Apr 15 2008

Why journaling is empowering for individuals and couples in therapy

Therapist sometimes have the grandiose idea it is good to encourage the client to become dependent. If the therapist is in private practice, this can be a lucrative idea. However, creating dependency can trap the client in old thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns and backfire on the therapist.

This looks like the type of therapy where the therapist has the grandiose perception that all he needs to do is to offer himself as an alternative “ideal” parental figure. Needy clients then become attached and dependent on the therapist who has the potential to do harm to the client by making implicit suggestions or nuanced opinions which carry undue influence on the client.

Journaling is one method which immediately helps the client learn a way to begin to heal themselves. The initial gains can include less depression and anxiety, positive energy related to working on a goal, and a sense of collaboration, rather than dependency with the therapist.

At this point in my practice, I always gain an agreement for clients to journal and help them find ways to use the their writing to enhance the therapy. I make it a point to gain cooperation with the journaling and any reading that is being done, so there is a feeling of partnership. It just feels better. And all the scientific research supports journaling.
It can be especially helpful in couples work, as both partners in the relationship are working separately and together on behalf of the relationship.

It is a serious therapist mistake to rely on the individual or couples client to come to the therapy session and expect to have the therapist magically solve problems.

I don’t mean to diminish the importance of the therapist. Having a therapist who is mature, sensitive, knowledgeable, and empathic is important. But it really is the partnership of the therapy relationship which is most important in the end.

And here is another motivation for therapist and client…one or both of you may find you love to write…our world needs your creativity.

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