Essið: Growing a postitive self-image in changing times

The effect of journaling on teenage girls in a youth centre group 
and the development of a related course schedule

Education authorities expect pupils graduating from secondary schools in Iceland to meet a criteria of very advanced personal skills, self-knowledge and a positive self-image. In this thesis I will describe a study I conducted with a group in a youth centre in Reykjavík. The participants were teenage girls and the group revolved around finding ways to build their self-esteem. The group is called Essið and the study was conducted in the first half of 2019 by myself and Brynja Helgadóttir, another staff-member in the youth centre.
The methods used in the group all come from me and my personal experience on gaining more self-esteem by changing my mindset, journaling and doing creative work. I also looked at psychological research on the benefits of journaling with adolescents to support my case. I wanted to try this technique with young people at a crossroads in their lives, when they transition from secondary school to upper secondary school. I talk about the value of teaching life skills in today’s society, within the school system and in after-school programs. I also discuss concepts such as the self and self-compassion in relevance to young people and this project.
Youth centres are a crucial part of comprehensive education of children and young adults. In this project, I tested exercises with the aim of creating a resource that other youth workers or teachers could use in similar projects in the future.  I measured the development of the group and the girls’ personal gain with questionnaires at multiple time points over the course. Journaling and taking part of the group had a positive impact on all of the girls in the group.
My project is in three parts, the Essið group at the youth centre, the course schedule based on the findings from the study with the group and at last this thesis to support my decisions.


Photographer: Kristinn Ingvarsson
Kristín Dóra Ólafsdóttir
kridola [at]
Advisor: Gréta Mjöll Bjarnadóttir