Therapeutic journal is aimed at helping you, the writer, to understand yourself better. It can take you on a journey where you discover the ‘real’ you. It can help you to start understand how your think. It can help you learn to feel your emotions. It can help you unpick your problems. Through your therapeutic journey you can learn how to tackle your issues head-one.
If you keep your journal private, you will feel safe and this will help write honestly and with passion.
It is all about YOU
When I mention journal writing, some of my clients automatically think of a diary where you record your day. This is not what it is about. It is NOT a record. A therapeutic journal is about ‘you’. You are the centre of attention. You only record your feelings, thoughts and ideas. You will reflect on what affects you, and look at ways that you can change things. It will help you gain a clearer sense of yourself, and the direction you want your life to take. You will aim to improve your understanding of yourself. You will learn to become your own best friend.
Honesty is the best policy
For the therapeutic journal to work, you need to be honest with yourself. You need to be prepared to allow those deep feelings (which you usually ignore) to be written about. You may find, at times, that it is painful and you find yourself challenging yourself. That is ok. You will only benefit from writing regularly if you allow yourself to look at your inner self.
1. Self-awareness – Therapeutic journal will increase your self-awareness. You will get to know yourself and understand yourself better.
2. Notice patterns – Through writing regularly every day you may notice patterns that you are repeating. You can identify the problems you are facing and tackle them head on, often by searching for solutions. If you write about your destructive behaviour patterns, you are able to notice patterns and stop or change them. You can reflect on ways to break the habit of self-destruction.
3. Treat yourself and others with care – Writing will help you become your best friend. Often people who struggle with their self-esteem or loving themselves will notice the difference in how they treat themselves when they start writing therapeutically. This in turn helps them improve their communication with others, as well deepen relationships. As they improve their communication with others and are able to relate to more people with empathy.
4. Notice change – If you write regularly and for a long time, you will start to notice how things have changed for you. You can identify what has helped you in the past, and pull in on your own resources to tackle problems when you are faced with them. This will help you identify what works well for you. You can then put this into action and create more of it.
Fear of journaling
When I mention to clients about therapeutic journal. The common statements are ‘I have nothing to write about’ or ‘I don’t know where to start’.
The best way to start a therapeutic journal is ‘At the moment, I am feeling…….’. This will usually lead you to keep writing. However, if you are then stuck then ask yourself ‘what is going on for me at this moment? You can then reflect on how you feel stuck or not knowing where to start.
If neither of these work then just free write what is on your mind. Do not worry about your grammar or English, just write. If you are stuck. Write ‘I am stuck’ and keep writing ‘I am stuck’. Believe me, after you have written that 10 times you will start writing something else.
Useful questions to ask yourself in your journal are:
- What do I feel right now?
- What is really going on for me right now?
- What is working for me and what is not working for me?
- What areas of my life would I change?
- What areas of my life would I want to improve?
- Write down any patterns or habits you know you do?
- What are the positives in my life?
A good way to start is to limit your time to 10 minutes each day. This will help you get some momentum and allow you ‘free write’. By writing every day, you are able to release your feelings and stand back from your thoughts. You begin to know yourself better and look at areas that you can improve and build upon.
If you struggle to write every day. That is ok. This journal is to help you. It is not to be a chore. You can dip in and out of it when time allows or write just on weekdays. If you are writing as part of therapy then it is good to find some routine to when you write.
Don’t forget to write about your positives too, and acknowledge the things you like about yourself. Do look back at what you write. This allows you to review what you have written, and enable you to reflect on your journey. It also helps you see how far you have come.
What is stopping you now from writing? Go on, give it a go.
Hazel Hill is a BACP Accredited counsellor and supervisor with over 20 years experience. She provides face to face counselling, as well as walk talk therapy in Sheffield to individual and couples. She also provides online counselling for aid workers and road traffic trauma. Hazel, as a qualified supervisor, also helps trainee counsellors, and supervisees applying for Accreditation. You can ring her on 07814 363855 to book an appointment now.