Therapeutic Journey with Journal Writing
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Beverley Theresa Cummins MBACP (Accred)
16th April, 20130 Comments
If you have never tried writing a journal then you may find it a real journey of self-discovery, and if you do uncover any difficulties then seek professional help as soon as possible to help you to with any underlying issues.
Many people find it difficult to connect with their inner thoughts and feelings, and how to express these in the counselling session. When outside the counselling session they may experience similar issues when dealing with the past and living in the present, particularly if their past as a painful or traumatic experience. The past can be one month, last year, or even the last decade. Writing a journal can be and is a useful therapeutic tool to help you and your clients to increase self-understanding and reflection between sessions and aid their own experience within therapy.
Journal Therapy is the act of writing down thoughts and feelings to sort through problems and come to deeper understandings of oneself or the issues in one’s life. Journal therapy focuses on the writer’s internal experiences, reactions, and perceptions. Through this act of literally reading his or her own mind, the writer is able to perceive experiences more clearly and thus feels a relief of tension.
What is a journal?
Whilst you don’t have to be in counselling to benefit from writing a journal, it may help as it gives you a safe place to explore things that happen in your journal; you may come to the realisation that you're stuck and unable to move forward, and counselling sessions may be able to assist you in this.
A therapeutic journal is not like a traditional diary where you record what you have done in the day and your experiences from an external view; it is a journal that acts as self-therapy involving the writer writing down thoughts and feelings to enable making a breakthrough of problems, and enabling a deeper clearer understandings of self or the issues that are in the writer's life. It focuses on the writer’s internal experiences, reactions, and perceptions, helping to reading his or her own mind; the writer is able to perceive experiences more clearly and helps to walk on a new journey.
How to write a journal…
In order to connect with your emotional responses, it is often a good idea to write your journal by hand rather than to use a computer or other handheld device. Writing may be hard and feel difficult - however, it is the best way to capture your feelings and thoughts. It works best when is done freely and in the moment with your own inner thoughts, and no planning needed.
The writer may find it easier to sit in a quiet, private place and put pen to paper, writing whatever comes to mind first; if the writer finds a block or blank thoughts, write that in the journal. Write whatever comes to mind, as this helps to get in touch with thoughts and feelings.
Please don’t get consumed with the standard of the writing, spelling or grammar; the purpose of the journal is for the writer to explore the inner thoughts and feelings and will not be read by anyone else.
How often to write…
Write in your journal as often as you can, as often as you feel you can and need to do. To begin with, the more you write the easier it will become, and it is helpful to see any patterns in your thought patterns and processes. If you are having counselling it would be helpful to look within yourself at these patterns.
- Writing a journal gives you an interesting insight into yourself.
- If you are going for counselling it might prove to be an important insight and helpful to explore within sessions.
- It is a great way to release lots of thoughts and feelings that you may not normally have been aware of or had time to think about.
- It is often helpful to look for patterns and processes in thoughts and behaviours.
- It is often helpful to see negative thought processes.
- The use of a journal gives you opportunity to look back through past entries.
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