Journal Therapy is an unfamiliar term (as well as type of therapy) to many people. What exactly is it, and can it help heal a postpartum mood disorder like postpartum depression?
Some of the most beneficial treatments for postpartum depression are therapeutic techniques. Therapy can come in many forms, although the term alone often brings to mind an image of a long couch and a therapist with pad and paper, scribbling notes.
In reality, therapy can be an informal and extremely relieving experience. One of the easiest forms of self-managed therapy is journal therapy, which allows a person to explore and better understand themselves or their condition in a methodical and self-set pace by writing in a journal. When used for this purpose, some people call their journal a mood journal, depression journal (or depression diary) or personal growth journal.
Journaling is a term used to describe regular journal writing sessions. Much in the same way that one might write in a diary, journaling allows a mom to pour her thoughts and feelings into a private place where she knows that she will not be judged or misunderstood. The traditional journal can range from plain papers or notebooks to a formal leather-bound book.
In this high-tech day and age, many women are finding electronic forms of journaling, such as document composers or websites, to be more convenient. They are also a great choice if you worry about privacy of your journal entries or if, like most, you type faster than you write. I've listed a couple below you might want to check out. (Postpartum Living is not affiliated with these sites).
Penzu (www.penzu.com) is a popular online site for journal writing. It is free for the basic membership, and is focused on private journaling. For a fee you can upgrade to the Pro version which has additional features like support for mobile devices. Penzu does offer an optional sharing feature as well, for those who wish to make their entries public. It also has an entries search and sort feature as well as photo insertion
Another interesting online journaling site is called My Therapy Journal (www.mytherapyjournal.com). As its name implies, it’s a therapy oriented journaling site. It has a monthly or annual fee (after a 14 day free trial) and offers some interesting tools including its “Progress Graph”, which allows you to choose from pre-set categories (or create your own), and track your progress in the various categories.
The main idea for a mom to journal is to give her an opportunity to sit down and relay any thoughts or feelings that she may be feeling at that time. Much in the way of brainstorming, journal therapy can open the gates and allow everything to come out, even if it seems odd or off-topic at the time. Many women begin with the intention of writing about one topic and end up conveying deeply hidden emotions or ideas that they might have never tapped into without journaling.
Journaling is a wonderful outlet that allows a new mom to vent pent-up emotions she’s carried within her with little fear of being judged or misunderstood. Sometimes new moms worry that therapy sessions will result in being declared sick or even an unfit parent. Although that rarely happens, it is a very common and real worry for many mothers (especially those struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety). Whether it is a compulsion, irrational fears, stress, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, marital troubles, or financial difficulty - these feelings and thoughts are sure to come out when writing in a journal.
One of the great benefits of journal therapy is that mom is able to later go back and read what she’s written and get a good look at where she started and how far she’s come. As she continues reading through her past feelings and experiences, she is able to see how she overcame or dealt with the problems and feelings that arose. Nothing can boost a mom’s confidence more than to have written proof of where she has been and what she has accomplished!
In a nut-shell, journaling can allow a mom to tap into well-hidden feelings and problem-solving capabilities that she may otherwise have been completely unaware.
It can feel a little awkward when you begin journaling. Sometimes we can restrict ourselves to the, “my day was ok” type of writing style. If you find it difficult to get past this, below are two suggestions to help you begin:
It’s important that you don’t treat journaling like a chore. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. No one else will read your journal unless you choose to let them. If you’re feeling creative, or something gets a good emotional trigger out of you - even a song or movie - you can hit the journal and let it flow.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to keeping a journal. Journaling doesn’t have to be an everyday occurrence, although it’s easier to see the emotional progress if you write on a regular basis.
The health information in this website is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical or professional advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you have or suspect you might have any health problems, you should consult a physician.
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