Interdisciplinary and team self-awareness

In practice we cannot meet the holistic needs of the individual with HIV alone. We work in multi-professional teams and recognise that attitudes towards patients will vary. Not all care professionals’ attitudes arc positive (Walusimbi and Okansky 2004; Pickles ct al. 2011; Ozak-gul ct al. 2014), yet we arc expected to work cooperatively, share our skills and knowledge and respect those of others. We need to recognise when to ask for advice or support, as working to the boundaries of our own roles keeps people safe. We need to be able to communicate effectively and efficiently. One dimension of a team is the degree to which members have shared knowledge, experiences, norms and values and arc aware of their commonalities (Wilson and Pirrie 2000). The Johari window can be used as a tool for developing self-awareness within your team. The aim is to develop the ‘open area’ for every person because, when we work in this area with others, we arc at our most effective and productive and the team is at its most productive too. The open space facilitates good communication and cooperation, as well as freedom from distractions, mistrust, confusion, conflict and misunderstanding (Chapman 2003). Established teams have the advantage; the open area may be large. People know each other well. A feeling of safety and ‘comfortableness’ facilitates disclosure, and feedback from colleagues may have helped reduce the size of the hidden and blind areas. Perhaps through mutual discovery of the team’s talents the unknown area has also reduced. For new teams the window will look different. The open and blind panes will be smaller. It takes time to get to know people and the hidden area may be large. People need to build confidence and trust, and if the person lacks self-knowledge or self-belief, the unknown areas may be the largest. Team leaders and managers can endeavour to create an environment that encourages self-discovery and self-awareness. Jack and Miller’s (2008) self-development awareness tool is another way practitioners can facilitate the development of self-awareness. Their model is presented in three stages; the ‘now’ stage; the ‘transitional’ stage; and ‘the rc-group’ stage. It invites practitioners to ask reflexive questions during each stage.

Stage 1 - the now stage:

  • • Who am I? (Consider your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.)
  • • What do I know about myself and what do I show to others? (Consider your past experiences and the impact of contextual factors, such as culture, ethnicity, religion and relationships with others.)
  • • What is it I would like to be more aware of? (Perhaps you want to know more about how others see you. Ask other people what they ‘see’ and try to solicit their opinions directly. This takes courage but is important, because if you try to guess what others think of you, you may find it impossible to disregard all the things you know about yourself to which others don't have access (the hidden window in the Johari tool).)
  • • What has triggered this desire to change? (This might relate to personal or professional frustrations or feelings of discomfort, irritation or unease.)

Stage 2 - the transition stage:

  • • What strcngths/limitations do I have already? (This will require a certain amount of honesty and may be informed through feedback from others.)
  • • What do I need to develop? (This is a proactive stage and you may choose to seek help from others to help you. Managers, colleagues and patients can all offer valuable insight into your areas for development.)
  • • What are the opportunities and threats to my development? (You may have to think about previous experiences that were helpful and not so helpful. Be willing to move on from past experiences that were unhelpful or are causing conflict with your areas for development. Use positive experiences as a platform on which to grow and develop.)

Stage 3 - the regroup stage:

  • • Where am I now? (What new knowledge have I gained about myself and the situation? Be mindful of where this new knowledge came from.)
  • • What has changed about me and the way I am in the situation? (Do I think, feel, behave differently now in these situations? These different ways of being and behaving arc the new ‘now stage’.)
  • • How do we grow? Where do we go from here? (Getting an outsider’s perspective through stages 1 and 2 provides us with new information. How can we use this new information to move forwards into a new way of being?)

Jack and Miller (2008)

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