Reflective Practice Sessions at Psychology Associates

Reflecting on things which have happened is the gateway to understanding these events. Working within the health and social care fields (or any job where we are working directly with people), it is important that we consider and reflect on how we are executing that care or support. When we talk about reflective practice, we are therefore talking about reflecting on (or consciously thinking about) things which have happened at work (our practice).

There are a number of theorists who suggest ways that we can reflect on work events. Schon (1983) suggests that we can reflect ‘in action’ – whilst the event is happening, akin to ‘thinking on your feet’, as well as reflecting ‘on action’ – actively thinking about the event afterwards to consider what went well and not so well, and what might be done differently next time. Kolb (1984) and Gibbs (1988) further suggest that we derive learning from this reflection, and so part of the exercise of reflection is to decide what we might want to put into action next time. Gibbs adds that considering our thoughts and feelings about the event, including our own actions, also provides useful information to guide our future action in similar circumstances.

The act of consciously considering our own internal thoughts and feelings adds another dimension to reflection, making it Critical Reflection. The critical part is about asking ourselves probing questions to understand our internal processes – why do I think/behave in the ways I do? These are important questions when we are working with people, because people and situations will have an impact on us or trigger certain reactions in us, and it is vital that we understand these in order to avoid being blindsided by them. Therefore, critical reflective practice is about getting to know ourselves from the inside out, unearthing our blind spots, so that we can understand ourselves better. Self-reflection is the key to self-understanding, and are values which have been espoused since the early philosophers such as Socrates and Plato. Being self-aware helps guide our actions in future interactions.

So who would benefit from Reflective Practice?

Anyone working with people in a supportive capacity. You may be a nurse or health care assistant in a hospital, residential setting or supporting people in their own homes; a support worker out in the community; a solicitor working with families in distress or crisis; a first responder attending medical emergencies; teacher or teaching assistant in a school; social workers; psychologist, psychotherapists and counsellors; etc. Anybody working directly to support others, would benefit from reflective practice. Particularly when the people we are supporting are experiencing some form of challenge or distress, then reflective practice becomes even more pertinent to our ability to continue to provide the best quality care and support that we can.

What happens in a Reflective Practice session at Psychology Associates?

It is a safe space to bring your whole self and talk about your experiences without judgement. A large part of reflective practice at Psychology Associates is about thinking about the impact of your work on you as a whole person (your personal and professional self), as well as considering the impact of you on your work (what you bring). It is a space where our personal and professional identities can begin to be integrated. We all have lives, and as much as we can try, we cannot leave our personal self at the door when we arrive at work and put on a ‘professional hat’ – this notion is largely out-dated, and it is important for the people that we are supporting that we can begin to acknowledge this, and reflective practice is a space where we can do this safely.

The facilitator will be interested in your thoughts and feelings, and will help you to become more in touch with your thoughts, feelings and internal processes. With this insight, when you start to explore incidents and events at work, the facilitator will be able to make links with these internal processes to help you to understand why you may have responded or reacted in certain ways. You will also be guided to understand your triggers and blind spots, which will be helpful for future interactions.

Done in a compassionate way, reflective practice sessions are led by inquisitive enquiry with probing questions which often feel uncomfortable at first, but participants tend to find it a helpful space where they learn more about themselves. Participants also find it a helpful space to vent and share experiences, and leave feeling comforted that they are not alone in their experiences.

Written by Dr Nneamaka Ekebuisi, Clinical Psychologist


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