Reflective Practice Writing and Professional Development Fourth Edition

Reflective Practice Writing and Professional Development Fourth EditionSage Publications


Reflection and reflexivity invite critical examination of practice, values, concepts, and assumptions. The fourth edition of this best-selling book explains how reflective writing can widen perspectives, develop political and social authority, and give clarity of professional role, responsibility, and principles.

Step-by-step methods are grounded in theories drawn from professional development, pedagogy, and narrative studies. Much has changed since the first edition, capturing developments which highlight the value of this book’s approach.

This edition:

  • Illuminates the essentials of reflective practice
  • Explains and clarifies the major theoretical models
  • Focuses upon ethical values
  • Offers in-depth experiences from varied professional contexts and cultures
  • Updates and extends practical ‘Read to Learn’, ‘Write to Learn’ sections and Glossary
  • Has an associated website, including guidance for facilitating reflection, and video interviews with real reflective practitioners

The theory and methods are used worldwide by professionals, tutors and students across: education; medicine; healthcare; clinical psychology; therapy/counselling; social work; pastoral care; police; law; business management; organisational consultancy; leadership training, and other disciplines.


‘Reflective practice is probably the most important tool in the repertoire of any professional. It is a key way of dealing with all the problems for which there is no straightforward response. Gillie Bolton’s practical and illuminating book is the key resource for those who want to be more reflexive and build reflective writing into their own activities. She takes important but elusive ideas and shows clearly what they mean for making sense of one’s own practice.’
Professor David Boud, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

‘During a long, rich and varied career in nursing I have learnt that how we care, how we give of ourselves to others, begins and ends with understanding of who we are. In Reflective Practice, Gillie Bolton provides a torch that helps us to shine a light on our personal motivations, anxieties, needs and defences, giving us the insights we need to better care for the patients, families and carers that we serve.’
Kate Billingham, CBE, Senior Advisor, Nurse Family Partnership International

‘Getting students to apply their personal and professional experiences to practice is an essential part of continuing professional development. Bolton’s 4th edition is a key text in the expanding literature on reflective practice for all practitioners. It remains the most contemporary, readable and relevant book for many subject areas.’
Richard Race, Senior Lecturer in Education, Roehampton University, UK

From Professor Stephen Brookfield’s Foreword:

This new edition of Gillie Bolton’s Reflective Practice Writing and Professional Development demonstrates its enduring relevance for practitioners. Gillie argues forcefully and persuasively that conducting internal dialogues questioning practice is not enough and that an essential component of reflective analysis is writing. There is something fundamentally different about writing down your understanding of, and reaction to, a situation; and it can take you wholly by surprise.

In clear and lively prose Gillie builds her case for the importance of writing and provides numerous examples of helpful activities and exercises, not only in this book but also in the accompanying web site. Narrative and story are powerful; metaphors can galvanize a group, communicating in a shorthand way a vision of where we wish to go in a project. When we write our reflections on events we not only create meanings for ourselves, we produce a version that can be communicated to others.

As Gillie points out, we all have internal supervisors, justifiers and saboteurs who undermine and distort our versions of events. Writing a story down, however, is an act imbued with a sense of permanence and seriousness. When I write a story of some event I am made far more aware of my tendency to edit out troublesome details or contradictions. When I speak it, on the other hand, the reactions of listeners embolden me to forget these inconveniences. There is something about writing your version of events that brings home to you the editorial power of the narrator. Gillie deals with the ethical issues involved in narrative writing. She is also not afraid to confront the ways we sometimes become stuck in our stories.

This book travels across multiple territories and terrains. You will be provoked and impressed by the breadth of authors and concepts Gillie invokes and the variety of narrative forms she explores. I was challenged by this book to experiment with poetry and metaphor in a far more intentional way. It has always surprised my books that have had most impact, and the parts of those books that people remember most clearly, have pretty much always featured narrative. Gillie has helped me understand better why this is the case and also why the power of narrative is sensed, and sometimes avoided, by students.

Reflective Practice Writing and Professional Development is packed with examples of activities, exercises and instructions that can be adapted in multiple contexts. Although theoretically well grounded, the book tackles head on matters of practice, in particularly the thorny question of assessment. But it is the stories of contradiction, loss, and perplexity, as well as those of self-insight, transformation and change, that you will remember the most.
Professor Stephen Brookfield, University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, USA

Buy here
ISBN: hb 978-1-4462-8234-2; pb 978-1-4462-8235-9