For me, facilitating with a trauma informed approach is a special privilege because dealing with emotionally sensitive topics requires that tenderness, skill and care be present.
My work in the world is focused on helping others to explore, reclaim and recover their self-care. Healing does not occur through avoiding trauma, barriers or negative thoughts but by using trauma-informed practices, principles and tools, including journaling, to help others heal.
Staying heart-centered is key to facilitation for trauma-informed journaling
My book, Just the Two of Us, A Soft Place for Tender Hearts to Land is a trauma-informed guide for those working with children on how to use journaling to process stress, anxiety and trauma. This book is a great resource that offers insight into trauma informed parenting, with an emphasis on putting the quality and the connection of a relationship first.
This applies to facilitating trauma-informed journaling as well, no matter the age of the participant we are working with, when we put the relationship first, an atmosphere of safety, trust and respect can emerge.
Care is the essential key that creates an environment that encourages connection, participation and care. Finding a balance when facilitating a journaling experience for an individual or group is to offer choices and to lead with a warm, invitational approach and a reflective compassionate manner.
Trauma-Informed Writing Prompts
Taking time to pause to use your journal to write about an upsetting event, feeling, situation and trauma whether past or present can help to organize thoughts, give meaning, process and express difficult feelings and stories.
There are many different techniques that you can use in your journal to explore trauma. For example, at times it can be helpful to write all the details down from a memory of an upsetting event , and be very specific about everything that you remember.
In other instances, a more reflective or general question or prompt can be an access point, like, what did you walk away from that experience with? What feelings or thoughts are you left with now? What is it that you would like to have happened differently? Exploring questions like, What was not present for you at the time of the event or experience? Using your journal to write a letter to yourself and offer the support and words you needed to hear at the time of the traumatic event or circumstance can help to validate your experience.
The most important thing to keep in mind is to be mindful of your emotions, practice good self-care and to be aware that if you become overwhelmed, slow down and take a break.
It can be helpful to start a self-care journal to keep track of nurturing your positive growth and to stay present and compassionate with yourself. I also recommend that if you are engaged in writing to heal trauma that you also add writing a positive affirmation about yourself as an anchor point and way to feel reassured.
Remember it is important to not push yourself but instead to reach out to a trusted friend, family member or counselor for support. It is normal to need help when a trauma has been activated, whether present or past and receiving professional treatment can be very beneficial. Seeking therapy and continuing to journal in between therapy sessions has been proven to help integrate healing more deeply and in some cases, accelerate the healing process.
If you notice that you are being flooded with feelings or physical body sensations, it is important to stop and to reach out to a support network to help.
Journaling is a tool for life, an incredibly powerful and valuable therapeutic tool. One of the many gifts of learning how to facilitate trauma-informed journaling is the satisfaction of being able to support, guide and help others to write to heal and journal for self- care to honour feelings, build resilience and recover from trauma.
I hope this article has been helpful for you and that you can apply this to your own journaling practice and your self-care journal.
If you are looking for guidance to explore a self-care journal, you can find my online course, Creative Journaling for Self-Care here.
The course was created using my knowledge to offer a trauma-informed design with guidance that allows freedom and many choices for you to heal, explore joy and creativity. This course includes a coaching call with myself, teaching videos as well as printable worksheets.
For more about my trauma-informed parenting book, Just the Two of us go here.