Direct Support Professionals may frequently be asked to write a reflective summary about their work with intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals. The summary is supposed to be an analysis of the DSP's experiences and learning's as they work towards supporting an individual, and any associated thoughts, ideas and feelings. Writing a reflective summary should not feel challenging. It is simply an organized account of your personal reactions and opinions about your work and how your experiences as a DSP have helped you to grow and learn. The purpose behind writing a reflective summary is to help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions and beliefs, and this will eventually make you a better and more efficient Direct Support Professional.

Keep in mind the guidelines given below.

  1. Spend a few minutes thinking about your work as a DSP and then reflect upon a particular work sample. Make sure the work sample is one that you've drawn valuable lessons from, and that has helped you learn and grow.
  2. Ask yourself a few key questions. How did you handle the situation? Could you have handled it better? What did you learn and what lessons will you be taking away from particular experiences during your work with an individual? How have the experiences helped you grow and improve as a DSP and as an individual?
  3. Begin with a brief overview about your work, giving the reader a context for your learning's and reflections. Write in particular, about the work sample that you've chosen to reflect upon.
  4. Write one or two paragraphs for each experience you encountered during your work sample and what you learned from it.
  5. Each experience you write should start with a description of the situation followed by your reflections. For instance, you can start the narrative with, "When I called/ When I helped/ When I saw... ". Your reflections will be, " I learnt from this that/ My thoughts about this are/ The lesson I'll be taking away from this is... "
  6. Don't be afraid to put down any thoughts and feelings you may have about the experience, simple of complex. But remember to be brief. Try to not go beyond two paragraphs for a particular experience.
  7. Emphasize on the knowledge and skills you've picked up or improved upon due to a particular situation or experience you encountered.
  8. You might want to consider writing about any preconceived notions or beliefs you had before you started the work and how they have changed because of particular experiences. These reflections show that your work has helped you learn and improve as an individual and as a DSP.
  9. Wrap up your reflective summary with a conclusion paragraph. The conclusion should talk about the lessons you've learnt and how your work sample has helped you become a better DSP. If you want to emphasize strongly on a lesson or thought that you've previously mentioned in your summary, it is fine to repeat it again. Write about the changes you've undergone as a person during your work and how these changes will help you better yourself as a Direct Support Professional and as an individual.
  10. Finish with a few sentences that emphasize upon whether or not you will use the lessons you've learnt from your work sample in the future.

Remember to portray yourself as a learner in your reflective summary. Your summary should give the reviewer a clear idea about lessons you've learnt and the skills and knowledge you've taken away from your experiences.

Author's Bio: 

Bobby Harris is a driven, experienced and knowledgeable professional within areas such as healthcare, childhood education, abuse intervention and crisis prevention; organizational leadership and intellectual / developmental Disabilities.