Posted on June 02, 2020
Journaling is an incredibly beneficial exercise during therapy. Read on for some great journaling prompts that will help jump-start your therapeutic writing.
Whether you’re a seasoned writer, or the thought of a blank page sends shivers up your spine, journaling is a tool accessible to everyone. There is little barrier to entry when it comes to journaling; all you need is a pen, paper, and a half-hour of your time. Why? Daily journaling provides a safe environment that enables you to face your trauma, fears, and concerns, while also documenting your joy, success, and lessons. When journaling is done seriously and consistently, remarkable healing is possible. Studies find that journal writing can have a major impact on reducing pain, improving depression, and even lowering inflammation markers.
Journal therapy is not only for people experiencing acute pain, but also one of the best therapy techniques for those who are under stress caring for others. Writing down your thoughts and experiences can help make sense of your feelings and create order out of any emotional or mental chaos. By documenting your thoughts, positive and negative, you can go back and track your progress. When journaling becomes integrated into part of your regular routine, it doesn’t become a daunting task to procrastinate. Discover a therapy matching service to help you get started on your therapeutic journey, or follow the tips and therapy writing prompts below to start your therapeutic journaling process.
Starting journal therapy is simple. First decide what medium will work best for you. There are many benefits of therapy, but you’ll only experience them if you choose the best method for yourself. There’s no rule that says your journal needs to be a physical journal. Plenty of people prefer to write digitally because they’re already using the computer for work, it’s faster to get your thoughts out, and easier to edit and organize thoughts. If you are going to journal digitally, decide if you’d like to use a blogging platform or a word processing document for your therapeutic writing prompts.
A blogging platform can help you stay organized and get out of your head thinking about it being a journal. It also offers you the ability to make your journal public, if sharing your thoughts is cathartic or gives you a sense of accountability. Blogs can be made private as well. In fact, you can have a public blog, but choose to make some posts private if they contain sensitive details.
A word processing document can be a Microsoft Word document, or a Google Doc. You can keep one long-running page of thoughts with dates for different entries, or create a new document for each entry, organizing entries in digital folders. One nice advantage of digital journaling is that it’s much easier to share with a loved one or your therapist.
If you decide to use a physical journal, make sure you select a journal you love. There are so many great formats, sizes, and designs to choose from. Find something that speaks to you, and will motivate yourself to pick it up and use it. Journaling by hand can be great as well. Some find it very therapeutic to write by hand, as it might allow you to write more freely. It also forces you to slow down your thoughts, as it takes most people longer to write things out by hand than to type.
There are so many ways to start a therapeutic journal. Just be sure to decide on a method that allows for comfortable expressive writing so that you can focus on improving your mental health and move toward positive change.
There are so many types of therapy prompts to inspire you in your journaling process. Whether you choose to journal on a computer or in a notebook, every day or once week, here are 6 beneficial journaling prompts for therapy.
1. Focus on positivity. List five personality traits you really like about yourself. Write just one word/ phrase/sentence for each. Don’t overthink the answer; just focus on the first five characteristics that come to mind. Once you have your list, then you can go back and expand on each. It's interesting to try this guided journal prompt periodically to see how the list changes over time.
2. Explore your relationship with food. Question what role food plays in your life. Are you filling an emotional void with food or drink, or using it as a friend? Perhaps describe a recent food craving. Were you really hungry? Take inventory of your body for its food needs. What does hunger or fullness feel like right now?
3. Look to the past to understand the present. Think back to your childhood. What are some positive family traditions that you would like to bring back into your life today? Are there any unhealthy traditions that you can change or let go of altogether?
4. Find balance. An interesting journaling exercise is to list two things you tend to say yes to, or have said yes to recently, and two things you tend to say no to or have said no to recently. What made you feel good, and what felt stressful? Saying yes can be a way of embracing an opportunity and engaging with the world, but it can also be a way of spreading yourself too thin. Saying no can help you maintain healthy boundaries and manage your time, but it can also be isolating. Focus on how you're feeling and be aware of your emotion at each moment. This awareness can help you prioritize, and determine the value of things and what’s truly important to you
5. Say what you mean to say. Try writing letters to your loved ones, even if they never see them. What is on your mind and in your heart that you find hard to express in real life? You may find that expressing it on the page is useful preparation for actually expressing it if you choose to share. You may also find it useful as a private journaling exercise to work out your thoughts and feelings on your own to interact with them more productively.
6. Reframe your weaknesses. Make a list of three qualities you consider to be weaknesses, then explore how these so-called weaknesses might be recast as strengths. Once you determine the strength on the flip side of that quality, write about a time when you used that quality positively.
With these therapy tips for journaling, you’ll strengthen your therapeutic writing process and be well on your way to healthy mental wellness. If you’re looking to find a therapist to help aid you in other areas of your therapeutic journey, get matched with Advekit today!
Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.