Reflective Practice and Its Importance for Psychology

Reflective practice refers to the application of focused inquiry to achieve a comprehensive professional and personal awareness, which increases competency in practice. Reflective practice in itself is a self-awareness skill that gives much precedence to emotions, interpretations, feelings, observation, and evaluation of personal thoughts within the context of an individual’s professional work. In psychology, the reflective practice provides a way through which, in complex situations, psychologists make crucial decisions through self-reflection rather than relying on academic or technical knowledge.

Reflective practice is a reflection of individual actions to undertake a process of continuous learning. The practice pertains to analytic focus to realistic speculations and morals that apprise daily activities by assessing operations impulsively and thoughtfully. This practice leads to developmental awareness, which is significant for reflective practice (Lilienfeld & Basterfield, 2020a). A fundamental rationale behind reflective practice is that experience solely does not necessarily induce learning; instead, a purposeful reflection on experience is paramount.

The practice is a crucial source of individual professional improvement and development as therapists gain information through their own expert involvement as opposed to passing knowledge or explicit learning. Clinical psychologists are repeatedly necessitated and expected to employ the most acceptable scientific evidence available within their clinical field. Psychologists achieve these expectations through research findings and seen through evidence-based treatments and practice of best guidelines. Reflective practice elaborates how psychology professionals develop practical clinical decisions based on technical knowledge, self-awareness, and self-reflection.

The term reflective practice sprang back in 1983 and sought to explain how psychologists in a challenging environment arrive at a specific practical decision. When making professional decisions, psychologists engage in two processes: reflection on action and reflection in action. Thinking in action happens during the event while reflecting on action that takes place after the event. The practice is essential as professionals must swiftly develop complex decisions in challenging situations without access to crucial information. In this way, reflective practice is portrayed as a counteraction against professional overreliance on techniques in applying knowledge (Glassburn et al., 2019). Reflective practice has evolved to become a core competence among psychology practitioners.

Today, clinical training for psychologists gives precedence to reflective practice as a core professional competence instead of traditional approaches. In the conventional method, competence was viewed as the result of the accumulation of knowledge in specific areas whose interpretation act as a means and measure of professional competency. Earlier, the competency model was useful in numerous psychology training programs where it identifies multiple professional competencies, including the foundational competency of reflective practice.

Psychology training courses have used different methods of ensuring that learners gain reflective skills and competencies. Some of the plans include creating reflective groups, encouraging reflective writing, accessing personal therapy, and applying mentors in training (Lyons et al., 2019). These reflective competencies and skills have brought benefits to psychologists in their area of work.

Reflective practice helps psychologists to know more about themselves and their impact. The exercise helps control individual personal feelings like inadequacy, anxiety, and how they affect other people. By practicing self-reflection, psychologists understand their particular weaknesses and strengths, giving them an edge in managing complicated situations. The practice is a kind of experiential learning where psychologists internalize the occurrence of therapy. Conducting a reflective practice gives them a chance to feel how it feels to be a client, making them more sensitive about their general conduct during sessions with clients.

Reflective practice also improves the therapist-client relationship as therapists who engage in the meditative practice are more likely to accurately and deeply understand their clients (DiVirgilio, 2018). Psychologists can differentiate between what applies to their clients as reflective practice enables them to understand cues from a customer deeply. Personal therapy also helps therapists to determine their personal feelings and thoughts from clients feelings. This situation helps strike a balance to prevent personal feelings from interfering with the treatment.

Individual reflective practice improves skills and knowledge that help understand the counseling process while also enhancing self-awareness adequately. The method borrows from aspects of Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow’s theories of self-actualization. According to the views, individuals have an ending desire to self-actualize, whose achievement can only be through acquiring self-knowledge (Lilienfeld & Basterfield, 2020b). Self-knowledge is essential for trainees or therapists as it improves their awareness of motivations, feelings, and thoughts, which can lower errors within challenging or stressful situations. Self-knowledge also raises understanding and empathy, thereby improving the therapeutic relationship.

The practice helps a counselor to know and set individual limits and boundaries within the line of work. Counselors come across situations where they have to say no to situations they feel are unethical in their line of duty. Through self-practice, counselors can analyze their internal selves and develop individual boundaries and limits they feel comfortable working with their clients (Morrissey & Smith, 2020).

A perfect example includes sexual advances, which might be from the client. In this case, reflective practice enables the practitioner to discuss with the client freely and composedly. The approach also equips therapists with knowledge on what to do and what not to do by granting them first-hand experience of rather upsetting or helpful activities. Reflective practice gives therapists experience relating to the significance of remembering appointments, maintaining therapy to its predetermined location and time, and keeping time.

Reflective practice enables therapists to improve respect, trust, and patience with the clients. Through the procedure, therapists understand how to grant their clients space to undergo and demonstrate challenging personal feelings free from interference. Reflective practice gives therapists awareness of the need to let clients independently repress their feelings and thoughts to let them resist the temptation to rescue. By engaging in these activities, therapists can allow their clients to repel and undergo psychological pain, thereby discovering their strength and courage. The practice enhances therapist mindfulness as counselors become aware of their limitations and strengths.

This situation enables them to provide counseling services with clear intention and purpose. In the reflective practice, therapists can keep an eye on their stress levels and be mindful of individual matters that might negatively impact their performance (Cooper & Wieckowski, 2017). Counselors who practice self-reflection tend to adequately assess their commission upon completing sessions and commit to individual growth and professional development.

Reflective practice allows therapists to engage in self-assessment to combine concrete and practical counseling mechanisms with an applied approach. The process begins with honest and thoughtful documentation, presentation, and synthesis of factual practices (Bennett-Levy, 2019). The method enables a counselor to grasp ways of guiding their questions. This practice is crucial to ensure flexibility in applying skills and knowledge within a psychologist’s area of practice.

Reflective practice has shown tremendous effects in transforming counselor conduct which in turn enhances the client experience. The technique has been essential in helping psychology experts; manage complicated clinical situations, understand themselves, and nurture crucial ethical and professional standards. The method also enables therapists to work closely with clients and maintain their awareness of individual professional roles.

The reflective practice remains an essential element within the scope of clinical psychologists’ work. Therefore, it will be necessary if different experiences from various clinicians are better understood. This situation will help facilitate the formulation of theories within this area to enhance blending reflective practice into the training of psychologists. The effort will also improve the quality of service for clients while also improving the psychologist’s skills set.


Bennett-Levy, J. (2019). Why therapists should walk the talk: The theoretical and empirical case for personal practice in therapist training and professional development. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 62, 133–145. Web.

Cooper, L. D., & Wieckowski, A. T. (2017). A structured approach to reflective practice training in a clinical practicum. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 11(4), 252–259. Web.

DiVirgilio, N. (2018). Therapist, Know Thyself: Self-Reflective Practice through Autoethnography. SOPHIA. Web.

Glassburn, S., McGuire, L. E., & Lay, K. (2019). Reflection as self-care: Models for facilitative supervision. Reflective Practice, 20(6), 692–704. Web.

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Lyons, A., Mason, B., Nutt, K., & Keville, S. (2019). Inside it was orange squash concentrate: Trainees’ experiences of reflective practice groups within clinical psychology training. Reflective practice, 20(1), 70–84. Web.

Morrissey, J., & Smith, R. (2020). Clinical vignettes and reflective questions. In The handbook of professional, ethical and research practice for psychologists, counsellors, psychotherapists and psychiatrists (3rd ed., pp. 273–291). Essay, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

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