Mystery to mastery: An exploration of what happens in the black box of writing and healing

Pages 57-75 | Published online: 26 Jun 2009

In this article, a model of transformation-through-writing will be introduced that helps to explain how a transformative and dialogical-learning process occurs when narratives or poetry are used for healing. We focus in particular on how a “boundary experience” is processed—or how a painful “first story” can be rewritten to become a more life-giving “second story.” We propose that this occurs stepwise in four cognitive stages: sensing; sifting; focusing; and understanding. These stages are explained and underpinned by research on neurobiology, neuropsychology, and on identity learning. The case study used to illustrate this process, focuses on expressive and reflective writing in emotional recovery from domestic violence. To be effective, therapeutic writing requires a safe and enriching learning environment; we discuss how such an environment supports the dialogical self and what considerations a facilitator might take into account when working with a student or client.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08893670903072935

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Writing poetry: Recovery and growth following trauma

Pages 79-91 | Published online: 09 May 2011

Integrating narrative/poetic content with the professional literature relating to trauma, the author explored how writing poetry contributed to her recovery and growth following the murder of her sister. It was concluded that writing poetry helped to reduce internal conflict and restore psychological balance. Metaphors and symbols enabled the exploration of the author’s response to trauma, which in turn led to recovery and growth.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08893675.2011.573285

Using Story to Process the Emotional Experience of Complex Trauma

https://writingthroughtrauma.org/2016/05/04/using-story-to-process-the-emotional-experience-of-complex-trauma/

Rewriting the stories of triumph again and again

“The logs to stoke the fire are added each time I remember and write the cheesecake story, which I’ve done dozens of times, always with intention and attention. I observe myself in the telling, always asking: “What does this story teach me today?” Each time I feel the familiar wash of emotion: exhilaration, celebration, success, joy, connection, the thrill of risk, community. Each time it is inseparable from the cheesecake: I feel the creamy texture against the roof of my mouth, I taste the buttery crumb crust, I inhale the rich aroma of coffee in a thick blue mug”.

Kathleen Adams, in “Your Brain on Ink”, pp.94-95