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Journal therapy, often referred to as “writing therapy,” is an effective way to treat many medical, social, developmental, and psychological issues. This extremely beneficial therapy has been shown to help a person manage their behavior and inner and outer conflicts. People who journal find a higher sense of self-awareness and are able to reduce anxiety and gain a sense of empowerment. Many people who struggle with deep emotional conflicts or traumas are unable to express their feelings in a verbal or physical way. Journaling allows a person the freedom of expression without fear of retaliation, frustration, or humiliation. By putting emotionally challenging situations on paper, a person has the ability to view them from a different perspective and gain insight into otherwise hidden facets of their behavior and actions. They can also see extremely subjective scenarios from an objective point of view.
During journal therapy, a therapist will most often ask a client to write a brief paragraph at the beginning of the session to update them on what has happened since the last meeting. The therapist will encourage the client to write what he or she is feeling and what he or she believes needs to be addressed at the session. This allows the client to participate in the structure of his or her own therapy. Throughout the session, the therapist will use the writing technique to address specific issues at hand and both client and therapist will engage in a back and forth writing exercise. At the conclusion of the session, the therapist will often assign “homework” for the client to complete before the next session occurs.
Journaling is a very therapeutic technique, but for some, it can be a difficult exercise to start. The best way to approach journaling is to set a time limit for your writing. Set a goal of writing for 5, 10, or 15 minutes initially, and then slowly increase it. Begin by reflecting on what emotions or feelings you are having or what issues you are struggling with. Sometimes it is helpful to start journaling with a prompt such as, “I feel…,” or “Today I am…” These sentence-starters will help spur an internal dialogue that will begin to flow onto your page. If you are having difficulty during the process, simply re-read what you have already written to get yourself back on track. Try to write without stopping, letting your emotions guide you. Write genuinely and authentically, even if the words you write may be difficult. When you are finished, reflect on what you have written. Summarize your journal entry by describing how reading your journal entry makes you feel. This is will allow you to examine the emotional process from a new and fresh perspective. It is through this reflection that you will gain invaluable insight and your healing begins.
Journal therapy has been shown to work equally well in people of all ages, races, and income sectors. The popularity of this form of therapy is spreading widely and it is being utilized in various capacities across several fields of industry including mental health, education, rehabilitation, medical, and even forensic studies. Different forms of journal therapy have been developed by Dr. Ira Progoff, Christina Baldwin, and Tristine Rainer.
Last updated: 09-30-2014
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