Journal writing is key to success in coaching, counseling and also in therapy. This article will put the lights on the huge benefits of keeping a journal or diary (whichever term you like best) for you and your clients has.
Journaling is often mentioned as an effective strategy for personal growth and has very specific applications on change and development processes. Writing has been found to result in improvements in both physical and psychological health.
Benefits of journal writing in coaching, counseling and therapy
Journaling helps your clients to clarify their thoughts and feelings
Taking a few minutes off to write down thoughts, ideas and emotions makes them tangible and real. It allows your clients to take a new perspective and observe themselves from a distance and to gain a new point of view. Your clients will learn to understand and classify their emotions, habits and actions better. Journaling on a regular basis will get to know themselves better. It is an effective way to create self-awareness in counseling and coaching
Keeping a journal reduces stress
Regular writing about emotional situations, stress, anger, sadness and fear helps to release the intensity of these feelings. Encourage your clients to sit down at a cozy and quiet place and to write down what bothers them
Journaling gives room for ideas and solutions
Writing a diary hones the creativity to find new ideas or solutions to problems which can be evaluated with the coach during the upcoming session. Attacking problems from the analytical perspective (left brain) is sometimes not enough. Writing on a regular basis activates the client’s intuition and creativity (right brain) and helps to find solutions to unsolvable problems.
Journaling hallmarks progress, milestones and success
Keeping a journal during the process of coaching or a therapy allows your clients to document their way of growth, development and success. When they achieve certain milestones it’s important to know what led up to that accomplishment.
If clients share their journal with you as their coach/counselor you can both see your clients put the theory into practice, know how they are feeling and what problems or hurdles they are struggling with. They share invaluable information that they don’t share during the sessions. These insights make it easy for you to plan the next sessions and steps that lead to sustainable success.
How to write a journal in coaching and counseling
Keeping a journal or diary is something new for most of our clients. Writer’s block and the fear of writing something „wrong“ or „bad“ are the most common reasons people avoid the habit of journaling. The greatest defense against those reasons is to tell clients that there’s no right or wrong.
The purpose of journaling is not the result but the process. We created a journaling toolkit that covers the most common topics in coaching that will make it easy for your clients to get going. Instead of a blank page, they’ll have some prompts and questions that will give them ideas and guidelines of what to write about.
It doesn’t matter if your clients feel more comfortable to write just bullet points or detailed phrases as long as they feel comfortable.
How to begin Journaling – Write a reflective journal
Journaling will be most effective if your clients do it on a regular basis. Ideally, they choose a 15-20 minute timeframe every day. They should do it in a relaxed atmosphere at a cozy place.
Tip: It’s very effective to encourage clients to journal after each session when the memories are fresh. Ask them to recap their key insights and thoughts and the action steps they want to take until you meet each other again.
The journal entries should be sorted chronologically so that both of you can easily reread past entries easily. If your clients keep their journal in CleverMemo all their entries are automatically sorted and the keyword search allows to find past entries easily. To make it a habit it’s helpful to create an action item with an automatic reminder that gives your clients a friendly nudge not to forget their journal entry.
What to journal about during a coaching process? Some prompts and ideas
Here are some ideas and topics to write about:
- Thoughts, conclusion and key insights of the last coaching session
- Which changes and reactions have been observed during the real-life implementation? (short- and long-term)
- Which observations did you make during your daily life? (at the office, with your partner…)
- Progress, Challenges, Hurdles, Roadblocks, Fears, Setbacks
- Observations, ideas, aha-moments, questions for myself
- Weekly, monthly, yearly plans and goals
- Dreams and wishes
- Write about situations you have experienced (with friends, colleagues, your partner)
- Write down questions to your coach or counselor. Things you want to cover in the next session
- Document milestones and moments of success
Some questions for a reflective journal after a session could be:
What have been your takeaways from this session?
Which steps do you want to take until our next session?
How successful was the transfer from our session into your daily life?
Did you achieve everything you wanted today? What could you do better tomorrow?
Benefits of keeping the journal online and sharing it with a coach/counselor
Consistent journaling drives growth, development and progress during a coaching process. With a shared journal your clients give you invaluable information about their progress, thoughts, roadblocks, struggles, feelings, fears and ideas that make it easy for you to plan the next steps. You can effectively deliver coaching that creates lasting change and success.
With a shared journal, you both have the luxury of looking back and knowing the context of every hurdle or milestone. Keeping the diary in a secure space like CleverMemo where every entry is sorted chronologically allows your clients to write down their thoughts at any time and anywhere.
There’s no chance to forget or lose their notebook, all they need is their laptop or smartphone. This allows them to document their ideas, insights, progress and experiences right at the moment when they happen. When emotions, feelings and focus are still present so nothing will be forgotten.
Keeping a journal via CleverMemo allows your clients to share all these thoughts with their coach or counselor. It’s the perfect way to let clients document their journey towards their goals.