Reflecting on your own work and experience

Reflection means thinking and talking about your own self and your life and work. As a peer navigator, you will be using your own story and personal connection with clients to help them navigate the system and gain control of their health. Reflection is vital for understanding your story and learning to connect with people whose story is different from yours.

Exercise

Complete the ‘Identity Bubble Map’ exercise in your workbook. Remember, the workbook will be submitted, so don’t include any information you would prefer to keep private and confidential.

Now imagine you are working with someone whose bubble map is different in many respects. How would you go about establishing rapport with them? How could those differences affect how they understand you and vice versa?

Understanding privilege

Some of our identities may be associated with privilege. In other words, people with the same identity generally experience less friction, prejudice and confrontation as they go about their daily lives. Having privilege does not mean your life is perfect, but it means that aspect of identity does not generally cause problems for your everyday life.

Table from Duan and Brown, ‘Becoming a Multiculturally Competent Counselor.’ Made for a United States context.

It is hard to let go of privilege in the areas where you have it. This can make it harder to connect and work with someone who is not privileged in the same way. It takes careful reflection and conscious action to establish that connection on a fair and equal basis – recognising that the difference in power and privilege is always there in the background.

In the Unit on Safety Work, we’ll talk more about cultural safety, which refers to a service environment in which a person from a migrant or Indigenous background can feel safe knowing their identity will not be denigrated (run down).

Reflection is essential for cultural humility. This is where a person with power and privilege reflects carefully on their position. They understand that their own perspective and approach are not the only way of seeing and doing things. A peer navigator who works with cultural humility is better able to create a culturally safe environment for clients.

Improving your work

Reflection can also help you improve your work performance. You may come away from a client session feeling something didn’t feel right or could have gone better. When you write up your notes on the encounter, you can take a moment to think about the session. You might decide to bring an issue or question up for discussion with your manager/supervisor or colleagues.

This is one of the major ways in which peer navigators can get better at their work. Many of the challenges you will face are specific to clients and could never be anticipated in formal training (hi!). By thinking about them, trying something new and monitoring how it goes, you build your knowledge and skill over time.

Exercise

Please check the workbook for an exercise related to this topic.

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