Last year I came across some training being held by Siobhan Maclean and BASW called ‘Reflective Connections’. Due to our interest in reflective practice I immediately wanted to sign up to learn about this new model and see if it was something that we may be able to utilise in Gwynedd.
Throughout the project we have arranged reflective sessions, both individual and group, for frontline workers in order to support them with having a reflective space and also to help with embedding some of their learning and knowledge into practice. But the group sessions were quite traditional in the sense that it would be case focused (we created a CLEAR model to support the action learning type of session), or it would be led by the person coordinating with a view to prompt people to reflect and share thoughts.
Reflective Connections Sessions were created by Siobhan Maclean and the University of Chester during Covid 19 in order to create a structure for reflective sessions that would work virtually and would also bring a sense of connectedness back to workers who were reporting feeling isolated and alone. I immediately loved the structure of the session. It is not focused on just one person, everyone contributes through reflecting on something, which means that it is less daunting for some. Two reflective models are given and the individual chooses the one that they prefer to use, and this helps to bring people into the practice of using models to structure their reflections. The coordinator concentrates on finding connections and feeding these back to the group at the end, which prompts deeper reflection and a further sense of connectedness. I immediately knew that I wanted to bring this model into my sessions with workers! Furthermore, when we discussed the session with team managers, they felt that this was a great opportunity to strengthen connections across the teams and so it was agreed that we would try bringing members of each different team together for the sessions.
To date I have held 4 reflective connections sessions and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of coordinating each one. Some of the connections that have come out of the sessions are really lovely to see, and I feel that it is extremely insightful for us in the field to hear about some of the main themes which have been related to good practice, even though the workers often reflect on situations that they have found difficult. Some of the main themes over the initial sessions have been: hearing the voice of the child; communication skills; clear values; working in a person centred way; self-awareness – things that are really valuable in our world of social work.