Reflective practice, Schwartz Rounds, Balint Groups and Compassion Circles are all forms of reflective spaces that can be used to help teams connect, improve practice and increase self-awareness by engaging in conversations about their own and others’ experiences. 

The need for team processing and reflective spaces, as a way of supporting staff wellbeing, has been highlighted in the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee report.

Reflective practice can be defined as: "a process of learning through and from experiences towards gaining new insights of self-and/or practice.” Finlay (2008)

The process can be carried out both individually or as part of a team (e.g. during one-to-one or group supervision sessions), with key features including:  

  • Being conscious of your own beliefs, values, qualities, strengths and limitations 
  • Viewing things from a different perspective  
  • Making improvements to practice  
  • Continuously using the process to learn more about yourself and the way in which you work 

Models of reflection

There are a number of models which can be used to help guide reflection - NHS Scotland have created the following templates for two which are commonly used:  

Values based reflective practice (VBRR)

NHS Scotland have developed this model to specifically help staff deliver the care that they came to the service to provide. It does this by promoting inter-disciplinary group reflection - Find out here.

Schwartz Rounds are a form of reflective practice, in which emotional and social aspects of working in healthcare are discussed regularly with all staff, both clinical and non-clinical.  

Rounds usually occur once a month and last for an hour. A panel comprised of three staff share their experiences for the first 15-20 minutes and the remainder of the hour is spent having an open discussion (led by trained facilitators).  

The purpose of Rounds is not to solve problems, but rather to provide a supportive environment which enables staff to understand the challenges and rewards that come with working in healthcare.  

The Point of Care Foundation

An independent charity which is licensed to provide training and support for organizations implementing Schwartz Rounds in the UK and Ireland. Their Impact Report 2020 stated that the Rounds have helped participants:

  • Gain insight into how others think and feel in caring for patients   

  • Feel more informed and aware of the importance of care and compassion in caring for patients 

  • Work better with their colleagues   

Originally created to help General Practitioners reach a better understanding of the emotional content of the doctor-patient relationship and so improve their therapeutic potential, Balint groups now welcome different professionals from health and social care.

According to the Balint Society website, the groups provide “a space to think about those encounters which leave professionals drained, puzzled, or stuck and through discussion about the relationship, the possibility of finding new ways forward with the patient”.

Visit The Balint Society website for relevant literature. 

Compassion Circles aim to create a safe and soothing space for conversations about core values, care for self and compassion for others. They can help to break down hierarchies within teams, increase psychological resilience/wellbeing and build a caring environment in the workplace. 

  • Compassion Practices for all – This webpage offers a variety of free guides for practices, including the original 60-minute compassion circle developed by Andy Bradley and colleagues. They also offer shorter (20 and 10 minute practices) for those who are pressed for time.

  • 5-minute ‘Me Space’ and 10-minute ‘Pause Space’ – NHS England have created a series of compassion circle guides for individuals and teams to use.