Reflective Practice: Writing and Professional Development

Bolton, Gillie

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Treatise

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: May-22-2001


Narrative competence is important for effective health care practice. By "narrative competence" I mean mastering a wide array of narrative skills, ranging from active listening and empathic responding in the client-practitioner interaction to reflective writing about one's professional experience. In the author's first book (The Therapeutic Potential of Creative Writing: Writing Myself, see this database), she explores the potential of creative writing as an aspect of therapy, and also presents some introductory writing skills. This book overlaps somewhat in covering the background for reflective practice, but focuses in considerably more detail on skill building.

Near the beginning of the book, Bolton presents a clear summary of "The Principles of Reflective Practice" (chapter 2). Recognizing that therapeutic writing is often accomplished in a group setting, the material on "Group Processes and Facilitation" (chapter 4), "The Creation of a Team" (chapter 5), and "Assessment, Evaluation, Mentoring and Values" (chapter 6) serves to introduce the last 100 pages of the book, which address specific writing skills, beginning with "How to Begin Writing" (chapter 8).


While the principles in Reflective Practice can be generalized to various audiences, the central scenario envisioned here is a group of health care professionals who write reflectively about their own practices, and who then share this writing in a group setting that includes a preceptor or mentor. Thus, the book directly addresses the practitioner's "narrative competence" in teaching the practitioner to examine and explore his or her reactions to clients. The insight gained from this process indirectly benefits clients by leading to changes in the practitioner's interactive style.

The Therapeutic Potential of Creative Writing: Writing Myself complements this volume in that it focuses more on the use of creative writing as an aspect of therapy than on its role in professional development. In that sense, John Fox's Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making (see this database) and Finding What You Didn't Lose are more similar in tone and purpose to Bolton's earlier book than to the current one.


Paul Chapman

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