How you can Reflect Together

Reflection is a personal journey but that doesn’t mean it has to be carried out alone.  Reflecting with someone else can open up different perspectives and challenge your thinking patterns.

I recently attended the excellent NCOR conference on helping patients with pain management.  The afternoon sessions were all practical role plays relating to facilitation and goal setting.  Some of the skills we learnt there I thought could be helpfully be applied to reflecting together.

  • Listen and don’t interrupt

This is often difficult for osteopaths.  When listening our brain is in over-drive interpreting the information, deciding what further information we need and wanting to direct the conversation.  The exercise we had to practise was to listen for 2 minutes and then to speak back what we had heard in those 2 minutes – it was harder than you might think!

When helping someone to reflect it is important to let them speak, without interruption.  This will allow them to follow through their train of thought and you might be surprised where the conversation ends up.  Reflecting back some of what they have said may also help them to see where they are heading.

  • Goal setting – don’t give advice

Again, something that can be difficult for osteopaths who spend much of their time sharing information and giving advice.  The evidence is that someone is far more likely to achieve the goals they have set for themselves than something they are told to do.

Questioning with ‘How….’ Or ‘Why’ Will help to direct these kind of conversations.  For example if someone is expressing their concern that diagnosing and treating the wrist is an area of weakness in their skill set you would ask them ‘How do you think you could improve your treatment in this area?’.  This will start them formulating plans.   Your questions can help them to formulate specific plans, identify what may underlie their issue.  For example there may be a particular case that didn’t go so well which has led to loss of confidence regarding the treatment of the wrist.  You could ask whether the practitioner had reflected on that case and learnt from it.  Goals need to be specific, achievable and within a particular time frame.  It can often be helpful to identify any barriers to achieving the goal and what will be done to overcome the barrier too.

Make a time in the diary for meeting again to re-evaluate progress.

These two quick tips are simple but can make all the difference in your conversations with colleagues and patients.  Give them a try and see what comes from your reflective conversations and goal setting.

This is the last post in our series on reflection, we hope you have found it helpful.  There have been some practical examples in our facebook group – join in here.  We will be reminding you to reflect each month to keep practicing this skill for professional development.

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