Journal Therapy By: mia bautista

Journal writing therapy: the therapeutic use of journaling exercises to improve mental health conditions

"the purposeful and intentional use of reflective writing to further mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health and wellness" (Center for Journals Therapy).

How does it work? What are its strengths?

This technique is utilized in therapy to increase awareness, promote growth, further develop the person's sense of self. The act of writing thoughts down relieves tension. A therapist might begin the exercise by having their person write down their goals or intentions for that session. They could also use journaling to communicate with their person. Dr. Lynn Somerstein, RYT, used this method for people with difficulty processing thoughts.

"The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you" (PsychCentral).


Therapists who have worked with people with cognitive challenges might not have found this method of journaling as effective treatment. If journaling exercises are not monitored properly by the therapists, then the person might be worsening their conditions; this can occur if certain signs from the entries are not taken under consideration for treatment.

  • Study: Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 281, No. 14), Joshua Smyth, PhD, Syracuse University
  • Methods: 107 asthma and rheumatoid arthritis patients wrote for 20 minutes on each of three consecutive days--71 of them about the most stressful event of their lives and the rest about the emotionally neutral subject of their daily plans
  • Results: Four months after the writing exercise, 70 patients in the stressful-writing group showed improvement on objective, clinical evaluations compared with 37 of the control patients. In addition, those who wrote about stress improved more, and deteriorated less, than controls for both diseases.

Cited sources: -"Journal Therapy." Journal Therapy., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.; Purcell, Maud. "The Health Benefits of Journaling." Psych Central. N.p., 17 July 2016. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.; Bridget, Murray. "Writing to Heal." Pardon Our Interruption. N.p., June 2002. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.


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