How can we use our documentation and notekeeping in new ways to improve our work and continuously learn?
“Reflective practice” is one way to do this.
It is a ‘key element of practice’ in Domestic Violence Victoria‘s Code of Practice for specialist family violence services for women and children:
Workers engage in reflective practice and employ proactive and reactive strategies to ensure positive self care.
What is reflective practice?
Work becomes reflective when you do more than simply describe or record what you have done or what has occurred.
Your practice is reflective when you ask questions about:
- What you did?
- Why you did it?
- How you did it?
What you might have done instead?
You can reflect on:
- the skills, theory and knowledge you hold and the ways in which these shape your work.
- your emotional responses to people, situations and things that happened
You think out, analyse and consider the effects, outcomes and implications of your practice.
A deeper, more complex level of reflection
When you explore the impact and influence of how:
- power structures
- different contexts, and
- diverse individual characteristics
impact your work, you can do a more critical level of reflection.
Along with these considerations, think about your:
- beliefs, and
How these might have influenced your work, in both helpful and unhelpful ways?
Why is reflective practice important?
As a reflective practitioner, you are open to review, learning, development and change, as difficult and challenging as this can be at times.
Reflecting on your practice is a continuous, cyclical process and contributes to continuing practice and professional development.
How can I do reflective practice in my workplace?
There are lots of possibilities. Some ways are:
- supervision – one-one or group or peer
- participate in critical reflection practice groups
- keep a personal reflective practice journal
- do program or practice evaluations, and
- have informal discussions with work colleagues.
- Boud, D., Cressey, P. & Docherty, P. (2006). Productive Reflection at Work. Routledge, London
- Bradbury, H., Frost, N., Kilminster, S. & Zukas, M. (2009). Beyond Reflective Practice. Routledge, London
- Fook, J. & Gardner, F, (2007). Practising Critical Reflection. McGraw Hill, Maidenhead
- Issitt, M. (2003). Reflecting on reflective practice for professional education and development in health promotion. Health Education Journal. 62; p173.
- Schon, D. (1991). The Reflective Practitioner. Aldershot: Avebury Ashgate.
- Trevithick, P. (2005). Social Work Skills: A Practice Handbook. Open University Press.
- Wilson, McCormack & Ives, (2006). “Regenerating the ‘self’ in learning.” in Learning in Health and Social Care, 5 (2), p. 90 – 105
- DV Vic’s Code of Practice (includes a list of questions to ask)
- Deb Western’s powerpoint: Developing a Reflective Practice Framework for Family Violence Practioners
- Iowa Department of Human Services: Reflective Practice questions for workers in family violence
Photo from Flickr by symmetry_mind
Disclosure: Deborah Western, the author of this blog post, is on the Governance Group of DVRCV.