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What is Journal Therapy?

Margo Upson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Journal therapy is a form of counseling in which the patient uses intentional writing to improve his or her mental, spiritual, and emotional health and wellness. It is a way to process events and emotions that happen in your life. Journal therapy may be recommended by a therapist or can be done individually.

Psychologists don't know exactly why journal therapy is so useful for helping people who are dealing with inner turmoil, but they know it works. It is most commonly used for individuals, but can also be used in couple or family counseling. One of the reasons that journal therapy is so popular is that it is very easy to do; all you need is a journal or notebook, something to write with, and some time to yourself to write. It is not costly, and doesn't require special training or equipment.

There are many benefits associated with journal therapy. One of the biggest benefits is that it allows for emotional self-expression without the need for someone else there to listen. This allows people who may be shy or lacking interpersonal skills a chance to get all of their emotions out into the open. It is also useful when used with trauma or thoughts that are uncomfortable for the patient to talk about, such as rape or abuse. Once the thoughts and emotions are written down, the writer can review what they have written, and maybe gain some insight or closure. It helps people to cope with difficult circumstances and reconcile conflicting feelings. Journal therapy has proven to be a effective treatment for anxiety, stress, anger, and grief, as well as a way to deal with phobias and other mental disorders.

It is easy to get started in journal therapy. All you need are writing tools and some free time several times a week. A pen or pencil and paper works best for this, but a computer would also work. Find a quiet place to write, where you will not be interrupted. Turn off phones, the television, and ask family members to give you some space. Begin writing on anything that has been bothering you, or about a person or event that you feel conflicted about. If you can't think of anything to write about, start by describing your day, and the people you have encountered. You may also choose to start with a past event from your childhood that has always bothered you.

Don't self-edit your work; write down whatever comes to mind. This is your mind's way of unloading your thoughts, and you should remind yourself that whatever you are thinking and feeling now is only temporary. For example, if you are feeling resentment or anger towards your spouse, write about it without feeling like a horrible person. This will give you a chance to deal with those emotions in a constructive way. After you are done, slowly read over what you have written. Mark anything that you would like to write more about, so that you have a place to start the next time you write.

Journal therapy is a great way to confront and deal with emotions and thoughts that you may not be comfortable with. It is a way to get things out into the open in safe and private way. By acknowledging these feelings, you can eventually work past them. Journal therapy is very therapeutic, but it can be a very emotional experience. Some problems cannot be effectively dealt with alone, and it should not be considered a substitution for seeing a certified psychologist, but for minor issues, journal therapy can be an valuable way to begin healing.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margo Upson
By Margo Upson , Writer
With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education, Margo Upson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role as a WiseGeek writer. Her wide-ranging interests and skill at diving into new topics make her articles informative, engaging, and valuable to readers seeking to expand their knowledge.

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Margo Upson

Margo Upson


With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education,...
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