The Journey to Reflection in Forensic Life

  • Polnay, A. (Invited speaker)
  • Jon Patrick (Invited speaker)

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk


The caring relationship is not always straightforward for both sides. Clinicians often care for patients who have deep-rooted difficulties in their relationships with care, and whose inner experiences may be distressing to themselves and others. Some patients have acted on their mental states in ways that cause harm to themselves and/or others, and some continue to do so whilst in hospital. It is well recognised that working with patients with troubled minds (and who may carry out disturbing actions) can be troubling and stressful for their treating clinicians, and this distress can reverberate through the wider hospital system. Closely linked to this, the caring relationship can become complicated in ways that interfere with treatment.

These important processes may not be obvious unless we make time to stop and reflect. Multidisciplinary Reflective Practice Groups bring the whole clinical team together in a supportive and non-judgmental setting, to reflect on and process staff-patient, team and organisational dynamics, in order to sustain good caring relationships with patients and to reduce the stresses of the work for staff. Reflective Practice Groups provide an opportunity for clinicians to feel supported and valued, and to discuss their clinical work with an external facilitator to process the emotional impact of work on themselves.

There is a convergence in the literature that well-functioning RPGs for the multidisciplinary team, that are embedded into ward culture, are essential for the safe and sustainable running of forensic hospitals. We argue that this is equally relevant for general psychiatric settings, and in all setting where the caring relationship is central.

We discuss the development of Reflective Practice Groups within the Forensic Network in Scotland, as well as current work in training and research.
Period20 Jan 2023
Event titleRoyal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland Winter Meeting
Event typeConference
LocationGlasgow, United KingdomShow on map