Counselors often encourage their clients to write out their feelings, particularly when clients have a difficult time verbally expressing their feelings. Counselors understand that something occurs in the writing process that is cathartic in nature and catalytic in results.
What is this something? I believe it is the point of intersection between the conscious and the subconscious mind. Writing somehow bridges that intersection, causing buried emotions to surface to the place of light where we can recognize them for what they are and then deal with them.
To this end, it is valuable to keep a journal. Many Christian writers journal as a means of communing with God. I personally have journaled for years and find that journaling is one of the the major ways in which I hear God. Journaling also provides me with a place in which I can pour out my heart and present it to God for His healing touch, His comfort, and His direction.
Writing as therapy is a very powerful tool that can be misused. Use it in the proper place and in the proper way. What you write for therapy should usually not be written for publication.
On another note, my flower garden is bursting with the brilliant colors of tulips and daffodils. Here are a few photos I thought you might enjoy.
9 thoughts on “Writing As Therapy”
Ah, MaryAnn, thanks so much for sharing pictures of those beautiful, Creator-arrayed tulips! I love the new life springing forth! 🙂
Recently, I wrote an article for a writing assignment of an experience when raw emotions surfaced as memories triggered. Though the personal experience was filled with how God has His grip on me and how He helped me through in a miraculous way, there were some things I wrote that I wasn’t sure if I should publish. Even though my mentor encouraged me to publish it, I somehow feel I need to wait until I have sorted out which parts were for “my therapy” and which parts are for the glory of God and to the encouragement of suffering souls. I pray the Holy Spirit will help me sort through these things. I would be interested to hear how you, MaryAnn, or anyone else sorts through this.
Thanks so much for all you do.
April 20, 2009 at 11:22 AM
What a beautiful garden you have!
I enjoyed your post about journaling and I find that I pray best when I write it out in my journal. It’s like my thoughts focus better on paper then when they are rambling around in my brain.
April 20, 2009 at 12:27 PM
Hi MaryAnn –
Oooh, I love spring flowers! Thanks for the glimpse of your garden.
I started journaling in 2003 as part of a Bible School assignment. Writing my thoughts about Bible passages, daily activities, dreams, goals, and problems has helped me process life in general.
April 20, 2009 at 6:36 PM
Thank you all for your comments about my flowers. I love flowers, especially tulips, daffodils, and roses. When my day lilies bloom, I’ll post some pictures of them too.
Thanks also for all of your insighful comments about writing as therapy. Trudy’s question about how we decide what to submit for publication and what to keep as personal therapy is a good one. I encourage you to respond if you have thoughts on this.
As for me, what I write in my Prayer Journal usually remains there, unless our Lord has instructed me to publish it. Normally, my journal serves as a springboard for my writing, but it is rarely the actual content of my writing.
An exception may be forthcoming, however, as I am sensing the Holy Spirit’s leading to publish some prophetic words He gave me almost six years ago and which I recorded in my journal. I will let you know if and when this leading is confirmed.
Meanwhile, I invite your comments on Trudy’s great question.
April 20, 2009 at 7:27 PM
Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post. The colorful photos enrich the sentiment.
April 21, 2009 at 8:35 AM
Thank you, James, for your encouraging post. I so appreciate your writing.
April 21, 2009 at 11:49 AM
I don’t journal regularly, but only when the need arises. I also journal in the margines of my Bible when I read something that strikes me.
But I started writing as therapy when I suffered a late-term miscarriage 15 years ago. If not for that suggestion from a total stranger, I would not be where I am today with regard to writing.
April 21, 2009 at 5:31 PM
I’m an avid journaler, having begun the practice about ten years ago. Troubling circumstances in my life lead me to writing as therapy. It was indeed cathartic and catalytic.
Journaling has become a daily persoanl ritual that keeps me centered, connected to God, my deepest emotions, my passion and my dreams.
April 21, 2009 at 8:03 PM
What a joy it is to look at your pictures! Absolutely beautiful, MaryAnn. I look forward to seeing more.
I too, have kept a journal for more than thirty years. I treasure those old notebooks where I freely poured out my heart. Sometimes I wrote prayers. Sometimes I just wrote. Although my journal writings have frequently served as springboard for writing for publication I am careful to be sure that I am not writing for my own therapy. There is a big difference when I have moved beyond a situation and am able to write from a place of healing and growth. I guess it goes back to our heart again. If there is a question or doubt, wisdom would say to not have it published yet.
April 23, 2009 at 6:02 PM