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Visual journaling (also called art journaling) is a wonderful way to process emotions. It is a powerful tool in healing betrayal trauma and complex post traumatic stress disorder.
Benefits of Visual Journaling
- Articulate your feelings. When you’re struggling to put your emotions into words, it may be easier to sketch them out. Whether you draw literally or in abstract the act of drawing our feelings helps to process them
- Increase your determination. Each time you use your journal, you remind yourself about the positive changes you are trying to achieve. Whether you are writing your goals or simply processing a difficult feeling visual journaling is a simple way to reinforce new habits.
- Manage stress. A journal soothes you without any extra calories or extravagant expense. If you keep if basic with a pen or pencil and paper visual journaling is one of the simplest and least expensive self-therapy tools around. It is very portable too. You can carry your notebook anywhere!
- Stimulate your creativity. Any art project can trigger innovative thinking. Simply doodling while you think can help you discover solutions to longstanding challenges at home or work.
Techniques for Creating Your Visual Journal
- Record your feelings. Let whatever you’ve been bottling up come pouring out. Don’t be afraid to dig deep. There are so many emotions underneath angry, sad, happy, etc. Check out an emotion wheel to get ideas.
- Mark up a book. Find inspiration by searching for prompts in a children’s story or an advertising supplement. Alter the pictures or the text right in the book or cut them out to paste into your art journal.
- Doodle a little. Even if your time is limited, just put pen to paper. Free form doodling may uncover subconscious thoughts. If you find yourself drawing angular lines or shapes this can be an indicator of stress or anger. Loose circular shapes indicate peace and contentment.
- Assemble a collage. Don’t think you have artistic talent? That’s ok! You can collage together pictures and words of inspiration to create visual pieces that speak to your soul.
- Document your Dreams. Leave a notebook on your nightstand. Write down your dreams when you wake up in the morning. Dreams can reveal a lot about your subconscious needs and desires. You might even give lucid dreaming a try.
- Add text. A visual journal doesn’t have to be all images. Add in captions, even paragraphs, to describe what you are thinking and feeling. The act of writing is therapeutic too.
- Note the date. Try keeping track of the day and time that you update your journal. You may start to see changes or patterns that develop over time. Your energy may shift as you continue to process and heal.
What to do With Your Visual Journal
- Keep it private. Knowing that you are creating for yourself only can release you to be free with your thoughts and emotions. Let go of judgment and just create. Focus on the process, not the outcome.
- Join an online group. There are many websites and forums devoted to visual journaling and therapeutic art. You can join to receive inspiration whether you choose to share your own pages or not. If you do choose to share you will get valuable support and feedback. My Muchness Mama’s Facebook group is a great place to share with other Shero’s
- Collaborate with a friend. You may feel more comfortable sharing only with a few close friends or family members. My friend Brandy and I love to share our pages with each other. We’ve been able to both support and motivate each other.
- Show it to your therapist or coach. Art is a powerful therapeutic tool. You can use it in the session to help process. You can bring your journal in to discuss a particular page and what it meant to you. Your coach or therapist can help you deal with any difficult emotions that come up while you create.
Journaling, both written and art, has many benefits. I believe daily journal practice is an essential part of healing betrayal trauma. If you’d like to dig deeper into art journaling supplies check out my getting started post.
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