Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Psychotherapists' perspective on journaling....

Entering into therapy is the conscious act of an individual to face change and begin the healing process.  Similar to journaling, it is making the time to talk about undoing habits, making positive change, and accomplishing goals.   Today’s piece revolves around the combination of Journaling and Therapy from a psychotherapist’s point of view.  

Noelia Rosado, LCSW, began her private practice in 2008.   She specializes in working with Teenagers and Adults in various areas – from depression, to anxiety, to parenting issues, Sexual Abuse an Domestic Violence and Trauma.  Something unique to her practice is providing journals to her clients at the onset of therapy.   She states that "clients often hold onto therapy like a cane or a clutch" – combined with therapy, journaling helps someone develop their own tools and helps them come up with their answers.    

Below is an interview with Ms. Rosado on the benefits of journaling. 

What made you begin incorporating journaling into your practice?
Clients are only with me for 45 minutes a week, but life happens and continues to outside of therapy.  They have their journals 24 hours a day.   The journal is like their toolkit.   Something they can go back to, something they can use in a moment of confusion, something they can use for clarity.  
Within the first three sessions, all my clients will get their own journal.   Sometimes, they may be reluctant, but I tell them, that Journaling is anything they want them to be, anything that shares who they are.   There is no prior writing experience that someone needs, but more so making the time to do it.  I think most of my clients will see the benefit, but the hardest part is making and finding the time to journal. 

What are some benefits of journaling to assist in depression?
It can be helpful only if you stop writing about how depressed you are.  Writing about things you look forward to, goal setting, positive self-talk, all those things can help with alleviating symptoms of depression when used with journaling

Can you give me some examples of writing exercises that you do with your clients?
-         A letter to someone who is deceased
-         3 goals with specific dates and time you want to accomplish those goals.
-         Positive Talk on an everyday basis.
-   Writing for 10 minutes straight...and then reading out loud.
Each client is on a case by case basis.  I tell them that journaling is there for them to keep track of your thought process.  Often times in therapy, clients may feel stuck and feel that they are not getting anywhere.  But accompanied with journaling, they can monitor their words, they can see where they were, and where they are now.  An example – an exercise I use is have the clients write for 10 minutes straight and often will have them read out loud what they have written.  Often before beginning the exercise, they may not see the benefit or even after completing the exercise, they may feel that what they have written may be insignificant.  However, I encourage the act of reading out loud what they have written.  Reading out loud  lets you see YOUR growth, your words, see where you were, and where you are now.   Processing aloud what has been written can show the benefits and progress made. 

Other benefits of journaling that you would like to add…
 Sometimes we can get so confused and often writing about the issue, it may not appear “big” anymore.  IT may be big in our minds, but writing it out, one can grasp the issue, put your hands on it.   For those that are reluctant to try it, I would say JUST DO IT!!! You are never going to know if something works for you until you try it.  You have to give it a chance :)

For more information on Ms. Rosado's practice see link below...