What is a Therapy Journal and How Can it Help?

What is a Therapy Journal?

A therapy journal is a place to document your anxieties, reflections and hopes about the therapy journey you are on. It’s a useful tool because when you’re receiving therapy, the most important and valuable work goes on in-between sessions.

Getting the Most Out of Therapy

Attending therapy is a true act of personal development and a real investment in yourself. Once you’ve decided to start, you’ll want to get the most out of your experience. You’ll want to do everything you can to quickly reach your goals so you can focus on your future.

People attending Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for the first time often believe the therapist holds the key. They hope they’ll have a strategy or a single piece of knowledge that’s going to turn their life around. While CBT does teach us strategies and give us knowledge, it’s only part of the story.

Great outcomes in therapy are aligned with how much responsibility and how active you are throughout the process. Turning things around and practically putting in place what you have learned is the work you do in-between sessions.

How Can Journaling Help?

So much goes on in a therapy session, it can be too much to remember. A therapy journal:

– Promotes and consolidates learning

– Creates clarity

– Keeps therapy moving forward on the right path

– Prevents therapy from becoming stagnant or slowing down

– Helps you monitor your progress and keeps you motivated

– Ensures you’re taking responsibility for your progress

– Helps you reflect long after your sessions have ended

– Gives you something to look back on if similar issues arise in the future

Writing a dedicated journal ensures the therapy process is on-going. It’s not just an hour a week, therapy is happening every time you pick up your journal and invest more time in your mental health.

How to Use a Therapy Journal

You can use any notebook, a scrap of paper or just the notes app on your phone. Personally, I recommend good old pen and paper as I think writing things down is a lot more impactful.

Before Sessions – Use your therapy journal to take a few moments to reflect on your week. What has gone well, what hasn’t, what do you want to get out of your therapy session and what do you want to work on?

During Sessions – You can use your journal to make notes and highlight key points or light bulb moments. This means important points won’t pass you by. Stopping, taking note and writing things down is like stamping that knowledge more deeply into your learning. It also helps the therapist learn what you benefit from the most as everyone finds different things helpful.

After Sessions – It’s normal for your thoughts to feel scrambled after so much has been talked about. Taking time to write and reflect consolidates your learning, helping you process and make sense of everything. This should give you clarity on what you need to do.

Useful Links

I believe the relationship we have with ourselves sets the tone for everything else in our lives. This was just one of the motivations behind me creating The CBT Journal – a digital download product designed to help you understand your mind and improve your mental health. Find out more here.

If you’re already sold on journaling but you’re struggling to write and reflect consistently, discover how to create a journaling habit.

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  1. Sarah Cosway says

    I’m a big fan of journaling and love it when clients embrace it as part of their toolbox. This is a great article…a perfect resource to share with clients as part of the discussion. Thanks for sharing❣️

  2. Sarah Rees says

    Me too, I think it makes a big difference to therapy when clients journal alongside it and it becomes a useful tool long after the process has finished too.

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Sarah Rees

Sarah is a fully accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and mental health writer delivering Modern Mental Health for you and with you in Mind. Sarah is the author of ‘The CBT Journal’ which helps you write for your wellbeing incorporating CBT techniques. For more information and to keep in touch have a look at sarahdrees.co.uk.