ART & Trauma Therapy
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Use this poem as a writing prompt for your journal.

“I had been sad so long it shocked me.”

the enormous yellow moon

balanced like a honeydew

on the hill’s knife-edge,

fat and implacable.

It wavered there as long as it could,

then started—and who can blame it—

its slow slide.

As if it meant to show me what was missing.

As if the world were asking, Will you learn

to stand beside this pain?

No, I said,

I wish it dead.

I said no. But the world

said yes.   

by Ruth L. Schwartz

Why Write About Trauma in a Journal?

 Researches have noted that 15–20 minutes of writing on 3–5 occasions per week was enough to help the study participants to gain understanding of their traumatic, stressful, or otherwise emotional events. It’s been proven  to specifically be effective for people with severe illnesses like cancer.  In fact, the practice is so well regarded, there is a Center for Journal Therapy in Denver Colorado dedicated to the mental health benefits of regular journaling, both in therapeutic and personal settings.
It’s not just what you write about though. How you write plays a role as well. This University of Iowa study showed that journaling about stressful events helped participants deal with the events they experienced. The key, however, was to focus on what you were thinking and feeling as opposed to your emotions alone. In short, you get the best benefits of journaling when you’re telling your personal story, not just writing about your feelings on their own. It’s a great example of how telling your own personal story can make a huge difference in your well being.

In fact, there’s so much data about the mental and emotional benefits of journaling that counselors, social workers, and therapists often encourage their patients to do it.  Here is the link to that article. This study from the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment is a great experiment, and a solid summary of current research on the topic.