Reflections on becoming a psychologist: Professional development experiences of students in a South African psychology graduate program

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 27, issue 5, 2017, pages: 472–476
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2017.1379223
Author(s): Jan J. KnoetzePsychology Department, South Africa, Michelle McCullochPsychology Department, South Africa


This study sought to describe student psychologists’ experiences of their professional preparation activities in which they used reflective journals. The students (n =7; female = 71%, black = 86%) were enrolled in a masters training program in the clinical and the counselling psychology programmes at a reputable University in South Africa. Over a period of the ten months of their first academic year, they completed reflective journals on aspects of their professional practice preparation. The reflective journals were thematically analysed to depict how the students framed their experiences. Findings yielded four themes that defined the students’ emerging professional identities: positive feelings about the profession, commitment to high standards of practice, concerns about high work loading, and a sense of learning community. Reflective practice capabilities appear important for early professional identity development from pre-service psychology practice education.

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