By Sarah Murray
For educational psychologists, much of our work is centred around supporting and fostering positive relationships. To achieve this within my work I am grateful to be able to apply Video Enhanced Reflective Practice, more commonly known as “VERP”. Within this approach, the aim is to support the adults with whom we work to improve the quality of their interactions with others. This enables them to connect, reflect and grow, in order to support their work with children and young people.
VERP uses video clips to allow professionals to see their strengths in practice and observe themselves ‘in the moment’. The professional selects short video clips to share with a trained Video Interaction Guidance guider. Together they discuss what the video clips show. During the discussion there is a focus on building on existing strengths and skills and then thinking about key areas for development. The VERP process is underpinned by the values of trust, hope, respect, compassion, co-operation and appreciation.
With the focus on strengths, the VERP process helps to increase a sense of satisfaction. Research suggests that focusing on positives is motivating when we are reflecting on practice. Professionals are also encouraged to focus on ‘working points’ (or ‘what would be even better if?’) in order to think about areas for further development. VERP can be used to reflect on interactions between: professionals, professionals and their clients and professionals and the children and young people with whom they work.
I have found that the use of video can be a powerful tool to aid professional reflection. During my training to become an educational psychologist I would reflect on consultations that did not go so well to try and understand what had happened. When I started to use video to reflect on my professional practice, I noticed that often what I had thought did not go well in a consultation was actually very different to what I saw in the video. So the use of the video helped to enhance my reflections. This led me to believe that there is value in using video to reflect upon our work. Inspired by this, for my thesis I decided to gather the views of trainees who were using VERP in their practice. My thesis can be found here and I have also written a paper about my research for Educational Psychology in Practice.
Since qualifying as an educational psychologist I have continued to be interested in developing my consultation skills. I recognise that it can be difficult to target specific skills without taking a closer look at my practice and what specifically I wanted to develop. Using the principles of attuned interaction when analysing the video clips has enabled me to consider ‘deepening the discussion’ within these interactions.
More recently I have started to widen my use of video and I have recently trialled using video to record a dynamic assessment with a young child. Using video in this context not only allowed me to reflect upon the skills I was using during this assessment, but also allowed me to capture moments where the child was demonstrating various skills and strengths. I was able to share this within a consultation with the child’s parent and school staff. I felt the video clips highlighted some of the comments I made during the consultation by providing evidence of what was being discussed. Again, another example of how the use of video from a strengths based perspective can be very powerful.
Sarah graduated from the initial training course for educational psychologists at the university of Birmingham in 2016.
For further information please see the Association for Video Interaction Guidance (AVIG UK): https://www.videointeractionguidance.net/aboutvig/
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