Daily journaling has become very popular in the mental health community among clients and therapists. Similarly, its accessibility has made it a huge topic of conversation in popular culture as more and more people realize the benefits that come with it. So, how can you get your clients started with journaling, and what are effective ways to make it a habit? As therapy shifts to digital, journaling paired with the right digital tools can keep therapists connected with their clients. Here’s how.
The benefits of journaling
Journaling is a great way for therapists to capture their client’s emotions, analyze concerns, tune into areas of growth, and start a dialogue. It can help support many mental health conditions, like:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Low self-esteem
- Relationship issues
- OCD conditions
- Chronic Illness
- Substance abuse
What Do Studies Show?
Getting clients started with journaling
Here’s how you can get clients started with journaling:
- Start small: Firstly, start by recommending the practice of journaling to your clients. Explain what it is, what the benefits are, and set an action plan together.
- Introduce homework: After that, give your client a 10-minute writing activity to kick things off. 10-minutes is the perfect amount of time to get them building a habit, without it being overwhelming.
- Review: Check-in on your client’s progress during each session. How did journaling go? How did it make them feel? Have they noticed any changes? This will increase homework compliance and boost engagement rates.
- Introduce more complex exercises: By slowly introducing them over time, clients will slowly become more comfortable. Additionally, they’ll have exercises to lean on between sessions. Keep reading for a list of recommendations.
Keep clients on-track with digital tools
In today’s socially distanced world, digital tools are an essential way to support your clients between sessions — especially when they’re missing the in-person experience. A digital homework app like Therachat will keep you connected to your clients in real-time, allowing you to check in on their progress, and send them prompts between sessions. With mindfulness exercises, homework reminders, and emotion tracking, it’s a personalized way to keep your clients on-track.
For more tips on using Therachat, check out our blog posts with advice specifically for clinicians here
Advanced journaling exercises
One of the best things about journaling is its flexibility. Once your client has aced the 10-minute journaling sessions, you can introduce new exercises. This will keep things fresh, prevent boredom, and help them grow at their own pace.
Here are just a few:
- Letter Writing: This is a healthy way for clients to process difficult emotions that are often attached to those closest to them. Entries can be positive, like writing a letter of gratitude. On the other hand, they can be constructive like relaying difficult emotions. The best part is, they never have to send the letter. It’s a simple way for clients to process how they feel in a private manner.
- Dialogue: For example, ask your client to take the role of someone else and write about how that person would feel, behave, or approach a certain scenario. This helps strengthen theory of mind, practice non-attachment, and promotes social learning as clients take the perspective of another.
- Photo Entries: This one is perfect for clients who are visual learners. Giving your client an unfamiliar photo that they’ve never seen before can boost creativity, and help them get in touch with their intuition. Or, asking your client to look at a personal photo can help them recall emotional states of that particular moment. As a result, clients are able to process emotions more effectively.
- Prompts: These are a great way to get a client started if they’re not sure what to write about. Depending on where your client is in their progress, prompts can be as simple or complex as needed.
- Listicles: Ask clients to list, for example, 10 things they’re grateful for, or 10 people who have influenced their life in a positive manner. These are flexible, and can be positive or negative lists — totally dependent on the client’s needs. This is a great way to gather talking points, especially early-on in the therapist-client relationship.
Make journaling a habit
Like any habit, getting your clients to journal regularly may take time and encouragement. But the benefits are well worth it. Journaling boosts mindfulness, reduces stress, gives clients an enhanced sense of well-being, and helps them become better problem-solvers — to name just a few. Above all, it’s an effective way to support clients in achieving their goals. So keep it top of mind as you guide your clients through their mental health journey. Digital tools like Therachat can help keep your clients on-track, and support them in reaching their goals faster. For more information, read our FAQ.