Creating the Reflective Habit A Practical Guide for Coaches, Mentors and Leaders
Reflection is a critical skill which can enhance the quality of our professional and domestic lives. Yet in a world of "busy," reflective practice often falls to the bottom of the list. We are not alone in the struggle to use the pause button well. This book is here to help.
The book offers a practical toolkit which shows you how to create a sustainable reflective habit. We begin by exploring the meaning and territory of reflection, drawing from the literature to provide context and understanding. The following chapters contain prompts and exercises which will appeal to different processing preferences. The intention throughout this book is firstly, to show that reflection means so much more than journaling, and secondly, to encourage an appetite for experimentation that results in a desire to reflect on a regular and sustainable basis. We invite you into an immersive experience, playing with the multitude of reflective possibilities on offer. It is only through repeated trial and error, enlightenment and frustration that we will come to create our own reflective habit.
Written by a coach and coach supervisor, this practical book is an invaluable resource for helping practitioners, but will also be immensely helpful to anyone and everyone who wants to get their pause button in good working order. The book also provides Learning & Development professionals with a suite of tools and materials to help build the reflective practice skill set in their organisation.
1. Understanding the territory of reflective practice 2. How to develop your reflective habit 3. Cognitive prompts to aid reflection 4. Visual prompts to aid reflection 5. Auditory prompts to aid reflection 6. Kinaesthetic prompts to aid reflection 7. Poetry to aid reflection
"I recommend Creating the Reflective Habit to any supervisor or coaching practitioner who, pausing to reflect on their work, wonders where to begin. Start here!
This practical book takes me on a somatic tour, as I discover the diverse ways I can enter reflection, and aids to create and enhance my own approach:
- gentle encouragement to experiment with processing styles outside my usual preference
- the invitation to put aside a space each month for reflection appeals to my way of working
- the myriad ways to reflect, laid out for me to choose from is tantalising
- repeated suggestions to 'use it, ignore it, adapt it ... it is up to you' engage me in a nourishing experiment
- anecdotes from practitioners are true to life and the fact that reflection is rarely a straight-line experience from A to B!
I like the perfectly imperfect portrayals that mirror the reality of many client sessions, the scribbles, clunks, and distractions described alongside the a-ha moments and turning points. I feel reassured that some of my methods are similar and delighted by the breadth of innovative ideas. The chapter on theory is perhaps the best part of the book for supervisors. It brings together so much, and is written clearly, pragmatically and with sensitivity to the breadth of the coaching field.
I AM enjoying this book immensely. It is norm to write an endorsement in the past tense, but this is a resource that will keep on giving! Thanks to Michelle’s work to bring great contributors from her extensive network, I am adding to the dimensions and refreshing the structure I use. It has really got me thinking and re-creating my reflective practice."
Lorenza Clifford, Founding Director of Coachange.org and Current Chair of the Association of Coaching Supervisors, affectionately known as AOCS: Voice for coaching supervision and source of strong community for dialogue and developing our practice and profession.
"It is empirically evidenced that reflective practice is an excellent method of raising awareness, an essential attribute for coaches & mentors. In Creating the Reflective Habit Michelle provides an invaluable resource for coaches, mentors and anyone who recognises the value of taking a moment to pause. The content is awash with detail, information, and most importantly, exercises and activities that practitioners can use to maximise the benefit they gain from their own reflections. This is the absolute ‘must’ for transferring theory into action.
The layout of the book will appeal to ‘dippers’ like me. It provides the opportunity to read about the concept and then try different tools and techniques. The range is incredibly broad, and will no doubt introduce techniques that the reader may be unfamiliar with, such as Kwirkeez, Blob Trees or using music and poetry. This smorgasbord offers the opportunity to expand knowledge and experience and can only benefit those who are prepared to explore and develop their own reflective practices.
I will be recommending this book to all our members as well as using it as my own resource to enhance my reflective practice. I strongly recommend you do too."
David Monro-Jones, Chief Operating Officer and Head of Accreditation, International Authority for Professional Coaching & Mentoring (IAPC&M)
"Reflective practice is an integral and continuous part of our professional development as coaches, mentors, and supervisors. This scholarly book presents us with a rich source of knowledge, experience, and academic research. But more importantly, it challenges our perceptions of what reflective practice is or can be, and in turn offers us new and innovative ways to reinvigorate our learning. This book is a treasure trove of resources which will be revisited repeatedly by practitioners and supervisors alike; I will be one of them."
Rachael Hanley-Browne, President, EMCC UK
"Yet another triumph from Michelle who has brought together a mouth-watering array of approaches this time for independent reflection. She challenges the all too familiar assumption that reflection centres on written journalling. The book offers 60 prompts (yes 60!) leveraging the range of processing preferences, which include cognitive or thinking and writing exercises, but goes on to offer so much more, including poetry, visual, auditory, prompts – and my favourite, kinaesthetic. Looking at the index of the 60 prompts I wondered where I would start. However, Michelle had thought about that; she provides a 'how to' approach. As I read this chapter, I could almost hear her voice; warm, professional and pragmatic – it was like she was coaching me through my own experiment. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the theory chapter too. It began with more familiar material and then brought in new literature and research which really got my attention. This chapter will be a great primer for my students – giving them lots of ideas around what they might choose to reflect upon, and how they might organise their portfolio of reflective activities. It also offers two models that will help them map their journey as a reflective practitioner.
Although the book feels like it is written with coaches in mind, I can see myself offering many of the exercises to my executive clients. If anyone ever says to me that their reflective practice lacks inspiration, I will point them to this book. Once you’ve read Creating the Reflective Habit, you can never be short of ideas for creating breadth, depth, variety and a generous slice of playfulness to your reflective practice. No practitioner’s bookshelf should be without it!"
Damian Goldvarg, PhD, MCC, Principal of The Goldvarg Consulting Group, past ICF Global Chair 2013-2014
"The honesty of this book is touching. The author shares her journey of her relationship with professional reflection, how it has challenged her and how she has leant into that challenge. In so doing, she has crafted this colourful, insightful book of that journey. She inquires into how reflection can be expressed and expounded in so many forms, in addition to a perhaps traditional method of journalling. She opens up a whole and, in many ways, magical landscape of how we might choose to reflect on ourselves, our clients and those 'moments' which help us create a shift in our practice.
There is encouragement to experiment with what might work for us, structuring the book into processing preferences and offering 12 templates each time – inspirational materials that we are invited to play with to see what works for us. I was captivated by the auditory chapter, so many soundscapes that tinkled with my curiosity – I can imagine using these to help me concentrate but also as catalysts to provoke a different rhythm of thinking about my relationships with my clients.
The creativity and range of the templates provided is striking and rich. I have already started to use them for my own reflection and will be offering them to my corporate clients and supervision clients alike. In a world in which I occasionally experience a crisis of time or energy and really need a reflective moment, I love the idea of opening this book at random to see what that template evokes for me.
In addition, there is a useful chapter which invites self-coaching, offering 7 aspects of developing a more reflective practice. Presented as a series of experiments, each one triggered a new experiment and reflective cycle, inspiring me to refresh my practice in small ways.
The final chapter is more theoretical, in which Michelle’s narrative style helps to weave your way through the rigour of the literature, nudging you to consider the range of forms of expression of your reflective practice and how you might notice that practice maturing.
This is more than a book, it is a companion that will help to expand your reflective practices, ensuring greater depth of felt experience for the work and the enriching of your developmental narrative."
Frances White, Global Organisational Coach & Supervisor, APECS Board Member & Master Coach
"Professional reflective practice is such a fundamental building block of professional coaching – but how do we become good at it? This book offers us rich range of insight and resources to help us hone these skills, clearly written for the coach and supervisor, but has applications for leaders too.
What inspires me, in particular, is to see how many organisations are now integrating coaching into their cultural style, from when and we started the Association for Coaching, 2 decades ago. We encourage all organisations to build in the practices for their leaders to take time out to reflect, given the tendency for increasingly packed diaries and Zoom calls.
The book starts with a more theoretical chapter, synthesising some of the more familiar literature and introducing new models too. I particularly enjoyed how the author drew attention to how our reflection changes over time – inviting us to reflect before, during and after our client work. The second chapter takes us on a journey of experimentation, breaking down into 7 elements how we might go about building a new habit. This is easy to read and encouraging, and enables the reader to make the most of what follows.
The rest of the book has echoes of the editor’s previous book (101 Coaching Supervision Techniques, Approaches, Enquiries and Experiments) in that each reflective prompt is clearly laid out and positioned as a 'pathway' that the reader can follow, meander from or indeed choose an entirely different route – the encouragement to experiment is clear. Each chapter prioritises a different processing style – a refreshing provocation that reflection isn’t just about 'musing' or about 'journalling' – but a form of learning which is uniquely ours. Additionally, in this book, Michelle shares how she discovered the prompt and/or how it impacted on her – it feels very much as though she is accompanying the reader in a shared reflective discovery.
Perhaps ironically it was tricky to carve out the time to review the book! Yet having opened the cover it quickly engaged my senses to not just to read it, but to play with the vast array of prompts on offer. I can imagine some people will work methodically through, perhaps chapter by chapter or, sequentially through the series of 12 prompts across the chapters. Others may just dip in at random. I would encourage our members – coaches, supervisors and leaders to pick this book up and notice its potential for deepening their understanding of themselves and those they work with. Once picked up, I can attest that it will not be easy to put it down!"
Katherine Tulpa, CEO, Association for Coaching www.associationforcoaching.com