Exploring the personal and professional impact of reflective practice groups: a survey of 18 cohorts from a UK clinical psychology training course

Clin Psychol Psychother. Sep-Oct 2010;17(5):427-37. doi: 10.1002/cpp.660.


Objectives: Given the importance of reflective practice within clinical psychology and a lack of empirical research, this study aimed to investigate the personal and professional impact of reflective practice groups (RPGs) for former trainees.

Design: This study followed an analytic survey design utilizing a convenience sample of qualified clinical psychologists from a UK training programme.

Methods: A RPG questionnaire (RPGQ) was developed for the purposes of the study. Following initial pilot work, 297 qualified psychologists were invited to complete the RPGQ.

Results: One hundred and twenty-four psychologists (42%) completed the RPGQ. Factor analysis yielded two underlying constructs labelled 'value' and 'distress'. The RPGQ demonstrated significant internal and test-retest reliability. The majority rated the RPGs as valuable for personal and professional development and learning about group processes. Just under half however reported distress as a result of the groups. Whilst some trainees, who reported distress, were able to view the challenges positively, one-sixth were not. Potency of facilitation and group size significantly predicted levels of perceived value and distress.

Conclusions: In view of the ethical issues raised by compulsory RPGs, recommendations were made to keep group sizes within an average of 10-13, utilize facilitators with sufficient training in group processes and ensure additional methods of reflective practice development are available. Further suggestions and recommendations for future research in relation to coping and personal learning style were also made.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Awareness
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Curriculum / statistics & numerical data
  • Education, Graduate / statistics & numerical data
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Professional Practice / standards*
  • Psychology, Clinical / education*
  • Psychology, Clinical / standards
  • Self Efficacy
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Teaching
  • United Kingdom