Enabling Culturally Sensitive Career Counseling through Critically Reflective Practice: The Role of Reflective Diaries in Personal and Professional Development

  • Barbara BassotEmail author
Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP)


This chapter focuses on the use of reflective diaries in the training and professional development of career counselors, in particular the role of diary writing in relation to developing the skills of client-centered, empathic, nonjudgemental career counseling. The use of reflective diaries in the training and development of student counselors in the UK is discussed, especially the findings from a small scale study which showed how some students found the process of diary writing helpful in their development. A range of relevant theoretical models of reflection are introduced. There has been a move from early discussions of reflective practice focused on action and continuous improvement to more recent theoretical perspectives of critically reflective practice where counselors are encouraged to reflect at a deeper level in order to consider their emotional responses to situations and become aware of their assumptions in relation to their professional practice.

I then use the reflective diary that I kept during my time in India as a case study to illustrate a number of the theoretical models discussed in the chapter. Following data analysis, four key themes are highlighted from the diary entries: assumptions, contrasts, constants, and similarities. I present an evaluation of the experience of reflective diary writing and the application of reflective diary writing to counselor training and development. The capacity of reflective diary writing in enabling perspective transformation is emphasized, particularly in encouraging counselors to challenge their assumptions and the things they take for granted. Such a process enables career counselors to keep the client and their worldview at the center and simultaneously aim for greater counselor neutrality and cultural sensitivity. The chapter includes a template for reflective diary writing as a practical tool for those who would like to engage in the process of critical reflection of their practice. The chapter is concluded with an encouragement to those who have not yet tried reflective diary writing to set aside a small amount of time for this activity and begin to reap some of the rewards it can offer.


Professional Practice Diary Entry Reflective Practice Career Counseling Student Counselor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Argyris, C. (1982). Reasoning, learning and action: Individual and organizational. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  2. Argyris, C., & Schön, D. (1974). Theory in practice: Increasing professional effectiveness. London, England: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  3. Arulmani, G. (2011). Striking the right note: The cultural preparedness approach to developing resonant career guidance programmes. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 11(2), 79–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bassot, B. (2010). Reflective diary: India 2010. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  5. Bolton, G. (2004). Reflective practice: Writing and professional development (2nd ed.). London, England: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Boud, D., Keogh, R., & Walker, D. (1985). Reflection: Turning experience into learning. London, England: RoutledgeFalmer.Google Scholar
  7. Boyd, E. M., & Fales, A. W. (1983). Reflective learning: Key to learning from experience. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 23, 99–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Corey, G., Corey, M. S., & Callanan, P. (2007). Issues and ethics in the helping professions (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  9. Ellis, C., Adams, T. E., & Bochner, A. P. (2010). Autoethnography: An overview. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung [Forum: Qualitative Social Research], 12(1). Retrieved from
  10. Ghaye, T., & Ghaye, K. (2011). Teaching and learning through reflective practice: A practical guide for positive action. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Gibbs, G. (1998). Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Oxford, England: Further Education Unit, Oxford Polytechnic.Google Scholar
  12. Honey, P., & Mumford, A. (2000). The learning styles helper’s guide. Maidenhead, England: Author.Google Scholar
  13. Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  14. Mezirow, J. (1978). Education for perspective transformation: Women’s re-entry programs in community colleges. New York, NY: Teacher’s College, Columbia University.Google Scholar
  15. Mezirow, J. (1981). A critical theory of adult learning and education. Adult Education, 32, 13–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Moon, J. (2000). Reflection in learning and professional development. Theory and practice. London, England: Kogan Page.Google Scholar
  17. Mullins, L. (2010). Management and organisational behaviour. Harlow, England: Financial Times, Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  18. Osterman, K. F., & Kottkamp, R. B. (2004). Reflective practice for educators: Professional development to improve student learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.Google Scholar
  19. Ratnam, A. (2011). Traditional occupations in a modern world: Implications for career guidance and livelihood planning. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 11(2), 95–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Thompson, S., & Thompson, N. (2008). The critically reflective practitioner. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Career and Personal DevelopmentCanterbury Christ Church UniversityCanterburyUK

Personalised recommendations