Cathie O'Brien OD Consultant, Psychotherapist, Supervisor & Trainer 

  Specialising in organisations who work with vulnerable people in challenging environments 

Reflective Practice / Supervision

A whole service/systems approach to emotion-regulation

Reflective Practice/Supervision in organisations:

  • Clinical Supervision is usually more focused on individual clients and involves discussing each client in turn considering interventions to support the individual need; this is an important process for professional learning and development and for creating interventions that can support clients.   There can be less focus on personal awareness, the structure of the situation/organisation/wider system and when working with organisations, on the needs of the team, the team dynamics and the interrelations between service users or their relations outside of that setting. This is better suited to individual professionals working with individual clients. The contexts are considered but the focus is usually intervention and not necessarily on personal awareness/development, the organisational impact on clients or the wider systems impact on the whole situation. 
  • Reflective practice, in my opinion, is better suited to organisations and teams, encouraging self reflection, responsibility and exploration of the wider system involving self, others and the situation. Teams can consider patterns and triggers, parallel processes, organisational/team dynamics and the team structures that may impact behaviours, as well as thinking around the service users needs i.e. what they maybe communicating and what they may evoke in professionals (transference, projection). Through this process organisations can experiment with small changes in themselves and the environment/relationships which may impact and support clients. This is a multi-systemic approach.

Cathie combines reflective practice and supervision and believes that it is crucial to explore the whole system, as behaviours in the systems often reflect behaviours in the individual. Working with the systems and bringing these dynamics into awareness can dramatically improve the clients behaviours and ability to self-regulate.

Reflective Practice / Supervision can offer a secure base for staff to work within, a safe space to explore feelings in relation to working with extremely distressed service users, a place to reflect on practice and develop plans were necessary.

Reflective Practice/supervision also focuses on self, other and the whole situation, as well as teamwork and team development - a whole service approach. When working from a whole service perspective, reflective practice/ supervision aims to develop consistency in practice, across the board, reinforcing the training undertaken and any therapeutic network meetings.


Therapeutic Network Meetings:

Cathie offers therapeutic network meetings for extremely distressed young people, who maybe at risk of exploitation, exhibiting self-harming behaviours and who disengage from those around them, placing themselves at serious risk. Therapeutic network meetings place the child at the centre, considers the relationship style of the young person, looks at the issues, concerns and any risks, considers the child from a whole systems perspective and emphasises how splits in the network may mirror splits in the child’s psychological state. It is imperative that teams work together to narrow the splits that may occur between them, develop joint risk assessments and joint risk taking strategies, which can help to calm the whole system around the child. As a result the impact on the child can be profound, showing an increased ability to regulate emotion (NB the voice of the child is paramount and considered throughout).