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The benefits for a counsellor deploying a diary

Youth counsellor Krissie's experiences with online diaries

Online diaries might seem easy to overlook, but they are standalone interventions in their own right. What exactly is their added value to a treatment or therapeutic relationship? We asked counsellor Krissie Mooij, who uses Minddistrict diaries with the young people she helps.

Illustration of a mobile diary

KOOS provides specialist youth care in the city of Utrecht, the Netherlands. In her work as a counsellor, Krissie sees adolescents and children (and their parents) in different family situations, each with their own questions and circumstances.

A clear picture of the problem

Krissie: "Often, the children or young people I treat tell me something. For example: 'I have such unpleasant thoughts'. But if I then start asking further, what exactly is that thought? When does it come? What preceded it? They find it difficult to answer. It's not only young people who have this problem, I also see it among parents.

What I then do is prepare a diary for them. They can fill it in in the app and they get a reminder for it on their phone. And in a situation like the example above, I then give a diary that allows me to get the person's thoughts clear. There is also a diary on anxiety that I often use, as well as an eating diary.

"Children and young people often find it difficult to explain exactly what is bothering them"

When a young person fills in the diary, I get a much clearer picture of what is bothering them: what are their thoughts, and what was the situation? It also means that they don't have to recount it, and we can monitor exactly how often such a thought occurs. And then in treatment, in a conversation you have, you can very specifically take such a thought and talk about it."


"It also reminds me of a young person I treated, whom you could see from his diary was getting better and better at understanding. As the explanation progressed and we had more conversations, he got much better at defining his own thoughts as either helpful or unhelpful, and distinguishing thought-feeling behaviour. It's nice to be able to show that to the person as well: Look how you have grown, and see how you used to fill in your diary in the beginning, and how you do it now.

"The young people see that they have really learned something."

I like seeing that the children and young people that I help have grown, but I also notice that it is nice for themselves. They see that they really did learn something. Because often, when talking about thoughts, you might think 'what have I actually learned?'. That's not always tangible. But something really does happen, and that diary is very helpful for that. It makes the growth insightful."


"The fact that Minddistrict has an app is really nice for young people, as well as the fact that it sends them reminders to fill in the diary. There is a standard 'reminder schedule', but I can also set when they get that reminder. I always adjust that together with each young person, because what they want is so different.

Foto van Krissie

We decide the frequency in consultation - I don't make them fill in something every day, unless they really want to, of course. Some like to write a diary entry in the morning, others want to do that in the evening. The timings differ a lot from person to person, so I always adjust it to their preferences. That way, you also have the best guarantee that they will actually fill it in."

More information

Want to learn more about the functionality? Learn more about diaries.

We would love to hear and share more experiences. Do you have something to add about how you see diaries in your treatments or therapeutic relationship? Let us know!