Why do I journal

I have been thinking a lot lately about why I keep an art journal. Now mind you this is a fairly new practice for me, but one that has influenced many parts of my life—for instance, I am writing my thesis on art journaling as self-care for the therapist and I have begun a weekly journaling night with my boyfriend. (On a side note he told me this week that he is glad that we have art journal night--so cute!) So why art journaling?

The abstract for my presentation yesterday said:
Art journaling combines the written language and the visual language to give a greater breadth of expression and understanding. The researcher specifically used art journaling as a means of self-care while at practicum sites, allowing the researcher to purge emotional content related to clients and site work. Being attuned to the needs of the self can allow the therapist to be greater attuned to the client in sessions, therefore being more competent as a therapist.
With some of the discussions that I was having during my presentation, I was able to verbalize something that I had been thinking for a while. By keeping the art journal you are externalizing, rather than internalizing, the experiences of the clients. With the idea of vicarious traumatization, or basically PTSD symptoms from being exposed to someone else's trauma, being able to make the distinction between the client's trauma and your own life is important. Therefor it could minimize the negative effects while still allowing for the positive effects.

Furthermore, I was able to talk about the metaphor of the book as a container or a boundary. The book, more specifically, the journal becomes an external container for images, thoughts and feelings that are otherwise at risk of being internalized. These images are then contained in an area separate from you - and the book somehow creates safety, both for the images and for the journaler.

Journaling also becomes a routine, or a habit. And for me, being a habit, it is harder for me to put it off. It becomes part of who I am. And because it is a routine, it also becomes a record, or some sort of memoir of that period in my life.

And lastly, the size of the journal is manageable. It is not a huge blank canvas in front of me, yet the sum of all the pages is just as great. But being broken down in this manageable size, it quite literally can be carried with me.

Those are all the reasons that I can think of for now... but I know that there are more.


  1. YES!!!
    keep going
    you are the NEW wave
    I am SO smiling...

    xox - eb.

  2. Thanks. I continue to think about this. Another thought that I have not concretized yet is the idea of reviewing artwork. Now mind you this can be done without the journal, but having them all collected makes it easier to look at your own progression, your growth — to find the themes and symbols of your life, or at least a period of life. What are your thoughts?


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