Journaling as Therapy (2015)

I’ve recently had the pleasure to get to somewhat know a special friend who has, to say the least, inspired me to reconsider the therapeutic potential of words and the act of writing. I see so much potential in this young woman and deeply connect with what she writes and the parts of her soul she shares in doing so. I hope she continues to share her gifts.

I’m no wordsmith – these days my thoughts are very fragmented, as is the stream of words manifesting on this screen as I try to write. That generally doesn’t stop me from slowly piecing together a somewhat coherent picture when writing and conveying what I intended to communicate, despite any ‘cognitive deficits’.

Verbally, my words have never flowed… I imagine I either come across as disinterested or plain boring when I do attempt to talk. Socially, that has left me struggling and to this day, I still rely on writing to communicate to a deeper level, which so far has mostly been to doctors and psychologists… I’d like to expand that to friends.

Someone else has successfully put words to therapeutic use and detail their journey in the following article. It’s worth a read.

Journaling as Therapy

Journaling about my issues with metaphysics and psychoanalysis were paramount in my recovery from schizoaffective disorder. I have gone to talk therapy for 1h/week for the past 4 years and after my third year of therapy I began writing in a metacognitive journal where I have psychoanalyzed myself and learned a great deal about my psyche and everything else in my life. During episodes and other points in my life there were many traumatic experiences from the past that affected me in the present that I needed to face and analyze. There have also been normal life experiences that have been new to me which I have written about and have hashed out to gain a better understanding of or make better decisions regarding them. Talk therapy was an important tool for coming to terms with the experiences I was most afraid of facing. I started at a point where I didn’t want to speak even the slightest of sentences and progressed to being able to talk frankly about any of my experiences in my life. I don’t always share experiences with others but being able to face them on my own has been immensely beneficial. I know the only way I can improve is being honest with myself about my experiences because the past is ingrained in my mind and if I lie about it to myself I’ll never truly understand the reasons and ways trauma is currently affecting me. When I haven’t accurately addressed a past issue it has had a way of still affecting me. I know when I’ve found mistakes I’ve made or areas I could have done better I only need to share this information with myself. Once I developed the ability to freely analyze my experiences I started working with the meaning I had surrounding them and the meaning they had within my life. I discovered I have to find the truth that makes me function as well as I can because ultimately my goal has been to function at my optimal levels. In any well functioning mind there’s a balance of eliminating rigidity in thought and developing mental flexibility but also in having some set of parameters from which to work. The best minds are able to accordingly adapt to the particular set of circumstances they are working within or change situations to their advantage. 

Continued…

“…it has been suggested that through our personal story, or narrative we attempt to bring coherence to “the chaos of existence” However, for those in society that lack power, narratives available may be narrow and negative and such views may be internalised into an individuals’ personal story. The opportunity to construct alternative narratives, to “re-story”, can therefore be a powerful tool in integrating and making sense of experiences and challenge stigmatised views, which may have become part of their personal story” [1]

Emotion-focused therapy (EFT):

” …includes narrative construction and reconstruction ‘in which symbolized feelings, needs, self-experience, thoughts and aims are clarified and organized into a coherent story’ ‘Here, complex experiences, such as conflict or puzzling reactions, are organized into stories that are understandable and often new’. ‘Promoting reflection on emotional experience, as well as helping people make sense of their experience, promotes its assimilation into their ongoing self-narratives’. EFT also includes ‘Transformation of emotion and story outcomes’ where the therapist helps the patient create ‘new explicit meanings and story outcomes’. Modifying life-story narratives is understood to cause emotional change. ‘As such, emotional change, by definition, involves narrative change’. EFT also includes ‘identity reconstruction’. ‘A critical change process occurs when the client’s most important personal stories and their emotional plotlines change. This final process involves different forms of identity transformation that result in the emergence of new self-narratives’. ‘Importantly, the integration of emotion processes and narrative structure facilitates the construction of a stored explanation of what happened, which can then be told to others and reflected on for further understanding and personal meaning construction. Therapy then is a process of clients coming to know and understand their own lived stories and articulating them as told stories – and in doing so changing their stories’. ‘The term autobiographical reasoning refers to this type of narrative meaning-making activity’. [2]

If writing interests you, consider getting involved in a new collaborative blog: “You do not need to be a good writer, but merely have an interest in writing. …write how you feel”

That said, I must stop adding to this collection of articles, copy and pastes and citations – all mere dissociation from the pain, fear and yes love in my mind and become reacquainted with myself. Maybe try journaling offline. Become a friend to all those parts of me that hurt and heal… Start with healing myself and as I do, evolve and hopefully heal others. …and revise some of my study material, too.

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