INTRODUCTION: Adolescent programmes have been criticised for implementing activities but not allowing opportunities for reflection.
One way that reflection can be facilitated is through writing. This paper describes the use of reflective writing with adolescents as part
of a health promoting schools project in Cape Town, South Africa.
METHOD: The project included an annual leadership camp for adolescent learners. A descriptive, qualitative study was conducted to
describe how the learners responded to writing as a means to express their feelings about, and experiences of, the camp. Thirty learners
participated in two writing sessions resulting in 53 written reflections that were analysed thematically.
FINDINGS: Three themes emerged: (1) Reflections on self; (2) Reflections on self in relation to others; and (3) Reflections on writing.
Participants reflected on connecting with complex, positive and negative feelings, and felt that reflective writing had enabled them
to express themselves with courage and honesty, connect with themselves, identify weaknesses and let go of negative emotions and
feelings. Furthermore, writing was perceived as being non-judgmental, providing a sense of relief and release, and evoking emotions.
CONCLUSION: Reflective writing enabled the participants to acknowledge personal changes and development, and provided insight
into their feelings and experiences. This study shows the value of reflective writing for use by health professionals such as occupational
therapists, as a tool for empowerment in the pursuit of health and wellbeing.