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03/24/2010

A note from Liz Strong: Myths and truths about journaling

A journal is a place to write down your thoughts and experiences. In doing so, you are using a healthy form of self-expression. I encourage clients to use it in this way as a coping strategy, enabling them to unload onto the page. Journaling is also an opportunity to gain insight into the thoughts and feelings that can often be confusing when left to just float around in our heads. A journal can also help you to determine patterns and track progress.
 
Clients are often apprehensive when I suggest journaling as a therapeutic tool, and I can certainly relate. When I was young I started and discarded about 10 diaries. I always began with the intention of logging my inner-most thoughts every day. But after a week, the novelty wore off and the diary would end up in a drawer, forgotten.
 
As an adult, I've had to change my view of journaling as a daily must-do, because it felt forced and I began to resent it. Now, I journal when I feel stressed and it helps me determine what changes I need to make to ease that stress that I may not have been fully aware of.
 
Some common misconceptions about journaling are that it is very time consuming, or that you have to be a gifted writer in order to benefit from it. I remind clients that your journal is your personal property, one that is all your own, thus your expression on the page can be whatever you want it to be.
 

Maybe you like to draw out what you are thinking, or write it in the form of a poem. Maybe one day a paragraph is long enough to help you clear your head; another day, 10 pages feels just right. There is no right or wrong way to journal, all that matters is that you find a way to journal that works best for you. I know that I encourage you to give journaling a chance. Start without any expectations and just see where the page takes you.