Using intuition in social work decision making

Journal article


Sicora, A., Taylor, B., Alfandari, R., Enosh, G., Helm, D., Killick, C., Lyons, O., Mullineux, J., Przeperski, J., Rölver, M. and Whittaker, A. (2021). Using intuition in social work decision making. European Journal of Social Work. 24 (5), pp. 772-787. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2021.1918066
AuthorsSicora, A., Taylor, B., Alfandari, R., Enosh, G., Helm, D., Killick, C., Lyons, O., Mullineux, J., Przeperski, J., Rölver, M. and Whittaker, A.
Abstract

Social workers must make ‘justifiable’ decisions, but ‘intuition’ is also important in assessment, decision making and working with risk. We discuss intuition within professional judgement as being part of our cognitive faculties; emotionally-informed reasoning processes connect workers with clients and families; and intuition making use of internalised learning. Challenges discussed include intuition as a taboo topic; communicating intuition-based judgements within group decision processes; and lack of models for integrating intuition with explicit use of knowledge. To develop the professional knowledge base on professional judgement, the paper considers six theoretical frameworks which might be used to conceptualise intuition within social work decision making, including: (1) the ‘tacit knowledge’ of sociological discourse; (2) intuition as ‘sense-making’; (3) internalisation of learning; (4) conceptual schemas from neuroscience; (5) Kahnemann’s ‘thinking fast and slow’; and (6) decision heuristics. Intuition is discussed in the context of supervision and organisational governance; use of assessment tools and processes; creation of mental models for practice; implications for education and training; and further research. Although the profession must continue to develop its ability to use the best knowledge to inform practice, a psycho-social rationality model may be required to conceptualise internalised ‘intuitive’ judgement processes in practice.

KeywordsSociology and Political Science; Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
Year2021
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Journal citation24 (5), pp. 772-787
PublisherInforma UK Limited
ISSN1369-1457
1468-2664
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2021.1918066
Publication dates
Online01 Jun 2021
Print03 Sep 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted02 Apr 2021
Deposited11 Jun 2021
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Open
Page range1-16
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