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Finding an Authentic Voice—Use of Self: Essential Learning Processes for Relationship-based Work

Heffron, Mary Claire PhD; Ivins, Barbara PhD; Weston, Donna R. PhD

Original Article

This article articulates and defines the use of self construct in relationship-based intervention in the infant and family field. A set of descriptors is introduced that can be used in supervision with trainees and new practitioners to help operationalize clinical processes and the concepts inherent in developing reflective practice skills. Particular emphasis is given to discussing Schon's distinction of reflection in action and reflection on action. Examples derived from supervision and consultation dialogues are given to illustrate opportunities for enhancing clinical process and reflective practice skills, and concepts that can confuse practitioners are discussed. It is suggested that the practitioner's greater understanding of, and comfort with, how internal experience impacts intervention in relationship-based work allows for the development of a unique and effective “authentic voice.”

Children's Hospital Oakland, Oakland, Calif (Drs Heffron and Ivins); and the University of Washington, Seattle (Dr Weston).

Corresponding author: Mary Claire Heffron, PhD, the Children's Hospital Research Center, Oakland, 747 52nd St, Oakland, CA 94609 (e-mail:

©2005Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.