Reflective Practice in Dispute Resolution

Dr Sue Douglas‘ presentation at the Australasian Law Teacher’s Association Conference in Wellington, New Zealand in July was titled “Constructions of Reflective Practice in Dispute Resolution”. This builds upon a paper that Sue presented at the 2014 National Mediation Conference.


The research project

Sue’s project is motivated by a curiosity about what FDRPs understand to be reflective practice. This focus on practitioner views is consistent with Sue’s preference for a ground up approach to her research. Sue is interviewing FDRPs on the Sunshine Coast about their understanding of reflection and the place that reflection has in their practice.

So far, Sue has found that the practitioners have diverse perspectives and practices. Practitioners do not appear to be familiar with literature about reflection or models of reflection.When asked whether it is important that they be supported to engage with literature about reflection, Sue noted the realities of practice and her belief that the practitioner experience should be a touchstone in the development of recommendations.

The planned outcome of the research is the development of a model for reflection that practitioners will be able to use within their practice context, and which supports high quality critical reflection. The model will be informed by the literature about critical reflection as well as the practitioners’ insights gained through Sue’s empirical work.

What is already known about reflection

Critical reflection is an important activity in dispute resolution practitioner practice, as it moderates and informs decisions regarding:

  • neutrality and independence;
  • unconcious bias;
  • lack of neutrality;
  • dealing with prejudices;
  • cultural sensitivity;
  • other ethical dilemmas;
  • looking back on self; and
  • taking a broad focus upon social structures and processes.

Reflection is a well established professional activity in many professions, who have developed standards and models to guide practitioners to be reflective. It is the activity that assists professionals to perform the artistry of practice.

Reflection is not mentioned in the National Mediator Accreditation Standards, but could be viewed as a “meta-competence.” A mediator specific model of reflection that builds upon what is already known from existing models and approaches in other professions, as well as the vast literature about reflection, will be a valuable contribution to the field.

This entry was posted in Dispute resolution by Dr Olivia Rundle. Bookmark the permalink.

About Dr Olivia Rundle

Dr Rundle is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania. She has worked as a nationally accredited mediator and a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. Dr Rundle is especially interested in the role of lawyers in dispute resolution processes and the policy environment that positively encourages lawyers to engage with dispute resolution. She teaches and researches in broad areas of Dispute Resolution, Civil Procedure and Family Law.

1 thought on “Reflective Practice in Dispute Resolution

  1. This is a very important piece of research. In all our endeavours, our commitment to reflective practice is the key to building repertoire and developing skills in learning from success and failure. I look forward to reading Sue’s work when it is published.


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