One thing I often suggest to my clients is buying a journal. I get mixed responses of "Okay, sure!", "I hate journaling" or "journaling doesn't work for me". I try to encourage clients that are skeptical about journaling to get one and give it a chance.
There are multiple reasons why I suggest journaling and I'll go over a few below:
A place to dump your stuff
Everyone needs a place sometimes to dump their thoughts and emotions. Journaling can be beneficial when we don't have people to talk to, don't want to have questions or back-talk from supporters but just need to lay our emotions out and forget about them for a little while. Emotions can feel overwhelming and having a journal is a place to jot them down, close the book and put your emotions on a shelf.
Remember the good things
Journaling can help you remember the good things. You can write down the positive things that happened throughout the day/week to look back on or write down how those great life moments made you feel. I usually encourage my clients to write themselves a letter when they are in a good place or feeling better about a certain situation, that way they can look back and read something inspiring in their own words.
Track your progress
Journaling can also help you track your progress over time, whether long or short term.
I once had a client share that she went over a journal entry that was about 5 years old and she didn't even recognize the person who wrote that specific entry. We change so much over time, especially when we are actively working on something in therapy. Sometimes it's nice to just pat ourselves on the back and a journal can be an extra push to do this.
Helps you understand your thoughts
I typically suggest journaling when I want a client of mine to dig a little deeper into a certain topic, maybe relationships, trust, life goals, etc. Sometimes having a prompt and an allotted space to think about your thoughts, helps you to recognize why you might feel a certain way or understand a thought pattern a little better. Overall, journal prompts from therapists can help you develop insight.
Give journaling a shot, the worse case scenario you spend some time writing things down, best case scenario you develop a new coping skill! No matter what your journal will be YOUR thoughts and YOUR feelings.
About the Author
Stephanie Polizzi is a licensed psychotherapist (LMHC) in Scarsdale, NY at Peaceful Living Mental Health Counseling.
Stephanie specializes in tweens, teens and adults struggling with anxiety, eating disorders, behavioral challenges, life transitions and trauma.
Using a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and EMDR Therapy in her work with clients.