I am reading a wonderful book, “The Language of Kindness” by Christie Watson, about her 20 year career as a nurse in the U.K. I was struck when I came across this term (which was new to me) for what will soon be obvious reasons. She is describing her first day as a psychiatric nurse, and it becomes clear to her preceptor that she is overwhelmed by what she sees. The teacher then tells her: “You should write it down. Reflective practice is part of the job. Every day, reflect on what’s happened and, if you can, write it down.” Christie goes on to elaborate:
“Reflective practice—like all nursing theories—has a number of different models and ideas, but essentially it is the process of making sense of real events. It is widely regarded as some kind of emotional protection for nurses who are paying the cost of caring for vulnerable people, and it helps the nurse to understand her own personality, life story and memories and how they influence events. One of the models of reflective practice, developed by Beverley Taylor, a nurse and midwife, acknowledges that some questions may remain puzzles.”
Her mentor, Sue, then goes on to say “Keeping a reflective journal helps me stay well and on difficult days I still do it. And you will see how far you’re coming, as you move through your placements. That, plus a large gin and tonic at the end of the day…”
Hmm… writing as a powerfully therapeutic way of making sense of the world. Sound familiar?