Why Do Counselors Recommend Journaling?

Have you ever wondered why some people who you know are in therapy tend to have a notebook and a pen on hand? That is most likely the suggestion of their therapist or counselor.

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Journaling, also known as journaling therapy or writing therapy, entails the therapeutic utilization of journaling activities and worksheets to produce awareness and alleviate mental health conditions caused by internal and external conflicts. The Center for Journal Therapy describes journaling as the intentional and voluntary use of insightful writing to improve physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health and well-being. While there are a number of professionals who focus solely on writing therapy, several psychotherapists and counselors incorporate journaling into their sessions.

Journal Therapy And Simply Keeping A Journal

Journaling therapy began in the 1960s through Dr. Ira Progoff. With his works, the therapeutic possibilities of journaling became more popular. Before this, the primary role of journaling was to document experiences and events from a narrative side. Maintaining a diary was not thought of as therapeutic. But today, journaling is considered to be a stand-alone instrument – just like music or art therapy. Journaling therapists and counselors can be taught through programs sanctioned by the Federation for Poetry Therapy. Additionally, counselors or therapists that an approved program has not trained can still utilize journal therapy with individuals who come for sessions.

Journaling As A Form Of Therapy

Among the most distinguishing factors between journal therapy and merely keeping a journal is capturing thoughts, emotions, or experiences. Journal therapy permits an individual to talk with, write, and evaluate their problems and concerns. Therapeutic writing makes use of activities and prompts to assist them in therapy or counseling. This further enables individuals to be intentional, insightful, and introspective about how and what they write.

How Journal Therapy Works

Journal therapy is mainly used with individuals in counseling to improve awareness and intuition, enhance growth and transformation, and further promote their sense of self. Using different exercises and worksheets, a journal therapist assists an individual in treatment to achieve his or her life goals. Writing down how you feel often helps alleviate tension and decrease stress.

While journal therapy can be utilized in several ways, most counselors or therapists have some general processes. They may require the individual in counseling to start the session with a writing activity to document his goals for the session. A counselor can use journaling as a form of communication between the counselor and the individual in counseling. At the end of the session, the counselor may designate the individual in counseling some assignments discussed in the next counseling session.

A woman journaling on a journal

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There are several reasons you think you need a counselor who utilizes journaling as part of the treatment. Psychotherapists state that they used journaling techniques with individuals who have trouble processing their behavioral and thought patterns. Counselors and therapists can find the same benefits when they use journaling with individuals in their care who have difficulty monitoring their progress.

Journal therapy and therapeutic writing are effective in treating several conditions, which include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Grief and loss
  • PTSD
  • Substance abuse
  • Low self-confidence
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Eating disorders
Journaling is meant to make your life better than ever even without being vocal about your issues

Journal Therapy Activities And Reminders

There are numerous effective and creative means that writing therapy can be utilized in treatment. Some of these ways are used occasionally, as in therapeutic writing or for the complete treatment progression. Some situations or journaling activities and reminders that one can see in counseling or therapy include:

  • Letter writing. An individual in counseling is urged to write a letter about different concerns that he wants to address. People can opt to write to anybody, including those they know, someone that they might have lost, or even to parts of themselves if they want.
  • Journaling With Pictures. Here, people select personal pictures and spend time journaling answers to various questions about the pictures. Questions can be something like, “How do you feel when you are looking at this picture?” or “Is there anything you want to say to someone, to a thing, or a place in this particular picture?”
  • Sentence Stems. The counselor offers a range of open-ended sentence stems for the individual in counseling or therapy to finish. For instance, the counselor can suggest, “I have difficulty sleeping when…” or “The thing that I’m most concerned about is….”

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  • In this journaling method, the counselor and the individual in counseling will initially select two parts, opinions, or positions within the individual in counseling or outside sources. The individual will then create a dialogue between these two objects. The process can apparently improve awareness about a mental struggle or provide alternative viewpoints about it. For instance, the counselor can suggest the individual in therapy write a conversation between his past self and his future self.
  • List of 100. The journaling counselor asks the individual in counseling to list 100 things that relate to a selected topic or subject. This process can most probably lead to the repetition of specific patterns or items that the counselor and the individual will evaluate and discuss. Examples of list prompts are 100 reasons to wake up each morning, 100 things that I want to achieve in my life, or 100 things that make me happy.
Will you also try using a journal for your mental health?