Experimenting with Self Therapy Journaling

Journaling and writing is a great way to explore persistent  topics or subject matter that, are presently  creating a lot of stress and anguish.  At the same time one is using his or her creativity.

One form of Journaling that I use is “creating a Dialogue“. “Creating a Dialogue” with journaling is base on the  Empty chair (aka “open” or two chair) methods where a dialogue is maintained by two “parts of a person” are in conflict, competition or at odds with each other.Its a little tricky at first, but here goes..
So lets assume I feel particularly distress about dealing with Arthritis pain for example…
I could use this following drill in journaling for any subject:

  • – the grief of the loss of a family member
  • -Fight with a sibling
  • -A tough choice.
  • -or a big upcoming life event.

Any idea, subject, event  that causes immediate or prolong stress can be dealt with by journaling.

what can  I do with journaling…

1.   take  four or five minutes  and write a short letter to the part of
me that seems distressing.
from “me”    to    “my Arthritis Pain

  • Dear Arthritis Pain…”,
  • write some things  what would i like to tell ‘my Arthritis Pain’  “right now,
  • “I feel…”,       “I believe…” , “I need…”,   “I want..”,”I   wish… “etc

but lets not stop with there.

2. turn around the letter around:
take the other point of view…
write a short five minute letter from me: “my Arthritis Pain”
back to the rest of ‘Me’..

  • Dear  …the rest of me (or just Chris)”
  • think what would the Arthritis (or rather ‘me with Arthritis’ side of me)
  • …feels, needs, desires or want?
  • … what I would need, want, or hope for from the rest of me
  • …what would the “Arthritis Pain ” wish to say to the rest me, if i gave it a   voice?
  • “I feel..” “believe…”I need…”,   “I want..”,”I   wish… “

When one feels prolonged distress . its often do to “polarity”.
that is: according to the
Gestalt therapy point of view, two parts of one-self, figuratively, are in conflict or competition with one another.  Part A thinks,feels needs,or wants something and  what part b thinks,feels needs, wants is in someway in competition or conFlict….


3.  It is important to recognize that both sides of the subject matter  are   me or I.
the two are just two sides  of  the whole of me or “I” that in “polarity“.
its not always easy to recognize the two parts of us in conflict…
me and the me_with_arthritis_pain

(this maybe the me who if fighting Arthritis pain vs, the me who is accepting Arthritis pain, but that may not be apparent yet)


4 write that letter back again,
Part A( the original me who is angry with Arthritis Pain)  to  Part B (me who is accepting of Arthritis pain).Dear   B or “Me with Arthritis Pain”,

  • paraphrase letter 1 ( a clear summary of what I wrote  from letter in step 1)
  • paraphrasing helps clear state that you understand I wrote in a short statement
  • – “right now, what to want, need or hope from you (part B me with arthritis pain) is…
  • – “my options are…”
  • -“What really really value is….”
  • – “what I’d like to see happen is…”>


5. again switch  sides and continue to write short letters back and forth… continuing  the    dialogueBasically  I am  assuming:   two sides me on a particular subject matter( a crisis or stressful situation) are figuratively conflicting or competing with each other…

I am giving each side a voice to open a dialogue.From side A of me  to Side B of me

From side B of me  to side A of me
and so on.


6.  Critiquing
After finishing the letter I take a break, and I can take a look at what i wrote.
When Critique I am looking for discoveries and avoiding self judgment or expectation of resolving
any  conflict. Awareness is the point of this journaling.

  • Was it clearly easier to write from one side or the other?
  • Can I clearly state what the two side of me in polarity were?
  • Did I unconsciously write any self judgments?
  • Did I use any “should haves” in my writing?
  • Do I feel more anxious or excited as I read letter?
  • Do I see other polarities to journal about hidden in this one?
  • Do I notice one side top dogging (or seemingly trying to dominate and change) the other?
  •  was there difficulty staying the here and now?
  •  can I note any self discoveries?
  • – etc.


7. After I am done with any type of  self therapy , I destroy what wrote. I, personally see no   sentimental value in keeping these “in the moment” writings for self therapy.
It also avoids embarrassing situations if the journaling is found by someone else…and I am free from this anxiety when writing.

The Purpose of this style of journaling loosely borrowed from Gestalt  therapy Open Chair,(or Empty Chair or Two chair methods),  is to become more aware of the normally occurring conflicts and polarities I have in life and how I feel and think about them….
Hopefully so that I  resolve and move on, cope with what cannot be easily conquered.
and not spend an unnecessary amount distressed over tough choices and situations.

Make  this Self therapy idea  your own. this Dialog journaling is to give ideas for you to come up with your own creative tasks to cope with,  live with, conquer or resolve  those stressful events and circumstances of life.


About chris
I write because I'm not good at it. I share because, writing without sharing seems empty. Thus, I write and share what I think is meaningful.

One Response to Experimenting with Self Therapy Journaling

  1. chris says:

    Reblogged this on Pennsylvania Echoes and commented:

    Gestalt topics are often about getting “two sides in opposition”…. writing “a letter” that evolves into a correspondence.

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