Journaling and therapy- does anyone else do this?

The_One

Learning
So I’ve recently opened a Pandora’s box of issues surrounding dating and the trauma behind it for me (dating in my family has always been a major issue and I’ve had my fair share of trauma from men and exes) It’s brought up a lot of different themes in life to connect it to. but when I’m in therapy somehow I can’t make those connections in real time versus I feel like if I wrote it down and read it to my therapist I’d be able to get it out and talk to her about it.

Does anyone else do this with their therapist? Like write down their feelings thoughts moods between sessions and talk about it with their therapist and literally read from their notes?
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
I journal a lot, but I don't read to my therapist--I do sometimes email to him, though. I have a lot of trouble talking about stuff, but it's much easier to write.
 

Sideways

Moderator
Yep. All the damn time. We wouldn't make half the progress we make if I didn't.

I can be much more frank and honest when I'm journaling between sessions. And journaling absolutely helps me work through issues in a way that just talking off the cuff simply doesn't.

Sometimes I take the ideas that I've had during the week and just chat about them in therapy. But for hard issues (which is the stuff I actually need a Ts help with), I very often read directly from my journal, and I very often make notes as we work through the work I've done so that I can continue that work when I go home.
 

Teamwork

MyPTSD Pro
I always write after a session. Helps me remember useful things. I don’t rehearse before a session, but let what comes up, come up.sometimes we stay on a topic for many sessions. Otherwise I don’t formally journal. If you do it a lot, then maybe highlight things that come up that you want to work on. Otherwise you are processing as you write, but the work is not so much in what you wrote, but the themes, the places you feel stuck or the areas where you hope improvement has taken place.
 

Teasel

MyPTSD Pro
I send an email to therapists once a week with anything zi want to say to them or things I want to discuss in the next session. Makes an enormous difference for me.
 

Charbella

MyPTSD Pro
Most of my communication is done through my journals. I got lucky, my T reads them then we discuss. If I tried to just come in and talk about the hard stuff I’d get nowhere, some of the easy stuff comes that way too.

Honestly in my real life I have no problem talking, I have every problem shutting up. However I’ve never been allowed to talk about feelings and therefore I’m quite adept at not having them which means when I allow them to come there’s a delay. A rather long delay which would mean I’d get nothing out of therapy without my journals and my T being willing to read them.
 

Sues

MyPTSD Pro
Yes!! I've read stuff I've written, and when I don't think I can read it out loud to him, I'll hand it to him and he'll read it so we can talk about it. I also email him. I am so grateful that he is open to receiving my info any way I get it to him. It really helps me a lot and without it, I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am now in the process.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I write my therapy sessions down in my diary and use my diary to process therapy. I also use my diary to prepare for the next session, by re reading what I wrote as I forget or can't hold on to a lot of the information.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
i've never had a therapist who was interested in reading my journal, but i often carry it into sessions and groups to help me remember those connections that are so hard to make in real time. i believe i gain considerable therapy mileage from saying it again rather than reading the words i've already written. several of my shrinks have called the repetition, "reframing." when i say it in real time, i never use precisely the same words i did the first, second or 50th time. the reframing helps me change the way i think of ^it^, one word at a time.
 

riverwild

New Here
hi. what i notice for me is that it’s not just in therapy that i lose access to the things i want to say. things i can articulate to myself when i’m alone, when i journal, or when i’m talking with a *safe enough* friend. it’s in therapy, for sure, but it’s also the same exact thing in any dating/ real-ationship.

when i really pay attention to what is happening there- what i realize is that i am self-abandoning in those moments.

when i know i have some very important thing to say, it’s usually about a need or desire that is not being met, or a way in which i am feeling unseen, unheard, unfelt, or not getting gotten. those are my emotional flashback triggers- and while they can happen almost anywhere, anytime- they most often happen in therapy- and with a romantic partner. probably because those are each people i need to be able to rely on to be understood, heard, seen, felt… and gotten.

but they therefore carry the most power to hurt me in that moment by failing to do so-

by failing me in exactly the same way i was failed by both/ each of my parents as a child.

my automatic fear response triggers my freeze/ fawn response and i clam up, and can’t get the words out that would leave me less isolated, and alone.

instead, i hear myself sounding uber-competent, and independent. as if i have no needs at all.

i’m so well defended that there’s no chance of anyone getting close enough to hear me, see me, feel me, or get me. and then i leave the encounter feeling as if i am ever more isolated and alone- without realizing (until later when it all comes flowing out in a journal) that i am the one who abandoned my true self.

it’s taken me nearly 50 years to understand this phenomenon.

i am now working on way to hack my own system, so i can bring my entire (vulnerable) self to a given moment with those closest to me, and be brave enough to take the risk to let them see the real me.

and even just writing that, it terrifies me. cause what if the real me is the needy, selfish monster my (narcissistic) parents seemed to see me as being.

i know i’m not. but that is my deepest fear. and it is the obstacle that (subconsciously) stops me from being real, and intimate, with those closest to me.

sigh.

wip
(work in progress)
 
My T is helping a mental health company develop an app and she asked if I would use it and give my feedback. With the app, your T sets up different modules for you to fill out daily. Mine are how I’m feeling in general (how much energy I have, how did I sleep the night before, how socially connected I feel), trauma (that asks about flashbacks, numbing out feelings, nightmares, anxiety/panic, avoiding things, etc), and the last two are sections where I can write freely: things I want to talk about next session and a daily journal. I barely write anything in the “things I want to talk about next session“ section because that question always makes me freeze up. But I write quite a bit in my daily journal. She reads it several times a week and plans sessions around what I write in there. Without that way to communicate with her, I would be much worse off.
 
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