The Evidence Portal

Self-reflection or journaling

Flexible activity

Self-reflection or journaling activities offer an outlet for self-expression and reflection on emotional or cognitive responses to program sessions and lessons learned throughout the program. In this activity, program participants are tasked with keeping a journal of their thoughts, feelings and emotions in response to program content, or in general throughout the duration of the program. This can be kept private and for the personal development of the participants, or shared with program facilitators as a mode of tracking and feedback.

Self-reflection or journaling activities can be a critical component of skill-building and practice for self-awareness, mindfulness and self-regulation. This activity can enable participants to freely document their feelings, thoughts and emotions to stimuli they’re exposed to throughout the duration of a program, and reflect on their bodily and emotional responses to these stimuli. Similarly, self-reflection and journaling can offer a means of at-home practice of mindfulness and relaxation.

How can it be implemented?

As noted, journals and outputs from self-reflection exercises can be undertaken for the personal development of the participants and kept private or shared with program facilitators. Whether participants are required to share their self-reflection or journals should be considered in light of the scope of content participants are asked to reflect on, and the participants’ willingness to share the content.

Journaling and self-reflection tasks can be designated during a program session, however the journaling activity itself is best undertaken by the participant on his/her own, or during individual work sessions in a safe and supportive environment.

Who is the target group?

This flexible activity has been implemented with a number of different target groups. Key characteristics include:

  • School students
  • Young women aged 12-24 with high rates of problem behaviours at school, poor academic performance and truancy
  • Adolescent boys attending an alternative high school for students who have struggled with behaviour problems in traditional school settings

What programs conduct this activity?

  • In the Kripalu Yoga in the Schools (KYIS) curriculum, journaling about ways to de-stress was incorporated as part of a broader yoga program designed to encourage social interaction and activities for self-discovery.
  • In REAL Girls, self-reflection was undertaken in individual and group sessions, and recorded in a personal journal. Reflection focused on participants’ program experiences.
  • The Council for Boys and Young Men program incorporated journaling as an activity to aid reflection around issues of unhealthy masculine norms, diversity, friendships, mentoring, goals and bullying.

What else should I consider?

Journaling and self-reflection activities have the potential to prompt emotional responses or self-awareness that may require additional support and guidance from program facilitators.  

Further resources

Last updated:

24 Nov 2022

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