Reflective-interactive autonomy is the ability to act relatively independently in certain accompaniment situations. It does not mean working alone; examples include knowing how and when to seek interaction, accepting feedback about ideas and actions, being able to justify one's ideas and actions, and distinguishing between situations where individual reflection is required and those where other people's ideas are helpful (both those where a theoretical and practical understanding is useful or even essential, and those where collective thinking is crucial for innovation).
Development of reflective-interactive autonomy on the part of accompanied persons is linked to their knowledge of the foundations of the change, but also to the greater and deeper understanding they gain in response to training and to their interactions with colleagues and experts (for further explanation, see Lafortune, 2008a,b).
Reflective-interactive communication is a process that presupposes a relationship, rapport, link, or other form of interaction between individuals. In the accompaniment model, it can occur between accompaniment providers and the accompanied persons, but also as part of the relationship that accompanied persons develop with change-related content (e.g., professional competencies to be developed) and with the desired outcome of change (practices to be implemented). Communication of this nature is intended to provide information and nurture reflection on change and its effects on professional practice. It encourages individuals to interact and question their professional practices, and spurs them to action. The intention of reflective-interactive communication is to communicate change to individuals. They, in turn, interpret or decode the message to decide whether to accept the change and integrate it into their practices, but also retain the option of providing feedback. Depending on their receptiveness or past experiences, comprehension of the message can vary significantly. Feedback makes it possible to determine whether the message and related intention have been correctly interpreted and to anticipate what can be done to foster better understanding of the change. In reflective-interactive communication, it is vital to take previous knowledge and interpretations into account. This form of communication also involves making time for listening, observation, self-questioning, and discussion; using appropriate vocabulary; establishing critical distance; and choosing means that reflect the change at hand (for further explanation, see Lafortune, 2008a)
The reflective-interactive dynamic is a set of means (cognitive and sociocognitive conflict, metacognition, dissonance, awareness building, coconstruction) implemented as part of the accompaniment process to foster change within an organization. The reflective-interactive dynamic of the accompaniment model in a socioconstructivist perspective on change aims to make participants cognitively active at the metacognitive and reflective levels. Cognitively active individuals use intellectual processes that may differ (description, explanation, analysis, model building) or vary considerably in complexity (Lafortune and Deaudelin, 2001). The reflective-interactive dynamic also seeks to foster sociocognitive conflicts, a state of cognitive dissonance provoked in individuals by social interaction that brings them in contact with conceptions or constructions different from, or even incompatible with, their own (Lafortune et Martin, 2004 [translation]; for further explanation, see Lafortune, 2008b).
Reflective-interactive techniques involve specific actions such as questioning, interaction, reflection, discussion, feedback, and sociocognitive conflict aimed at engendering a shared vision of a change. They encourage dialogue, the challenging of ideas, and reflective-interactive communication. The new awareness and observations generated by these techniques encourage staff to move the change process forward by taking action. The persons accompanied change their model of practice when they integrate these techniques into their professional acts and practices (for further explanation, see Lafortune, 2008a).
Reflective practice is the act of stepping back to critically examine one's operating modes and analyze, both individually and collectively, the acts and actions carried out in the course of a professional intervention. From a socioconstructivist viewpoint, reflective practice presupposes interacting with staff and reassessing the practices of individuals and groups who agree to challenge their beliefs (conceptions and convictions) and experience cognitive dissonance in the aim of achieving greater consistency between what they think, do, believe and accomplish (practices) in their professional lives. Interactions help bring inconsistencies to the forefront and enable participants to verbalize, share, and discuss them with a view to improving the work they do. Practices can be examined at four levels: 1) what happens, 2) how it happens, 3) why it happens that way, and 4) what can be done to improve the practice.
Reflective practice comprises three components: reflecting on and analyzing one's practices; initiating action; and building an adaptive model of practice (Lafortune and Deaudelin, 2001). 1) Reflecting on and analyzing one's practice involves much more than simply discussing it with colleagues. It requires a willingness and desire to improve, adjust, or modify one's practices within an organization. It entails attempting to describe practices objectively in order to examine and analyze them with a view to improvement. The act of observing and describing becomes a lever for change. Analyzing entails making connections and comparisons, and providing justifications and explanations. It requires a willingness to accept having one's ideas and practices called into question and challenged by colleagues. 2) Action initiation shows that the reflection has led to an outcome and that the analysis is actionable. It presupposes a new and profoundas opposed to superficialawareness, one deep enough to elicit lasting change. Initiating action is part of the transference process that results from reflection and analysis. It leads to individual and collective reviewing of actions in order to foster interactions, comparisons, and regulations that result in the updating of practices and in change. 3) This process of reflecting, comparing, analyzing, calling into question, and initiating action results in the development and evolution of models of professional practice. These models are the reflection of how professionals view their work and the main duties and tasks they perform in the course thereofin short, everything that guides their professional conduct. Models of practice evolve over the course of peoples' careers in response to their training and experiences. This reflective process creates a dynamic whereby they continue to progress in their fields through ongoing assessment of their intentions, objectives, goals, beliefs, and values. Reflective practice is a process whereby they draw upon their practices to continue learning and developing professionally (for further explanation, see Lafortune, 2008a,b).
Reflective writing for professional development
Reflective writing is a technique that uses writing to reflect on one's professional practices and analyze them a posteriori. It helps build knowledge and develop competencies, and is also useful for training and self-learning. The goal of reflective writing is to help construct a professional practice model; it aims to conceptualize practice by examining it from a critical distance, even if there are benefits to observation in action (Lafortune, forthcoming 2009). Reflective writing differs from narrative writing. Narrative writing tells stories; recounts anecdotes; conveys facts, experiences, and practices; or clarifies contextual, affective, and other elements. Reflective writing deals with contextualized, potentially transferable experiences.
Reflective writing can be understood as a source of knowledge construction and training; it has a stimulus effect. By engaging in reflective writing, participants enter a loop where they simultaneously build knowledge, educate themselves, and perform professional acts. Through writing and subsequent acts, they conceptualize their practices and put in practice their conceptualizationsjust like a reflective practitioner developing his or her own model of practice. By distancing themselves from their actions, reflective writers step back, decenter themselves, and decontextualize what they have done. They may even engender a generalizable, communicable theory. It is no longer the personal self that is writing, but the professional self. People engage in reflective writing in order to reflect on the development of their professional competencies with the aim of eventually sharing and discussing their reflections with others, and thereby improving their practice. Professional development becomes a topic for reflection and may become a self-learning process.
Reflective writing can promote professional development (it helps develop professional identity, build experiential knowledge, etc.). Writing this way is not an innate skill. It involves learning as well as a healthy dose of humility and trust, both in oneself and in others. It also acknowledges that mistakes are a source for learning. Used in socioconstructivist accompaniment, reflective writing, unlike free writing, incorporates certain predetermined elements and criteria and can have a professionalizing effect. (Lafortune, forthcoming, 2009) (for further explanation, see Lafortune, 2008b).