Who is Alyss Thomas?
I’ve always worked as a psychotherapist and taught students on MA psychotherapy and counselling programmes, and I’ve worked as an editor and a copywriter. Poetry and writing have always been close to my heart and of course I have kept a journal as far back as I can remember. As a child I kept nature observation and poetry journals. Later on I read every book about journal writing I could get my hands on, but somehow I felt there was something missing in many of them because they were mainly focused on the author’s own system, rather than inviting the reader to create her own combination of methods to suit her needs. It’s only recently, though, that I have discovered and brought together all the new journalling methods and techniques I have researched and developed. I experience a lot of joy in sharing my expertise with my readers and students, and for me this is fulfilling. In fact the ideas for my books and classes all came to me while I was journalling – as you might expect!
What inspired you to begin teaching and writing about journalling?
It really began with my clients and students. With my psychotherapy clients, I discovered that those who kept a journal of their therapeutic journey developed tremendous self insight and were able to make changes in their lives with more ease. It’s an interesting fact that even when people are highly motivated and engaged during their therapy sessions, they very easily forget the amazing insights that open up, and they forget to apply the therapy immediately to real life situations. A journal changes all this, and makes the sessions more productive.
With students on counselling and psychotherapy Masters degree courses, I brought in the practice of using reflective journal writing throughout their time on the course, and then using some of this material in their essays and dissertations. Having the journal gives a stable anchor that really helps the person to integrate and synthesise the different levels of learning that are all happening at once, and helps the transformative aspects of this type of training to be more manageable and less overwhelming.
What have you learned from your students?
Everything! My clients and students over the years have taught me everything I know. It has helped me to see how many very different people have benefited from journalling in various ways. Because I have seen this process so consistently, I can suggest particular approaches that will enable different individuals to thrive and achieve their desired outcomes.
What is your core message?
It has to be choose joy, choose love, choose celebration! I believe that we all have an important contribution to make to help change the world into a safe and peaceful place for everyone. We have to start with ourselves. Writing in a journal is not self indulgent, but in truth it is necessary. We all need to give ourselves more attention, to train our minds and train our focus so that our energies are not scattered and confused. You can’t have a consistent positive impact on the world until you have tamed your own mind and can direct your attention.
What is one thing you would do to change the world?
I would like to inspire as many people as possible to become steeped in the benefits of journalling. I have really noticed how people who have attended my courses for a while become more peaceful, centred, purposeful and happy, and they definitely influence the people around them in positive ways. This is like a gentle peaceful revolution. A journal writing practice helps you become more present, and naturally inspires you to attain more happiness and fulfilment. Any method that helps you be mindful and to be present with yourself is beneficial, but journalling is accessible to almost everyone and it’s very low cost. Once you have the basics in place, there is no limit to what you can achieve with it.
What do you hope your readers and students will take from your books and courses?
A huge sense of encouragement, new ideas, and inspiration. Whatever you are doing, with journalling you can do it better.