Why Reflective Practice Groups (RPGs)?
It is well understood in secular organisations that those working in the field of pastoral or therapeutic care require ongoing reflection with an experienced colleague to remain safe and to grow in their work. Regular reflective practice, either undertaken individually within a supervisory relationship, or in groups, reduces feelings of isolation, supports healthy boundary setting and develops self-awareness.
It is recognised that this mutual reflection on practice, which might be known as consultation, supervision or mentoring, needs, if it is to have value, frequency and regularity in which to develop a trusting relationship. Solitary self-reflection can only be partially effective in this task – we need others to help us develop ‘new eyes to see, new ears to hear’.
The clergy role is the most complex, largely unsupervised and under-supported pastoral care role of any of the caring professions. In the Church, there is often insufficient oversight to affirm good practice or to guide the ill-advised. Within ministry there is a chronic lack of boundaries and clergy engaged in pastoral care wear many hats. The real or perceived demands of the work can, if unattended to, lead to stress and burn-out.
Much of ministry takes place in groups – PCCs, chapter, synod, committees etc. Understanding the dynamics of groups, how we operate within them and how we are perceived by others, is empowering. It offers insight and thereby an extension of our skills. The group is always more than the sum of its parts.
What is St Luke’s role in establishing RPGs in dioceses?
While recognising that some dioceses have RPGs in place and some (including Exeter and Salisbury), have been running extensive and effective schemes over many years, other dioceses may need help in establishing them. St Luke’s Healthcare for the Clergy offers funds and expertise to any diocese that would like to establish or develop RPGs.
How does a diocese set up RPGs?
First, please contact Claire Walker at St Luke’s Healthcare for the Clergy, who will answer any questions you have:
- Tel: 020 7898 1700
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Claire will put you in touch with our Reflective Practice Group Advisor Jan Korris. Jan will visit your diocese and help you to develop RPGs, assisting with the appointment of a facilitator, running a taster session and getting the first group off the ground. She will also help put in place an evaluation process, ensuring there is a method of feedback at completion of the group’s life.