Journaling helps us to find the words we need to express in writing what lies within us. When we write we are giving ourselves time, space and privacy to enable the kind of self-reflection that clarifies what we think and feel.
Journaling can be powerfully healing. For some, journaling can be the start of a habit of thoughtfulness and inner awareness. It can be a means of self analysis: in a sense, through journaling we become both patient and therapist. Journaling is a psychotherapy tool whose price is right, especially in tough economic times.
Journaling can feel like we are talking to a friend on the paper. It can give voice to sadness or protest that we don’t feel quite ready to share with others. We can journal to lessen the pressure of feelings in the here and now. Journaling can prepare us for encounters that we must ultimately face. We can journal about possible ways to manage problems and tense communication with others. We can also journal about past events such as complicated traumatic experiences and about our life journey.
Although writing cannot totally replace the guidance of professional help, when we are in therapy, journaling can be like an extra session that we give to ourselves. Journaling can make us more active partners in our professional therapy. It can enrich the information that we bring to the therapy session. Because it enables us to keep our focus on the issues of therapy in between sessions, it can help us make progress with fewer or less frequent sessions.
Writing, like therapy itself, is never totally complete or perfect, nor is it meant to be. We should practice going over what we have written not to correct the grammar and spelling but to make it clearer, more focused and as close as possible to the heart of what we mean. Finding ever more accurate words is like working over time with a clay model, remolding it so as to more truly express our inner vision.
Writing about trauma can help to drain off a lot of the emotional pain associated with it and to lessen its intrusion into life today. Writing about formative life experiences can help us to understand the inner and often hidden person within ourselves, giving us a chance to see clearly the difference between our past and our present and helping us to get a grip on the emotional overreactions and senseless but repetitive fears that occur in everyday life.
I hope this is of help.
Jerrold Bonn, M.D.
Psychiatrist – Talk Therapist