International Practice Development Journal


Title of ArticleReflection and person-centredness in practice development
Type of ArticleCritical Commentary
Author/sKylie Smith
ReferenceVolume 6, Issue 1, Article 12
Date of PublicationMay 2016
Keywordsperson-centredness, practice development, reflection

In 2003, Kim Manley and Brendan McCormack wrote that practice development needed to be underpinned by critical social science that would enable ‘sustainable change through practitioner enlightenment, empowerment and emancipation and an associated culture’ (Manley and McCormack, 2003, p 22). In this article they drew on the work of Habermas to argue that technical and practical knowledge is essential to human practice, but is of limited value in achieving social transformation. Transformation occurs at the level of emancipatory knowledge, where the practitioner becomes aware of the power embedded in social relations and uses this critical awareness to transcend immediate self-interest and work towards systemic change. This requires an unflinching and honest assessment of values and beliefs, and a questioning of the taken-for-granted assumptions (and the sometimes hidden power) that underpin practice (Manley and McCormack, 2003, p 26). This is especially the case in healthcare systems and cultures like nursing, which have a long history of uneasy power relations between practitioners, and between practitioners and patients (Holmes and Gastaldo, 2002; Perron et al., 2005). Practice development was therefore envisioned as an emancipatory approach to transforming the nature of nursing work and the cultures within which that work occurs (Manley et al., 2014). This has been particularly important in the move to person-centred care, which is not just a technical approach to health service delivery but an authentic moral and ethical recognition of the rights of the individual. Enabling health practitioners to engage with their practice at this deep, socio-political level requires a truly emancipatory approach, supported by methods and tools that facilitate transformative learning and critical self-awareness. Reflective practice, or critical reflection, is one of those tools.

This article by Kylie Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

In this section