Friday, December 11, 2009

Writing, Journaling and Therapeutic Letters

Many of us have at some point in our lives taken pen to paper or opened a Word document and attempted to put our thoughts and feelings into words. Writing is a great problem solving tool. You may be listing the pros and cons of making a decision in your life or may be trying to sort out a variety of thoughts and feelings that seem to be a bit muddled. This kind of writing which promotes self knowledge and self awareness is sometimes called journaling.

There are clear psychological, emotional and health benefits to this kind of writing. Research shows that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma, arthritis, and other health conditions.
It improves cognitive functioning. It strengthens the immune system, preventing a host of illnesses. It counteracts many of the negative effects of stress and is as effective as yoga or exercise for stress reduction. Journaling about traumatic events can help you process these memories by fully exploring and releasing the emotions involved. By engaging both hemispheres of the brain in the process, writing allows the experience to become fully integrated in one’s mind.

To be most helpful, one must write in detail about feelings and cognitions related to stressful events, as one would discuss topics in therapy. Writing and journaling have additional therapeutic value when the writing becomes the basis of a therapeutic conversation with a counsellor. Sharing your writing and unresolved concerns allows for the additional therapeutic value of feedback from a trained professional. Therapeutic letters from a counsellor in response to your writing or journaling often takes the form of a lengthy but focused correspondence dealing with your key concerns. Some practitioners of therapeutic letter-writing estimate that a good therapeutic letter can have the same therapeutic value as four to ten face-to-face counselling sessions. These therapeutic letters can become a permanent record that you can easily re-access whenever you need to be reminded or reassured. Although therapeutic letters can be a part of face-to-face counselling, online counselling is a great medium for utilizing writing to work though these kinds of life issues.

Warm regards,


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