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Reflecting on Reflective Practice Groups - What are they?

It is difficult to define what these reflective practice groups are; they are more than chatting but they differ from:

Ø Supervision because the focus is on ourselves and our practice rather than the client.

Ø Group Therapy in that there are no specific therapeutic goals to be achieved.

Ø Personal or Professional Development in that there’s no set of outcomes to be achieved.

These practice-focused conversations are a space created to support our practice from a nurturing, empowering and shared experience. There comes forth a focus on the practitioner’s perspective, a sense of looking after one’s work by looking after ones self within each of the roles we hold in our personal and professional life.

We, Marta and Netty, both love learning, hearing other perspectives, fresh, as they are, not trying to accommodate to a pre-existing format. With mutual respect, care and attention our individual expressions offer a contribution to each for greater growth and understanding. All participants of our group shared the sense that a reflective space offered something that was welcomed - the richness of diversity.

It was great noticing how energized we all become when we can follow our own direction. Reflective Practice is a hard experience to pin down and nor would we want to: it is freedom and organically grows out of the material that we each bring about ourselves and our work, it naturally leads to other topics . It is a powerful learning tool and an engaging support. We feel enlivened and have renewed passion for life and the work we both choose and trained to do.

There is learning but we are not teachers. There is therapeutic growth, but we are not in therapy. There is mutual respect for each person's sharing and other minds to think around one topic that opens us up to new possibilities.

A theme of the eve was “Not up for doing that anymore…”. Working as a therapist within other organisations or services, we sometimes find ourselves and our practice requirements misunderstood, mistrusted, envied, undervalued or completely devalued. The work is sometimes made almost impossible to carry out - sometimes it would be best if we had just stopped! Whatever those circumstances: people, new directives, restrictions are, and they become obstacles to our practice and our work becomes useless at best, if not actually harmful. BURNOUT - does not mean the worker is feeble - but rather the worker has been rendered useless.

Not all environments we work in as therapists are therapeutically minded. This often causes friction between us and others who work in that environment. Discussion helps us to recognise and remember that though there may be differing goals and aims, ultimately our work supports the work of the rest of the team who work around the client. We need to be able to educate others about our practice needs, and gain the recognition that we have enough training and experience to be able to do our job well even if others do not understand or acknowledge our efforts.

After years of coping, putting up with difficult relationships or adverse environments we sometimes feel “Not up for doing that anymore” this battle uses up a lot of energy. We like to do our work ethically right and as we know it is to be done, and if others don’t care or cannot support our work then because we care we sometimes feel we have to go elsewhere to do good work.

We found the group self-affirming and inspirational. We strongly believe that we all need ways of filling our emotional cups and reflective practice is good for that. Let’s make time for that exploring and discussion and find support in these groups!

By sharing playfulness and humour when exploring our experiences of not being supported, we can renew our strength to go forward in therapeutic work.

We feel the reflective practice group is a space where all can examine and explore their humanity without the need for achievement or competition. Openness and honesty is what brings about new ways of thinking when played with respectfully with other minds, it feels to us like magic happens!

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