Journal Writing Therapy

Journal therapy is a kind of treatment that lets the writer compose entries that focus on his internal experiences, thoughts, and emotions. Through reflective writing, journal therapy aims to give the writer mental and emotional clarity by helping him achieve a better understanding of himself using the anecdotes of his own experiences. It can be very effective in helping the writer get through any emotional or physical struggles that he may have in his life.


The use of journal therapy started with known psychoanalysts and psychotherapists like Sigmund Freud, Marion Milner, Carl Jung, and Ira Progoff who used journal writing for recording their insights and formulating their own theories. Dr. Ira Progoff devised the Intensive Journal Method which employed structured guidelines in writing about life which was supposed to help the writer attain spiritual and personal growth.

The Intensive Journal Method uses a three-ring, loose-leaf binder filled with four-color coded sections. The sections are further divided into subsections that cover areas like career, dreams, health, interests, and the like. The method aims the recognition of the writer of the various points of views and connections that exist among the different sections of the journal.

Kathleen Adams made journal workshops part of the self-discovery process that she used in psychotherapy. The benefits of journal writing had been further supported with the studies made by Dr. James W. Pennebaker dealing with emotional problems and traumas.

At present, workshops on journal therapy are conducted in Dr. Progoff’s Dialogue House and Adam’s Center for Journal Therapy where participants can earn certificates.


Journal therapy aims at helping the writer gain emotional understanding of the issues he has in his life. It is claimed to have positive effects on the immune system, liver and lungs, memory, reduction of blood pressure, relieve from stress, and improvement in mood and psychological well-being.


Psychotherapists start the use journal therapy with their patients by asking them to write something before their therapy sessions commence. The topics may be about the patients’ emotions or anything that is currently happening to their lives. Afterwards, different writing exercises are given to the patients which the therapist discusses with them at the end of the exercises.

Some of the writing techniques that can be used in journal therapy include:

Sprint: It allows the writer to jot down anything for certain period of time.

Lists: It employs the use of related items or ideas that help the writer prioritize and organize his ideas.

Captured moments: This involves writing and describing the essence and emotional effects of a particular memory.

Unsent letters: Unsent letters can be used to deal with grief or traumas.

Dialogue: it is a techniques that employs the use of a conversation to discuss all kinds of topics.

Feedback: Feedback writing allows the writer to be aware of his emotions and make reflections about the things that he has written before.

If you have a loved one you want to start you might want a customized note book to help motivate them.