Origin of the Creative Journal Method

Origin of the Creative Journal Method

Before introducing you to the method, let me tell you briefly how I discovered this truly amazing personal growth and creativity tool. At the time, I was a professional artist and teacher. I had never had any therapy and the farthest thing from my mind was becoming a psychologist or writing books about personal growth.

I was in a major crisis after five years of coping with divorce, family illness, several moves, job changes and raising two young daughters on my own. My body finally broke down from too much stress and I became very ill.

The nature of my disease was quite mysterious: it confounded all the doctors and terrified me. My symptoms? Complete exhaustion, anxiety attacks, and several infections (side-effects of antibiotics and other medications). At one point, my lab test was mixed up with someone else’s and I was given the wrong prescription. By the time I was told, it was too late. I had already taken the medicine and was having reactions: more infections, more anxiety attacks.

Unable to work or do much of anything else, I was in bed for weeks. I began doodling and writing in a sketch pad that sat on my bed stand. Reading The Diary of Anais Nin inspired me to turn my sketch pad into a personal journal.

Here is a drawing I did in one of my first journals. It’s called “Coping with Crisis.”

Coping with Crisis

Another drawing done at this time was one that I called “Giving Birth to Myself.”

When I did these drawings I really had do idea what they meant. It was like having a dream on paper.

I was later to learn that I had tapped into the creative and healing power of my right brain (which specializes in visual/spatial perception as well as emotional and intuitive expression). But I didn’t know that at the time. Frankly, I thought I was losing it. They looked like the paintings of mental patients you might see in the occupational therapy ward of a psychiatric hospital .

Yet, these odd little sketches intrigued me. It was as if I was writing in a foreign language that I didn’t understand. The important thing was that I felt a lot better after I did these drawings. Something about doing this was healing me, although I couldn’t tell you how or why. Later, I learned to read the language of symbols and decode these mysterious messages from the unconscious. Just as you will learn to do in keeping aCreative Journal.

Doing these drawings felt so therapeutic that I decided to keep a journal of my feelings and thoughts. My first “official journal” was a little blank book I had bought twenty years before when I was fifteen and thought I wanted to be a journalist . (How’s that for prophetic wisdom?). I had never written a word in that book. But I started. And I have not stopped writing since. The Creative Journal healed me and led to a new career as an art therapist and author. I am pleased to share with you what I learned about the art of finding yourself.

The Creative Journal Methodis unique because it develops both sides of the brain: the rational, verbal left hemisphere and the artistic, intuitive right hemisphere. Drawing is a right brain function, writing words is primarily a left brain activity. Using the non dominant hand helps to INTEGRATE the brain hemispheres. Writing withthe hand you don’t normally write withallows you to express – in words – feelings and intuitions associated with the little-used right side of the brain.

For more information on the basics, see my books:

The Creative Journal: The Art of Finding Yourself

The Power of Your Other Hand

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