This study explores reflective practice through the lens of counterfactual thinking and examines its role in encouraging student teachers to reflect on negative 'critical incidents'. The study posits that reflections on critical incidents are often not 'critical' in nature. They more frequently result in counterfactual thinking processes which leads to a counterfactually mutated outcome congruent with one's initial beliefs. To explore this issue, the study examined a collection of school placement reflections (n=180) from a cohort of initial teacher education students on a 4-year B.Ed programme in the Republic of Ireland. The data revealed that, where present in the student teachers' reflections, critical incidents of a negative nature did invoke counterfactual thinking. These counterfactually mutated scenarios and actions tended to draw on quite traditional views of teaching and tended to reinforce the idea that teachers should be authority figures. The study discusses some of the factors, specific to teacher education, that increase the likelihood that counterfactually thinking is invoked and raises questions about current practice in teacher education that contribute to this.