I often will talk to my clients about the benefit of creating a therapeutic art journal as a way to develop their skills for them to use outside of the art therapy room. This enables you to continue to develop your self-awareness and will help you to get to know yourself better which ultimately will help you lead to a happier and more fulfilled life.
You might have heard about journaling and wonder what it is – it is a great way to record your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Typically and maybe historically journaling involved just writing but this is no longer the case. Your journal should be just as you would like it, this could be completely visual, or a collection of found images and collages or it might be a mixture of both writing and images the choice is yours, there is no right or wrong way.
So what could you put in a journal?
The answer is – absolutely anything, let your imagination run wild!
Your art journal should not be about how good you draw, trust me this is totally irrelevant. In fact I believe your journal should be just for your eyes, unless you want to share something in particular with an art therapist who is trained in exploring your imagery with you. For example my training would enable me to look beyond how good the drawing is, instead it would help me to understand you and what you are going through, better.
If you wanted to share your journal with anyone else, a loved one for example I would say just be aware. Remember an untrained person is likely to judge it at a surface level and that their response might be more about them than you, so if you share be aware!
So what do you put in your journal?
This could be things about your everyday life, your hopes and day dreams, your night time dreams and nightmares, your fears and anxieties. It could also be about the exploration of your feelings and emotions. But again there is no wrong or right way, your journal will be very personal to you. A single page of your journal for example could bring together images and words that express what is going on in your head, on a daily, weekly or intermittent basis.
Below is a list of suggestions that will help you get started.
- Go through magazines or collect images from the internet to create a collage of word and pictures that represent who you are, your identity.
- Create a range of doodles using different materials.
- Create blobs of paint or ink, let them dry and then return to them later and see what they remind you of. Add detail and turn them into something new.
- Use just colour to express how you feel.
- Take a short walk and search for things that you find interesting, such as a leaf, a pebble or man made object. Later create a page in your journal using these objects.