Do you feel like you have many thoughts that you need to get out, but you can't wait until your next therapy session? Are these thoughts that you don't feel comfortable sharing with your friends and family? Journal writing is a great way to get your feelings out.
Writing therapy is a way for you to creatively express your emotions, gain perspective, and develop personal growth. Writing therapy is a way to gain more insight into any issues that are bothering you, analyze things that occur in-between therapy sessions that might have triggered a reaction or made you feel down.
Writing therapy has been shown to produce great results in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. It reduces trauma-related cognition, and has been shown to reduce behavioral problems in children with post-traumatic stress disorder (Mugerwa & Holden, 2012).
So, how exactly does this work? Here is how you can get started:
1. Find a book, paper, or nice and inviting journal
2. Try out a couple of pens until you find one that writes smoothly and has a comfortable grip.
3. If you choose to type on a computer, you may do that as well. However, this does not provide the same benefit as putting pen to paper.
4. Find a quite place or a not so quite place if that's what you're comfortable with.
5. Start writing whatever is on your mind or about anything that is bothering you.
6. Write like no one is going to see it.
7. Don't worry about grammar or correct punctuation.
8. Take a few moments to analyze what you wrote and reflect on it.
That's it. Close the book until the next writing session.
If you are stuck and can't get started with your writing, here are some things to consider writing about:
- You can reflect on what you discussed in your last therapy session.
- Write some things that you want to cover in your next session.
- You can start with two sentences and leave it at that.
- Did someone ruin your day today? Maybe you got the wrong order in the drive thru?
- How was your day at work or school?
- Did you have a dream that you want to write about?
The first time you sit down to write might not be very easy, but once you get started, future writing sessions should go more smoothly. Further, if you experience stress when doing writing therapy, you might want to talk to your therapist before you start. Triggering and traumatic events might cause you some distress, which is a normal reaction when you start expressing your thoughts about certain events. The good news is that based on numerous research studies, including the one referenced above, the distress is temporary. It will not have a negative impact on you in the long run.
If after some time, you still find that you're under a great deal of stress when doing writing therapy, then it might not be for you. If you're not benefiting right now, then you can take a break and retry a different time in your life.
If you have tried writing therapy, let us know below. Did you benefit from it?
Mugerwa, S., & Holden, J. D. (2012, December). Writing therapy: a new tool for general practice? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3505408/.