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Personal Reflection Paper

One goal of Psychology 406 is to facilitate an understanding of the relationship between counsellor worldview, personal characteristics, and counselling theory. You are encouraged to engage in self–reflection throughout the course by keeping a journal. In the Study Guide you will be directed to complete certain exercises, questions, or self–assessment inventories in your journal. These activities promote experiential and reflective learning along with cognitive understanding.

Since your journal is intended for honest personal exploration, you will not be asked to submit it for grading. Use the journal exercises to learn more about yourself and to explore the implications of your self–discovery, especially in terms of the personal fit of various models of counselling and the role you might potentially play as a counsellor in various situations.

Please note: Some of the activities require you to explore past experiences, reflect on your family dynamics, identify personal biases, and analyze patterns of personal behaviour, thoughts, or feelings. You are free to skip any exercise that makes you uncomfortable or that you prefer not to reflect on. You are strongly encouraged not to delve into issues or experiences that would be addressed better in an actual therapeutic setting. If some aspect of the course materials triggers a strong emotional reaction, please seek out resources from your personal network or community to deal with that reaction. Your tutor is not ethically permitted to assume the role of counsellor and will not engage in dialogue of a counselling nature with students in the course.

The reflections and responses in your journal will form the basis for your Personal Reflection Paper, the second assignment in the course. As with the Case Study, your Personal Reflection Paper must be in essay format. Your essay should be a maximum of 10 double–spaced, word–processed or typed pages. It should demonstrate critical thinking about the interconnection between the personality, values, and worldview of the counsellor and the assumptions, values, and techniques of various counselling theories. Include only material that you feel comfortable discussing with your tutor. Keep learning of a sensitive or vulnerable nature in your private journal.

The following “Additional Questions for Reflection” provide a starting point for the Personal Reflection Paper. You are not required to answer all these questions or to address them in any particular order. They are simply intended to assist you in addressing the basic question: How do your values, worldview, characteristics, and experiences affect your assessment of the theoretical approaches and your view of yourself as a potential counsellor? Use your journal to identify themes that emerged as you worked your way through the course. Also review the grading matrix below to ensure that you understand the expectations of the assignment.

Begin your Personal Reflection Paper by week 20, after you complete the last of the major theoretical sections (either Section IV or V, depending on the order you completed them in). Unit 14 will provide further material to incorporate into your paper. Submit your Personal Reflection Paper to your tutor for grading and feedback during week 23 to allow yourself sufficient time to study for the Final Exam.

Additional Questions for Reflection

  1. What core values, attitudes, or beliefs emerged as you worked through the self–reflection activities? Were there any surprises?

  2. To what degree do those values, attitudes, or beliefs create a lens through which you assess each theoretical model?

  3. How might your central values influence you as a helping person?

  4. What major qualities or strengths do you have thPat would be an asset to you as a counsellor?

  5. What weaknesses or unresolved issues might interfere with your work as a counsellor?

  6. to what degree are you drawn to particular theories because they reflect your own experiences (past or present)?

  7. To what degree does your acceptance or rejection of a particular theory indicate your own biases?

  8. What theory best fits your own view of counselling and therapy? What aspects of that theory are most appealing to you, and why?

  9. What theory do you find most divergent from your own views? What aspect of that theory is least appealing to you, and why?

  10. What client groups or client concerns would you find easiest to work with, and why? Would you choose not to work with certain issues or populations?

  11. Do limitations in your life experience or particular prejudices hinder your ability to understand and relate to certain clients? How might you overcome your personal limitations so that you could counsel a wider range of clients more effectively?

  12. What is your view on how problems develop?

  13. Do you focus on the past, the here–and–now, or the future when you try to understand or change something in your own life? How does this tendency affect your preference for counselling approaches?

  14. What type of relationship would you be most inclined to assume with clients? What does your preference say about how you believe change takes place?

  15. If you wanted to change something in your life, how would you make that change? Would you choose a similar or different approach as a counsellor working with a client on the same issue?

  16. What models or techniques of intervention do you gravitate towards? What about those interventions appeals to you? Why do such interventions appeal to you more than others do?

  17. How do you see cultural values influencing the counselling process? Are you clear about the values of your culture and how such values might influence your work as a counsellor?

  18. Given your culture and worldview, what value conflicts would you most likely encounter as a counsellor? How would you resolve those conflicts?

  19. Do you favour adopting one theoretical model or integrating several models into a more eclectic, personalized approach? Now that you have reviewed the range of counselling theories, what is your personal inclination?

Specific Grading Criteria for the Personal Reflection Paper

  1. Review the reflections and responses in your journal. Reflect on the interconnection between the personality, values, and worldview of the counsellor and the assumptions, values, and techniques of the various counselling theories.

  2. In your paper address this basic question: How do your values, worldview, characteristics, and experiences affect your assessment of the theoretical approaches and your view of yourself as a potential counselor?

  3. Include in this paper only material that you feel comfortable discussing with your tutor. Keep learning of a sensitive or vulnerable nature in your private journal.

  4. Your report should be a maximum of 10 double–spaced typed pages, using a standard 12–point font size.

  5. This assignment requires demonstration of affective learning, synthesis, and evaluation.

  6. A well–prepared report will comprise three major parts: introduction, body of the report, and conclusion. It will start with a title page. This assignment is intended to develop your skill in demonstrating affective learning, and in synthesizing and evaluating psychological counselling theories as they apply to you. The report is to be written in APA style, which you may research by referring to The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed., 2001), or the AUPR Writing Skills resources. Although references are not required, at the 400–level you are expected to use APA format for the overall format of all papers. The following grading matrix delineates the expectations for this assignment.

Grading Matrix

Abstract Concise summary of reflection paper. 5 5
Wordy summary of reflection paper. 4  
Unclear or confusing summary. 3  
Incomplete or inaccurate summary. 1-2  
No summary. 0  
Introduction Concise statement of the rationale, purpose, and structure. 5 5
A well–written, interesting rationale or background statement, which includes either the purpose or the structure. 4  
A well–written rationale or background statement only. 3  
A wordy or poorly written statement of the rationale, purpose, and structure; includes information either unnecessary or better placed later in the paper or with neither purpose nor structure described. 1-2  
No introduction. 0  
Body:
Personal Analysis
Identification of emergent themes related to personal values, attitudes, worldview, experiences, etc. (affective learning). Understanding the role of gender, family, culture, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, etc. in shaping beliefs and values (synthesis and evaluation). 21-30 30
Both of these areas covered, but not fully. 10-20  
One of these key areas covered. 1-9  
Neither key area covered. 0  
Body:
Links to Theoretical Orientation
Establishment of links between personal experiences, characteristics, worldview, and the theoretical models explored in the course (affective learning). Identification of the potential impact of those beliefs and values on the counselling role and interactions with particular client groups (synthesis and evaluation). 21-30 30
Both of these areas covered, but not fully. 10-20  
One of these key areas covered. 1-9  
No key areas covered. 0  
Discussion and Conclusions Clear, logical conclusions drawn from the body of the paper. Review with well–founded recommendations for further reflection. 10-15 15
Clear, logical conclusions drawn from the body of the paper, with limited or no recommendations for further reflection. 1-9  
Unclear or illogical conclusions or no conclusion. 0  
Style Consistent use of the current APA style5 in title page and body of the paper. Excellent organization, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. (A well–organized report may use headings and/or clear, logical transitions to shift from one section to the next.) 13-15 15
Consistent use of APA style. Generally well written (logical, clear) with a few minor errors in grammar, spelling, or punctuation. 10-12  
Logical and clear, but many grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. 5-9  
Some confusion or lack of clarity in organization and writing. 0-4  
Total     100

Note: The affective learning and synthesis and evaluation descriptors that appear in parenthesis and in italics within the Body: Personal Analysis and Body: Links to Theoretical Orientation are referenced from Bloom’s Taxonomy.6


5 The most current is APA style, 5th Edition.

6 For more information re Bloom’s Taxonomy, see http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html or http://www.coun.uvic.ca/learn/program/hndouts/bloom.html.




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