13 Self Reflection Worksheets & Templates to Use in Therapy
While valuable for clients and students, it is equally vital for therapists, coaches, and mental health professionals.
Literature across multiple disciplines confirms that reflection serves therapists by improving “learning and performance in essential competencies” (Aronson, 2011, p. 200). In therapy, it helps the client “manage personal feelings, such as anxiety and inadequacy, and their impact on others” (Fisher, Chew, & Leow, 2015, p. 736).
This article introduces the basics behind reflection along with questions and worksheets that encourage and support the reflective process and maximize the benefits for therapists, clients, and students.
Before you continue, you might like to download our three Meaning and Valued Living Exercises for free . These creative, science-based exercises will help you learn more about your values, motivations, and goals and will give you the tools to inspire a sense of meaning in the lives of your clients, students, or employees.
This Article Contains:
Fostering reflection skills: the basics, 50+ questions to ask your clients or students, 5 helpful reflection worksheets & tools, journaling & diaries: 2 useful templates, top 3 activities for practicing reflection, 3 fun games to inspire clients, positivepsychology.com’s reflection resources, a take-home message.
While reflection has no single, universal definition, Aronson (2011, p. 200) frames it as the “process of analyzing, questioning, and reframing an experience in order to make an assessment of it for the purposes of learning (reflective learning) and/or improve practice (reflective practice).” It has multiple uses in various contexts.
Reflection is central to most therapies. Indeed, Socratic questioning (using open yet focused questions) is widely used in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to encourage reflection and unpack deeply held beliefs (Bennett-Levy, Thwaites, Chaddock, & Davis, 2009).
Within therapy , Bennett-Levy et al. (2009) recognized that reflection can be beneficial for both the therapist and the client, and can be considered from several perspectives.
- Reflective practices Reflection as part of the clinical experience, using journals, video, and group activities.
- Reflective skills The ability to reflect on oneself through therapeutic interaction and self-awareness of feelings and thoughts.
- Reflective systems Reflection results from the interaction of several processes, including the individual’s memory, skills, and reflective system.
- Reflective processes Reflection involves the ability to observe (possibly via visualization) and then reflect or conceptualize to engage in further processing, including elaboration, problem solving, and self-questioning.
Bennett-Levy et al. (2009, p. 121) offer the following helpful definition of reflection:
“Reflection is the process of intentionally focusing one’s attention on a particular content; observing and clarifying this focus; and using other knowledge and cognitive processes (such as self-questioning, logical analysis and problem-solving) to make meaningful links.”
The benefits of reflection carry across to the learning process found within educational environments. It forms the second of the following four-stage model used by coaches engaging with students to understand the learning process (Adams, 2016):
- Attending to and focusing on the relevant features of their experience
- Actively reflecting on their experience
- Extracting learning from that experience
- Planning how to create new ways of behaving in response to the learning
Reflection and learning are also highly applicable outside of school.
While reflection is vital to self-awareness and healing for clients, it is also a powerful and insightful tool for therapists.
Mental health professionals must be self-aware and cognizant of the skills they are using, because “in no other profession does the personality and behavior of the professional make such difference as it does in counseling” (Meier & Davis, 1997).
The following questions can be helpful for new and existing counselors and their clients to increase self-awareness and knowledge of counseling techniques (modified from Bennett-Levy et al., 2009):
- Observe the experience (such as the session or intervention). How did I feel? What did I notice?
- Clarify the experience. What did I learn? Was it helpful? What did not change?
The following two points are more applicable for therapists:
- Implications of the experience for clinical practice What are the implications for and impacts on one-to-one therapy, supervision, consultation, etc.?
- Implications of the experience for how I see myself as a therapist What are the implications of this experience for my understanding of cognitive therapy and theory?
Considering each question in turn can provide insights that encourage greater knowledge of the therapeutic process and promote lessons to take forward to future sessions.
Asking appropriate questions is a crucial aspect of reflection and central to deeper, long-lasting learning (Aronson, 2011; Adams, 2016).
Reflection questions for students
The following three sets of questions promote reflection in students by considering academic performance (modified from ones used by the Colorado Department of Education ):
Reflective Questions for personal academic performance
These Reflective Questions prompt the student to think about what they are learning, why they are learning, and how they can improve the overall process.
The student answers the first question regarding what they have been learning and then selects a sample of other questions to prompt reflection.
They then complete the last column with their thoughts for later review by themselves or a therapist, coach, or counselor.
A sample of the questions includes:
What have you been learning about (today, this week, or this semester)? Why do you think these objectives and this subject are important? Did you give your best effort on your most recent assignment?
Reflective Metacognition Questions for students
Reflective Metacognition Questions help students reflect on how and what they think .
The questions are grouped under the following subsections and can be answered individually, in pairs, or as a group exercise, with a summary of the answers placed in the final column.
- Reflection and collaboration
Example questions include:
What are your thoughts about what was said? Are there any other similar answers or alternative answers? Why do you think this answer is true?
Reflection Questions in Therapy
Reflection is an essential part of therapy.
Using the Reflective Questions in Therapy worksheet, the therapist can encourage and facilitate the process of reflection in the client, such as (Bennett-Levy et al., 2009):
What do I wish people better understood about me? What behaviors and beliefs do I want to let go of? Have I been receiving enough support this year?
During CBT and other therapies, the client is often given a workbook or journal to capture reflections on the practice or skills they develop as they progress through treatment.
Reflection reinforces learning within the sessions and, more importantly, leads to deeper insights between sessions (Bennett-Levy et al., 2009).
Learning From My Past
The Reflections on Learning From My Past worksheet helps the client capture and reflect on an event from their past and consider how different behavior may have led to an alternate outcome.
The client is asked a series of questions about the incident, such as:
What happened or what was the event? How did it make you feel? How did you handle it?
Self-Reflection Behavior Review
At the end of the year or looking back on the client’s life, it can help to look for patterns in behavior.
The Self-Reflection Behavior Review worksheet is a valuable way to summarize events and see the recurring traps into which the client falls.
The summary provides a valuable talking point during therapy sessions and can be referred to later in order to assess how behavior has changed and improved.
It asks the client to consider:
Do you see a pattern in your behavior? How could you act differently in the future? What situations should you try to avoid?
Who Am I Self-Reflection
In life, we are often so busy with everyday tasks that we forget to take stock of who we are, what we are good at, and what is important to us.
Clients or students can use the Who Am I Self-Reflection worksheet to think about what they are good at, what significant challenges they have been confronted with, and what inspires them.
Some questions to consider include:
Think of something significant that went wrong. What did I learn from it? What am I passionate about? What do I love most about myself?
Student Work Reflection
Students can help their existing and future learning by thinking about how they are approaching their work and using metacognitive skills to drive future improvements (Adams, 2016).
The Student Work Reflection is a set of simple repeating questions to consider how they approach each task in school.
It asks the student to consider:
How could I improve? What am I still working on? What am I most proud of?
Reflection on Group Activities
Reflection is equally important in group tasks as in individual tasks. The Reflection on Group Activities is for an educational or therapy setting to assess the success and learnings from a group activity.
Working individually or in groups, students can answer questions such as:
What went well? What did not go well? What could we try next time?
As an intervention, it is a creative way to engage clients in a therapeutic activity, increasing self-awareness and personal growth.
It can be helpful to capture some of the key events of the day. The act of writing what happened and reviewing it later can be insightful and help you recognize positive and negative patterns in your behavior.
Daily Reflection of Feelings
Use the Daily Reflection of Feelings journal with the client to record how their day went and capture the feelings they experienced.
What was the best part of the day? What would you change about the day if you could? What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
Daily Reflection of Behavior
Clients and therapists can benefit from reviewing significant events that occurred between sessions.
Use the Daily Reflection of Behavior journal with clients to capture daily behaviors that were unexpected or parts of habits that the client wishes to change.
What happened? How did I behave? Why did it happen?
Several techniques can encourage the process of reflection in clients and students.
- DARN The DARN acronym forms an important aspect of motivational interviewing . With the use of evocative change questions, the client is invited to engage in reflection to consider the change, including:
Desire questions – What I would like, wish, or want to do? Ability questions – Capturing the idea that change is possible. Reasons questions – Recognizing the reasons for change. Need questions – Identifying the urgency of the change.
- OARS OARS is another acronym important to the process of motivational interviewing to elicit change talk through the use of the following:
Open questions encourage the client to talk. Affirmations include statements of understanding and offers of support. Reflections capture and rephrase what the client has said Summarizing provides a check-in with the client by summarizing what has been said.
OARS encourages reflection in both the therapist and the client.
- Socratic questioning Observing and taking part in Socratic questioning can be a valuable opportunity to learn about the process of encouraging reflection in others and in oneself.
Consider the five questions:
What happened? When did it happen? Where did it happen? Why did it happen? How did it happen?
Try out the following three activities with clients or students.
Your life as a play
You can carry out this reflective exercise in small groups of three or four people.
Ask each person to describe their ideal life in three acts, as though it were a play.
What past dreams were achieved? What is the present (good and bad)? What is your ideal future?
Share with the group, discussing each of the acts, adding humorous insights along the way. End with your positive view of how the future might look.
Shield of honor
This activity is ideal for reflection in multiple small groups.
Ask each group to create a shield out of a large piece of paper.
Divide the paper into four equal rectangles, representing:
- Skills and abilities they offer
- Skills and abilities they need to improve
- What they are proud of
Tell the group they are only allowed to use drawings and pictures – no words.
After 20 minutes, ask each group to share what they have created.
Reflection on communication
Individuals are grouped into pairs and asked to sit back-to-back.
One person is given either a pen and paper or building blocks and asked to create a novel design.
Ask them to describe what it looks like, while the other person attempts to recreate the design on their side.
Once finished, the two can compare what they have created and discuss the communication process.
Throughout this post, we’ve discussed the importance of clarifying wants, behavior patterns, and forces of motivation to better understand what brings meaning throughout one’s life. To this end, we invite you to check out our free Meaning & Valued Living Exercises Pack .
This pack features three of our top tools from the Positive Psychology Toolkit©, all of which center on the theme of values-based living:
- The Top 5 Values This exercise draws on key principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to help clients begin brainstorming their values. Following this, clients will then prioritize these values in a list to identify those most central to who they are.
- Self-Eulogy This exercise invites clients to consider how they’d like to be remembered at their funeral as a means to identify and clarify values. Based on this, they can then consider how well they are living in alignment with these values.
- The Scoreboard Metaphor This exercise helps clients recognize how to enact their values through goal-setting. In particular, it draws on the metaphor of a basketball game to illustrate how living into one’s values is an ongoing process and that the paths by which we pursue our goals are opportunities to enact our values in daily life.
You can access all three exercises for free by downloading our Meaning & Valued Living Exercises Pack .
Additionally, if you’re looking for further reading on the topic of self-reflection, be sure to check out our blog post featuring ten book recommendations .
Reflection engages clients and students in the process of analyzing, questioning, and reframing an experience. It encourages individuals or groups to learn and improve, and promotes deeper, longer lasting learning (Aronson, 2011).
Within therapy and coaching, reflection can help individuals manage their feelings (such as anxiety or self-doubt) and recognize how their behavior affects others (Fisher et al., 2015).
In an educational setting, research shows that questions and exercises prompt learners to improve core competencies (Aronson, 2011).
In any environment, reflection involves metacognition. Individuals must step outside of their existing cognition to think about their thinking . It is a skill that is best learned through practice.
Therapists, coaches, counselors, and teachers can help by prompting the client or class to consider what they have learned, what has gone well (and hasn’t), and what they could have done differently.
The takeaways from reflection can change a person’s view of what has already happened and influence how they behave in the future.
The exercises and questions within this article will engage others, promoting the reflective process and offering deeper understanding and tools for future learning.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Meaning and Valued Living Exercises for free .
- Adams, M. (2016). Coaching psychology in schools: Enhancing performance, development and wellbeing . Routledge.
- Aronson, L. (2011). Twelve tips for teaching reflection at all levels of medical education. Medical Teacher , 33 (3), 200–205.
- Bennett-Levy, J., Thwaites, R., Chaddock, A., & Davis, M. (2009). Reflective practice in cognitive behavioural therapy: The engine of lifelong learning. In J. Stedmon & R. Dallos (Eds.), Reflective practice in psychotherapy and counselling (pp. 115–35). Open University Press.
- Fisher, P., Chew, K., & Leow, Y. J. (2015). Clinical psychologists’ use of reflection and reflective practice within clinical work. Reflective Practice , 16 (6), 731–743.
- Hayman, B., Wilkes, L., & Jackson, D. (2012). Journaling: Identification of challenges and reflection on strategies. Nurse Researcher , 19 (3), 27–31.
- Meier, S., & Davis, S. (1997). The Elements of Counselling . Brooks/Cole.
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Reflection is the change in direction of a wavefront at an interface between two different media so that the wavefront returns into the medium from which it originated. Common examples include the reflection of light, sound and water waves. The law of reflection says that for specular reflection the angle at which the wave is incident on the surface equals the angle at which it is reflected. Mirrors exhibit specular reflection. Reflection of light is either specular (mirror-like) or diffuse (retaining the energy, but losing the image) depending on the nature of the interface. A mirror provides the most common model for specular light reflection, and typically consists of a glass sheet with a metallic coating where the reflection actually occurs. Reflection is enhanced in metals by suppression of wave propagation beyond their skin depths. Reflection also occurs at the surface of transparent media, such as water or glass.
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Problem Solving Reflection Worksheet
Using this Problem Solving Reflection Worksheet, students answer the questions below to help you reflect on a problem that you have had.
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How to teach Problem Solving
Our students face many social problems at home and at school. Knowing how to react in appropriate ways is important for our students to be able to do. This worksheet will help your students to figure out the best ways to respond to a problem that they face.
Answer the questions below to help you reflect on a problem that you have had.
Other resources to use with this Problem Solving Reflection Worksheet
If you are using this worksheet, your students are probably learning about how to solve social problems.
Use this Hurtful vs. Helpful Problem Solution Worksheet as an additional resource for your students.
Introduce this worksheet by having your students share what they think about so that mistakes don’t happen again. Next, students discuss with a partner how they would make sure the problem doesn’t happen again. Then, students complete the worksheet independently or with a partner. Finally, students share what they learned from the worksheet to make sure they can stop the problem from happening again. This worksheet can be a very helpful tool for students to use when they need to reflect on a situation.
Be sure to check out more Life Skills Activities .
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Home » Blog » Free Training Games & Activities » Ice Breakers » 7 Free Reflection Activities and Revision Exercises for Freelance Trainers & Teachers
7 Free Reflection Activities and Revision Exercises for Freelance Trainers & Teachers
Page Updated on January 17, 2023
When providing training, reflection activities are a great idea in order to give participants a chance to revise the ideas and concepts that have been covered in the class. Such activities help to re-enforce learning and in a fun way.
So coming up below are 7 reflection activities and games that also can be used in your workshops and classes as a freelance trainer or teacher.
The ‘Matching Games’ Icebreaker
Allowing 20 to 30 minutes is the perfect amount of time for this activity.
Number of Participants
Divide participants into groups of 4 to 6 people.
Activity Purpose and Goal
For revisions and reflection, this is a good activity to either get the participants to revise concepts covered during the training or to reflect and find solutions on a topic.
Each group receives a set of cards, which have information on them such as sentences, questions, pictures, scenarios. Basically, almost anything that is significant for the topic.
They are then asked to rank the cards in a particular order, sort them into categories or to use them as labels on a mind map, chart or picture.
Alternatively, they can match each card (which contains a question, for example) with a corresponding card from a different set (which contains the answers).
Reflection Activity Instructions
1. Divide participants into small groups of 3 to 6 people each, depending on the class size.
2. Give each group of participants a set of cards, 20 for instance, with words, pictures, or statements. If relevant, also give them the items that they need to match these cards with (another set of cards, a map, etc.)
3. Explain to them whether they need to sort the cards into groups of concepts, rank them, or match them with other items.
Give participants 10 minutes (or a bit more, depending on the complexity of the concepts).
Ask each group to discuss with the rest of the class how they have matched or ranked the concepts.
Benefits of this Classroom Reflection Exercise
- This activity helps students to ‘construct’ their own knowledge.
- It is very good to help participants take ownership of their own learning by giving them time to reflect and make associations.
- This is an activity that participants can do on their own but, if they do it in groups, they will develop communication and team-building skills .
The ‘Elements of Success’ Reflection Activity Exercise
15 to 20 minutes is the perfect time frame for this reflection exercise, but you can easily adapt it to be shorter or longer, depending on available time.
This activity is best done in groups of 3 or 4 people.
Purpose (Reflection and discussion)
The topic of this game is ‘success’, so participants will share their ideas on what makes something or someone successful.
It’s very useful in particular for soft skills and life planning training sessions .
1. Split participants into groups of 3 or 4.
2. Ask each of them to think of a peak experience of whatever the topic is (e.g., the best work meeting you ever had; the best-organized conference you attended; the most engaging speaker you ever heard; the most interesting presentation you remember; the best piece of work you did, etc.).
3. Ask each participant to think about what made the experience so successful.
4. Ask participants to share their story with the rest of their small group.
5. Get the group to discuss what they think the elements of success are.
6. Get each group to share the outcome of their conversation with the rest of the class. You can write down the elements of success on a flip chart yourself or ask each group to write on their own sheet of A1 paper and present it.
Benefits of this Reflection and Revision Exercise
- This exercise promotes a positive mindset as it focuses on success.
- By promoting discussion, this exercise stimulates deep learning.
The ‘Snowballs Revision & Reflection’ Activity
15 to 20 minutes is the perfect amount of time for the Snowball activity exercise.
This activity is ideal for 6 people or more.
Purpose of this Revision and Reflection Exercise
This is a fun and active way to review a topic.
1. Supply each participant with a pen and paper.
2. Ask a relevant question and ask participants to write their answers on a piece of paper.
3. Form a circle, away from any obstacles such as tables and chairs.
4. Ask participants to scrunch up their sheet of paper to make a ‘snowball’.
5. Say ‘Let’s start a snowball fight’ and allow participants 30 seconds to throw, catch and throw as many snowballs as they can.
6. At the end of the 30 seconds, stop the fight by blowing a whistle.
7. Ask each participant to pick up a snowball and open it.
8. Ask participants to take turns in reading aloud the response on their piece of paper.
9. Repeat the process with another question, playing as many rounds as the number of questions you want to ask.
Benefits of this Activity
- Through this activity, participants can give their input anonymously.
- As a trainer, this activity can help you evaluate what the participants have learned or want to learn.
The ‘Your Ideal Life in Three Acts’ Revision & Planning Exercise
Allow 15 to 20 minutes for this reflection and planning exercise
This exercise can be carried out individually or in small groups of 3 to 4 people.
Purpose of this Reflection and Planning Exercise
This is a good exercise for a training session on focus and life planning, happiness, or mindfulness . It could also be a useful exercise for talking about the importance of prioritizing, during a session on time management .
Instructions to Run this Activity
1. Ask participants to write the story of their ideal life in three acts, as though it was a play:
- Past dreams achieved.
- Present situation (good and bad parts)
- Their ideal future
2. You can ask participants to share this exercise with a small group and discuss it, or it can be used as an individual reflection. Some discussion with the rest of the class after the activity is always useful though, even if participants carry out the exercise individually.
- By asking participants to focus on their ideal life and finishing with their ideal future, it gives them a positive perspective about what they can still achieve.
The ‘Response Cards Activity’
From 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the number of questions you want to ask.
Any number, in groups of 4 to 6 people.
This is a revision, reflection, and discovery activity. It’s an interesting alternative to asking questions to participants with the trainer writing the answers on a flip chart.
Unlike the flip-chart activity, this activity gives everyone the chance to give an answer.
1. Ask an open-ended question and ask each participant to write their answer on a card. Give them a suitable time limit.
2. Separate the participants into small groups of 4 to 6 people per group.
3. Collect the responses from each team and give them to another team.
4. Ask each group to select two responses: the ‘best’ one and the response that is the most different from the others. Give them a suitable time limit.
5. Ask each team to read the responses they selected.
6. Comment and discuss on each response.
The Benefits of this activity
- This activity gives participants time for reflection.
- It is a good way to involve even the shyest participants , who would not answer in front of the whole class otherwise.
Personal Shield of Honour
15 to 20 minutes.
Put participants into groups of 4 to 8 people.
Purpose of this activity
This activity is perfect for Reflection and discussion.
The aim is to focus on what is done well at their workplace, as well as on what it could be improved.
You will need:
- A1 pieces of paper
- Writing implements such as pen, markers, and crayons
- Possibly even a magazine and scissors
1. Explain that each group will create a ‘shield’ out of a big piece of paper.
2. Each group will need to divide their shield into 4 quadrants, each containing the following elements:
- Quadrant 1: What skills and abilities do you bring to the workplace
- Quadrant 2: What skills and abilities do you need to improve upon in the workplace
- Quadrant 3: What frustrates you about our workplace
- Quadrant 4: What is a source of pride at your workplace
3. Ask the groups to use only images, photos, drawings, and graphics. No words are allowed.
4. Give them 10 minutes to create their shield.
5. Give every group the chance to share their results by asking them to present their shield to the rest of the class. Allow 1 to 2 minutes for each presentation.
- This activity engages visual and kinaesthetic learning styles.
Personal Brand Tagline
5 to 10 minutes
Any number of participants. This activity is done individually and the results can then be shared with the rest of the class.
Purpose of the Exercise
This is a great marketing, creativity, or self-reflection exercise. This activity can be used for training sessions on copywriting, marketing (including digital marketing ), soft skills, writing CVs. It can be quite a versatile tool.
1. Provide participants with pen and paper if they do not already have them.
2. Ask participants to write a tagline as a tweet, using only 140 characters to promote themselves.
3. Share with the rest of the class and discuss.
- This is a good exercise to help participants focus on the essentials and on what is important.
- The results can be funny, so this may be a useful activity to lighten the mood.
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Thank you so much for sharing these.
As mother of two preteens I struggle to “manage” them. I think I could use these exercises to help teach them some valuable life skills in entertaining way.
I have utilized similar activities through my 20 years in upper retail management. I wrote similar activities during my second career as an Instructional Designer. One day I just realized these techniques could be utilized to help me teach me kids. Maybe we don’t need to separate work and home as much as we think we do.
It is nice to be able to utilize these activities without having to create them. Thank you for sharing.
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