Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Developing Repertoire: A Qualitative Study of Trainees' Self-Reflection on Clinical Practice/Développer Son Répertoire : Une éTude Qualitative Sur la Pratique De L'auto-Réflexion Chez Les Apprentis Cliniciens

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Developing Repertoire: A Qualitative Study of Trainees' Self-Reflection on Clinical Practice/Développer Son Répertoire : Une éTude Qualitative Sur la Pratique De L'auto-Réflexion Chez Les Apprentis Cliniciens

Article excerpt

Students preparing for a profession in the helping field are expected to have good awareness and understanding of their own inner workings (Hill & Lent, 2006). This goal is usually addressed during the training process through an examination of how personal issues, assumptions, and previous experiences play out in the therapy room or under supervision (Elton-Wilson, 1994; Kimerling, Zeiss, & Zeiss, 2000). The outcome of this process is the fostering and crystallization of a habit of self-reflection, an ability which is now included among the core competencies of clinical training (Hatcher & Lassiter, 2007).

Self-reflection is the ability to inspect one's ongoing experience as a way to develop professional knowledge (Schön, 1983). This activity is fundamental to clinical training and practice (Hoshmand, 1994). In outlining essential clinical competencies, Hatcher and Lassiter (2007) speak of metaknowledge as the capacity to assess one's current state of knowledge, especially its limits. In this way, self-reflection becomes one of the key components by which metaknowledge is achieved. It should therefore not be a surprise that self-reflection is used in clinical supervision.

Neufeldt, Karno, and Nelson's (1996) study of the attributes of self-reflection established a foundation for our thinking about the interplay of self-reflection and supervision. A grounded theory analysis of the interviews of five experts in professional development sought to elucidate the processes and procedures by which new learning manifests. Their model suggests that self-reflection is central to the supervisory environment where the supervisee's experiences are examined and processed in an attempt to understand counselling phenomena. While Neufeldt et al. did not directly examine the reflective process of trainees, their ideas of the reflective learning process have been integrated into several models of clinical supervision (Stinchfield, Hill, & Kleist, 2007; Ward & House, 1998; Young, Lambie, Hutchinson, & Thurston-Dyer, 2011).

The use of self-reflection within a supervisory context is widespread, and it also seems fundamental to training in general. Griffith and Frieden (2000) outline four specific practices that can be used by counsellor educators to facilitate reflective thinking in trainees, one of which is journal writing. Writing as a vehicle for selfreflection has a well-established tradition in human service professions such as nurse practitioners and teacher educators (e.g., Billings & Kowalski, 2006; Lee, 2005). However, it gets only passing mention as an activity intended for outside of supervision proper (Ochowski, Evangelista, & Probst, 2010). And despite its value to lifelong professional development (Skovholt, 2001), there are few empirical studies of its use in training.

The training and supervision literature converges on the fact that self-reflection is essential in fostering the clinical development of skills and habits of supervisees. However, the literature on self-reflection is replete with supervisory and training suggestions for its use, without any empirical base. In fact, there is a clear lack of studies examining this important activity.

The current study is exploratory in nature in that it focuses on the events or issues that trainees identify as they engage in self-reflective writing about their clinical work. Supervisors often have their own templates for what they consider important to the clinical development of their trainees, and this may be in stark contrast to what the trainee highlights or identifies as salient. Thus, the goal of the current project is to examine the self-reflective journals of counselling trainees that were written through their first experience in learning to be counsellors. Our goal was to observe their experiences as a way to understand their unique perspectives on the evolving process in learning to be counsellors and to gain some insights that will be useful to the training and supervision of counsellors and other professional helpers. …

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