Restorative Review – helping professionals after harm

MichaelMorganRegrowthClosing their book “Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)” Tavris and Aronson write “in the final analysis, the test…of an individual’s integrity does not depend on being error free. It depends on what we do after making the error”.

It is true that we tend to judge people by how they behave when they’ve done something that turns out badly. But how people behave is not just a matter of moral character. It is also a matter of moral skill. Few people have an innate understanding of what to do for the best after a serious incident or medical mistake. And – as Tavris and Aronson show – even people of undoubted integrity struggle with the psychological impact of making a serious mistake, using denial and self-justification to assuage their guilt.

I developed Restorative Review as a way of supporting people when things go wrong in the course of providing medical care. Restorative Review provides  an opportunity to talk about difficult moral topics – such as shame, guilt and forgiveness – when relationships of trust are called into question.

What is the aim of Restorative Review?

Restorative Review can be of value to both patients and professionals, but each has different needs. Supporting professionals, the immediate aim is to help them act with grace and kindness to others and to themselves. The long term aim is to make medicine safer by promoting candour, compassion, and constructive responses to performance concerns, patient complaints and medical harm.

How does Restorative Review work?

Restorative Review is offered as one-to-one support and has some affinity with both coaching and mediation. However, the focus is on how health care professionals’ deep moral values and moral experiences influence their behaviour, sometimes in unexpected ways. Restorative Review draws on research evidence and insights from diverse fields including moral philosophy, social pychology, conflict resolution, bereavement counselling, and world faiths.

What do you talk about in Restorative Review, and why?

We look closely at the powerful moral stories and emotions that surround medicine, and what happens when professional expertise is called into question. Moral stories express treasured beliefs about how people ought to behave. They carry strong and enduring emotions such as shame, regret, anger, sadness, guilt, forgiveness, trust, a sense of betrayal, and the desire for atonement. These stories and feelings play a significant role in shaping how people respond to troubling events. They can underpin helpful moral behaviours such as listening, apologising, being accountable and demonstrating understanding when people are hostile to you. But they can also also underlie negative behaviours such as destructive self-blame, denial, recrimination, perfectionism, and scapegoating.

I offer Restorative Review to individuals and organisations. Please email me to find out more.

Image: Regrowth by Michael Morgan via flickr CC: by 2,0