Helpful Therapy Journal Prompts for Personal Growth and Healing

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Learning and practicing mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance skills are essential to dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). In addition to keeping a daily diary to track skill use and review with your therapist, journaling can be a great way to enhance your DBT skills practice in all four areas. But everyone faces writer’s block! These helpful journal prompts will help you unlock your mind!

Insightful Therapy Journal Prompts

Therapy journals offer numerous benefits that significantly enhance personal well-being and mental health. Take a few minutes to check in with yourself at the beginning or end of your day. These journal prompts will help you as you complete your diary.

1. What emotions am I feeling and why?

Be mindful of vulnerability factors such as physical illness/pain, unbalanced sleep, eating or exercise, and/or substance misuse that may increase your vulnerability to negative emotions like sadness, fear, or anger. For example:

“I’m aware of feeling irritable. I woke up late this morning and almost missed the bus. I have a big deadline at work, and I’m anxious about completing this project on time. I had an argument with my roommate yesterday. She was mad because I said I would do the dishes, but I was tired when I got home and ate fast food or watched TV instead.“

2. What is my goal for today, and what can I do to reward or soothe myself?

Consider balancing priorities (things that are important to you) and demands (things that are important to others). For example:

“I need to finish this project by Friday and do the dishes when I get home after work. I want to work on the project in between my regular duties and take time to grab a healthy lunch. When I get home, I will do the dishes before I work out and reward myself at the end of the day with a bubble bath and time to read a book instead of watching TV. “

3. What might interfere with my plan, and how can I respond skillfully?

Think ahead for barriers to effectiveness by identifying how you can use your DBT skills to problem solve and manage any urges to avoid. For example:

“There will be distractions at work. I will set a time and manage my urge to check email or look at my phone so I can focus one-mindfully on completing this project. If I get distracted, I will observe it non-judgmentally and turn my mind. I will be tired when I get home, and my urge to avoid exercise and doing the dishes will be high; I will use opposite-to-emotion actions to avoid avoiding and encouragement to accomplish my goals.”

4. What did I accomplish or learn today? What am I grateful for?

Take a few more minutes at the end of the day to do your diary card and reflect on the things you are thankful for in your journal. For example:

“When I got to work, there was a problem that took priority over working on the project in the morning. I wanted to work on the project during lunch, but I took the extra time to eat something healthy and could work on the project for a couple of hours after lunch. When I got home, I used the opposite of emotional action to wash the dishes and prepared a simple dinner for myself and my roommate to make up for not doing the dishes yesterday. After dinner, she did the dishes, and I decided to skip my workout because it was getting late and I was tired. I took a bubble bath and read my book. I’m grateful for my roommate and my bed.”

5. Additional prompts you might consider

Consider adding other prompts to enhance your mental health journey further:

  • Where do my thoughts typically go when they wander? Into the past? The future? How does this affect my emotions?
  • What am I noticing in my body right now? Is the sensation linked to a thought or feeling?
  • Describe a recent event that you were able to radically accept. How were you able to do this?
  • What emotions do I try to avoid, not feel, or hide from others, and why?
  • What is a worry thought that I frequently have? Are there other possible outcomes? How likely is it will happen?

Journaling encourages introspection, allowing individuals to gain insights into their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This self-awareness can lead to better understanding and personal growth.

Contact Austin DBT Associates to help you on your journey to mental well-being. Learn more about our DBT therapy and connect with a licensed therapist today.  

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