Writing Therapy: How To Write And Journal Therapeutically

Have you stopped to consider the importance of your thoughts and emotions? It can be difficult to understand them; however, what if finding this understanding could be as easy as a pencil and paper? This is what makes self-therapy journaling a method that allows you to investigate the world around you, comprehend it, and change your life by writing.


Journals are a chance to reconnect with yourself and discover difficult emotions.

Many people write journals throughout their teens, whether by choice or as a result of an assignment at school. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve thought of using a pen and paper to share your thoughts and desires. Journaling is a great option for anyone at any age in life.


Retrospective and introspection of your everyday experiences, relationships, and personal values can help you become more aware of your feelings and thoughts; it could lead to more peace of mind.

Journal prompts provide specific topics and themes to consider; this can be beneficial in the following situations:

  • Want to make writing a habit but never know what to write about
  • Have a lot of conflicting thoughts to sort through
  • You feel like you could write for hours, and you need help narrowing down your writing focus

Certain prompts may aid you in forming your thoughts regarding an incident with a partner or friend. Writing about particular issues in your relationship can provide you with greater clarity about your needs in terms of emotional health and how to ensure they are fulfilled.

Journaling can be beneficial when it is done often, but it’s not necessary to write every day. If you’re unable to write every day, You could try to write for three days a week and choose a prompt to write about every day.


What is Writing Therapy?

Writing therapy, also referred to by the name journal therapy, does exactly what it sounds like: Writing (often in journals) to gain therapeutic benefits.

Writing therapy is an affordable, accessible, easy-to-access, and flexible form of therapy. It can be done individually, with just a person and a pen, or guided by a mental health professional. It is also possible to practice in a group setting; it could even be used as an addition to other forms of therapy.

Whatever format you choose, writing therapy can help individuals accelerate their personal development, improve their creative expression, and gain a sense of power in their lives.

It’s easy to grasp the benefits of therapeutic writing. For a long time, poets and storytellers have documented and written about the calming feeling of putting pen to paper. The great literature of these writers and storytellers makes it easy to believe that profound healing and personal growth can come from writing.

However, while writing therapy seems as simple as writing in a journal, there is more to it.

Writing therapy differs from keeping a diary in three main ways (Farooqui 2016):

  • Writing in a diary or journal is usually free-form, where the writer jots down whatever pops into their head. Therapeutic writing is typically more directed and often based on specific prompts or exercises guided by a professional.
  • Writing in a diary or journal may focus on recording events as they occur, while writing therapy is often focused on more meta-analytical processes: thinking about, interacting with, and analyzing the events, thoughts, and feelings that the writer writes down.
  • Keeping a diary or journal is an inherently personal and individual experience, while journal therapy is generally led by a licensed mental health professional.

Although the procedure of writing therapy differs from regular journaling in these three major ways, there’s an important distinction between these two methods with regard to the results.

Benefits of Writing Therapy

A journal can be very beneficial for improving memory and recording the most important details about the entire day. Or simply unwind at the end of an exhausting day.

These are certainly not trivial benefits, but the advantages of writing therapy extend higher and deeper than keeping a journal.

If you’ve been through trauma or a very stressful experience, expressive writing guided purposefully toward specific topics can have a significant healing effect. In fact, participants in the study who wrote down their worst traumatizing events for 15 minutes for four consecutive days achieved greater health outcomes up to four months later than those who were told to write about non-specific topics (Baikie and Wilhelm 2005).

Another study tested the same writing exercise on over 100 asthma and rheumatoid arthritis patients, with similar results. The patients who wrote their thoughts on the stressful time of their lives received more positive health evaluations relating to their condition as compared to the control group that wrote about non-emotional subjects (Smyth and Co. 1999).

Writing with expressive words can even enhance the immune system’s functioning, but the practice of writing may have to be maintained in order to allow the positive health effects to be sustained (Murray 2002).

In addition to these tangible advantages, Regular therapeutic writing helps the writer discover an explanation for their experience, look at things from different perspectives, and find the silver linings that can be found in the most difficult or distressing situations (Murray 2002). This can lead to crucial insights into your life, and the environment you live in that are hard to discern without focusing on writing (Tartakovsky 2015).

The overall effect of writing therapy is that it has been proven to be effective for a variety of mental and physical ailments, including (Farooqui in 2016):

How to Begin Self-Therapy Journaling

Beginning your self-therapy journaling adventure is thrilling and easy; it starts by choosing the best journal. This could be a conventional notebook, a digital application or even a collection of files stored on your laptop – the most important thing is to choose a format that is comfortable and inviting to you.

The next step is to create a comfortable setting for journaling. Find a peaceful, quiet place where you can write without interruptions. It could be a comfortable area in your house, a bench in the park, or wherever you are comfortable.

It is essential to be consistent when journaling. Establish a time for each day to do your journaling, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes. This practice will help you regularly check in with yourself, which is crucial to a successful self-therapy.

Then, approach your notebook with an open heart and mind; there is no proper or incorrect method to write. Journaling is a space for you to express what you think and feel honestly and without judgment.

If you’re practising journaling for therapeutic purposes as part of therapy in a formal setting, be sure to follow the mental health professional’s instructions. If you’re doing it on your own, adhere to these guidelines to get the most benefit from your journaling experience.

  • Pick a topic or subjects that are meaningful to you personally.
  • Write about these subjects in 15 or 20 minutes over four consecutive days.
  • Write continuously without ever stopping.
  • You must be honest since no one else is going to be able to read your journal entries or even see them unless you ask them to.
  • Do not force yourself to write about issues that cause you to feel upset.
  • Accept that you might feel uneasy or a little sad when you write.
  • Don’t keep writing about the same subject for more than four consecutive days, even if you think you’ve not achieved any progress.

Review your writings and consider what you can discover about yourself or other people. If writing for therapeutic reasons brings up emotions or triggers that are too difficult, consider talking to someone who is a mental health professional or a friend. Do self-care exercises to deal with any negative feelings that journaling about difficult events can bring up.

Consider first how to prepare yourself to be successful:

  • Choose the format that works best for you, whether traditional journaling, a budget notebook, an online journaling software, or a blog.
  • If it makes you more interested in writing, decorate or personalize your journal/notebook/blog.
  • Set a goal to write for a certain amount of time each day.
  • Decide beforehand when and/or where you will write each day.
  • Take a look at what drives you to write initially; this could be the first journal entry.

How Journaling is Therapeutic

Journaling for therapeutic purposes is an effective instrument to help you grow in your self-development journey. It doesn’t matter if you write in your own time or in therapy. Writing about challenging events and feelings can benefit you due to the following benefits associated with writing.

Offers Clarity

The pace of life can be in a flash. Sometimes, it seems as if you’re unable to take a breath or even focus on the subject at hand. Journaling can help you take a moment to think about things for a long enough time to gain from them.

Therapeutic journaling can help you gain an objective view of difficult situations. With a clearer understanding of the events, you’re better in a position to be able to accept the situation, heal and take action.

Creates a Safe Outlet 

In a perfect world, there would be at least one person whom you can confide in with confidence, but that’s not always the case; even if you are fortunate enough to have a trusted friend, there may be some things you’re not ready to share with them. 

A journal is a personal space where you can write anything you like. You are free to express your feelings of anger, hurt, guilt, blame or any other thing without judgement. Nobody else can listen to your thoughts. You can freely express your thoughts without shame or worry about what people might say.

Reveals Patterns

To alter unhelpful patterns of behavior and thinking, you must first identify these patterns; it can be difficult to do this when you are juggling the demands of everyday life. Journaling can help you record things you can reflect on to see patterns that you want to change.

Including as much information as you can within your journal entries can help to uncover patterns. Even little details like the weather, how you rested the night before and whether or not you ate lunch during the day could reveal aspects of your behavior that you’ve never noticed before.

Highlights Growth 

The process of reviewing journal entries isn’t solely about finding out what you didn’t do right. Reflection can also show how you’ve improved and help you identify possibilities for development. Through journaling for therapeutic reasons, you might discover that you have handled situations more effectively than you thought. You might also find that you’re handling situations better than you have in the past.

Changes in Mindsets

Journaling is a form of mindfulness. The act of writing automatically causes you to turn your attention inward and sharpen your focus. This introspection can be beneficial when your life is chaotic or you feel overwhelmed by your thoughts.

Improves Relationships

Relations are stronger when both individuals bring their best selves to the relationship. When you understand yourself and your behavior patterns, you will be able to be more comfortable with others.

Journaling can also be a chance to examine your feelings before sharing them with others. This activity can aid you in developing the positive manner of communication needed to keep positive relationships.

Encourages Self-Acceptance

How do you feel comfortable with yourself when you aren’t sure the person you really are? The therapeutic journaling process can provide insight into your own self. It is possible to discover your weaknesses and flaws, and you’ll also discover your strengths and abilities. Seeing a fuller picture of yourself makes accepting all the individual parts easier.

Fosters Healing

Journaling for healing is a valuable method of understanding different perspectives. You may find yourself seeing a painful situation through someone else’s eyes. This different perspective can lead to forgiving others and yourself for not being “perfect.”

Reduces Stress

Expressive writing is a powerful method of reducing anxiety and stress. Journaling can help you feel more at ease with your feelings. Understanding the triggers that cause stress will help you feel more prepared to face life’s challenges.

Why Use Journaling Prompts for Therapy?

Using journaling prompts for therapy helps your expressive writing in many ways. Plus, you get the most benefits from journaling when you write consistently every day, but a daily habit can be hard to keep up with, especially if you are just starting. Some days, you can’t think of anything to write about. Or you may get stuck in a topic, always writing about the same three or four events.

Journal prompts will inspire you to start journaling even when you’re not inspired to write. The prompts can lead you to unexpected and new locations. They can trigger long-forgotten memories and emotions.

The other benefits of using journaling prompts in therapy are that it can help you:

  • Get started writing when you can’t think of a topic
  • Get unstuck when journaling seems difficult
  • Gain a new perspective by writing about unexpected topics
  • Remove yourself from the rumination
  • Deepen understanding

To get the most from journaling prompts, let them guide your writing without controlling it. If a prompt brings up an emotion or memory that is unexpected, then go with it. Don’t force yourself to stay on the prompt topic if more important things come up as you write.

Journaling for therapeutic purposes can be emotionally difficult at times. Do your best to keep a balance between doing hard work and caring for yourself. If a prompt in your journal raises concerns that are difficult to handle on your own, then it might be the time to talk with a friend or professionals in mental health.

One of the most crucial things is to avoid emotional pain if you are feeling it. You might need more than simply journaling to assist you in processing difficult emotions. Recognizing your feelings is the first step to healing.

Journaling Prompts for therapy

Whatever topic you’re interested in writing about, you will find provocative prompts that can help you discover more about your own self. Below are some prompts and categories that can help you get you going.

Practice Self-Reflection

Self-reflection is the act of looking at your own beliefs and traits of personality without judgment. You can ask yourself:

  • What are the values I believe to be to be the most important values in my the world?
  • What was my opinion for a while, but then changed?
  • What are three things I’m willing to rethink and the reasons for it?
  • Write an open letter to the people you love about one thing that you would like them to know about you.

Explore Feelings and Emotions

Journaling about your feelings is among the most effective methods to get inside your head. Knowing how you feel is essential because it will assist you in becoming the person you would like to be.

Follow these steps to encourage greater self-understanding.

  • What’s the one area in my life that I would like to enhance? Three steps that can assist me in achieving this.
  • How can I show compassion?
  • Are there three feelings I am most comfortable sharing?
  • What are three emotions that I find myself least comfortable sharing?

Recalling the past

Journaling for therapeutic purposes is a great way to recollect previous occasions. Recording the same event for four days in succession can give you insights that a single session can’t. Analyzing the past will help you understand how to deal with present issues more effectively.

Take note of these prompts to journal on the past.

  • Write about the same event from several different perspectives.
  • Write about an event from the past. Focus on your emotions about the event and not focus on the factual aspect of the event.
  • What are three lessons (positive and negative) you have learned from your past?
  • What could you do differently in the event that you could change your reactions to a past event?

Studying Emotions and Behaviors

Are you the kind of person who can fly off the rails easily, or do you avoid situations that trigger extreme emotions? Journaling your emotions can provide you with a deeper understanding of your feelings and emotions. These suggestions can help you to recognize your own behavior more clearly:

  • What feelings are the most difficult to accept in me and why?
  • List three things that can instantly ruin your good mood.
  • List three things that can instantly improve your mood.
  • How do you react when someone disappoints you?

Examining your actions isn’t about blame or criticism. The goal is to see yourself in a clear way without judgment.

Recognizing Values and Dreams

What are the dreams that haven’t been realized in your life? And what role can your values play in achieving your objectives?

These questions can aid you in determining whether your values and dreams are in alignment:

  • What would my day look like if money were no object?
  • Which aspects of my life am I most grateful for?
  • Think about what you wanted to be when you were a child. Write a letter to that child mapping out how they can reach their goal.
  • What are 10 things that motivate me? List them and explain why.

Therapeutic journaling may help you discover new ways to empower your dreams without giving up your values.

Evaluation of Relationships

Writing about your relationships could assist you in determining what’s not working in your relationships and ways to improve them.

Ask these questions for insights:

  • Who can I trust the most, and what is the reason?
  • How can I show compassion for other people?
  • What kind of boundaries should I establish for a healthy and happy relationship?
  • What are three important lessons I’ve learned from past relationships?

Relationships with a supportive partner are essential to your overall well-being. Make sure you include relationships with non-romantic partners on your list of priorities.

Establishing Healthy Habits

Healthy habits are beneficial for your mental and physical well-being as well as your relationships, social health and your inner life.

These prompts can help you establish new healthy habits:

  • What’s my favorite thing to do when I’m feeling down?
  • What are three strategies to assist me in maintaining my physical health?
  • Why is it crucial for me to be able to practice good self-care?
  • How can I show myself love?

Focusing on the pleasures of a healthy lifestyle will inspire you to adopt better habits.

Expressing Creatively or Visually

Journaling doesn’t have to be limited to writing texts. Use journaling prompts for therapy to stimulate your imagination and emotional development.

Check out these prompts:

  • If you could explore any creative medium, what would it be?
  • Write descriptively about a recent dream. 
  • Write about how it feels to take creative risks.
  • Write down the top five innovative things you want to accomplish, create or observe.

Include poetry, drawings, sketches, or any other medium of creativity that stimulates you.

Reflecting on Therapy Sessions

Therapists often suggest journaling to document and reflect on therapy sessions. Writing down your thoughts after a therapy session will help the brain to process and organize information. Even if you are physically exhausted, spending just a few minutes writing will make therapy more relevant.

These suggestions can aid you in gaining the most value from any insights that you get in therapy.

  • What aspect of the therapeutic session astonished me most?
  • What did I not say in therapy but wish I had said?
  • My therapist was an inspiration to me with their words when they said?
  • Words that describe how I felt during my last therapy session are.

Journaling Strategies For Self-Therapy‍

Implementing the correct method will significantly increase the value of journaling for self-therapy. Here are some methods to take into consideration:


The art of freewriting is expressing yourself without inhibitions. Begin writing and keep the pen moving without stopping to think about editing or overthinking.

This method allows you to get past your mind’s filters and access more profound thoughts and feelings. It is particularly effective in revealing thoughts and emotions that are hidden. 

The most important thing is to surrender judgment and just write whatever comes to mind, regardless of how disjointed or unclear it might seem.

Prompt-Based Journaling

Prompt-based journaling gives the direction and clarity you need for your writing. In response to specific prompts or questions, you can focus on specific areas of your mind and life.

This approach is ideal for people who find a blank page daunting or are looking to explore specific topics, like self-esteem or making decisions.

Prompts can be found in books, online sources, or even from your own personal circumstances. Regular use of prompts can help increase self-awareness and a greater sense of clarity when it comes to problem-solving.

Gratitude Journaling

Journaling for gratitude shifts your attention to positive aspects of your life and helps to create feelings of satisfaction and well-being. When you write down things you’re grateful for, you teach your mind to observe and appreciate the good, even in difficult moments.

This exercise can improve your mood, ease stress, and increase general happiness. It is possible to journal gratitude every day, and entries can range from the simplest pleasures to important life occasions. In time, this habit can transform your perspective regarding your life.

Emotion-Driven Writing

When writing with emotion, the writer focuses on a particular emotion.

Define the emotion, what caused it, and how it’s impacting your thinking and behavior. This method is helpful for analyzing and understanding extreme emotions as well as providing insight into the triggers that cause your emotions and coping strategies. It is also an aid to emotional control and resiliency.

In time, you will get better at recognizing and controlling your emotional reactions.

Dream Journaling

Writing down your dreams right after you get up, recording the most detail you can. This technique allows you to access your subconscious mind and provide insight into your desires, fears, and issues that remain unsolved.

The analysis of your dreams may provide a deeper understanding of yourself and guidelines for your day-to-day life. Dreams are often symbolic, so you should consider the emotional tone they convey and their recurring themes. In time, you’ll begin to see the patterns in your day-to-day life.

Reflective Journaling

Reflective journaling means taking a look back at your previous experiences and then analyzing the events from a current point of view. Record significant moments, choices, or relationships, then think about how they changed your life.

Think about what you’ve learned about yourself, your growth, and what you can change now. This approach is particularly helpful in personal development, self-forgiveness, and getting over the past. Journaling in reflection helps to develop wisdom and foresight, which makes it an excellent tool for ongoing learning.

Introspection, a process of self-awareness that involves contemplating and analyzing your behaviour and thoughts, is among the main characteristics that distinguish human beings from animals. We are naturally interested in our own lives. We replay our events and experiences in the desire to understand the person we are and what we’re like. How often do we set aside time to think about ourselves?

Introspection can also be defined as reflection, self-contemplation, and self-examination. It is the reflection of one’s own behaviour, thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

The Importance of Introspection: Tips to Increase Self-Awareness

Guidelines for Using Your Self-Therapy Journal

To get the most benefit from self-therapy journaling, consider these guidelines for practical use:

Honesty and Transparency

The value of journaling lies in the ability to speak truthfully about yourself. You can write about your emotions, thoughts, and experiences even if they’re uncomfortable. Being authentic is essential to self-discovery as well as emotional processing.

Consistency is Key

The practice of keeping a journal on a regular basis is crucial. It doesn’t need to be a long, time-consuming process; an hour or two a day can be beneficial. Regular journaling can help maintain a consistent and clear conversation with yourself, leading to deeper understanding over time.

It’s highly unlikely to succeed if you’re not consistently making good decisions and taking the appropriate actions.

One thing that people who fail have in common is that they do not have consistent behaviour. That means that if you’re looking to succeed, you need to practice consistently, remain focused, and demonstrate more intention in the things you perform. Consistency will help you create awareness, establish trust, and provide your services with efficiency and profit; without it, your company will be more vulnerable to failure.

Why Consistency is An Important Habit

Resolving Emotional Discomfort

It’s normal to feel difficult emotions while writing. When this happens, you should try not to be afraid. Recognize these feelings and keep a journal to provide an opportunity to examine and comprehend these feelings. Keep in mind that the aim isn’t to be judged but to learn and observe.

You must forgive yourself. Allow it to go. Let it go. It’s easy to say but a lot more difficult to do! Everyone has made mistakes a couple of times, whether wrongfully yelling at someone, self-destructive behavior, or slacking at work. With those errors, feelings of guilt overwhelm us, shame, self-condemnation, and Humiliation.

We’ve all made mistakes many times, and the emotions that surface due to our actions, such as guilt and regret, can be intense.

Feeling guilty or regretful are both common emotions that fall into the general category of sadness, but is there any more profound insight that we can gain from these emotions? How do we manage guilt and regret whenever they come up?

How To Deal With Guilt and Regret: How to Forgive Yourself

Privacy and Security

Journals are your private refuge. Make sure it’s stored in a secure place in which you feel the contents are safe. The feeling of privacy promotes more honesty and self-expression.

In modern times, it seems impossible to keep your personal life private. We are compelled to be oversharing and share every aspect of the lives to our friends and on social media; this includes the foods we consume, our relationships and achievements, items, whereabouts and feelings.

But what if you do not wish to share your private life with strangers or friends via the internet or in face-to-face conversations? Are you likely to miss opportunities or lose value?

A private life leads to a blissful life, Seriously. The more I grow older, the more I’m able to appreciate the value of privacy without the guilt I feel about implementing it.

Private life is blissful because the respect you place on your privacy grows, and the drama, bad stuff, and all you encounter immediately diminish.

How and why you should Keep Your Personal Life Private

Reflect and Revisit

Review your past entries. Reflection can reveal patterns, changes, and shifts in how you look at things. It’s a great way to evaluate how far you’ve come and to identify ongoing challenges or issues in your life.

If you follow these guidelines, it is possible to develop a journaling routine that is not just consistent and secure, but also reflective and beneficial for your mental and personal well-being.

Read More: How Taking Responsibility For Your Actions Helps You Grow in the Process

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Self-therapy journaling can be a path that leads to self-discovery and personal growth. It’s a way to be in touch with your inner self and provides a place for reflection, healing, and change. Through this practice, you will discover more about yourself, which influences your behavior and thoughts, and how you can improve your self-image and become the most authentic version of yourself.

Keep in mind that there is no proper or incorrect method to write; it’s an individual journey that changes with each new experience. Be patient when you travel this path because there will be days that are easier and others that are more difficult, but the important thing is to continue. In time, you’ll find that your journal becomes a trusted friend and a mirror reflecting your inner world.

When you begin or continue with this fulfilling exercise, be sure to embrace what you say with the strength of words. They can be a source of healing as well as a source of strength and an avenue toward a greater understanding of the world around you.

Affirmations are positive words and phrases that one can often repeat when they are in a state of emotional distress or to help them stay motivated at critical times; these statements can be called positive self-talk. They’re intended to change negative thoughts into positive ones and help promote positive transformation. For certain people, using self-affirming phrases can boost confidence, increase self-esteem, and ease anxiety.

Mental health counselors might even suggest positive affirmations to complement the patient’s treatment process. This approach can help patients gain a positive perspective regarding a stressful situation.

Words of Affirmation
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