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What Is a Self-Help Journal?

By Alicia Sparks
Updated May 17, 2024
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A self-help journal is a journal used as part of one or more self-help techniques employed individually or with the help of a support group or health professional. These journals can look like most other kinds of journals or notebooks, or they can look more like workbooks with pages full of exercises based on self-help strategies. Normally, whether a person shares the contents of her self-help journal depends on her reason for keeping the journal.

Typically, keeping a self-help journal is a wholly private thing, unless otherwise instructed by a support group or other treatment plan. Some people choose to keep them on their own, and others keep them for various treatment purposes. Blank and workbook-like journals are available where most self-help resources are sold, though any kind of blank notebook can serve the same purpose.

The contents of a self-help journal depend on the journal writer. She might use the book as a self-help diary, chronicling her daily activities or worries and working through them on paper, or she might belong to a self-help program that requires completing certain self-help training exercises within the journal. Some groups, such as rehabilitation programs, require self-help journal entries that relate specifically to the patient’s health or addiction issues.

Generally, a self-help journal comes in one of two different formats. The first format is traditional diary-type journal, with blank pages and the option to write whatever the writer feels like writing. The second format is more similar to a workbook of sorts. The pages provide self-help exercises and space for the journal-keeper to respond to questions or complete exercises. Usually, these kinds of journals are part of a larger self-help program, but they can be individual products, too.

Most often, a self-help journal is a private thing. People usually do not share their journals. Sometimes, people who keep journals as part of a larger program will share them if that program encourages it. For example, a self-help support group might encourage members to share journal entries with one another from time to time, and mental health and substance abuse rehabilitation programs might encourage or even require clients to share during support group meetings. Normally, therapists don’t read their patients’ journals unless asked to, though a therapist might ask a patient to write about a particular topic so they can discuss it during the following appointment.

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