Julie Morley

MNCS Accred, Hyp.dip, dip.psysextherapy, Adv.dip.CP

Personal Psychotherapist

Market Deeping / Deeping St James, Peterborough UK 

Tel: 07902 583 487      Email: [email protected]


Journal Writing

Make sure every journal entry is dated otherwise it remains abstract. To start writing, close the eyes and reflect on the most important thing that springs to mind from today. It can be an event or a feeling and allow it to surface in the mind

- possibly even to become the first sentence, sitting quietly for a few moments before beginning to write can be helpful to tap in to where and how you are right now.

So it could begin with, ‘At the moment I feel… (insert a description of any kind). This will bring you in touch with the current moment in time, in your life. Then add on to this something from the following ideas.

  • Where are you in your life now? How do you live?
  • What do you desire? What do you fear?
  • What do you value? Whom do you care about?
  • What is changing in your life? What is changing about you?
  • What are you thinking, feeling, experiencing?
  • What is the significance of the present moment in the context of your life?

Aim to consider:

  • what you feel
  • what you want
  • what you believe
  • what you decide

Types of written of Expression

These 4 techniques correspond to the four basic models of human perception,

emotion, sensation, intuition, and intellect.

1. Catharsis –  I feel so angry eg. a letter

2. Description –

Description is perhaps the most common and familiar form of expression in both diaries and journaling, satisfies the universal creative urge to reproduce reality as it is, better than it is, or worse than it is. Description also satisfies the defiant human

desire to preserve certain "unforgettable" perceptions against the annihilation of time. Description does not transcribe reality, it recreates one person's view of experience. Journaling has less to do with objective observation than with individual


3 intuitive- Free association stream of consciousness automatic writing.
Active imagination are all forms of free-intuitive writing. No matter what we care to call it, the technique is simple for the to understand.

  1. You relax and try to empty your mind - you do not try to think about anything.
  2. You simply wait for whatever comes into your mind and you write it just as it comes - without worrying as to whether it makes sense or not.
  3. You let your hand do the writing and you simply record what you hear from the back of your mind - nothing is irrelevant.
  4. You endeavour to capture every word and image that occurs to you - it may seem embarrassing but write it anyway.
  5. You write fast, so fast that you do not have time to think about what you are doing you do not take time to censor or make sense.

4 Reflection-

Reflection as a mode of expression in journaling, is an observation of the process of one's life and writing. It seems to occur when you stand back, even if only momentarily, and see connections or significance that you had not noticed before. Reflection can also be called musing, self-observation, or contemplation.


Here are a few ways and angles of writing that you can use. Choose one that jumps out at you and go with it. Listing, Portrait, Map of Consciousness, Guided Imagery, Altered Point of View, Unsent Letter, Dialogue. Descriptions to follow....


List any random thoughts, feelings or specialise your list. A List can perform any of the functions of the four natural modes of expression. It can, should the student so wish, enumerate feelings, sense impressions, intuitions, or thoughts without using complete sentences. Lists should be seen as both timesavers and time-condensers.

For Example -

'Journal Listing'

Here is a characterised illustration of journalling which includes list making-

"Feeling overwhelmed. Too much pressure. Too much to do. How can I ever get it all done? I am not just snowed-under, an avalanche has descended upon me."

Other lists

  • 'Do- List'
  • Invitations for party,
  • Cheques for bills,
  • Write to solicitors
'Upset List'  -Not enough time for my own work, Mother re-admitted to hospital, Always me doing everything.

'Things I am afraid of'

1. The party will not go according to plan,

2. Cheques should have been forwarded earlier,

3. Offers to solicitors will not be accepted,

4. I don't seem to have time to give myself space

5. There always seems to be too much work

6. Mother's re-admission to hospital means that -?

PORTRAITING- Description another person. Traits, relationship with etc

The Portrait is generally a form of description, and like all descriptions it is a particularly enjoyable device to reread. Portraits in journalling evolve as a relationship with another person evolves. They are often as much a device for self-discovery as for discovery of another, because they reveal as much about the writer as about the person described. From writing a portrait you learn what qualities you notice and what you value in others. This mobile, evolving quality of the portrait makes it a useful tool in recognising the psychological process of projection. When you "project" you see your own unrecognised qualities in another person. Rather than seeing the person on his or her own terms, you see a mirror reflection of yourself. Portraits change the world into a replica of your own face.

Through writing portraits in the course of journalling you begin to see if the face you are describing is also your own.

When you write portraits about the people that intrigue you, you enter their qualities in our journal, in your space, and begin the process of recognising and taking possession of those qualities. Portraits can also work in an opposite way, to help you recognise another's separateness from you, they help you to see them on their own terms.

You begin to see their patterns and complexes as an outside observer would, and to understand why they act as they do. Writing objective portraits of parents, mates, or children is particularly valuable because it helps you understand them as autonomous

individuals rather than in their role in relation to you.

Portraits, however, do not have to take the form of description, they can be done as lists of qualities or as free-intuitive writing. They can also be developed as comparisons whereby you discover how different people represent and satisfy different sides of yourself, and why you may be drawn alternatively to one person and then to another. The student may find

that the portraits written in journalling, when one is working out feelings have many creative

uses at a later time - as character sketches for stories, articles, drawings or other works.


Map of Consciousness

Drawing mind map. Pics or blobs representing things

Maps of consciousness are best described as graphic images of what is on a person's mind.

Some people use free drawing as they would free-intuitive writing to tap their inner

consciousness. The process is like meditation. You relax and without intent allow the pen to

move where it will on the page - you allow your hand to lead the drawing and see what it

takes as it goes.

The student will find that it takes no artistic talent to make maps of consciousness. They can

be stick figures or shapeless blobs. Their purpose is your own enjoyment and self-awareness,

not accuracy or beauty. Sometimes, when the student is particularly confused they might

find themselves drawing a map of all their conflicting parts. At others, friends and family will

appear, the student's work, ambitions, the house he or she lives in or would like to live in. All

should be put on a page to represent graphically your relative psychic distance to each

element and their relationships to each other in your mind.

Surrealist, expressionist, and visionary art works could; all be seen as maps of consciousness.

But in journalling, the individual generally takes the process of exploration a step further by

interpreting the drawing at some point after its completion. The significance of the process

lies in the student's reflection upon the spontaneous images from the psyche. Whether the

drawing looks like a tree or a dustmop is unimportant. Nor does it matter what anyone else

might see in the drawing. What does matter is its meaning for the person who draws it.


Guided Imagery

Describing images that spring to mind

Guided imagery, like catharsis, free-intuitive writing and maps of consciousness, taps the

right side of the brain - the feeling, intuitive, imaging side. Employing guided imagery is very

much like day dreaming and simply recording in your diary what images appear on the

screen of your mind. Some students will see distinct images, as if they were watching a film

on the insides of their eyelids. But there will also be those who have much less distinct visual

impressions and seem to hear an inner story-teller describing the fantasy.

In its simplest form guided imagery may be a meditation upon an ideal setting - any physical

space that represents tranquillity and beauty to the student. You might visualise and then

describe yourself lying on the sand by the sea, feeling the sun beating down on you, hearing

the rhythmic sound of the waves. Once you have created and made yourself comfortable in

your private spot, you can then populate it with people or animals of your choice. You might

contact a fantasy figure of wisdom, a fairy tale character who will offer you advice, teach you

how to accomplish a particular task, or help you to heal an illness.

Guided imagery used in this positive way is one of the highest forms of self-nourishment. It

is actually a written form of meditation, with all the benefits generally associated with

meditation -

 relaxation

 clarity

 elevation of mental outlook

 heightened consciousness

 sensory awareness

Experimenters have documented the success of guided imagery for inducing mental and

physical relaxation, and the effectiveness of imaging a nurturing fantasy figure for helping

with creative problem solving. Biofeedback machines have shown that guided imagery can

reduce muscle tension and even correct blood pressure, body temperature, and other

supposedly "involuntary" physical functions.

The student who visualises and then records guided imagery, has the added advantage of

being able to return to the self-nurturing fantasy again and again for solace and meditative

peace, by rereading it in his or her journal.


Altered Point of View

Describing a person or situation from another persons viewpoint

or their viewpoint of you or a situation

Altered point of view is a technique by which you can write in your journal and give yourself

a different perspective of you and/or certain aspects of your experience. Altering point of

view means that you write about yourself objectively as "he" or "she" or you try to

understand someone else's motivations by writing about them as "I." Altered point of view is

central to all fiction writing, and you can practice it in the journal to distance yourself

emotionally from a situation to see it more objectively or to look at it from the "other

person's" point of view.

Writing in such a manner in the course of journalling is like tracking back with a camera to

give you a wide-angle view of an entire situation. Once "outside yourself" you are better

able to see everyone in context pursuing his or her own needs, and thus you can observe

yourself more objectively. This third-person point of view allows the student to perceive

things that otherwise would be missing from the close-up perspective of "I."

Unsent Letter

Write a letter to a person that is not sent

Unsent letters are often written by people who are engaged in journalling. With such letters

there is never any intention of sending them or showing them to another person. Writing in

this manner serves to evoke your own "inner therapist" in times of emotional need.

The student might write an unsent letter to express thoughts and deal with some personal

feelings regarding a certain person -

 when actually doing so would be rude or inappropriate

 when actual articulation could cause irreparable harm to a relationship

 when one is not sure if he really feels the way he thinks he feels at the moment

 when the audience is unavailable for deep communication

The unsent letter does not have to begin with a salutation such as "Dear Sir," - frequently

you unconsciously write to a "you." who is the person to whom you are thinking. Similarly,

you sometimes find yourself "thinking to" a particular person in your head - as you are

driving the car, taking a shower or try to concentrate on something else. On a barely

conscious level your mind is chattering away about all sorts of things that you would like to

say to that person, especially if some aspect of the relationship is unresolved. Using the

unsent letter technique can help make conscious such "thinking to" or "writing to" another




Write a conversation between you and another or between parts of yourself.

Dialogues- of the imaginary variety - were first used by the Gestalt therapists of the 1960's

to help people become aware of the various aspects of their personalities. The dialogue used

in journalling is a conversation carried on with yourself to help you to gain insight into a

person, event, or subject you wish to understand better. The dialogue helps you deal with a

situation you feel confused about and which you cannot seem to penetrate using any of the

four basic devices we discussed earlier.

You can dialogue with aspects of your personality, people you know, or people you have

never met, historical personages, dream figures, inanimate objects, parts of your body, your

religious or cultural heritage, events or institutions. The student might even use the device

with nameless voices that seem to be arguing in the head and sending insistent messages. In

the dialogue you address the subject, whatever it may be, and simply allow it to speak to

you in response.


In journalling, it is frequently helpful to write out imaginary conversations with people in your life with

whom you have had difficulty in communicating. Sometimes these dialogues are a rehearsal for an

actual conversation, sometimes not. Writing a constructive, positive dialogue can help prepare you for

talking things out in the same constructive manner. The student may also notice that several days

after writing a dialogue the relationship changes without the actual conversation's having taken

place. There is a subliminal level within relationships that can be improved by writing dialogues and

coming to know how much of the conflict or harmony is determined in your own mind.

The inner dialogue encourages the development of a self large enough to contain all its contradictions.

Through the dialogue you tap your own inner resources to find original solutions that recognise all

parts of the self and often promote inner synthesis, compromise, or reconciliation.

Using one of the special techniques that we have described to the student in this course section to the

exclusion of the more natural expression could become an interruption to the continuity of your inner

life. They can be used creatively to unblock a problem that seems to defy other approaches and to

achieve greater self-understanding. But if the student tries to manipulate his psyche with some of

these techniques, if he overuses them, he may well find that they lose their effectiveness.

All the journalling devices are meant to give you access to your inner consciousness. But the key is to

listen receptively to what a device can release. Sternly demanding in an unsent letter that your aching

back stop bothering you will probably not yield results. But if you dialogue with your back, allowing

the unexpected to happen, it might just tell you why it aches. It is helpful to remember that if you

cannot open up a personal mystery with one device, you may be able to gain access to it with another.

You should realise, however, that you might have to wait patiently until you are ready to hear what

your back has to teach you.

Using journalling effectively depends only upon the degree to which you trust your intuition and your

process. The very act of sitting down with your journal signifies a new beginning, a readiness to

commune with the self - and the very act of writing may place the student inside the mystery of selfhealing

and self-recreation, no matter what is written or how it is expressed.