In over 20 years of working with individuals and groups, I have often been asked, and asked others, to reflect on something. I expect them to think about the process for themselves, their assessment, their feelings, their thoughts and ideas etc.
When asked for my reflections, I talk about everything in my mind and body related to that issue.
Obviously, I also use the skill of reflecting. The skill of reflecting is exactly what it says on the tin – reflecting back to the client what they have expressed. It might be echoing their words; mirroring their words or posture; re-stating what they have just said, for emphasis or clarification; or paraphrasing.
It’s about being a mirror. And mirrors reflect exactly what’s there. No more. No less.
So the skill of reflecting does not mean I use leading questions, my opinions or assessment, diagnosis, my thoughts or ideas, or anything else that is not in the mirror.
But it takes practice to reflect back something a client has said without adding something of my own.
The skill of reflecting enables me to stay where the other person is; to stay with those feelings, emotions that are being expressed; to stay with what is, until or unless they explore further what is important for them.
Reflecting is for the client. And enables my sense of empathy at being exactly where the client is and experiencing it with them at that moment.
My reflections on the process are for myself. For my notes. For supervision. For my journal.
The two processes are different, and it’s not always easy to define the difference or describe something that becomes so familiar.
It came to me a light bulb moment one day.
Or was it a “mirror moment”?!