The Benefits of Therapeutic Journaling for PTSD

  Monday, July 6, 2020

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Your struggles with PTSD can bring daily challenges and frequent reminders of how much this disorder has impacted your life. Whether you’ve been recently diagnosed or you’re already very familiar with the ups and downs of symptoms, you know that having supportive people around you and keeping a positive and optimistic mindset are critical to your progress, your recovery, and your overall wellbeing.

You have likely already learned that sharing your story of trauma and survival are a critical part of treatment. However, this is the ultimate example of the remedy sometimes being worse than the disease itself. Talking and sharing also means reliving and taking yourself back to those painful and devastating moments. Most of the time, you probably want nothing more than to forget and leave your past behind you. Reliving your trauma can even make symptoms temporarily more vivid and severe—opening those emotional wounds that you’ve struggled to keep dormant. This can bring your fear to a peak and heighten your defenses against the world—even leading you to isolate from those closest to you. Why then does everyone insist so much that you open up, unload, and share what’s on your mind when there’s certain level of personal risk involved?

The idea behind sharing your story is precisely the healing effect that this exercise brings. Trauma is believed to do a lot of damage when it remains unexpressed and untold. It works silently in the background of your subconscious and can rapidly deteriorate your sense of self, your confidence, and your belief in the fact that you will eventually overcome this disorder.

Therapeutic journaling is an excellent method of expressing trauma without having to take the step of actually talking and sharing with others. This intervention works in two important ways. First, it can serve as an important stepping stone towards eventually helping you build enough trust and comfort in sharing with others. And second, it serves as a way to maintain your progress if you’ve already verbalized the details of your trauma with loved ones or supportive peers.

Therapeutic journaling provides you a daily outlet for your sadness, stressors, anxiety, fear, and worries. It is useful when used alongside sharing with others and can be even more beneficial to you if you run into periods where you aren’t as eager to talk to anyone. If you’ve been coping with PTSD for a while, you also know that oftentimes, heightened symptoms come in waves. For this reason, therapeutic journaling is a resource and coping skill that you always have at hand. It is a healthy outlet for your emotions, where you can write out your thoughts, feelings, and worries—whether you’re an avid writer or not. You can release your mental and emotional burdens and use writing as a symbol of letting go and creating a clear separation between yourself and your thoughts. 

Therapeutic journaling is also an effective strategy that can be used to identify and replace negative and distorted thinking patterns. It is often recommended and widely used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Journaling in CBT is used to keep track of the specific thoughts you’re having whenever you feel a troubling emotion like fear, hypervigilance, sadness, or anger. You can transform emotions by replacing the negative, distorted, and often unrealistic thoughts attached to specific feelings. You essentially have the power to rewrite your thoughts. You can recreate your reality by this thought replacing intervention.

Coping with PTSD is certainly a complex and difficult journey. It takes work, practice, and most of all, it takes a lot of patience and self-care. You will have many moments where your mind and body wants to resist interventions, solutions, and answers, but therapeutic tools and strategies, like therapeutic journaling, are the methods that will take you down the path towards recovery—of regaining control of your happiness and the quality of your life. PTSD will test you in every way, but with time, you begin to realize that not only are you a survivor of the trauma you experienced, but you are also a survivor of this challenging disorder that resulted. Ultimately, you are able to see just how resilient you are. The disorder that once made you feel so weak, will uncover your strength and ability to overcome some of life’s greatest difficulties.  

Health Disclaimer

JournalOwl is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, medication, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptoms or conditions. JournalOwl is not authorized to make recommendations about medication or serve as a substitute for professional advice. You should never disregard professional psychological or medical advice, or delay in seeking treatment, based on anything you read on JournalOwl’s website or platform.

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