Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology


The present study investigates the development of reflective practice for beginning counselors. A review of the literature provides support for the benefits of counselors developing reflective practice, and for the use of tools such as portfolios and written journals in order to assist counselors in the development of reflection. However, because these tools have not been systematically implemented and investigated, little is known about the nature of counselors' development of reflective practice. A narrative, multiple-case methodology is used in order to examine the process of development in depth. Methods were employed to achieve trustworthiness of the data. Four participants took part in the three phases of this study, which involved two interviews with the researcher and a semester-long journal writing experience. The researcher provided continued reflection through intensive feedback on the journals. A narrative analysis of the data generated three collective content themes (the integration of personal/professional aspects of identity; emotional management; and genuineness); four individual content themes (assertiveness, letting go, spirituality, and confrontation), and three collective process themes (the impact of the researcher, including researcher as audience; feedback on the journals as an impetus for many reactions, including continued reflection; and journals as a record of professional development and a source of continued reflection). The participants' narratives of their development are constructed in their own words. The researcher maintained a journal throughout the process, which yielded some unexpected findings about the researcher/participant relationship. These unexpected findings are also detailed. This study provides support for the notion that the cultivation of reflective practice for personal and professional development is valuable for beginning counselor trainees in their work with clients. This research also demonstrates the use of written journals as a useful tool for counselors' development of reflective practice. This study contributes to the counselor development literature in that it is the only known study to investigate in depth the process of reflective practice in counselor trainees as it unfolds. Finally, the discussion explores implications for counselor training (e.g., the need for structured reflective experiences in training programs), and future research (e.g., counselors from diverse groups and various levels of training).

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access