Reflective Practice



Reflective practice refers to consideration of feelings and relationship dynamics within a family, between the home visitor and family, and between the home visitor and colleagues, including the supervisor. A particular emphasis is placed on the home visitor’s feelings about different aspects of their work and relationships and how these might impact the home visitor’s effectiveness. The term “reflective supervision” is used by many in the field. But, at this point there is no common definition or understanding of what reflective supervision is or entails, so we prefer to talk about use of “reflective practice” in supervision.


Many in the field suggest that reflective practice in supervision is most effective when:

1) it’s used regularly;

2) the supervisor facilitates reflection by the home visitor rather than provide expert advice or solutions;

3) and, relatedly, that the supervisor and home visitor are collaborators in the process, co-jointly reflecting and wondering about relationship dynamics and how they might be impacting the home visitor’s work.

Use of reflective practice in supervision is expected by most home visiting models. For example, Healthy Families America Best Practice Standard 12 states that, “Supervision is provided with protected time each week, utilizing reflection in order to enable staff to develop self-awareness in increasing measure, identify and build on parental competencies, become more effective in their interactions with families, and to become more familiar with their own feelings and values, understanding how these impact their work.”


In the first video below you’ll see an example of an opportunity the supervisor missed to discuss how the home visitor is feeling about a challenging family. In the second video you’ll see the parallel process in action—that is, the supervisor uses reflective practice with the home visitor in supervision, and then the home visitor subsequently uses reflective practice with the family on the next home visit.