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Intentional Practice: Using Self-Reflection to Enhance Career Satisfaction

by Joanne Elliott and Jessica Gregg

Individual Reflective Practice

As career counsellors, it is not an easy task to identify the different components of our craft. Often, we draw on intuition to guide us as we counsel clients using skills we have developed over the years. When we introduce an element of critical reflection, we can make this intuitive practice more effective and fulfilling.

Reflective practice has been defined as:

“A continuous process examining critical incidents in a professional’s practice to understand, grow, and enhance professional know-how and intuition.” (Schon, 1983)

By engaging in this process, we become active learners – more alert to client situations and our own reactions. Critical reflection and active learning facilitate positive changes in attitudes, values, skills, and knowledge. Additionally, self-reflection reminds us to use best practices, encourages the integration professional wisdom from experts and mentors, and enhances personal meaning (Goddard and Starosta, 2010). These factors improve the quality of our work and ultimately lead to increased career satisfaction.

The following are some possible strategies for cultivating a reflective practice:

  • Seek mentorship. This could be with a professional coach, supervisor, or manager who may or may not be someone you work with. Explore your practice: skills, goals, strengths, challenges, and areas for improvement.
  • Journal. It takes commitment and discipline, but journaling can be a great way to reflect on your practice. It can also complement other reflective practices.
  • Study your craft. Read professional books and articles, attend trainings, and watch documentaries related to career development and the populations you work with.
  • Join a professional association. Attend conferences and networking events. Reflecting on your practice is just one of many benefits of joining professional associations.

 

Reflective Practice at the Organizational Level

It is also of great benefit for organizational leadership to consider implementing reflective practice:

“We must invent and develop institutions which are ‘learning systems’… capable of bringing about their own continuing transformation.” (Schon, 1973)

Through reflective practice, organizations can inspire employees to develop personal mastery, clarify and deepen personal and collective visions of practice, and explore opportunities for competence enhancement. Additionally, supervision practices cultivate a dialogue about learning, development, and flourishing that supports both individuals and organizations (Rosenberg, 2010).

Consider the following strategies to develop reflective practice within your organization:

  • Group supervision and case conferencing. Invite practitioners to meet together and discuss successes in their practice as well as how to navigate challenges. Encourage and support individuals in achieving both personal and organizational goals.
  •  In-house mentorship or individual supervision program. Designate experienced practitioners as mentors or supervisors to early career practitioners. Develop expectations for the relationship, events for participants, and supports for mentors/supervisors.
  • Model reflective practice from the top. Have transparent and thoughtful management processes and practices that incorporate a theoretical base and evidenced-based strategies.
  • Enhance team learning. Organize and encourage company-wide trainings and events. Advertise and encourage continuing education opportunities.

 

In summary, reflective practice offers great benefits to both individual practitioners and organizations as a whole. If you are looking for a way to revitalize, enhance, and flourish in your career, consider which of these strategies stood out for you and integrate them in your developing practice.

Joanne Elliott holds a Masters in Counselling Psychology and is the Services Delivery Manager for the Career e-Volutions program at Training Innovations. She has a keen interest in mindfulness, reflective practice and online counselling. Jessica Gregg has a M.Ed. in Counselling Psychology. As a Career Strategist and e-Facilitator she is thrilled to be utilizing an online learning environment for career exploration. Both can be contacted at Training Innovations through the Career e-Volutions: http://www.training-innovations.com/individuals/career-e-volutions.
References

Goddard and Starosta. (2010). “It’s All Reflection & Self Assessment as a Professional. BCCDA presentation, April 2010.

Schon, D. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner. London: Temple Smith.

Schon, D. (1973). Beyond the Stable State. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Rosenberg, L. (2010). Transforming Leadership: Reflective Practice and the Enhancement of Happiness.

 

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