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The Value of Reflective Practice

The Value of Reflective Practice

The Value of Reflective Practice

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Mike Wright from Cyrenians attended the Tackling Multiple Disadvantage: 2nd National Summit and shares some of his learning on the value of reflective practice.

The Tackling Multiple Disadvantage: 2nd National Summit in May 2017 focused on people facing multiple disadvantage because they have been pushed to the extreme margins of UK society. The issues surrounding homelessness, substance misuse, mental health, violence, contact with the Criminal Justice System, domestic abuse and extreme poverty often go unrecognised by services and systems mostly designed to deal with one issue at a time.

The Summit brought together a network of people with lived experience, service providers, commissioners, policy makers and researchers; each with different skills and expertise and all committed to achieving change.

Mike attended a workshop, facilitated by a Consultant Psychotherapist, on working with trauma, and the place of reflective practice for an organisation to work effectively when supporting individuals with lived experience of multiple disadvantage. The workshop explored the difficulties of providing services to vulnerable clients, in challenging times of austerity and limited, and reducing, resources.

Increasing pressure was being placed on frontline staff, faced with both the distressing situations experienced by the clients they work with, and the inadequate response from health and welfare benefit systems.

Clients who had experienced inconsistent caregiving or trauma in their early lives may find it difficult to be cared for, and may drop in and out of services, replicating what they experienced as children, as it is too painful for them to remain in the same place for too long.

Clients experience additional exclusion due to current economic and social policy and the pressure on frontline staff has, correspondingly, increased. Problems are compounded as there are fewer services to access, and services have longer waiting lists and more specific, and limited, remits.

Frontline staff are caught between the increasingly complex and diverse needs of their clients, and the pressure of austerity, which means fewer services, and more needing to be delivered for less. Without an opportunity to unpack and unload one's day-to-day experiences and emotions, the pressure can be overwhelming.

Cyrenians have developed a reflective practice culture, which promotes networks and relationships, putting them at the heart of all they do. They continuously reflect on their learning, practice and experiences to shape and improve services, as well as offer support and processing space for their frontline staff, many of whom are working with some of the most marginalised clients.

This model of reflective practice helps equip frontline staff with the right tools to best look after themselves and their clients.

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