Reflection Moments for psychology students

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Katrine Breum Larsen
  • Miriam Alis Stig Poulsen
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
For a major part of our Master ́s program in Psychology, we have been interested in how to navigate the broad field of psychology as future psychologists. Throughout our internship at the University Clinic at Aalborg University, we have had a great number of conversations regarding our own influence on the clients’ processes as well as our own development as therapists. We find it fundamental, that we as future psychologists are particularly interested in the processes that shape a skilled psychologist. It is our experience from the University Clinic and our 9th semester project that reflection as phenomenon, concept and practice describes the processes that are crucial to becoming competent psychologists.

In order to understand what a reflective internship could contribute to the life of psychology students and how a reflective internship could be implemented at the psychology program at Aalborg University, we created a “Reflection Moment” for five psychology students. The Reflection Moment is composed of self-reflection and common reflection in the group, oral, and written reflection exercises, where the purpose is to create a conducive room for reflection for the participants. A performance- free space focusing on curiosity, presence, and play, where the participants feel that they can be themselves. The five psychology students’ experience of participating in the Reflection Moment is the focal point for the thesis, with the following thesis statement: Based on a group of psychology students' experiences of participating in a Reflection Moment, we will discuss how their experiences can be related to their development as professionals and as human beings at Aalborg University. With the aim of finding an understanding of how a Reflection Moment contribute to the lives of psychology students, we gained phenomenological insights into the world of five psychology students. Therefore, the main emphasis will be based on the empirical findings obtained through semi-structured interviews.

As a theoretical foundation for our definition of reflection as phenomenon, we have included the theorists John Dewey (2009), Donald Schön (1984), Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus (1986), David Kolb (1975; 1984) Peter Jarvis (1987; 1992), Jack Mezirow (1990; 1995; 1998; 2009), Stephen Brookfield (1995), and Steen Wackerhausen (2008). In the representations of these theories it is apparent to us that reflection is a dynamic phenomenon with many facets. The most important points from the theorists are: 1. Reflection involves elements of a linguistic process along with intuition, feelings and creativity. 2. The reflection process is comparable to the scientific method of hypothesizing, testing, experimenting, and verifying/rejecting hypotheses, but in our opinion, reflection is also more than that. 3. The state of doubt, oppositions of thoughts, disorientation dilemma or productive disharmony in the professional community stimulates the reflection process. 4. Reflection integrates both past, present and future. 5. All situations may potentially lead to reflection, but all situations do not end up leading to reflection.

All the participants describe that they experienced a calm feeling after the Reflection Moment, which included an experience of a bodily sense of calm, a better ability to be present in the moment, and an acceptance that things take time. In this regard, the frame of reflection room is of particular importance. Mutual acceptance between the participants created a trustful space where the participants can enter a dialogue that does not seek specific questions and answers, but where the exploration opens up new realizations and feelings. It requires courage to immerse yourself in the reflection process, as it can be frustrating. It requires that the people with whom you share reflection with, meets you with respect. Otherwise you do not dare to formulate the unfinished, the doubtful and the paradoxical. The participants highlighted the relational aspects that were important in the Reflection Moment. The mutual acceptance in the dialogue was also created by the fact that we as group facilitators participated in the reflections with the other students.

We believe that this study is characterized by certain elements that can be used in other or similar situations. Our detailed descriptions, about the theoretical and methodological considerations in the creation of the Reflection Moment, could be beneficially taken into account when creating further Reflection Moments for the psychology students at Aalborg University. At the same time, we consider that the special framework for the Reflection Moment could be a key part of creating any kind of space with the aim of promoting reflection.
Publication date31 May 2018
Number of pages129
ID: 280071296