Nov 08 2010

Journaling: Use These Structured Writing Exercises to Enhance Psychotherapy

Here are some journaling or structured writing exercises to provide a little inspiration or guidance:

  1. What would you like to see improved about your life right now?
  2. Describe yourself and your family. Go back as far as you can and describe grandparents, greatgrandparents and other extended family. Draw a genogram or what looks like a family tree to create a picture of your family. For an example of a genogram, look here.
  3. Who were you closer to growing up, your mother, father, siblings, grandparents, others? Explain why you think you were closer to these family members and not the others.
  4. What emotional messages did you receive from your parents, family, teachers, others? Pay attention to the feeling of the message. Note that people can say they care about you in words, but the feeling can be very different.
  5. Create a timeline of significant events in your life. Focus on all events that you can remember, including times when you may have been mistreated, neglected or abused. For an excellent example of a family therapy timeline, go here.
  6. If you wrote a 3-4 word slogan to describe yourself, what would it be?
  7. You are stranded on an island, but can bring 10 items and 3 people to be with you. What and who would you bring? Why?
  8. If you drink or use other drugs, when wasthe first time you drank or used?
  9. Describe your history of alcohol and other substances. Focus on what role substances play in your life.
  10. Go here to the Alcohol Assessment website and complete the questionaire.
  11. What did you learn about yourself and your use of alcohol?
  12. For another questionaire, go here and complete the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test.
  13. What old or new information did you learn about your use of alcohol or other substances.
  14. Describe times when you felt like you may have been mistreated or neglected. Who, what, where and when.
  15. Draw a line. On either end of the line, write the words really special or unworthy. How do you feel about yourself? Put a mark on the line that describes where you are on the continuum.
  16. Imagine you can do your life over. What would you change?
  17. Where do you want to be in 5, 10, 15 years?
  18. Describe how you would like to die? Who would be there? What would happen?
  19. What secrets do you keep? Describe the pros and cons of maintaining these secrets.
  20. Do you feel trapped in your life? Why or why not?
  21. If you have certain problems to face, do you think you have the power to change things or do you feel powerless?
  22. In the privacy of your own thoughts or writing, describe your feelings about sexuality and your sexual experiences. Have you ever felt mistreated sexually in any way? Have you ever been the victim of sexual harassment or any other behavior which made you feel uncomfortable?

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