The Healing Power of Writing: A Therapist's Guide to Using Journaling With Clients

The Healing Power of Writing: A Therapist's Guide to Using Journaling With Clients

by Susan Borkin


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The healing benefits of writing can support traditional therapy.

While much has been written about the physical and emotional benefits of writing, little has been written specifically for mental health professionals detailing how to use therapeutic journaling with their clients. Therapeutic journaling—any type of writing or related expressive process used for the purpose of psychological healing or growth—can be an extremely helpful adjunctive therapy. When integrated into an overall treatment plan, regardless of the therapist’s clinical orientation, journaling can become a dynamic tool for personal growth and healing.

The first part of this book, “Journaling and the Clinical Process,” gives an overview of therapeutic journaling and the many potential benefits from its use. It provides concrete and specific steps for introducing journaling to psychotherapy clients and answers questions about structure and logistics. For example, engaging your client in writing a biographical statement will not only help focus the treatment plan but also provide a vast amount of background information. This section also introduces two very beneficial mnemonic devices to help clients focus and organize journaling between sessions.

The next section, “Presenting Problems and Journaling Solutions,” addresses nine different diagnoses and explains specifically how therapeutic journaling can be integrated into the treatment plan of these diagnoses. Key diagnoses are covered: adjustment disorders, anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem, couple and relationship issues, addictions, disordered eating, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The final part of the book, “Journaling Roadblocks and Building Blocks,” addresses potentially difficult, sticky, or challenging situations regarding journaling, such as possible resistance to therapeutic journaling, privacy issues, safe boundaries, and protection of client material. Importantly, it also reviews those circumstances in which it is best not to use therapeutic journaling or when journaling is contraindicated. The author offers a program designed for therapists for creating their own therapeutic journaling practice.

The Healing Power of Writing is filled with case studies, step-by-step exercises, and clear and practical guidelines for mental health professionals who want to incorporate journaling into their clients’ treatment.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393708219
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 03/31/2014
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 1,104,779
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Susan Borkin is a psychotherapist and speaker based in the San Francisco Bay area. Since 1978 she has specialized in the therapeutic use of writing and is the author of two prior books on the transformative power of journaling.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xi

Part 1 Joumaling and the Clinical Process

Chapter 1 We Already Know Writing Works 3

Chapter 2 Getting Started: Tools, Logistics, and Structure 12

Chapter 3 Biographical Statements 28

Chapter 4 Keeping Track/ATTENDD 41

Chapter 5 WRITE to Change Beliefs 56

Part 2 Presenting Problems and Journaling Solutions

Chapter 6 Adjustment Disorders and Stress 67

Chapter 7 Anxiety Disorders 83

Chapter 8 Depression and Mood Disorders 97

Chapter 9 Grief and Mourning 111

Chapter 10 Low Self-Esteem 124

Chapter 11 Distressed Couples and Families 138

Chapter 12 Cravings and Addictions 152

Chapter 13 Disordered Eating 166

Chapter 14 Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 180

Part 3 Journaling Roadblocks and Building Blocks

Chapter 15 Additional Guidelines for Therapists 197

Chapter 16 Helping Our Clients, Helping Ourselves 204

Appendix A Exercises Used in This Book 217

Appendix B Worksheets and Questionnaires 221

Appendix C Basic Journaling Methods 237

Appendix D Online Resources 239

References 241

Index 247

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