Clemson Addictions Practitioners by Kathy Lay Narrative and Critical Reflection

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Narrative and Critical Reflection for Addictions Practitioners by Kathy Lay. 

This exercise is contributed by Kathy Lay, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Indiana University-Indianapolis.  The purpose of this writing exercise is to promote students’ self awareness and critical thinking skills as it relates to addiction. 

Explanation of the assignment as follows:

Experiences we have whether they are personal or professional with regard to substance abuse and dependence continuously shape the lens with which we view addiction and have implications for our practices with clients. Some experiences foster personal growth and development by challenging narrow viewpoints that do not allow us to see the complexity of addictive disorders. Other experiences allow us to continue seeing addiction through a constricted lens that not only filters new learning, but actually serves to crystallize negative experiences. It is for this reason, that critical reflection is necessary as a life-long learning principle. However, it is necessary to have a guide for critical reflection. This exercise provides a guide for reflection on experiences with substance abuse/dependence. 

The student is asked to write the narrative of the experience, externalize the experience by naming it and responding to the specific questions. The exercise allows the learner to acknowledge the power of the experience, reflect for the purpose of deconstruction of the story, and to open space
for new learning through reflection on a preferred way of being.

Guidelines for the exercise are as follows:

a.. Students are asked to write a brief narrative of an experience they have had either personally or professionally (self, family member, client; please keep personal information confidential) with alcohol abuse and/or dependence. “Think of an experience you have had personally or professionally with addiction. Write the narrative/story of the experience.”

b. Name the experience. For example, the title might be, “Oh, no, not again!”

c. The following questions should be completed pertaining to your narrative. In each of the blank spaces in the question, insert the title of your narrative and then answer the questions. 

Assignment: Experience Reflection Paper

Name the experience___________________________________________________. 

  • If __________ could talk to you, what would it say?
  • What are the main themes related to __________ embedded in the narrative?
  • What would or does __________ have you thinking about addiction?
  • What would __________ have you doing about or in relation to addiction?
  • Does __________ encourage particular values about addiction? Particular ethics?
  • Are these values/ethics in any way in conflict with your preferred values and ethics?
  • If you could change (re-write) the narrative of __________ in any way, what would you change?
  • What do you think would have to happen in order for that change to take place?
  • How does the narrative of __________ influence you personally and professionally? 
  • What are the socio-political implications of __________

Now, reflect on your answers and write a reflective summary statement.

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