Thesis finding on art journaling for self-care

Well I defended the thesis and officially graduated!! So I thought I would share some basics of my findings about art journaling here!

Here are the themes that I found:
  • The journal (or book) itself
  • Process of journaling
  • Routine of journaling
  • Content within the journals
  • Imagery within the journals
  • Need for self-care
The journal for me was such an essential part of the process. This is one of my favorite excerpts:
One of the first themes that emerged in the initial phases of the research was the importance of the journal itself. The book that held the journal became an essential part of the art journaling process for the researcher, and became a large focus as to what made art journaling different from art making. The journal became a container for emotionally-charged material, and created a defined boundary on each page and within the book itself. While the therapist can be seen as the container within the therapy session, the journal became the container for the therapist, offering a holding environment for the therapist’s emotional reaction to the client material. There is almost a double boundary within the journal, there is a container that is created with the edge of the pages, and a container that is created by the book. Although the emotions could be contained on a sheet of paper, this could leave them vulnerable to the world. The ability to close the journal gives the therapist the ability to contain the emotions and content on another level.
Additionally, the rhythm of opening and closing the journal can be seen as a metaphor for the therapist transitioning between different roles of the self. The therapist opens the journal, exposing the vulnerability and emotion inside. With the pages open, the therapist can change roles to a more vulnerable role that allows herself to truly feel the emotions of the day and put them on the paper. This more vulnerable role is then able to openly express all the emotions, whether positive, negative or appropriate without judgment. With this vulnerability poured onto the page, the act of closing the journal can again allow for a final role change, one that allows the therapist to transition to the next phase whether it is that of a student, mother, wife or other role.
I would love to post the whole thesis, but it would be way too much on here. Feel free to email me though, and I would happily send it to you!


  1. This is wonderful! So glad you were able to hang on to your dream and congrats on graduating. It sounds as though you will be very helpful to those deeply wounded.
    Deborah Downing

  2. Thanks Deborah! It was a trying road at times, but it was well worth it!

  3. Congratulations and many thanks.

  4. I had a brief relapse with my Bipolar and I am now back in remission.
    I discovered this website through a friend, and by reading this, I need to remember self care.
    I desperately want to be a therapist and I need to somehow factor into my head that just because I use self care, doesn't mean I am "ill."
    I know that sounds ridiculous, but I associate self care as being about recovery not about it actually just being something I do to support myself.
    I am not sure if I make sense but THANK YOU for all of this xxx

  5. Sia, I am so glad that you found this. And taking care of yourself does not equal being ill! I am glad that you are making that connection, and glad that you are working on your recovery! I think that art journaling would be a wonderful tool for you to use in your own process (but I am of course biased!) good luck, and please let me know if there is anything I can do to support that!

  6. wow...l would love to read your whole theseis....if possible. I am an artist and counsellor in Uk and use Art all thje time with my clients. Also teach Journallimng in my Art school. Will understand if you have changed your mind but hopefully not. love your blogxxlynda


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