Reframing reflection

I attended an incredibly informative workshop on using supervision and reflection which was part of the ASPIRE Assistant Psychologist programme. There were six of us who attended and a Specialist Clinical Psychologist who facilitated the session.

We spoke about many different topics across the time we had but some of the main topics we spoke about included: what supervision can be used for, structured models of reflection, different ways of reflecting and the importance of reflecting on things going well.

There were so many important discussions that we had but one of my main takeaways from the day was around the different ways that we can reflect. We spoke about how the method of reflecting which seems to be given more weight within Clinical Psychology involves sitting alone and writing down your thoughts, and how this idea of reflection likely occurs a very small percentage of the time. Most reflections occur randomly throughout the day but are usually facilitated by activities such as speaking with friends, cooking, driving, exercising, showering/having a bath and praying.

By changing this perspective it helped me reframe how these everyday activities are incredibly important in slowing down, being more mindful and having the time to reflect on whatever is going on for you in that moment.

The best way to reflect is entirely based on the type of person doing the reflecting, what you might be reflecting on, your own cultural norms and simply how you might be feeling that day. Some days I might need to go on a long walk to think things through and other days I might need to have a rant to a friend.

We also spoke about reflecting on the positives – not just when things go wrong. This is something that I know I find very easy to forget. We know that we need to talk about situations that we’re struggling with but when it comes to things that are going well these can get forgotten much more easily. From a logical angle it’s important to reflect on why something went well to be more aware of your own strengths and know how you can continue the good work. But from an emotional angle it can be quite difficult for a lot of us to praise ourselves. This can be especially true when working in a helping profession because we can explain how we have performed well based on other people’s evaluation of ourselves – how helpful they found our work. While this can be great it can also leave us finding it quite difficult to notice our own strengths and praise ourselves for the hard work that we do.