Reflective Thinking: Taking time out to let the mind catch up.

What is reflective thinking?

“Learning through and from experience towards gaining new insights of self and practice”

(Finlay, 2008)

Reflective thinking is essentially learning from our experiences. It can be helpful to ask yourself these four questions: what happened; what did I think or feel; what can I learn from this experience and what action could I take next time?

Kolb’s Learning Cycle (1984): A systematic model of reflective practice.

Why is reflective thinking important and what are the benefits?

At Pocket, reflective thinking is second nature. Taking the time to pause, and think about our thoughts and feelings is so important to us.

Why? Because it benefits our clients.

We all live through a wide range of experiences which mould our perceptions and beliefs about the world. This unconscious bias is part of being human. So, we must notice if we’re bringing judgement to the therapy room. It’s even more important that we take ownership of our biases and work to challenge them. Reflective thinking prompts us to think rationally about a situation so the need’s of our clients are always put first.

Does a psychologist benefit from reflective practice?

Absolutely. Our psychologists treat a range of issues, from complex trauma to OCD and sometimes, the narratives voiced by clients can be emotional and hard-hitting. Reflective thinking gives us time to process details that sit heavy on the mind and gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, our emotional reactions and our thought processes.

How do we do reflect at Pocket?

At Pocket, we invite our psychologists to attend regular supervision meetings. These meetings create a time and space for significant events, thoughts and feelings to be explored. Often these meetings take place as a group, allowing our colleagues to act as a soundboard and normalise difficult feelings for each other. Sometimes we need advice from those who have had a similar experience to us, and other times, we just need someone to show us the bigger picture.

How can I reflect?

  • Schedule ten minutes daily to write in a reflection journal
  • Pause and notice what feelings are showing up in your body, take a breath in there and see if it needs some attention or space?
  • Be objective and consider alternative explanations. Perhaps ask a friend for their perspective.
  • Think of ways you could improve if the situation were to happen again. What would you do differently?
  •  Rather than jump to the defence, what if there was 5% of truth in what someone was saying, can you make space to explore what that 5% may be?

Most importantly, practice self-compassion. We will not always make the ‘right’ decision or say the ‘right’ thing in the moment and that’s ok! Every experience teaches us something we did not know before and gives us a blueprint for the future.

If you would like to reflect on a situation with one of our psychologists, we offer adult consultations and family consultations here.

Take care,

Pocket Family Psychologist.

Written by Ellie Harper.

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