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Studies have been done, researchers have documented it, and professors teach it: like prediction, visualization, and manifestation, a pen coupled with a piece of paper is a powerful tool. Beyond seeking specific life changes, or overcoming obstacles, writing it down has its benefits. Therapeutic use of journaling exercises furthers mental, physical, and emotional wellness; lowers anxiety, reduces stress, and improves the quality of sleep and sleep habits. The licensed counselors and therapists of Improving Lives Counseling Services incorporates various therapeutic approaches when treating mental health and behavioral disorders. Journal therapy or journal writing therapy fosters a better understanding of thoughts and feelings. “Getting it all out” or “clearing your head” helps you cope, track, and gain control of emotions. It affords the opportunity to track symptoms and identify behaviors. “University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health.”

Identified as an aspect of a healthy lifestyle, journaling can be an outlet and useful tool in understanding feelings, solving problems, and coping with anxiety. Dr. John A. Patterson, MD, MSPH, suggests, “Emotionally expressive journal writing can lower high blood pressure, reduce arthritis pain, asthma severity and cancer pain. Journaling correlates with intelligence, boosts memory, improves self-discipline and spurs creativity.” According to the Center for Journal Therapy, “it is the purposeful and intentional use of reflective writing to further mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health and wellness.” Remember “Dear Diary” and how upset you became if someone saw or shared your “personal feelings”? Journaling incorporates the same fact-based reporting: moods, temperaments, inner thoughts, and personal feelings.

How does it work? Psychotherapist and journaling expert Maud Purcell says: “Writing accesses the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to do what it does best, create, intuit and feel. In this way, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us.” Can anyone use this awareness tool? Yes. However, despite knowing and understanding its benefits or being instructed by a counselor or therapist, only 16% to 28% of people surveyed in 2015 kept a journal. Some felt their dreams, thoughts, and ambitions failed to be important enough to write down. Other’s felt their lives were mundane and too commonplace to document. Lifestyle, personal preferences, family, work, and time were also on that list. Getting started, making time, or acknowledging its benefits can be challenging.

Improving Lives Counseling Services’ counselors and therapists can help you wrangle through the pros and cons of journaling – how it coalesces with mental and behavioral disorders and how it fits into mental health treatment plans. Individual, couples, family, group, and video sessions are available. Learn more about the benefits of journaling. Call us.