Reflective Writing as Professional Practice


Photo: Fiona Banner, Heart of Darkness,

KnowinginActionposter (dragged).jpg

Poster Above: Knowledge in Action/ Image Based Reflective Learning by Catherine Phillips and Louise Foott, Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork (Please Zoom in to Read the Text and to also open the link to the poster above)

Sherry Beaumont Reflective Practice Writing Seminar on February 19th, 2022

Power Point Slides

Sherry Beaumont – Workshop – Feb 19 2022

Reflective Writing Articles, by Sherry Beaumont in the Canadian Journal of Art Therapy + Quotation by Sherry Beaumont (Professor of Psychology and Art Therapist, University of Northern British Columbia)

“The Art of Words: Expressive Writing as Reflective Practice in Art Therapy”

“From Liminality to Transformation: Creating an Art Therapist Identity through Myths, Metaphors and Self Portraits”

What can expressive writing bring to art therapy?

“Expressive writing can develop new vocabulary within the profession of art therapy. It informs the way art therapists articulate their practice and reflect upon their work. We appreciate the words of our clients, when we choose to spend time with our own words. Art therapists can appreciate the metaphors and idioms within their clients’ words, when they too are creating with language in their own artistic practice. The art of words within art therapy should be equally valued. The artistry of our clients encourages a contemplation of their unique voice, that must not only be seen, but heard.”

“I believe that unless art therapists are willing to express themselves in both images and words, they may lose contact with the holistic sense of common humanity that exists within the artistic endeavour. The synchronicity of artistic pursuits that exist between ourselves and our clients encourages a shared understanding that art is transformational.”

Quotations by Sherry Beaumont (Interview with Pamela Whitaker included in Envisage Magazine, produced by the Canadian Art Therapy Association

Link to interview with Sherry Beaumont (on page 10 of Envisage Magazine).


Artist: David Shrigley

Source: Reflective Writing Video, Hull University

Link Below: A Short Guide to Reflective Writing, University of Birmingham 

What is Reflective Practice?

“Reflective practice can help us understand our own intentions, values and visions and support us to work in a challenging field where our ethics and morals may be tested, where power relations may be decidedly unequal, and where we may be working in emotionally and physically demanding environments.

Many of us keep coming back to fundamental questions: how can I make a difference in the world? What is “good change” and how do I contribute to it? How do we sustain ourselves and keep going, when the going gets rough? How can we position ourselves effectively within a change process, and avoid becoming part of the problem? Practicing reflection can help us answer these questions and others throughout our lives and careers.

More professionals could benefit from adapting creative and innovative approaches to reflective practice – many of which are already used in fields of qualitative research, education, health care, social work, psychology and management. Opening spaces for reflection offers the possibility of transforming not only individual experience, but also the patterns and relationships within groups, organisations and systems, and ultimately those systems themselves.”


Reflective Practice Writing by Gillie Bolton and Russell Delderfield

Reflective practice is critical enquiry into any aspect of our practice, deepening and clarifying understanding of it and our relationship with it.  It involves reflection, an important aspect of which is reflexivity.

Reflection is a process of focussed thinking – about anything. We focus upon specific situations or relationships. This can help, for example, develop our perception of others (such as clients or colleagues), perhaps by comprehending their point-of-view better. Reflection can enable finding routes through difficulties, dilemmas, and decision making. It can celebrate and endorse success, giving strategies for working out how we made things go right, so we can do it again.

Reflexivity is self-critical reflection. It focusses upon one’s actions, thoughts, hopes, fears, role, values and assumptions with the aim of gaining insight into them.  Reflexivity can, for example, enable us to perceive that we do not every day practice according to the values we state as being significant to us in our practice (i.e. our values-in-practice prove to be at variance with our espoused values). This illuminative self-questioning, is inevitably also a process of uncertainty and self-doubt: the reflexive practitioner has no idea what it will lead them to question.

Reflective practice concerns our work, and areas of our experience which impinge upon it. Reflection involving reflexivity is critical questioning which can be initiated and supported by creative reflective processes. These can help us to observe ourselves and our practice from points of view outside of ourselves.  Gaining some distance from our habitual certainty about what we do, think, and believe, and beginning to perceive a different focus upon it, can open up seemingly immutable areas to critical enquiry.

Reflective practice writing, involving explorative and expressive use of narrative, metaphor, and so on, has the creative power to give different perspectives on our relationships, actions and assumptions.  Such writings, when reread, reflected upon, and discussed with confidential trusting respectful peers, can develop their full potential to give insight and pathways for development.

Reflective practice involves writing and discussion, which, when undertaken in depth, is enjoyable because it is creative and full of the delight of discovery.  It yet also has the potential to deeply disturb the most significant and seemingly stable aspects of our lives.  This can seem uncomfortable to begin with, but such is the nature of the dynamic change potentially wrought by reflective practice writing.

Reflective writing for assignments involves reflective practice writing as a stimulus and starting point for meaningful and thorough reflection, ready for use in assessed coursework. It then takes a critical approach to understanding practice by merging reflection with underpinning theory and evidence from research. Assumptions are often challenged, cases may be evaluated, our own practice and the professional setting are analysed, so too are authoritative sources. These are brought together to address a brief or answer a question.

Source: Online Resources for Education, Sage Publishing. Words by Gillie Bolton and Russell Delderfield


Artwork: Michael Fernandes, Mercer Union Gallery Toronto, 1995

A Portfolio for Reflective Practice

by Caryl Sibbett

  • Reflect, using art and words on your course experiences and deepen your understanding of yourself and your development as a learner, person and reflective practitioner of Art Psychotherapy. What is a reflective practitioner?
  • Gradually brings together your strands of learning, to identify relationships and integrate these in order to develop a personal grounding of knowledge/experience.
  • Evaluate your development and practice against the programme’s Intended Learning Outcomes.
  • Use your observations and experience to distil potential research strands which may be honed and incorporated into your dissertation portfolio.
  • Create an evidence base of the amount and type of learning that you have undertaken. Therefore, certain extracts must be submitted to relevant programme personnel.
  • Celebrate your strengths, achievements and developing competence (Ghaye, 2007: 159).

In psychotherapy training, the benefits of using reflective journals include:

  • They foster clarification and insight; allow expression of feelings; can be an adjunct to personal therapy; promote connections between psychotherapeutic theory and self; can be a therapeutic tool; can allow learning and records change; enables triggers and critical incidents to stimulate reflection. [Masters level psychotherapy training] (Wright, 2005).
  • They enable the expression of thoughts and feelings; have positive consequences for empathy and benefiting the client; promote reflection and self-examination. [Cognitive behavioural psychotherapy training] (Sutton, Townend & Wright, 2007).

Most of all, a journal is a place you can talk to yourself. It helps you develop self-discipline, greater precision and sensitivity in your communication. In this process of systematic self-reflection, you become more insightful about your own inner world and thus better attuned to your desires and needs. (Reference: Caryl Sibbett)

Portfolio, A Structure for Reflection 

Focus of the Session, Topic and Date

How will I apply my learning to benefit art therapy clients?

What do I want to remember about the session?

How did (this lecture, supervision session, studio practice, training group) enhance my understanding of art therapy practices and techniques?

What further reading do I need to undertake to explore training group topics further?

What did I experiment with today (e.g. style, technique, art media)?

How do I feel about the session and my creative process(es)?

How will I apply my learning to my practice to benefit art therapy clients?

Personal Highlights: What do I want to remember?

Personal Challenges: What can assist me in addressing personal challenges?


Photo: Dana Sederowsky, Text Walls

Why Write?

Reference for text below:. The Therapeutic Potential of Creative Writing by Gillie Bolton. Gillie Bolton has trained doctors, nurses and counsellors to offer therapeutic writing to their clients. She was previously a Research Fellow in Medical Humanities at Sheffield University. Website:

  • Writing seems to create a pathway to memories, feelings and thoughts you did not know you had. You can discover, explore, clarify and make connections with the present. It is a way of grasping experiences which seem otherwise lost in the depths of the mind.
  • Issues, ideas, inspirations you are aware of, but are almost impossible to say, can often be expressive in writing.
  • Writing helps you work on things. It stays there on the page in the same form. It doesn’t go away and so can be worked on. Thoughts, ideas, inspirations can be organised and clarified later.
  • Writing is private, a communication with the self…Writing is a staged process of rereading and redrafting and sharing when ready. Unshareable things can, therefore, be expressed relatively safely in writing.
  • Writing offers a lasting record for the self.
  • The creative process of writing is rewarding..increasing self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • A discussion with one significant reader [such as an art therapist]…can be illuminating. (Quotation: Gillie Bolton, The Therapeutic Potential of Creative Writing, pages 22-23).

Articles to find on USearch:

Response Art: The Art of the Art Therapist by Barbara Fish

Reflective Visual Journalling during Art Therapy and Counselling Internships: A Qualitative Study by Sarah Deaver and Garrett McAuliffe