Therapeutic Journaling is an often misunderstood, under-valued, and under-utilized self-help tool for dealing with depression, relationship problems or any life issues we are challenged with.
All too often, when I suggest that a person keep a therapeutic journal, the first thing they say is, "No way! I'd never write my deepest darkest thoughts down in a notebook. What if my husband (or wife, or kids, or whoever) finds it."
This is usually the first fear of anyone who has ever had the trauma of a snooping parent read their most private thoughts in their journal -- a terrible violation of privacy. Or maybe you can't shake the memory of your brother gleefully rummaging through your most embarrassing secrets and then telling the rest of the family or their friends all about it.
So, is there a risk in writing down your private thoughts in a journal? If you don't trust your family, then yes. But if you can set a reasonable boundary with your family and get over your childhood fears of being exposed, the benefits of journaling are plentiful.
Therapeutic journaling, first and foremost, is a process - like a piece of art. It is not an English class assignment. It's not an essay, or an article. Nor is it your last will and testament or your autobiography, to be found later by your great-grandchildren in a dusty wooden chest in the attic.
Therapeutic journaling is spontaneous, expressive, in the Here and Now. While it can be used beneficially to create a sense of order and organization to your thoughts, plans, goals, and feelings, it is equally useful to do away with all linear thought, and just write your stream of consciousness - whatever comes into your mind. Never mind about punctuations or neatness. You won't get a bad grade on this!
Your journal is your friend. It won't judge you. Therapuetic journaling is a powerful way to develop a relationship with your Self. Like a written dialogue between different aspects of your consciousness. This can be conceptualized in many different ways:
Try: Write down your thoughts and feelings every day. Don't write about your day as if you're reporting the news. Talk to your journal as if you expect it to answer you. Most of the time, if you hold this attitude -- it will. Answers will emerge from the depths of your consciousness that you never dreamed were there. Long forgotten feelings will emerge (like resentments, rage or grief). Deep wisdom and compassion will suddenly show up. Insights will develop and you may find yourself giving the best advice you've ever gotten.
Journaling your dreams is also a very powerful tool for gaining deep self-awareness.
Learn more about
conscious dreaming techniques.