Journaling is an activity that isn’t just used as a planner or to record your daily life to look back on. It is a valuable tool for self-discovery, inspiring you to grow as a person and develop your true potential, to become the fully actualised person you were born to be, and live a whole and meaningful life.
Dr Ira Progoff was a 20th-century psychologist who developed the Intensive Journal method to promote regular Journaling as a therapeutic technique. In 1975 Progoff wrote the book: The Basic Text and Guide for Using the Intensive Journal Process and began sharing this form of journal therapy with clinicians and clients throughout North America. His method gained popularity, and he founded the Progoff (National) Intensive Journal Program, and he established the Dialogue House to provide workshops in his journaling method around the world.
Traditional diary writing often involves writing down daily events and happenings from an external perspective. Journal therapy focuses on the writer’s internal (implicit) experiences, reactions, and perceptions. Scholl K, a facilitator at Intensive Journal workshops in Australia, describes therapeutic forms of Journaling as drawing on our own work and inner stirrings as guidance to enhance a process and space to experience a kind of evoking, which does not involve over-analysis or diagnosis. The exercises work profoundly in a manner connected with our personal experience and can transform many lives, helping with a range of problems; reconciliation after separation, job loss, relationship breakdown, and illness, to name a few. Ullrich & Lutgendorf (2002) say this type of Journaling can also help in the aftermath of a traumatic event, helping sufferers see the positive side of experiencing the trauma, which helps reduce the severe symptoms of trauma.
Other evidence-based reports can be sourced on the internet, illustrating the many mental health and physical health benefits of therapeutic Journaling. It stands to good reason that Reflective Journaling can also be therapeutic for enhancing general wellbeing. I have found it an excellent way to promote deeper reflection and self-awareness.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Reflect on an authentic experience that you have had and stay with that experience without judgement. If your mind wanders onto other ideas or abstract ways of thinking, bring a gentle awareness back to your inner experience.
Your Journaling might include reflections on:
What was this like for me? What is or was happening to me? What is my story or narrative of this? What emotions did the experience bring? (e.g., painful, joyful, cathartic, funny, disturbing, affirming, etc…)
When Self-help isn’t enough!
Journaling can also be a great aid to professional counselling and psychotherapy. A trained therapist can help you work through issues at your own pace, providing a space to explore experiences much deeper while holding the session to keep you safe.