As you begin to keep a journal through your counselling training, we hope you are finding the process enlightening.
Whatever level you're completing, even if you're not training, being reflective on your interactions, on theory, on your counselling skills practice, you will begin to discover a wonderful tool for self-evaluation and self-development.
When you write regularly in your journal, you may find that you begin to notice patterns in your behaviour and emotional responses to certain situations.
What we know for sure about keeping a journal is this:-
- It's a great opportunity to reflect on your experiences, feelings, thoughts and behaviour and it can be a way of expressing yourself, especially revealing (to yourself) difficult or deep emotions.
- It can be a way of thinking. It can be empowering. It can be a release.
- As you progress through training it will help you monitor any changes to your attitudes, values and beliefs.
- It will help you note down any changes in your approach to interactions with clients (as well as family/friends/colleagues) and you'll start to see your skills in a different light.
- You will begin to recognise your own strengths and identify skills that need developing.
- It will be your go-to place whenever you need to process a situation, an interaction, thought, belief, experience.
- If you are in training, it is a great place to go to write-up a training session.
The process always begins with creating a practice. If we turn to the page and expect that we're going to write something profound, then we are setting ourselves up for a fall.
Even if you're not actually enrolled on a counselling programme right now, beginning a journalling practice now will support your self awareness.
If you are really struggling to know where to start, you might benefit from a little bit of structure so you might want to set a time slot free everyday (or week) with the sole purpose of making a journal entry.
Perhaps you take a train journey to your training, or to work; can you devote this time to stepping into Reflective Journalling?
Perhaps you are in a Reading Group within your training programme, can you get there 30 minutes earlier and use that time on your own to write in your Journal?
You may want to start out being more descriptive (merely noting things like what you are doing in your training and how it makes you feel – without trying to interpret it), until you get into the reflective flow.)
One great question to ask yourself is this:
What have I learnt, today – what knowledge (academic or otherwise) have I gained?
We would love to know how you get on with beginning and keeping a reflective journal, why not tell us in the comments below?