Journaling After Brain Injury

Posted By Barbara Stahura

 Jan. 20, 2011

Journaling After Brain Injury

After my husband, Ken, sustained a TBI in 2003 as the result of a hit-and-run, I journaled every day, sometimes pages at a time. It was often the only thing that helped me feel grounded. In 2007, I created a journaling workshop for people with brain injury, and since then I’ve facilitated the six-week group twice a year here in Tucson. I’m  honored that many of the participants have returned again and again because they’ve found it valuable and worthwhile. In 2009, the workshop became After Brain Injury: Telling Your Story, published by Lash & Associates Publishing/Training. It’s the first journaling workbook for people with brain injury (and it’s helpful for their family members, too).

In my weekly posts for this blog, I’ll explain and describe the process of journaling. It’s easy enough to do. You don’t have to be a “real writer” or worry about grammar or spelling. The most important part of the process is giving yourself permission to write about your thoughts and feelings in an honest way.

What is Journaling?

There’s a good reason why journaling has been called “the writing cure.” I’d been a journal-keeper for about 15 years before Ken’s accident, so I already knew how valuable it was to me. I also knew a little about some of the research that has shown how beneficial journaling can be for just about anyone’s health and well-being. Journaling is a proven, evidence-based therapeutic method of healing, self-empowerment, and self-directed change, among other things. You can certainly keep a journal if you’re in therapy, but you can also keep one if you’re not. In fact, keeping a journal in itself is like having a therapist—and it’s much cheaper and doesn’t require an appointment.

In its most basic form, a journal can be defined as a record of dated entries containing your experiences, written consistently, but not necessarily daily. Journals contain writing about events in your life, your feelings and thoughts, dreams, dialogues, fantasies, sketches, collages, favorite quotes, photographs, letters, cards—in short, anything you want to record or preserve.

When  you journal, you give yourself the gift of exploring what is going on in your heart and head. You can discover your emotional truth and so learn a great deal about yourself.  Since a journal is meant to be private, you can feel free to be as honest as you can.

And just in case you’re thinking you don’t have time to journal, it doesn’t have to take an hour or a half-hour a day. It can be done in as little as five minutes.

Next week: How to journal

See Barbara’s website at and her blog at

4 responses to “Journaling After Brain Injury”

  1. Annie, I’m so sorry for your losses. Going to a hospice counselor is a wonderful idea. I’m glad she’s helping. There’s an excellent website to help with grieving, if you’d like to see it. Go to and you’ll find blogs, articles, support groups, etc.

    And thank you for your kind words about my writing.

  2. it is a great information you provide here and i really appreciate your effort for this.

  3. Thanks to you Barbara for this article. The earliest days seem to be the hardest and those notes are invaluable for us to see how far we have come down the line.
    And to Annie Pixley I am sorry for your losses. Keep up the journaling! Ginger

  4. Annie Pixley says:

    Great article! But then, you’re the consummate writer! I’m going to make it a point to continue reading your articles on journaling, as I feel that it is something I should be doing. I lost the love of my life, my husband, a year ago (Dec 30), and just lost my Dad last Friday. So to say I’m in the throes of grieving would be an understatement. I have been going to a Hospice counselor since last January, and she has been very helpful in guiding me through the loss of my hubby, as he was in Hospice care at the end. Anyway, I just know you’re going to be a tremendous help to me as well, so consider me your newest fan!

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