A few weeks ago, I wrote Journaling and Mental Health to remind readers of the value of journaling. As a short guide to journaling, for both young adults and their parents, I recommend Keeping a Journal by Trudi Strain Trueit. This is a concise, clearly written text on the subject that can help anyone get started with their daily writing immediately.

What I like best about this guide is that it explores journals that include drawings, scrapbooking and other media to document your days. Trueit includes advice from other diarists and writing prompts to get a person started and to keep them writing. She reminds us that a journal helps us to develop personally and to improve our relationships through self-observation. If you think about it, keeping and rereading a journal has allowed humans to reflect on their lives and improve them long before we had psychotherapy.

Trueit reminds us the diaries of some famous persons have allowed us insights into their lives and the eras in which they lived like no other kind of record. Who has not been moved by Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl? Anne Frank was likely the most famous child diarist. As one reads her journals, we are haunted by the end we know is coming even as Anne writes,” I want to go on living even after my death!” (Page 41)

When I am speaking with my patients about the reasons to keep a journal, and especially a journal’s value in helping them to recover, I remind them that reading what their life was like in the past is a powerful reminder of how resilient they are. It is a reminder of how much they have improved. Improvement in mental health is primarily the patient’s accomplishment and I remind them to honour that accomplishment and to take pride in it.

Finally, this book has an excellent bibliography and a guide for thirty days of journaling. I would love to know that this book had greater circulation since there is nothing that I enjoy more than hearing about people’s adventures from their journals!

(Note: I read the 2004 Scholastic edition of this book.)

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