The case for cross disciplinary reflective practice

Ms Suzanne Dick1

1Harvest Wellbeing, Melbourne, Australia

Suzanne’s consultancy has focused on the training and supervision of staff and creating a climate conducive to organisational growth and innovation. With an emphasis on engagement at all levels of the organisation and an explicit focus on wellbeing as a measure of success, Suzanne works with companies to focus on their people as their most valuable asset, exploring the simple steps organisations can take to improve their overall performance. She has worked therapeutically with individuals with significant mental health and social issues in addition to working with organisations in the areas of policy development, program design and evaluation and improving staff performance.

Suzanne’s strengths include emotional intelligence, integrity, and diligence enabling her to engage effectively with stakeholders and to work both independently and collaboratively in achieving desired outcomes. Her energy is contagious and because of this she is able to work effectively with teams to quickly generate creative solutions to organisational challenges.

Professional supervision is a long-standing tradition which historically focused on more experienced practitioners within a single discipline offering more junior practitioners within the same discipline a safe space for reflection and technical skill development.  This style of supervision typically focuses on quality assurance and administrative elements of the role, in addition to providing support and practice development (Powell, 1993).

A changing regulatory environment and an increasingly multidisciplinary workforce means there is an increased focus on the provision of high-quality supervision, which may or may not be provided by someone from the same discipline.  In cross-disciplinary supervision there is potentially less technical discipline knowledge, with an increased requirement for

the supervisee to identify technical gaps and seek additional expert support as required.  Instead, cross-disciplinary supervision engenders an increased focus on reflection.  Ghaye and Lilyman (as cited in Hewson, 2012) have described reflection as a complex process, ‘a blend of practice with principle‘, and pointed out that ‘the practice of cyclical reflection can quickly become akin to painting by numbers’ (p. 2).

Using case examples and drawing on her experience as a clinician, supervisor and manager, Suzanne seeks to identify the barriers to developing an effective culture of cross disciplinary supervision and embedding a culture of reflective practice.  Suzanne explores key factors in the success of cross-disciplinary supervision, including the benefits of coming together, creating a safe space for reflective practice and explicitly challenging the concepts of hierarchy and competition between disciplines.  By seeking to understand the purpose of reflection other than as a regulatory or an organisational requirement, there is the potential to create a meaningful space which supports professional growth.  Overall opportunities for innovation are identified, and links drawn between a culture of cross-disciplinary reflective practice and the personal wellbeing of those engaged in caring for others.


Suzanne is a registered psychologist with extensive experience in health care, forensic and educational systems as a case manager, psychologist, trainer and organisational consultant.

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