Writing can be Therapeutic
Keeping a journal can be therapeutic for therapists. It can help you to notice patterns in your own behaviour and emotional responses. It is an opportunity to reflect on your experiences, feelings, thoughts and behaviour. And it can be a way of expressing yourself, especially expressing difficult or deep emotions relating to your clients.
At eight years old, one of my clients discovered this by chance. He found an alternative way of relating to the world. At school, he had been given the lead part in Joseph. His mother had promised she would be in the front row but, even as he did his best rendition of Any Dream Will Do, he had scanned the audience. It was not the first time. His looking had become repetitive and blind. Of course she was very sorry - had been offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to interview some celebrity or other. He had been so angry then; was still angry the following morning when he grabbed a pen from the table and began stabbing at the back of the cornflakes packet. The stabbing transformed to the most defaming, abusive, words he could muster which he wrote in big black letters. Afterwards he felt a sense of release, calmness fell upon him. And so, he found a blank notebook. It became his link, mediating between light and darkness, chaos and meaning, masculine and feminine, self and others.
He found solace in writing large angry words on paper. He took up French, Latin, Italian, and German – with unadulterated glee he had discovered a hundred ways to say ‘screw the lot of you’. His journal served as a vent for his pent-up anger. He is 27 now and continues to keep a diary; it helps him ‘keep things in perspective`.
He walked into my consulting room a few months ago because of issues around his sexuality. He was not looking for a cure, merely to “be happy in my own skin”. Looking back through journal entries helped to clarify things for him; to put “things in perspective”.
Encouraging our clients to write a journal can help them think about what they would like to change, what is missing from their life or what they would like to do more of. It can be empowering. It can be a release. It can be an alternative to self destructive behaviour.
So get writing…