Many people I talk with find it hard to believe that keeping a personal journal or diary can really help improve their lives. People are skeptical, and so they should be in this crazy world of ours. After all, we are taught,
“If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”
The problem with this statement is sometimes the simplest things are true and are very important in our life. For example:
- “An apple a day can keep the doctor away.”
- “Life without love is a living hell.”
- “It takes two to tango,”
And my personal favourite,
- “Keeping a journal can improve your life.”
Here are the most common questions I receive, and the answers I most often give:
Q. How will writing things down in a journal solve my problems?
A. It probably won’t, if that is all you do.
Q. So why are so many people using journals as a form of therapy?
A. The difference is how you journal. Journal therapy is a recognized method for health practitioners to use in the treatment of a wide range of emotional, anxiety, and psychological conditions including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Journal therapy is a tool, one of many, with proven benefits when used properly in the appropriate situations.
Q. How do I know when and how journal therapy will work for me?
A. In most situations, you will be working with a health practitioner, very often a psychologist, who will guide you through a psychotherapy program.
Psychotherapy is a process psychologists use to help people of all ages live happier, healthier, and more productive lives.
Which type of program and the tools the psychologist chooses for you to use will depend upon several factors including the issues you are dealing with and the areas of expertise the psychologist is best trained in and believes best suits your needs.
One of the most favoured treatment methods of the day is a process called cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).
A. Yes. There is more than one method for journal writing, but it is important you use a process which has been scientifically researched and validated.
The foremost renowned process of journal therapy was developed by James W. Pennebaker, PhD. An understanding of his therapeutic journaling process can be found in his book titled, ‘Expressive Writing, Words that Heal.’
It is important to note there are many other accepted therapeutic journal processes which have been recently developed and it is best to follow the process suggested by your psychologist.
Q. Do I need to work with a psychologist or other similar health professional or can I do this myself?
A. Tough question. You need to do some investigation before you decide, here is a good place to start.
Q. If I do decide I could use some professional assistance, how do I select the psychologist right for me?
A. Another great question and here is another great place to start searching.
Q. What if I don’t have a serious issue for which I need professional help, can journaling still help improve my life?
A. Almost guaranteed. Journaling has also been proven to be effective in:
- Helping students improve scholastic performance,
- Working through the grieving process after losing a loved one,
- Enhancing a person’s career,
- Increasing job performance,
- Weight loss and general health improvement,
- Stopping smoking,
- The treatment of addictions,
- Resolving phobias, and
- Reducing daily stress.
Yes, journal therapy is one of those things which sounds too good to be true, but it is true, and there is plenty of scientific research to back up the claims.
I have never had a student who learned an effective journaling method suited to their needs who did not say they really benefit from the journaling experience.
That is not to say I haven’t met many people who bought a journal and after a few days or weeks packed it in because they were not seeing any benefit. There is a right way and a wrong way to journal.
If you wish to explore the possibility that private journaling would benefit you, the best place I can think of to start researching the topic is by reading more right here at journalforlife.ca.
Feature photo by Patrick DohenyShare this: