Journal therapy, Journal writing therapy or simply writing therapy, refers to the therapeutic utilization of journaling exercises. It prompts to bring about awareness and improve mental health conditions which results in inner and outer conflicts leading to enhancement of well being.
What to expect?
With accordance to the Center for Journal Therapy, journal therapy is the “the purposeful and intentional use of reflective writing to further mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health and wellness.” Although there are few professionals who solely utilize journaling for therapeutic purpose, many psychotherapists and psychoanalyst incorporate therapeutic journal writing into their course of treatment.
How does it work?
The primary goal of Journal therapy is to increase awareness and insight, encourage productive change and growth, and further develop their sense of self. Through various type of writing prompts and activities, a journal therapist guides their clients toward his or her goals. The act or the procedure of writing things down leads to relieving of tension and brings about clarity to the issue at hand.
The exercises which are made a part of journal therapy are many, important ones are being discussed:
- Letter Writing: A person in therapy is prompted and encouraged to write a letter to someone about the disturbing issues he or she is experiencing. People can opt to write to anyone, they might write to people they know, someone they have lost or even to parts of themselves,.
- Journaling with Photographs: People are allowed to choose personal photographs and invest time during the session writing responses to a series of questions about the photographs.
- Timed Journal Entries: This techniques is used with people who finds difficulty in focusing upon their area of distress. The therapist and person in therapy agree upon a general topic and then the person in therapy is briefly allotted sometime, usually 5–10 minutes, to write about it.
- Sentence Stems: this is like a sentence completion test where the client has to complete incomplete phrases given by the therapist.
- Dialogue: This technique typically involves the therapist and person in therapy choose two positions, parts, or viewpoints within the person in therapy or from external sources. The person in therapy is then instructed to write a dialogue between these two entities. This process helps by increasing awareness about a psychological struggle and sometimes aids in finding a solution of the struggle.
- List of 100: The therapist asks the person in therapy to make a list of 100 items that relates to a chosen theme or topic. This process will most likely result in the repetition of certain items or patterns, this is taken into account during the time of discussion within the therapist and the client.
When is it used?
Journal therapy and therapeutic journal writing have been found to be evidently useful in conditions of Posttraumatic stress, depression, anxiety, loss and bereavement, issues related to chronic illness, substance abuse, obsessions and compulsions,eEating disorders, relationship issues, improving communication skills and enhancing self esteem.
Role of therapist:
The therapist design the session depending upon the psychological situation of the client and use various techniques accordingly. This is often used during the phase of rapport formation of a therapeutic session.
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Thompson, K. (2010). Therapeutic Journal Writing: An Introduction for Professionals. London, England: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Expressive Writing Therapy. (2007). In American Holistic Health Association.
Journal Writing: A Short Course. (n.d.). In Center for Journal Therapy.
Murray, B. (2002, June). Writing to heal. Monitor on Psychology, 33(6), 54.
Baikie, K. A., & Wilhelm, K. (2010). Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. BJPsych Advances, 11(5). doi:10.1192/apt.11.5.338