Start Journaling With Your Clients: 10 Journaling Questions for Transformation | by Lynda Monk MSW, RSW, CPCC

Journaling is a powerful tool for transformation that I believe should be in every coach's toolkit.

As coaches, we know that powerful questions can help guide our clients to transformation, learning and action. And one way of bringing the power of questions into your work with clients is through journaling. Journal writing is a proven and effective tool for greater self-awareness, more clarity and increased access to wisdom from within. And these are all things our clients (and we as coaches) seek in one way or another.

One of my favourite journaling techniques is using powerful journaling questions as writing prompts, and this is what we're going to take a closer look at in this article. Using powerful journaling questions is a really easy way to get started using journaling with your clients.

What are Journal Writing Prompts?

Journal writing prompts can take many forms: words, phrases, statements, sentence starts, quotes, photos, song lyrics and powerful journaling questions which lead you to the page to write.

Good prompts deepen your process of self-discovery and exploration while you write.

And I like to use journaling prompts within a timed "free-writing" session.

So, what is Free-writing?

Free-writing is a journaling technique where you write for a set period of time and you just keep your pen moving - without overthinking, censorship or editing. You write freely with your mind, body and heart engaged. You write spontaneously. This is sometimes called "stream of consciousness" writing. Write "wild and free" without worrying about grammar, sentence structure or even making sense.

Here is the 5 Step Free-writing Journaling Process:

Step 1. Arrive

Get your journal and open to a fresh page. Put the date at the top. Breathe. Settle in. Arrive fully to the moment.

Step 2. Choose

Select a transformative journaling question from the list below and write it down in your journal.

Step 3. Free-write

Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes (or however long you want to write) and then engage in free-writing as you respond to the the transformative journaling question of your choice.

Step 4. Reflect & Write Some More

When you are finished writing, pause and read what you just wrote. Then pick from one of the following two reflective journaling prompts and write for another 2 minutes:

What I notice about what I wrote is….
Or
What I feel about what I wrote is…

Step 5. Affirm

Take a brief moment and acknowledge what you just did and lock in the benefits and goodness of your transformative journaling practice! This is a way of affirming the time you just took for your own self-awareness, self-care and self-reflection through journaling. For example, you might say something to yourself like "I am grateful for this time to write and reflect."

Here are My Top 10+ Transformative Journaling Questions

Below are my top 10 transformative journaling questions, organized into areas based on what they can help you and your clients accomplish.

Journaling Questions for Cultivating Feelings of Gratitude

  1. What do you want that you already have?
  2. What are 5 things you are incredibly grateful for at this time in your life and why?

Journaling Questions for Making Decisions

  1.  What decision are you trying to make? Why is it important to make this decision?
  2. What choice aligns most with your core values?
  3. What is at stake if you don't make this decision?
  4. Imagine you have made this decision - how will your life be different?

Journaling Questions for Health and Self-Care

  1. What aspect of your self-care calls for more attention at this time in your life?
  2. When do you feel most replenished or relaxed? What are you doing or not doing that helps you feel this way?
  3. How do you actively reduce stress in your life?

Journaling Questions for Mindful Living

  1. How much of your time do you spend living in the past? In the future? In the present?
  2. Right now, what is one thing that would make you smile (something you might hear, taste, smell, see or touch)?

Bonus Transformative Journaling Questions for Coaches

It's important that if you're a coach who suggests journaling to your clients (and I hope you do!) that you are also engaged in journaling yourself. So, my recommendation is to try out this process for yourself before you offer it to your clients. And before I wrap-up, here are some bonus journaling questions for you to pause and reflect:

  • To what extent do you look within as a coach?
  • How deep is your well of personal inquiry?
  • What self-discovery tools are part of your daily practice as a coach?
  • How does, or might, journaling enrich your transformative work and your life?

Wrap-up

Journaling is a practice that can help us engage in our core coaching competencies of asking powerful questions, listening deeply and offering full presence. And journaling questions offer a powerful tool for change, growth and learning that can benefit coaches and clients alike.

"Don't listen to the person who has the answers; listen to the person who has the questions." Albert Einstein

Journal coaching, the intentional use of journaling to help clients reach their goals and dreams, is at the heart of my work in the world.

As a coach, I regularly use my journaling practice for my own self-care and for finding solutions to challenges I might face in my coaching business. I write to know things I might not otherwise discover if it were not for putting pen to paper and listening within, often.

I believe I am a better coach because I journal regularly

But journaling is more than just something that I do, it is part of who I am. Journaling helps me become more of who I am meant to be as a coach, partner, mother, daughter and friend. It's truly a transformative life enriching practice that requires nothing more than a pen, a notebook and a willingness to look within.

Lynda Monk 2017 HeadshotContributing author: Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC is Director of the International Association for Journal Writing. She is the author of Life Source Writing: A Reflective Journaling Practice for Self-Discovery, Self-Care, Wellness & Creativity, the co-author of Writing Alone Together: Journalling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion and Connection. Sign up for her newsletter to access the free gift: Transformational Journaling Kit for Coaches here >>

 

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4 Comments

  1. Lesley Taylor

    Hi Linda. Thank-you for these great Journaling questions. I did not know about the International Association for Journal Writing but will check it out. You are an inspiration! Cheers from a fellow Canadian.

    Reply
  2. Helen Kokkinakis

    Thank you for this article. You gave me many more ideas on journaling. However, I would like to ask you, how can we, as coaches, use journaling with clients? during the coaching session? or suggest the prompts and ask them to journal and discuss in the next session?

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Dear Helen, this would be a good question for Lynda.
      And what I used to do when coaching, was offer clients a prompt to journal around as homework. To be discussed/reviewed at the next session. Often this would be something that came up during the session that was either not directly related to our topic (but was important), or it could be taking a topic discussed deeper. This prompt was an OPEN-ended and exploratory journaling question. Some examples (completely out of any context) could be eg. What would it look and feel like to really_______ --- or --- Imagine you've succeeded, describe a day in your life --- or --- What careers did I dream of as a child and why? Your journaling prompt could be literally anything.
      And here's another article from Lynda you might find helpful https://www.thecoachingtoolscompany.com/journaling-a-tool-to-be-more-productive-focused-motivated-lynda-monk/
      Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply

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