What's going on? Parallel process and reflective practice in teaching
Parallel process is a concept arising from the psychotherapy and social work fields and originally referred to a 'reflective space' ( Searles, 1955 ) in which the supervisor of a therapist uses the feelings projected onto them as indicators of the unconscious dynamics the therapist is dealing with in their work with clients. This article shows how parallel process can emerge between students and teachers in the same way as it emerges between therapist and supervisor. It describes the dynamics in a student group and how they paralleled those in the staff teaching team, and illustrates how the process of reflection can reveal the unconscious dynamics in the student group. The value of parallel process is realised when these dynamics are used to gain insight into the issues that are being faced by the therapist, or in the case of this article, the student group. The data then enables teaching staff to design real time interventions that allow them to work with here and now dynamics in the student group that form the basis for rich and meaningful learning.