A great way to maximize the benefits of adult counseling sessions is to use a journal for therapy. This acts as a supplemental exercise to your counseling sessions, and it can improve the impact of your therapy as a whole. Here are some benefits of journal therapy, along with tips to help you in the journaling process.
Different Types Of Journaling
Journaling is not an exact science. There is no right or wrong way to approach it. You can choose to write anything you like in your journal, but sometimes it’s easier to have a general theme for your entries. For example, you could journal about…
- Important events of the day
- Descriptions for your experiences before, during, and after panic attacks
- Moments of depression, sorrow, grief, or anxiety
- The most important lessons you learned during your last counseling session
- Dreams or memories that evoke strong feelings
- Steps you took to improve your quality of life (only smoked XXX cigarettes today, did not go on social media today, etc.)
- Conversations you had with other people about your situation
If you have an idea about what you need to write about, you may have an easier time putting your thoughts on paper. This will also help you utilize your journal during your counseling sessions because you will know what kind of information is inside. Even if the journal is not completely uniform, you will benefit from having general guidelines to follow.
A Journal Doesn’t Have To Be A Diary
Oftentimes people use the terms journal and diary interchangeably, but a journal does not have to be a diary. You can write in your journal as if you are writing to a person, or you could choose to write like an author scripting a first-person narrative. Some people enjoy writing a “Dear Diary” entry at the end of the day, while others prefer a more reflective approach. You can test out different writing methods to see what works best for you.
The Therapeutic Benefits Of Journaling
The biggest advantage of writing thoughts down in a journal is that you’re forced to analyze your feelings, experiences, and emotions. Rather than just going through the motions of your therapy, you can put your new skills to the test. For example, if you are in depression therapy, your counselor may be working with you to reverse negative thought patterns. As you write down your thoughts in a journal, you can assess each of them in detail. This form of self-evaluation is extremely effective for nearly all forms of adult counseling.
Journaling is also great for reflecting on the progress you’ve made with therapy. You can look back on old journal entries as reminders of where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. If you have a major turning point as you’re journaling, that will be noted in your own words. Consider this as a time capsule that you can go back through time and time again.
Using Your Journal In Your Counseling Sessions
You can use your journal during your counseling sessions. In fact, your therapist will most likely encourage this. If you have a question, thought or experience that you want to discuss in an upcoming appointment put a bookmark on that page for easy reference. Then all you have to do is open your journal when you want to talk to your counselor.
If you are using your journal to write about your therapy sessions, you could start each new appointment with a reflection of the last one – similar to how a secretary would read the minutes of a previous business meeting at the start of a new one. This will remind you of what you were working on over the week, and then you can talk about the actions you took accordingly.
Journaling Is Not A Direct Substitute For Therapy
There are countless benefits to journaling, but that does not mean it should be used instead of therapy. You can learn a lot about yourself as you reflect on your thoughts and experiences, but you should still talk to a counselor or therapist. Your counselor is there to not only listen to your reflections but also to recommend steps you can take toward a positive future. You won’t get that kind of feedback from journaling alone.
Talk to a counselor at Perspectives Of Troy Counseling Centers to see if journaling is a good fit for your therapy. You might be surprised by just how much it helps speed up your progress.