Approved mental health practitioners are required to act autonomously and make independent decisions, free from the influence of others. Decisions must clearly be lawful, and they must also rest on good practice as defined by the respective Codes of Practice. It is a principal aim of this chapter to reflect on ways of making sense of practice and instilling, maintaining and advancing competence and confidence in approved mental health practice. The chapter starts with an acknowledgement that approved mental health practice is not straightforward, and uncertainty is an inherent feature of the work. The focus will be on how the practitioner navigates this, and how they are enabled to move from ‘novice’ towards expert with the use of critical reflection. Practice wisdom is explained and promoted. An aspiration within practice is to feel comfortable with this uncertainty and complexity and be accepting of the idea that there are no clear answers — but this does not need to lead to a sense of helplessness. Rather, an approved mental health practitioner can become more confident — and move towards this expert practice — if critical reflection underpins their overall assessment and decision making.
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