Journal Writing Is Good Therapy

Effective journal writing captures the essence of your thoughts, provides reflection, allows for creativity, sharper memories, good therapy, self examination, and spiritual direction for a more complete person.

Journal writing is a powerful tool for therapy, an excellent method for self examination and reflection especially for spiritual direction or development of self esteem and better self image. Journal writing allows for sharper clearer memories and diaries, but allows for more than reflections or recording daily memories, it allows for a new sense of direction and purpose. While diary writing can be equally important and can be a part of journal writing per se, there are other exercises that can be used with journals that can be very enriching. Looking at journal writing from three different perpectives, the diary method, the reality therapy method and the spiritual direction method, all illustrating effective means of writing different types of journals or integrating styles to have a more complete and complex journal.

Most people are more familiar with the idea of keeping a journal in the form of a diary. The basic daily entry, with an internal dialogue with oneself or record of daily happenings or important thoughts. Sometimes the individual addresses themselves or the classic "dear diary" directly reflecting on the days events. This is a good way of recording memories similar to a photo album but one painted with words. It allows for sharper memories, but also records important details. It can be important because there may be some dispute about the actual details of an incident and this can be useful to clear up what actually happened. Written records are better than personal recollection. In fact in the court systems diaries and journals can be considered admissable in a court as evidence. Many a secretaries journal has saved a company money based on their record of a business event later disputed in court, acting as a form of receipt and evidence. Writing information down provides a clear means to express your emotions, vent on paper and examine your feelings. A good form of therapy in and of itself, one recommended for victims, although it is usually done in the form of letters to the victimizer and the letter is usually destroyed as part of the method of ridding oneself of negative emotions.

Reality therapy goes quite well with journaling in that it provides a daily record for you to track goals and accomplishments, as well as take a real look at what you are doing in life. Reality therapy asks four basic questions.



1. What do you want to do (stated goal)?

2. What did you do today about it?

3. What stopped you from accomplishing your goal?

4. What are you going to do about it now?

By tracking your goals and objectives and asking yourself reality based questions you can not only see what some of your stumbling blocks are in life but also try to work out problem solving strategies, and solutions. You can look at your behavior and determine if you keep putting yourself in the same situations and if so why? You can start to move forward instead of being doomed to repeat failures or mistakes. Reality therapy allows you to do a reality check daily and move forward in your personal growth.

Pastoral counseling and spiritual direction are also forms of therapy that use journal writing to encourage the individual towards personal and spiritual growth. An excellent example is choosing key writings or thoughts and centering a journal and questions around them for self examination. For example, the Christian scripture of the Prodigal Son is a favorite passage used by spiritual directors for growth. In the classis story the wastrel son spends all his money and inheritance in parties and then returns home poor only to be accepted by his father with open love and complete unconditional acceptance. The father orders a feast with the fatted calf to be slain and so much more. The journal writing explores daily his or her feelings on the idea of being able to return to the love of God or the Divine, with unconditional forgiveness, encouraging a new beginning and reminding all of us that we can make new beginnings. Writing journal entries on this kind of subject or any book of wisdom or holy book can be very important for self examination and growth.

In the final analysis putting down daily thoughts, studying important writings, applying reality therapy and working towards goals and personal growth and spirituality are all important and effective ways that journal writing can act as good therapy. It goes far beyond this in stirring our own creativity. It goes towards an old idea that living the unexamined life may not be living life at all but living in a sleep of being half alive. It is far better to be aware and growing. Effective journal writing is one tool that can broaden everyones horizons.

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