Developing Professional Practice And Needed Skills

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In all areas of expertise, technical skills of the profession are important in order to be able to tackle any arising matters in your field. As a student in psychology there is need to learn how to acquire the skills which are crucial for your profession. During placement, a lot is expected of you as you act like any other professional in that field. It is therefore of prime importance to develop the skills necessary for that professional practice. Reflection in practice is one of the skills necessary as a student of psychology. Reflective practice is a model applied in adult learning and educational teaching where there is application of various concepts of reflection to analyze real issues.

According to Reid (1993, p.305), reflection involves critical understanding any experience that a professional goes through with an intention of giving a vivid description, an in depth analysis and latter conduct an evaluation. This will provide an avenue to be able to gauge what the learner has acquired as a result of the practice. The aim of reflective practice is to create a problem out of a learning situation. The act of solving the problem will provide the professionals with a good opportunity to research therefore acquire relevant knowledge and growth in their profession. Reflective practice imparts skills to learners not only to become a repetitive doer but also gain cognition of tackling different situations during practice. Donald Schon, a philosopher is credited to have described the process of reflective practice in his book in 1983. This essay gives a description of my plan to develop professional practice during my first placement experience.

Importance of reflection

Reflection practice that is applied in psychology works within the concepts of reflection. It accounts for a conceptional structure around which psychology as a discipline that involves patient management works. Reflection is important in identifying the positivity or negativity that is associated with any practice in any discipline. It helps a student to learn from experience in his or her field of expertise. Once they are exposed to a certain experience during their period of practice, reflective practice provides a chance for the student to think back and relate the experience to the theoretical knowledge learnt in c lass.

Various models are used which provide the framework for reflective practice. Among the most common are; Gibbs Model of Reflection which was formulated in 1988, Atkin and Murphy's Model of Reflection of 1994, Kolb's Learning cycle and finally the John's Model of Reflection of 1994. Which the model you decide to apply or to follow its principles the end result should be acquisition of reflective practice skills. Reflective practice is an important tool in solving day to day problems. Its application in difficult situation and in ideas that are undeveloped to provide a concrete solution provides an opportunity for further analysis and dispensation of knowledge and skills. It further synthesizes emotions and provides time for sober thinking and development of solutions to difficult situations. However, to be able to develop these skills it is of importance to have a good atmosphere that is conducive to reflection. It is important to have an understanding supervisor who is able to take you through the process. Flexibilities in time are crucial and an environment that provides support in case any is needed. Finally, your learning institution should have a well structured curriculum which is able to encompass the above factors.

Key learning goals during student placement experience

Mostly, as an undergraduate student there is more to learn since there is many changes that one undergoes during that transition. Most of us are not much conversant with wide reading and research activities. They do not embrace the team spirit that is essential in their acquisition of knowledge. Additionally, various approaches used like problem based learning is a nightmare to most of them. However, most centers of learning have well experienced lecturers and professors who supervise the students. In psychological studies they promote development of research and the application of knowledge leant in psychology in real life situations (Boyd & Fales, 1983, p.102) . Hence, being provided with placement experience will help me acquire a lot in the practice of psychology. First and foremost, I intend to acquire a lot in patient care and the quality expected.

To become effective you need to be able to provide care of high quality to improve their satisfaction. Various approaches to care like counseling will be acquired and practically performed. As a result, I will be able to apply theoretical knowledge learnt in class to real life cases in the health center. Having done so, I will have accomplished my goal of ensuring that the gap which usually exists between theoretical knowledge and practical skills is minimized if not closed. My third goal would be to enhance my personal as well as professional growth. Having been in practice, I will develop a liking for one specialization in psychology which I can further pursue later on in life. I am of the opinion that the time allocated will be more than enough to meet my strategic goals in the placement experience.

Reflective techniques used during the placement

Reflection is a brainstorming process that involves processing ideas in the mind to come up with a solution to a situation at hand. With the right atmosphere for reflection and tasks that encourage reflection, clear solutions emanate from the thinking process. Reflection is encouraged by facing challenges during practice and often asking question with no clear answer. As a result the brain is triggered to think and this provides an opportunity for old ideas to be incorporated with new situations in practice to have a solution. I intend to apply Kolb's learning cycle during my placement period. This can be represented in a pictorial form as follows;

Source: Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Prentice Hall: New Jersey, p.21

First and foremost, what I have learnt in class will be put into practice in the active experimentation stage. After putting ideas to practice, I will have gained practical skills necessary in psychology. I will then evaluate the skills leant in a reflective manner. Finally, I will form ideas as a result of the experience gained.

Experience to assess my practice

It is important to have a form assessment during practice in order to gain full understanding of the skills that have been acquired. One of the assessment methods during my practice will be making entries in a journal (Ibarreta & McLeod, 2004, p.136). The records that I will make in the journal will be the significant events that I experience during my time there. My entries will match to the concepts as defined be Kolb's in developing his model of reflective practice. This will provide a framework for which my arguments will come from during reflective thinking. After each day in practice, I will highlight the significant issues that I learnt or the skills that I was able to acquire. Detailing this information will guide me in enhancing my skills in critical thinking. In addition, it will impose an attitude of self directed learning as issues not well understood will be researched at a latter stage. The entries made will also be based by the relevant models hence acknowledging the works of different scholars in the field of psychology.

Entries made in the journal will also provide me with an opportunity to record in context any of the important aspects acquired as a result of the placement. The goals for the placement as outlined above will be comprehensively covered in the entries made in the journal. Patton et al. (1997, p.238), further notes that making entries in a journal provide a connection between what is learned theoretically in classroom and practical experiences that are gained during practice. Having gained this, it will be quite easy for evaluation of the notes and provide an avenue for reflection. Apart from journal entries, I intend to carry out an action research on one aspects of psychology that will seem to be having challenges. The aim of this research will be to modify the identified practice in order to enhance practice in my institution of placement. It will be important both to increase my professional skills and also leave an impact at the institution.

Importance of supervision in the reflection process

The students need supervision during their placement in order to acquire all the necessary skills and in a smoother manner. A good atmosphere is necessary during supervision to minimize serious distractions due to the clients. John (2007, p.3), notes that effective supervision is necessary as it offers practical support, enhances the morale of learning process and also offers challenges to the students to be able to learn. Supervision is important in practice of psychology as it gives inputs in the following three areas; to begin with it provides technical support in practice to the students. As a result the student is encouraged to seek more knowledge on an issue and the end result is attainment of practical and reflective skills. Secondly, the student is able to apply the learnt theory into professional practice. This is also part of the educational or teaching process.

Finally, supervision gives a chance to the student to be able to evaluate their practical skills to those required to attain professional standards. In addition, a student is in a position to assess whether their goals of the placement have been achieved. Formal supervision sessions should take place daily and the student should be well prepared with any question, observation or addition that he/she intends to share with the supervisor. At times, the supervisor probes the student's understanding through question asking or through interrogative discussion. After the session with the supervisor the student should be able to have a critical review of issues discussed with a view of updating him/herself and so as to remember the issues discussed. After reviewing, short notes are encouraged on the discussion held. The student should then proceed to the next issue of learning as per their formulated action plans. Supervision of students also serves to enhance a learning relationship between the students and the supervisors. It provides a chance for career counseling and mentorship and thus a student gets fulfillment and enjoys whatever they are doing. Supervision sessions also serves to check how the students are carrying on academically and disciplinary. It is through these sessions that abscond of learning process is noted and thus administrative actions can as well be taken against any such student.

Challenges during placement and intended solutions

During the teaching practice, one of the main challenges one may face is uncooperative supervisor. Some supervisors may be authoritative and give threatening warning of dire consequences to students during practice (Knowles, 1975, p.20). By so doing, an atmosphere of fear and mistrust is cultivated and this is retrogressive to acquisition of knowledge. A supervisor should be willing to negotiate and work towards creating good learning relationship with the students. When faced with such a supervisor care should be taken and avoid crossing their paths or being in the wrong places. Also, I would use professional approach whenever handling such supervisors. The second challenge is finding a non conducive atmosphere at the place of placement. This gives the student a hard time and learning is hindered. As a solution collaborative efforts with my supervisor to talk with the management would at least solve that problem. Lastly, is difficulty in putting theory into practice due to lack of experience. This would be easily solved through consulting my supervisor and the specialists that are in charge of me.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is important for students to be given a chance during their coursework to have practical skills in their areas of expertise. This do not only give learners a golden opportunity to acquire professional experience essential for the practice, but also expose them to profession challenges that they may form part of solution finding. Moreover, by doing so professionals are produced who are capable of putting theory into practice and developing new ideas through their reflective practice.

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