Writing therapy using new technologies—the art of blogging

Pages 41-45 | Published online: 04 Mar 2009

Using a blog as a form of journaling is becoming increasingly common. With email we are familiar with the phenomenon of responding rapidly and emotionally. In the blogging world, the same phenomenon may take place. While this type of immediate cathartic release may be similar to placing words on the pages of a journal, the aftermath that follows the use of blogging as journaling may be experienced much differently. The authors discuss the line between a self-help experience, a cathartic and possibly therapeutic intervention, and concern for the person who may be revealing too much. The therapist can prepare the client for feelings of empowerment, relief, and even exhilaration. They can also prepare for the risks, such as feelings of vulnerability, exposure, and possibly being re-traumatized. That the therapist may also want to establish boundaries within the therapeutic relationship about a client’s blog is also discussed.

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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

Beyond the classroom: Writing as therapy

Pages 93-104 | Published online: 09 May 2011

The focus of this article is on the use of therapeutic writing methods in high school English classes. The genres include essay, autobiography, and poetry. Classroom assignments and student work are included with the delineation of specific techniques. A review of the theory and practice of writing is therapy is provided. Implications for further practice and research, including ethical issues, are also addressed.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08893675.2011.574355

Effects of mode of writing on emotional narratives.

J Trauma Stress. 1999 Apr;12(2):355-61.

Brewin CR, Lennard H.

The authors hypothesized that writing longhand about a stressful experience, compared to typing, arouses greater negative emotion. Eighty college students were randomly assigned to describe either a neutral or stressful topic by typing or writing longhand, in a 2 x 2 factorial design. Students describing the stressful topic, compared to the neutral topic, wrote for a longer period, used more words, and reported greater negative and less positive affect. Consistent with prediction, writing about a stressful experience longhand induced greater negative affect than typing, and led to more self-rated disclosure. These findings suggest a method whereby therapists can help patients control their levels of negative affect when producing a trauma narrative.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10378172

Expressive writing in context: the effects of a confessional setting and delivery of instructions on participant experience and language in writing.

Br J Health Psychol. 2008 Feb;13(Pt 1):27-30. doi: 10.1348/135910707X250929.

Corter AL1, Petrie KJ.

Manipulations of the setting and instructions were tested for effects on language use and reported health following expressive writing (EW).

METHODS:

Participants (N=76) wrote in one of three conditions that differed by setting and the delivery of writing instructions.

RESULTS:

The results showed that altering the context for EW influences participants’ language use and their perceptions of the experience. There was no effect of conditions on self-reported health.

CONCLUSIONS:

Future research should attend to the ways in which manipulations of EW context affect proposed mediators such as language, as well as outcomes of EW.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18230226

Leave one side blank

“When I am in simultaneous process and observation mode, I like to leave the left page of my journal or notebook blank and write only on the right side. Switch it up if you are left-handed. Thus I have a “parking lot” for notes on process that I might come back to for the reflection – or I may just leave them as jottings, field notes that accompany the experiment.”

Kathleen Adams, “Your Brain on Ink”, p.102