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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Carchrae

Journaling Your Therapy Experiences

If you're doing therapy, you're already committing to a process of self-reflection. Journaling is something that can help support your work in therapy and help to develop the skill of noticing and reflecting on yourself and your life.

Writing, especially by hand, also engages our mind and body in a new way. By writing out your thoughts, you have an opportunity to see them differently, in a similar way that saying something out loud can hit you differently than simply thinking it silently in your mind. Regular journaling can also serve as a personal record of your experiences in therapy.

A woman with long blond hair sitting on a beach and writing in a journal.

Ways Journaling Can be Helpful During Therapy

  • Taking notes after sessions can help you hang onto any insights that you want to remember later.

  • Journaling allows you to go back and review your progress in therapy over time.

  • Writing can help you in tracking and identifying key themes, metaphors or sensations that show up regularly.

  • Imaginal, depth, process and experiential types of work can feel a bit like dreams, and it's common to find that your memory of them can be a bit foggy a few days or weeks later. Writing them down can help you integrate and remember key events.

  • Writing about your parts and your work with them in therapy can help you build relationship and get to know them over time.

Some Signs That Journaling Your Therapy Experiences Might Not be Right For You

  • If you're in a living situation where writing down your thoughts, feelings or experiences could put you at risk of abuse, it might be better to skip the journaling.

  • If journaling becomes a tool that your self-critic uses to monitor or evaluate your progress, it might be painful and possibly counter-productive.

Want to Try Journaling to Support Your Work in Therapy?

Here are some ideas that can prompt different kinds of journaling exercises:

  • Note down words, phrases or ideas that stick out for you during or after a session.

  • Track the flow of patterns, cycles or sequences of experiences that you identify either in a session with your therapist or in daily life. If you get triggered, what happened right before that? If you have a conflict with someone, is there a typical pattern of events that happen as you try to resolve it?

  • Map out parts if you're doing parts work. What does each part want, and how do they go about helping that happen? Do some parts like each other, or dislike other parts?

  • Write down metaphors that came up in session that resonate with you.

  • Make art or doodle/sketch/scribble based on dreamwork or focusing experiences.

Have you tried journaling alongside your work in therapy? I'd love to hear how it went. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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