003 – Reflecting on Reflection

reflection occupational therapy

Every now and then a small thing happens during my day triggers some much more extensive thoughts/reflections (ironic right?). Discussing with my Occupational Therapy students about the importance of reflection got me thinking about my personal journey towards developing this SUPER IMPORTANT skill. I discuss a bit about my experience of finally realising how amazing this skillset can be and some tips about when and how you can start implementing it.

If you enjoy it and know someone else who could do with some tips on reflection than feel free to share this podcast with them!

Keep occupied






4 thoughts on “003 – Reflecting on Reflection

  1. Hello Brock. Just a thought having listened to your podcast on self reflection and the challenges of teaching the value of this process to students; for me it all made sense when I started applying this process to my clinical interventions with clients and teaching them the process of self reflection to enhance what they got out of each session and carry over this learning into other daily occupations.

    As an axample I will discuss the activity with my clients, who have cognitive impairment as a result of ABI, and check that they understand what we are doing duing the session and then ask them these questions

    How well do you think you may be able to do this task?
    What aspects do you think you might do well at?
    What aspects might be challenging?
    What strategies can you use to overcome/minimise these challenges?

    Then we do the task and review immediately, reflecting on the questions we asked prior, so

    What went well and why?
    What was challenging and why?
    What strategies do you use and how did they assist?
    What could you do differently next time so that you manage this task more efficiently?

    Then the next time we did the same task we would reflect again on prior performance and what would be done differently this time.

    Once I recognised the positive impact on clients recovery from this process I was more inclined to think I need to learn this so I can teach it to my clients.

    Hope this makes sense to you, and anyone else who happens to read this!)

    • Thankyou for the awesome comment Alison! I strongly think that OT’s need more knowledge about how and why reflection works as opposed to just being told that it does. I feel this would make it 1) much more valued but also 2) much more critical in the techniques they are using. I love hearing about how people use reflection in practice so thankyou very much 🙂

  2. Hi Brock,

    An honest reflection on reflecting!
    I sense there are three real barriers to reflection, particularly for students.

    1. Students (and often therapists too) lack a structure or process for deep reflection. There is little benefit from simply recalling events without working through the experience in a systematic way. Models like Gibbs’ or Rolfe’s reflective models can provide that structure. I’ve heard lots of students say , “Oh, I’m very reflective but I just don’t write it down”. Quite often what they mean is that they replay the event in their minds a few times but don’t systematically analyse it and learn properly from it. I can’t say this clearly enough: WRITE YOUR REFLECTIONS DOWN!! (And follow the guidance of a n established reflective model.) The benefits are well worth the effort.

    2. Student reflections are often imposed. As you recalled, students are often set reflection tasks rather than letting the need to reflect emerge spontaneously. Good reflection doesn’t start with the event itself but by the emotional response to that event – frustration, embarrassment, joy, satisfaction, anger and so on. This is what drives the need to reconsider the event and understand it or evaluate it in some way. Recognising your emotional response to something can be the stimulus for reflecting in the first place. This situates reflection within a personal context. So even if you are asked to reflect on something for assessment purposes, start by considering your emotional response first (… and yes, even boredom is a legitimate response to reflect on!)

    As a sideline, I find people often confuse thoughts and feelings. They say, “I feel that you are judging me,” when really what they mean is “I feel angry. I think that you are judging me.” This is an important distinction because you can’t really challenge your emotional reactions, but you CAN challenge the thought processes that lead to that reaction. Untangling one from the other can be a really useful initial part of the reflection process.

    3. There are two styles of thinking involved in reflection: there is an inductive process that helps you understand your experiences and explore the reasons for your responses or action, and there is a second deductive process where you come up with an action plan to change the way that you manage similar situations in the future. The problem I often see emerge is when students get stuck in mini cycles based on their preferred reasoning style. Those who enjoy inductive thinking can get stuck in analysing and understanding their thinking or their actions, but fail to progress to doing something about those things. There are others who want to come up with actions and rush to the deductive aspects of the reflective cycle without properly considering and understanding the things that drove them to their original response. Good reflection involves equal attention to each element of the reflective process.

    Reflection is what transforms exposure into experience. Exposure itself is not enough.

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