“As important as methods may be, the most practical thing we can achieve in any kind of work is insight into what is happening inside us as we do it. The more familiar we are with our inner terrain, the more sure footed our [work] – and living- becomes.” P. J. Palmer (cited in Skovholt, T. M., 2001). The pursuit for self-awareness or self-understanding is a chief factor of valuable reflective practice. Counsellors need not only to be conscious of their abilities, facts and presentation as professionals, but also wary of any private aspects that may mess with or obstruct their capability to supply an efficient and objective service.
Counselling professionals in their everyday practice encounter unique and difficult circumstances which may be impossible to resolve by only scientific rationale approaches. Any counsellor employing the technique of reflective practice knows that this is as an approach which promotes deeper understanding and elicits critical thinking skills that spawns opportunities for further personal development. This course of Professional Development is one means of developing reflective practice, linking the internal and external worlds of the practitioner.
II.The Model of Reflective Practice:
With the preceding information in mind, I have come to realize that reflective practice can be a very beneficial process in my own professional development as an educator, because both teaching and learning processes requires special knowledge, skills and experiences. Reflective practice is a professional development process that is believed to be highly effective in achieving behavioral change. In the profession of counselling, reflective practice is referred to mindful practice in that reflective counsellors possess certain qualities; they are aware of their own strengths and inadequacies, they carry out counselling with purpose and intention, and they examine their own levels of stress and are wary of personal matters that may interfere with their performance. Though I may have the aforementioned underlying qualities and drive to become an efficient professional, I have discovered that reflective counsellors take the time to assess and process their performance after each counselling session and are obligated to ongoing personal growth and professional development.
Therefore acting in the capacity as a counsellor, and depending on fair self-assessment I cannot satisfactorily state at present that my reflective practice is resonant of same because there are areas where I see weaknesses rather than strengths and I attribute this flaw to my lack of experience in the field. I believe at this point in my training I will function better under the watchful eye of a counselling supervisor. This course lent focus to a host of different models associated with reflective practice which was necessary to demonstrate proper counselling professionalism. One such model in particular refers to the work of David Schön who was very instrumental in developing concepts of self-awareness in relation to the aspect of reflective practice. Schön (1987 in Sharpy, 2005) identified two types of reflection that focused on the practitioner; reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. According to him the first, reflection-in-action, occurs when the professional reflects on their own behaviour as it occurs, which enhances their following actions immediately.
Compared with reflection-on-action which is essentially reflection after the event, where the professional counsellor reviews, describes analyses and/or evaluates the situation, to gain insights for improved practice in the future. Using this model in my reflective practice as a counsellor was intended to elicit skills, knowledge and performance acquired from the previously related course. It was expected that I incorporated my capacity to reflect in counselling, use attending, empathy, reframing and active questioning to name a few in making the client see things differently whilst getting her closer to making the appropriate adjustments in the situation. This also meant that I had to think quickly, process information and pose questions that will bring possible solutions as I worked or as Schön would say it was mastering the art of being able to “think on your feet”.
My main challenge whilst using this model is that I feel I am unable to reach interventions at once and may need time to assess situations as I would not want to cause the client ambiguity in judgments due to spur of the moment solutions; so I believe my modus operandi for reframing will be stronger after I have reflected and in reference to the model I can be stronger as a practitioner who uses “reflection-on-action” rather than “reflection-in-action”. I noticed too, that my strengths are mainly in the areas of empathy, questioning, listening and attending; and that even though I may have to ponder a bit on situations I know I have the competence to identify problems and assist in arriving at potential solutions.