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Lincey's Journal Therapy Story

4 May 2020

Lincey is in her fifties and a mom of three adult daughters. She recently had two big life changes – when one of her daughters left for Binzhou, China and when her elderly in-laws moved in with her – just prior to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in South Africa.

She had many pent up emotions and feelings and did not know how to verbalize it. She felt stuck and frustrated and needed help to be able to articulate and make sense of her overactive mind and heart. The lockdown restrictions made it even harder to find support.

She decided to join the Online Journal Therapy Programme even though she was initially apprehensive about what to expect. She enjoys journal writing but had never participated in a journal writing programme.

She was elated by the knowledge and understanding she gained. She discovered things that she did not like about herself, but to her surprise the deep dark thoughts were not so bad once she had put it on paper. Being part of a group kept her accountable and she found the group interactions extremely helpful even though sharing is completely optional. This made her feel safe and allowed her to decide what and how much she wanted to share. She began to open up in the group, realising how much value there was for everyone. The debriefing session at the end gave clarity to the questions that arose from the process and she welcomed the insights which Michelene imparted about expressive writing.

Lincey has been journalling since she was 10 years old when her parents went through a traumatic divorce, but now feels that she has been equipped with new tools to make the experience even more meaningful.

After Lincey participated in the introduction cycle, she realised the tremendous benefit of expressive writing in a supportive community and joined a second journal therapy process.

Desiree's Journal Therapy Story

6 May 2020

Desiree’s home is a hive of activity even on a quiet day. Here, she is a daughter, mother, grandmother and wife as well as a business woman who runs her own consulting firm. She works in a challenging field and regularly has to travel, which adds to the demands of the many roles she has to fulfill.

Desiree knows the value of journalling but she needed a more structured approach to transform her otherwise erratic practice. She did not have a writing routine and would go through long periods without opening her journal at all. She was losing important information about herself and struggled to reach the meaningful level she yearned for when she did make time to journal. She knew that she was missing opportunities for personal growth.

In the Online Journal Therapy Progamme, she found the structure she needed. The 15 – 30 minute maximum daily writing time was easily managed, however she soon discovered that she could not always stop once she started. The daily prompts focussed her efforts and encouraged commitment. It evolved into a ritual: meditating before writing, lighting a candle, creating a quiet space for herself where she would not be disturbed. Being part of the expressive writing community provided the structure she was otherwise lacking.

Desiree began to get to grips with the deeper, most-true aspects of herself. She was able to express the darker and scarier content in her writing and in the expression thereof, was able to move beyond the negative. During the introductory seven day process, she also began to witness herself more clearly in the group reflections. The more she shared, the more she was able to see parts of herself that needed exploring. She realised that she had been missing many opportunities of self-awareness and that she was at risk of drowning in a sea of superficiality if she continued to ignore her emotional and spiritual development. The expressive writing process allowed her to experience her life more fully. The growing self-awareness enabled her to find her voice and as a result, she became more proactive and confident.

After participating in the introduction cycle, Desiree noticed an integration of heart and mind that resulted in a sense of inner harmony. She has since joined a second journal therapy process.

Michael's Journal Therapy Story

7 May 2020

Michael is a writer who has retired from the rat race. He lives alone in a rural community where his days are predominantly taken up by woodwork and gardening. Although he is far removed from much of the city-madness, his empathic activist nature often leaves him feeling angry and frustrated.

Michael regularly uses cathartic writing to help him understand and process his reactions to life’s events and even though he writes regularly, he was struggling to maintain a fixed routine. He has previously facilitated numerous creative writing processes but has never been a participant in an expressive writing group. He was excited to be part of a dedicated community and the daily prompts allowed his otherwise overactive mind to be still and focused.

In the online journalling process, Michael gained new insights into himself through a different application of his skills. It shifted the emphasis of his writing from being about the outcome, to the meditation in the process. The group reflection allowed him to review his own preconceptions in a different light and helped him to embrace a deeper gratitude for the things and people he was beginning to take for granted.

During his participation in the introductory cycle, Michael experienced a re-awakened enthusiasm for expressive writing and has subsequently joined a second online, journal therapy process.

Feedback from Participants 


KIM GABRIEL DIXON on Introduction Journey

20 May 2020 - My only private space to write is at my desk/dressing table. The online journal introductory course was such a moving experience. Both the evocative writing every day, but also the lovely community of women I got to share it with. Deeply thankful to Michelene for leading and facilitating it, and the interactive, lively group of inter-generational women who shared so generously with me.


BONITA BENNETT on Introduction Journey

21 May 2020 - Fortunately the weather was mostly good during the week when I was going the programme so I enjoyed sitting at my outdoors spot. The dose of Sunshine D added to building my discipline! When it was chilly (only 1 day) I wrote in whichever space my family members were not!


THOKA MADONKO on Introduction Journey

21 May 2020 - I am pleased that I embarked on the online Journal Therapy course with Michelene. Ever since I was in my early teens, I have kept a diary but in the past couple of years it no longer felt like I had a “friend at the end of the pen”. The course, with Michelene as Captain, supported me to find my voice on the page in a more friendly manner and I am pleased to be writing again. I now look forward to a room of my own to write and to take the journey I choose for myself.






LINCEY MEIHUIZEN VAN NIEKERK on Finding New Cheese Journey

11 June 2020 - Enlightening and therapeutic is how I found the Finding New Cheese journalling sessions. It guided my muddled thoughts and helped me to face my fears. Most importantly I could dare to dream and imagine good things during these challenging times. I so enjoyed making a little booklet filled with new cheese.



 DESIREE PAULSEN on Finding New Cheese Journey

12 June 2020 - My favourite thing about starting a new journalling process is the opportunity to use a fresh notebook and maybe buy some colour pens!

The second is discovering how much I have inside me that wants to be written on paper. I sometimes write furiously and cannot stop!

My third favourite thing is giving myself permission to pause and find quiet time to write and reflect.

The Finding New Cheese journey of the Online Journal Therapy Programme with Michelene Benson provided amazing opportunities for all of this!




BEULAH TERTIENS-REELER on Introduction Journey

26 June 2020 - I've just completed my 30 minutes of writing for the Introduction to Journal Writing journey. My journal is an ordinary R2.00 book covered with a special card made by a friend in the Netherlands of his stone and iron sculptures. I love it as it brings good memories of time spent in the Netherlands. The image of a person on a boat is what I felt this journal process was all about. Going on a voyage - a journey. I look forward to the debriefing and teaching with Michelene to get a clearer picture of where I have traveled. This room is where I journalled for most of the time this week. This is the space in my house that is most comfortable and I have all the things I love around me.

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