From Cocoon to Butterfly: Use of Cooperative Inquiry Groups to Empower Practitioners in Healthcare Contexts

Blogpost by Sarah Donnelly and Sarah Morton

Consider the analogy of a butterfly inside its cocoon. When we see a butterfly struggling, we are tempted to peel the cocoon off to free the butterfly so that it can fly away. But what happens to a butterfly when it does not have the necessary struggle to free itself from its cocoon? The struggle ultimately makes the butterfly strong and helps it grow and develop.


Image description: A bright butterfly alights on a group of white petaled flowers with yellow centers.











Health and social care practitioners can often feel powerless over aspects of their practice and feel frustrated about their lack of power to influence organisational and practice change. As committed action researchers we wanted to understand more about how our use of co-operative inquiry groups had fostered change and transformation – even though they were enacted in two very different healthcare settings- a community based domestic violence agency and an acute hospital age-related healthcare team for older people. We discovered that researcher and practitioner values and robust pre-existing relationships played a vital role in the co-production of knowledge and in change generation at the level of policy and practice. By standing back and thinking about practices reflexively, healthcare teams can try and redress the inherent power imbalances that often exist between teams and their service users. In facilitating a heightened awareness of practice issues through the cooperative inquiry group process, we found that healthcare practitioners can morph from cocoon to butterfly, connecting research to action leading to tangible and sustained organisational change.

We invite you to learn more about this experience by reading our article HERE. Free 30-day access is available for this article beginning 28 November. 

After you’ve had a chance to read this piece, please share your thoughts, ideas, or experiences with our community in the comments below so we can continue this discussion!

Pin It on Pinterest