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

A: It's everywhere

Reflective practice has been very elegantly described* as 'hindsight in action'.

So much of the feedback from services over the past few years 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; can help resolve disagreements or dilemmas over the managing of particular incidents of changes in working; and can help truly embed the PIEs approach in the working of service, from the bottom up.

Why then is reflective practice not one of the core elements, if it is one of the most effective?


Reflective practice in the whole 'culture of enquiry' of the service

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.

But we do know that many services - especially at the start of their 'PIE journey' - probably do want to focus on that. So if they want to bring out that element, for example in their self assessment with the Pizazz, then can do so.

In the software version of the Pizazz, the PIE Abacus, it will be possible to write in an extra field for reflective practice - as some services in the original pilots have already done. (For more on the PIEAbacus pilots, see: The PIE Abacus pilots: HERE


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

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