the available resources that will help you accomplish this.  You then need to apply this research to improve your practice by developing a plan for setting precise professional development goals. A useful way of doing this is to use the S.M.A.R.T. process for goal-setting:


The goals that you set, just like the feedback you’ve requested, needs to be specific. Specific goals make the ultimate aim clear and provide a much-needed focus. Specific goals need a measure for you to know if, and when, you have achieved it. For example “My goal is to improve my communication skills over the next 12 months”. An example of a vague goal would be “my communication needs to change”.

To help you specify your goal, consider the six W’s:

  1. Who is involved?
  2. What do you want to accomplish?
  3. Where will it take place?
  4. When will it occur?
  5. Which requirements and constraints do I need to consider?
  6. Why: reasons, purpose and benefits of achieving the goal


In order to be able to assess whether or not a goal has been achieved, you need to ensure that you choose goals that can be measured. This “yard stick” for progress or achievement must be included during the goal setting process, or you will have no way of measuring your success. The measuring process should be as simple as possible, you might like to discuss with colleagues, supervisors or mentors how you will measure your achievements, but consider questions like: How much? How many? How will you know when it is accomplished?


You need to set goals that allow you to grow in your skills and knowledge and stretch your personal and professional boundaries, but the goal still needs to be achievable. If you set your goal too high you may discover you cannot stretch that far and become discouraged. It is important to note that setting attainable goals may not be so much about changing the specifics of the goal, but more about setting realistic timeframes for achieving that goal.

In a professional context you may need to have agreement from supervisors and colleagues about your plans as they may involve a request for attendance at training, external supervision or study leave. Even if agreement is not a requirement, it can be useful to share them nonetheless, not only because this increases accountability but also because it provides you with support.


To be realistic a goal must present an objective that you are willing and able to work towards and that you truly believe can be accomplished. Otherwise professional goal setting can end up like making New Year’s resolutions.  Setting manageable goals within realistic timeframes, while paying attention to available resources, time and energy, will improve your chances of meeting the goals you’ve set.

 Time Specific

Time frames and deadlines are part of the responsibility aspect of goal setting. They provide a structure for professional development and ensures that tasks get started and that you remain motivated and on task. Setting long term and short term benchmarks along the way ensures you maintain the momentum and allows for small celebrations of success along the way.

Professional Development Action Plan

Having set your SMART goals, it is now time to generate a professional development action plan to help guide the implementation process. A professional development action plan helps to ensure that all needs are eventually met, and that time is allocated to reflect on, identify and address professional practice issues. Without a plan the tendency is to know what has to be done, to think about what has to be done, but to never actually make time to undertake what has to be done. A professional development action plan must align with your organisational policies, plans and procedures for professional development and forms a tangible document to ensure your compliance to these organisational rules. A professional development action plan should outline:

  • The identified gap in your skills or knowledge
  • The reason why the professional development is required
  • The priority assigned to each aspect of professional development
  • Where, when and how the professional development will take place
  • The plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the training undertaken and its impact on the professional practice

The table below demonstrates how a useful template can be employed when creating a professional development action plan. The content of the table is included for illustrative purposes only.

Putting together a professional development action plan is about taking responsibility for your own community service practice, and demonstrating a willingness to regularly review and improve it. Plans work best if they are medium to long-term (for example they cover a 6 month to 12 month period), they factor in probable variables (such as holiday periods, service closures and the like), and they are realistic in their goals and deadlines.  Refer back to your SMART goals. You need to be sure you allow time for reflection on practice and reactions to changes in the industry,  as well as active training, and to develop ways of recognising and evaluating the new skills you will be developing. The above template can be helpful to set your action plan in place, but having one single location in which to save all the various professional development activities you have participated in, can help you keep your professional development on track and ensure you never lose anything important. One way to do this is through a Professional Portfolio.

 Developing a Professional Portfolio

Professional portfolios are designed to highlight your experience, your achievements, and provide a solid context with which you can assess your skills and identify further areas for professional development. Portfolios contain information about your qualifications, awards, newspaper articles, journal entries you consider important and a range of other items to prompt you to reflect on, and improve, your professional practice. When developing a reflective portfolio, the aim is to focus on your experiences and perceptions, and to use these as a platform to identify areas of professional practice that need attention.

Electronic portfolios are the newest way to demonstrate your professional development and practices. E-Portfolios are in an electronic space for you to display your best work, put together with software and services that help with the collection, collation and organisation of work highlights. E-portfolios are a fluid, developmental space that represents your professional ‘self’ on the internet. They are becoming standard practice for academics, students, and professionals and typically include examples of skills and achievements, as well as a reflective blog element. E-portfolios can be developed in a variety of ways, from free and simple blogging platforms, to modules in learning management systems, to dedicated software programs and services. Many colleges and universities offer their own e-portfolio services to students, be they proprietary or licensed through an outside provider.

The following is an example of an e-portfolio:  Visit Elizabeth D’Amico E-Portfolio

Regardless of how you choose to manage your professional portfolio, it is important that it includes:

  • Your feelings about and reactions to current trends, issues, events, job requirements
  • Your understanding of your professional role and your (and perhaps others’) assessment of how you are managing that role.
  • Your expectations of the work you are doing and your future professional goals. Certificates of attendance at workshops, seminars and conferences, together with your assessment of what you gained from each of these.
  • Your current professional networks and your networking strategies, and what lessons you have learned from various colleagues and networks.
  • Your professional development plan (including goals and strategies).

It is imperative to learn to distinguish between the components of the portfolio that are important and those that are redundant. Keep in mind that the aim of a reflective portfolio is to provide you with an overview of your current practice and achievements, and also to provide prompts, goals and strategies for improving your professional practice. Therefore you need to be careful to not fill your portfolio only with ‘feel-good’ reminders of our successes, but to really utilise this tool to challenge yourself, your expectations and your standards.

CHCPRP003 Facilitate Ongoing Professional Development

Improve Practice Through Gaining Information on Current and Emerging Industry Developments

An important part of the role is striving to enhance skills and professional practice. Part of that duty involves evaluating our professional development and goals against industry standards and guidelines. Managers should value continued professional development and encourage colleagues to achieve their goals and develop their competence. Staff should be made aware of, and encouraged to comply with, industry standards of professional practice.

As discussed earlier, the best way to stay abreast of current and emerging industry development’s is either through continual learning, joining associations, attending workshops or reading journal articles, another way is to have a supervisor. Supervision is a process of monitoring and reviewing operational dynamics by another professional in the field – usually of higher standing and experience. All parts of the case management process are open to review, including the personal behaviour and development of the person being supervised. Supervision is a broad process and often is best provided by a professionally trained supervisor.

Supervision is a reciprocal learning process. It operates on a reflective model in most situations. Rarely do supervisors give hard and fast directions, with the exception of mandatory reporting. The supervisor should ask for an annual development plan that can be measured. Development should fit the needs of the community service worker.  The supervisor is also entitled to challenge them for under-setting development targets. Development should take the worker out of their learning comfort zone.

The supervision process may well become a means of introducing new knowledge for the worker, which then becomes open to subsequent interpretation. The supervisor will be looking for the measureable application of the new knowledge.

Both the Supervisor and the CommunitySservice Worker Needs to Consider a Constellation of Other Learning Factors:

  • Adult learning principles.
  • Personal learning style preferences.
  • Barriers to learning.

Ethical and Legal Requirements and Opportunities

Agencies have service delivery standards and adhere to a code of ethics to ensure that practice standards are maintained.  There are key values that inform an organisation’s mission statement and policies and procedures. A code of ethics is a series of guidelines about appropriate and expected behaviour to assist employees to conduct their practices in ethically accountable ways. They offer guidance in making decisions but they do not intentionally specify what decision is to be made in any given situation.

There are several industry bodies in counselling, all of which operate within an ethical code of practice. All of these codes of practice are essentially the same, highlighting values such as integrity and a fundamental belief in the rights of all human beings to be treated with dignity and respect.

When working through strategies that help to evaluate and improve your own professional practice, you need to ensure that your goals are in line with the relevant organisational, legislative and industry-specific principles and codes. It is also important to regularly evaluate your professional development against these standards. Management has particular responsibilities in ensuring that you are aware of, and encouraged, to comply with industry standards of professional practice, but ultimately you should manage your own adherence to these guidelines using a range of evidence.

Evidence can be gathered to assess your own practice through:

  • Clients and stakeholders
  • Community members and networks
  • The general public
  • Work colleagues and supervisors
  • Social contacts

These avenues can be used to assess your own professional practice and to gather information about changing trends in the way people expect counselling to be delivered. Consistent research of current trends and changes in legislation and government regulations should be undertaken and should also be used to inform self-assessment to these ethical practices and standards.

It is important that as you strive to improve your professional practice you remind yourself of the ethical codes upon which the counselling is based. This helps to focus your energies and options, and ensures that whatever strategy you use to widen your knowledge and skills, it is in keeping with the values and principles that underline all counselling practice. When faced with complex ethical issues or dilemmas it is imperative that you seek support from management, mentors, supervisors, colleagues or industry experts

Moral and Ethical Principles

Ethical principles are the ideas and general moral injunctions that underpin professional codes.

Six moral principles that inform the attributes of an ethical and professional community service worker include:

  1. Beneficence: What will do the most good?
  2. Non-maleficence: What will do the least harm?
  3. Justice: What is fair and just?
  4. Fidelity: What is prohibited and what is obligatory?
  5. Respect for autonomy: What maximises the opportunities for everyone involved to implement their choices?
  6. Veracity: In what ways is being truthful with clients important?

Ethical Practice

Ethics is a concept of human behaviour that reflects the moral desire to be responsible in thought and deed with respect to other human beings and the environment in which they live, including flora and fauna. Ethics is a higher standard of care than legal obligation which simply reflects compliance with the laws of the land. Low standards of moral reasoning in law mean low levels of compliance.

Ethics are part of a philosophy of principle and values – they are not simply a matter of feelings. One (1) of the principles of ethics has been the ancient Latin maxim of ‘primo non nocere’ – the precept of doing no harm through professional interventions.

Ethics are not just subjective, even though they reflect subjective elements. Within professional organisations, ethics are linked to a code of practice and a statement of values of that professional body. These codes of practice are subject to regular review. Professional membership organisations actively display their codes of ethics. They encourage compliance by members and they have complaint mechanisms to test the behaviour of members.

Be familiar with the ethical codes and practice standards of the industry. Community service workers must behave in an ethical and responsible manner towards themselves, clients, colleagues, the organisation for whom they work, and society at large. These obligations highlight why ethical principles are important considerations for all workers.

Values, Beliefs and Behaviour

Your personal values, attitudes and behaviours are shaped by many different sources, including positive and negative personal experiences, feelings, first impressions, peers, colleagues, stereotypes and the law. Not every person you interact with will share similar values, behaviours and beliefs. It is for this reason that it is particularly important to be aware of a range of social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds and physical and mental abilities when operating in the community service sectors.  A high level of self-awareness and emotional intelligence helps workers to identify values and personal biases; and to determine how they will impact their work with clients.

Adhere to Legal Parameters

Organisations have policies and procedures that guide workers on ethical issues and best practice standards.  All workers in community services should be aware of access, equity and human rights issues in relation to their own area of work.  Practitioners must abide by duty of care requirements when supporting all clients.  This ensures that both clients and workers have their rights upheld and their need for safety is holistically met.  Two key principles underpin a worker’s duty of care obligations.  They are:

  1. The Do No Harm Principle
  2. The Best Interest of the Client Principle

Community service workers must also ensure that they have access to relevant legislation and that they abide by the law at all times.  Acts to the provision of health services include:

  • Privacy Act
  • Anti-discriminations legislation
  • Consent to Medical treatment
  • Mandatory Reporting
  • Release of client information, including medical and other records
  • Coroners Act
  • Child Protection
  • Health and Safety Legislations
  • Infectious control

If a community service work ever finds themselves in a compromising position with a client where ethical issues are present, they must seek specialist advice from their supervisor or discuss the situation with their supervisor.

CHCPRP003 Extend and Expand Own Expertise

There are a number of ways in which you can extend and expand your own expertise for example through Action resource. Action research involves studying the relevant literature and research to see how own professional practice can be improved. It sues information gathered through recent research and literature reviews, and current models of best practice to inform aspects of professional practice that require attention.

As you learnt in a previous unit, understanding your learning style should enable you to identify, adapt to and utilise valuable opportunities to develop your competencies and design professional development pathways for yourself and others. A widely-used model of learning style is Fleming’s (2001) Visual Auditory Kinaesthetic (VAK) model. According to this model, most people possess a dominant or preferred learning style; however some people have a mixed and evenly balanced blend of the three styles:

  1. Visual learners: tend to learn through seeing, think in pictures and need to create vivid mental images to retain information. Have a good sense of direction, sketching, painting, creating visual metaphors and analogies (perhaps through the visual arts), manipulating images, constructing, fixing, designing practical objects, and interpreting visual images
  2. Auditory learners: Learn through listening. Have highly developed auditory skills and are generally good at speaking and presenting. Have auditory skills demonstrated in listening, speaking, writing, storytelling, explaining, teaching, using humour, understanding the syntax and meaning of words, remembering information, arguing their point of view, and analysing language usage
  3. Kinaesthetic Kinaesthetic/physical/tactile learners: Learn through moving, doing and touching. Have skills demonstrated in physical coordination, athletic ability, hands on experimentation, using body language, crafts, acting, miming, using their hands to create or build, dancing, and expressing emotions through the body.


Personality refers to unique differences in individual patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. There are many factors that make up and affect your personality. Genetics influence the characteristics inherited from parents which manifest in personality.  Environmental factors also shape personality.  Socialisation is a process by which conditioned ways of being and learning are internalised.  Family of origin, culture, education, socio-economic level, peers, and media are socialisation agents that shape our attitudes, biases, values, moral compass and beliefs

(Anand, Devadoss & Anand, 2014).  A classification method which is considered to be quite accurate in categorising personalities is the A B C D Personality Type measure (Radwan, 2015).

It is important to understand that you do have a degree of control over your personality. While you can lay the blame for your flawed personalities on genetics, you must realize that the four other factors that affect your personalities are to a large extent within your control. Building the right self-image, being positive about your experiences (good or bad) and keeping company with people who add value to your life, will go a long way to building the personality that truly works for you in your family, work and social life (Anand, Devadoss , & Anand, 2014).

Upgrading Skills and Knowledge

There are a number of ways in which you are able to upgrade your skills and knowledge in the community sector, this includes on-the-job reflective learning. They include:

  • External Placement in a Setting that Does not Recognise your Authority.

This is an opportunity to test your earned rather your ascribed status as a professional. Placement organisations need to know your probable value in advance. Counselling practice should be kept to a minimum. This role should have strategic not operational value.

  • Specialist Courses Across a Range of Subject Fields.

Advanced courses are a rich source of challenge and review. They should be selected carefully and with the guidance of a supervisor.

  • Specialised Supervision in Particular Areas of Desired Knowledge Development.

Some skills and their development require specialist training and monitoring. For example, the teaching of psychodrama calls for specialist contingency management skills. These skills need to be learned before the community service worker can effectively teach them to others.

  • Additional Qualifications.

Some further qualifications or skills endorsements will offer changes in thinking and perspective. The commitment to lifelong learning is an admirable goal.

  • Coaching – the Process of AcceleratedLlearning.

Coaching is a process of learning that yields value because it offers the community service worker and their agency fast results and lower costs than conventional learning methods. Coaching is like supervision in that it revolves around a series of conversation. Coaching operates in the ‘here and now and the future’, definitely not the psychodynamics of the past.

  • Mentoring – the Process of Socialisation.

This is a process of introduction into the power structures of an organisation. The concept of socialisation refers to the development of appropriate professional behaviours and ideas. For community service workers, this type of professional socialisation has parallels to the process of socialisation as a human being. Mentors are usually people of seniority who can ‘teach the ropes’ to junior members with leadership potential and aspirations. Mentoring is a formal process – it needs to be structured as a reciprocal arrangement of learning and development. The mentor will design the mentoring program. Mentoring can occur through discussions, attending special events, studying specific cases or meeting influential people. It can be a very valuable interpersonal learning experience. The opportunity to arrange mentoring may be restricted by access to mentors. Community service workers  in rural and remote areas may not have the same access to the mentor pool as their metropolitan colleagues.

  • Action-Learning.

Action-learning is a strictly reflective process of learning. It is a group development process of learning that assumes the answers to questions lie within the wisdom of the group members. It is a process of interrogative learning. Questions are asked, answered and critiqued for their deeper meaning. The process of questioning yields its own alternative answers even though they were not known or understood explicitly at the commencement of the learning process. The model has antecedents that reach back into ancient times and their models of learning. Modern neuroscience research is expected to explain how this process operates in the brain in future years. There is evidence to suggest that ‘imagination’ is a source of yielding alternative solutions. Action-learning can be an internal agency learning tool or it may be a professional or industry practice conducted via a workshop or seminar.

  • Literature Reading.

Professions use journals to communicate between their members and the greater community. Journals carry a range of information. Some journal articles report on research project results; other journal articles discuss new trends and practices, particularly industry trends. Journals will usually include reviews of relevant books. Some journals are multidisciplinary in style, while others are very specific in their focus. Some journal articles reflect internal debates within the profession. There is a real need for students and graduates to keep abreast of new developments. Keeping up with learning from the literature is a professional responsibility and an ethical obligation. Clients are entitled to receive services that reflect contemporary practice. In the event of a complaint about the services received from a community service worker, current practice knowledge could be a matter under consideration.

  • Conferences

Conferences are a well-established form of peer professional learning and development. Most professions have a range of professional conference opportunities. These range from local events through to global events. Conferences allow the participants to share research ideas and results, test new ideas and practices and to meet with colleagues. Some conferences become events at which long-standing professional relationships develop between participants.

CHCPRP003 Reflect on and improve own professional practice


Practitioners need to be aware of professional boundaries and the risks associated with developing dual relationships with clients.  In this assessment you are required to complete the questions relating to the following case study in which knowledge and understanding of professional boundaries are required.

Louise is going through a divorce and is very worried about the impact on her children and how she will manage financially with the reduced income.  As her counsellor you immediately relate to the client’s experience as you had a painful divorce recently. You decide to speak with your client about your divorce, the property settlement and the fact that your teenage daughter is now in counselling.  Louise is crying and appears to be very vulnerable.

Question 1

Upon reflection you realise the ethical dilemmas present in continuing work with Louise.  List three (3) goals using the SMART Model that you will help you in terms of self-awareness that will help you to avoid a similar situation in future.

You are required to write three goals for yourself about ways you could be more self aware. For example: I will write in my thoughts in my journal every night for the next six months to become more self aware. Please write three goals for yourself which will enable you to become more self aware.