Visual reflections are one way of representing and structuring a reflection you’re making about an event. Rather than writing out a page of text, use text within pictures and symbols to convey emotion and meaning clearly. Drawing it out like a mind map or with symbols can make it easier to notice and connect themes together, as well as being quicker to both do and interpret. It can also make going through the different stages more clear and force you to not omit any difficult stages.
Reflections of influences on mental health placements: these were in Community Mental Health Teams (CMHT) and secure inpatient units.
Politics removal of benefits
reduction in PIP* for one lady with severe anxiety reduced her support and reduced access to the community as a result, she felt her MH was worsening
What? middle aged man with EUPD & psychosis felt it was unfair the cuts to disabled benefits, when he was assessed for his PIP he felt because he could ‘function’ in the interview and speak coherently he was marked up in his ability whereas he felt he could not manage day to day. He said this reflected people often dismissing mental health because it cannot be seen and he looks ‘normal’.
So what? He felt very angry about this and sometimes this was directed at any healthcare staff even those not responsible for benefits, such as when groups were cancelled due to staff shortages.
Now what? Reflected at the time that it must be difficult to find an outlet for your frustration and anyone working for public sector could be a symbol of the government, remember to not take anger at service constraints personally.
Reflection is an important yet ethereal skill that all Occupational Therapists need to master.
Part of completing a reflection is an inner sense of discomfort (in fact the first stage of reflection as described by Boyd & Fales 1983) so it’s no wonder many people put it off and may even try to get by without it, perhaps carrying out token reflections just to comply with CPD or course requirements. To begin with, reflecting on your actions is something that requires conscious effort after the event but eventually, according to Johns (2000), it will become an automatic thought process even when you’re in the middle of experiencing the event. When deciding which model to use, it can helpful to find out what learning style you are according to Honey & Mumford. You can relate these to the knowledge types shown in Carper/Johns’ reflective models.
Below is a rough guide to the different models of reflection out there, and which situations they’re best geared towards. They are ordered (in my opinion) from the easier ones for the beginner who is trying to break down and evaluate a situation, to the more complex ones that build on the basics and hope to elicit a change in your personal beliefs and challenge your assumptions. Gillie Bolton suggests exercises for creative ways to reflect in her book Reflective Practice: Writing and Professional Development (chapter 4).
Like Inception, you’ll naturally find yourself going deeper with your analysis of an event the more experience you gain with reflective models. Enjoy the ride!
Gibbs reflective cycle (1988)
Good for: Good old Gibbs. Basic, good starting point, six distinctive stages. Makes you aware of all the stages you go through when experiencing an event.
Criticisms are: superficial reflection- no referral to critical thinking/analysis/assumptions or viewing it from a different perspective (Atkins & Murphy 1993). Does not have the number or depth of probing questions as other models.
Since starting the research module on my course, I have gained an understanding of the need to be critical of the evidence itself! And also how complicated the process of creating bias-free valid evidence is, and how many opportunities for bias there are in each study.
I have gained lots of skills around the methods for gathering and analysing data. I feel that I already had a fairly questioning thought process as default, but now I am able to articulate more clearly why something is biassed or can only be trusted so far.
I never thought I would have a blog or enjoy blogging as much as I do, so I am really grateful that I was forced to start as a result of my course. Although it is nice to see other people reading the blog it is mainly an ‘online study notes’ tool that I use; it enables me to quickly search for topics, search for module content by date, and reminds me to cover all aspects of a topic, such as the need to create a blog entry for each OT model. It is proving to be a real motivating factor (organising my thoughts, finding an otter picture that represents the topic, seeing a pretty blog page at the end) and helps make what I have typed more memorable- as well easier to link ideas together. This is probably helped by needing to categorise and tag the blogs each time; by grouping ideas from different modules or timescales together it make it easier to see how they might all connect. I suppose I probably have more technical social media knowledge now as a result, although I don’t think I was terrible to begin.
Already both when reading articles and overall in life I find myself dialoguing with myself in my head about the possible devil’s advocate outcomes of an article or a situation. I guess this could be the start of reflection-in-action!