NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, June 5, 2017

The Benefits of Journal Writing Between Therapy Sessions

In prior articles, I discussed how journal writing is beneficial for coping (see my articles: Journal Writing Can Relieve Stress and Anxiety and Writing to Cope with Grief).  In this article, I'm focusing on the benefits of journal writing between therapy sessions.

The Benefits of Journal Writing Between Therapy Sessions

I usually recommend journal writing between therapy sessions to my clients, especially clients where we are doing experiential mind-body oriented therapy like EMDR Therapy, clinical hypnosis or Somatic Experiencing because so much comes up for them in session and between sessions.

What Comes Up Consciously and Unconsciously Between Therapy Sessions
Just because the therapy session has ended doesn't mean that the psychological processing has ended.  Whether you realize it or not, you continue to process in your mind what came up in your therapy session consciously and unconsciously after the session ends.

What you process psychologically on a conscious level is easier to remember--thoughts, memories, reactions to your session, and so on.  Although if you're very busy, you can forget or dismiss whatever comes up.

What you process on an unconscious level usually comes up in dreams, daydreams and in other ways, including songs or "ear worms" that play in your mind.

The Benefits of Journal Writing Between Therapy Sessions

At first, you might not be aware of the relevance of what comes up between sessions to what you and your psychotherapist are working on.  You might also forget the unconscious material that comes up before your next session.

But if you write down your thoughts, dreams, daydreams, associations or whatever else comes up, you have access to this material to discuss at your next session and possibly for the next few sessions since a lot can come up between sessions.

Journal Writing to Keep the Therapeutic Dialogue Going
Aside from helping you to remember what comes up for you between sessions, journal writing can act like an internal dialogue that you have with yourself or with the various aspects of yourself that might be in conflict about a particular problem (see my article: Understanding the Many Aspects of Yourself That Make You Who You Are).

The Benefits of Journal Writing Between Therapy Sessions

It's also a good way to continue an internal dialogue with your therapist, even if you bring up the material to her during your next session.

If you've been working with your therapist for a while, you have probably internalized your sense of your therapist and you can imagine how she would respond to whatever comes up.

This is a great way to extend whatever you were working on in therapy.  It's similar to a continuation of the session and helps you to integrate and deepen your insights and emotions.

Journal Writing Between Sessions Can Lead to Emotional Breakthroughs
It can also lead to a breakthrough in your work because it can lead to your making new connections between the past and the present or to various other parts of your life.

Allow Your Writing to Flow Without Judgment
For this kind of journal writing, I find that it's best just to allow yourself to get into a flow with your writing.  Just allow what comes up to come up without judging or analyzing it before or after you write it down.

By writing in this free form way, without judgment or analysis, you're more likely to be able to turn off the internal critic in your mind so that your thoughts and emotions flow (see my article: Overcoming the Internal Critic).

This allows you to get to thoughts and emotions that you probably wouldn't get to if you were judging yourself or judging your writing.

Self Care: Take Time For Yourself
To be able to do this type of writing, you need some quiet time to yourself--even 10 or 15 minutes would be beneficial, possibly before other family members wake up or after they go to sleep to ensure that you have quiet and privacy (see my article: Reconnecting With Your Inner World Without Distractions).

Becoming Aware of Your Progress in Therapy
Another advantage of journal writing between sessions is that, over time, you get to see the progress you've made in your therapy.  It's easy to forget how you were feeling when you first came to therapy, so if you have a journal to look back on, you can see your progress as compared to when you first started.

It's also important not to be a perfectionist about your journal.  Write it for yourself and decide afterwards if you want to share it with your therapist.

Getting Help in Therapy
Everyone needs help at some point in his or her life (see my article: The Benefits of Therapy).

Supportive friends and family members are important, but sometimes you need the help of a skilled psychotherapist to help you overcome your problems (see my article: How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

Rather than suffering on your own, seek out an experienced psychotherapist who can help you to overcome your problems and lead a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.