Q: Where is reflective practice, in the PIEs 2 framework?

A: It's one of the elements in the Learning and Enquiry theme

Reflective practice has been very elegantly described* as 'hindsight in action'.   So much of the feedback from services over the past ten years and more has been that encouraging reflective practice is often the most effective way to develop as a PIE.

Reflective practice can help develop an atmosphere within a team that respects and supports the day-to-day experience of being a worker; it can help to explore and resolve disagreements or dilemmas over the managing of particular incidents of changes in working; and it can help truly embed the PIEs approach in the working of service, starting from the bottom up.

Why then is reflective practice not one of the core elements in PIEs 2.0, as it was in PIEs One, if it is one of the most effective?


B: Because it's everywhere

The answer is that reflective practice is the expression, in frontline services, of an attitude of learning and enquiry that can be far more pervasive, throughout the work of the service, and throughout the organisation as a whole.  So, being simply logical - and not wanting to have TOO many main themes - it seemed sensible to include it as a practical expression, at the frontline, of a wider issue.

Reflective practice, in the broadest sense, can of course be valuable everywhere, in the whole 'culture of enquiry' of the service. You will find an extensive round-up of how that can work in the record of  some of the forum discussions in 2021, HERE

So to encourage it as frontline service practice, to allow any agency to concentrate on that specifically, and to allow staff to give their own views on how well it is workig for them, we have made it a distinct element, one part of the whole culture of learning and enquiry.


What form of reflective practice is right for your service?

Reflective practice ends up as the culture of the organisation; but it often gets started as a specific, scheduled activity, such as supervision, or a weekly or monthly team session.  There is probably no right form of reflective practice that suits every service.

For some, having an external 'facilitator' seems to work best - an individual who comes to the team, but is not part of it; and who runs a time-limited, scheduled discussion.  Such consultants will often have well developed skills in  helping teams explore their issues. For some, bringing in someone from another team in the same organisation, who is more of a peer and less of an expert, may be as or more effective. For some, the self assessment process in the Pizazz seems to have been a kind of reflection, with a more specific structure to it.

On the whole, reflective practice tends to focus on a specific recent event, perhaps an example of an untoward incident, where the team wants perhaps to share the experience, in a supportive way, or to explore any dilemmas or conflicts that might have been revealed.  But it can be just as useful - and often less threatening to begin with, for those new to it - to look instead at something that went well, and see what the team can learn from that.

  • We are grateful to Esther Harris for this helpfully simple phrase.

Further background reading/listening/viewing

On approaches to reflective practice:

PIEs One - the orignal core : HERE

The other key features of the revised version are:

  • Psychological awareness ; HERE

    • Empathy and emotional intelligence : HERE
    • Approaches and techniques : HERE
    • Psychological models : HERE


    Training and support : HERE

    Learning and enquiry : HERE

    • Reflective practice : HERE
    • A culture of Enquiry : HERE
    • Sector engagement : HERE
    • Evidence- generating practice : HERE


    Spaces of opportunity : HERE

    • The built environment : HERE
    • Networks and surroundings : HERE
    • Pathways, systems and system coherence : HERE


    The Three Rs : HERE

    • Rules and procedures : HERE
    • Roles and relationships : HERE
    • Responsiveness : HERE


What's the Big Idea? : HERE


Introducing PIEs through reflective practice in Bristol mental health services: HERE

Is reflective practice just something done in reflective practice groups?: HERE

Ray Middleton: Ladder4Life - a dialogue/narrative approach in reflective practice: HERE

Suzanne Quinney - Where did it all go rightHERE

Ray Middleton & Sophie Boobis - Open Dialogue as reflective practiceHERE