Writing for protection: Reflective practice as a counsellor

Pages 191-198 | Published online: 21 Aug 2006

Expressive and reflective writing has been one way of recording personal changes and losses. It has also been key in surviving the sometimes traumatic work involved in working with clients in psychotherapeutic relationships. This article explores some of the underlying research into writing for personal and professional development with illustrations from both personal and professional life.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0889367042000197376

Conversation about poetry/writing therapy: Two European perspectives

Pages 167-186 | Published online: 08 Jul 2011

This conversation about poetry/writing therapy germinated from many discussions between two authors with long experience in the field. Their conversation has an essentially European quality, deepened by cultural differences. They talk about fundamental principles and values used in their practice and professional writing; their own personal writing experience that brought them to this work; characteristics and history of European approaches; its foundations in education, psychology, and philosophy; the difference and similarities between published literary writing and therapeutic writing; and the role of metaphor, narrative, and descriptive observation writing. An eclectic range of references, vital to the field, including selected research trial evidence from the United States and Europe, are drawn upon and critically discussed.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08893675.2011.593395

Writing and the development of the self- heuristic inquiry: A unique way of exploring the power of the written word

Pages 55-68 | Received 08 Jan 2014, Accepted 07 Feb 2014, Published online: 12 Mar 2014

This article presents a heuristic research project designed to explore the role of personal writing in the development of the self. True to the heuristic process as outlined by Moustakas, the author analyzed over 30 years of personal poetry and journal writing through her mother’s mental illness and brother’s traumatic brain injury and epilepsy. Phase two of the project included nine participants (co-researchers) who were lifetime writers. Results indicated themes related to the (i) interpersonal and personal nature of writing, (ii) the spiritually transcendent nature of writing, (iii) the fact that writing facilitates perspective taking, (iv) the importance of challenge in personal growth, (v) the dynamic nature of writing, and (vi) the power of writing to influence personal identity. The paper presents the process, stories of the author and three participants, synthesized results, the power of the heuristic process, and potential application to the creative arts.

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

Writing my life: a narrative and poetic-based autoethnography

Pages 183-190 | Published online: 02 Aug 2010

This essay is an autoethnographic account of my life as a writer writing my life. I employ narrative and poetic inquiry as a way to learn, know, and become more aware of my journey with writing as a healing modality. The overall purpose of this essay is to offer a personal account of my writing experience as a means to contribute to the ongoing exploration of writing as a communicative practice and method of inquiry; with the hope that by sharing my story, my words will resonate with readers/writers/poets.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08893675.2010.498214

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

Writing the story again, going deeper

“Starting with the same event or moment you wrote about […], go deeper. Place your intention and attention on this story and focus particularly on its meaning: What are the take-aways for you? What is the learning offered you in this experience? How can you apply action that takes steps toward your own healing, growth and change?”

Kathleen Adams, “Your Brain on Ink”, p. 95

Kathleen Adams’ reflective writing prompts

As I read this, I am ∘ aware of. . . . ∘ curious about. . . . ∘ noticing. . . . ∘ surprised by. . . . ■The integrative somatic experience ∘ What happened in my body as I wrote? Where did this write “land” in my body? ∘ Did my handwriting or keyboarding change? ∘ What did I notice emotionally? ∘ Any “aha” moments? Where did I feel them? ■Action orientation ∘ Is there action to take? If so, what? ∘ What is my next step? ∘ How does this learning inform my current reality? ∘ Where can I best place my intention? My attention? My action? ∘ What is one thing I can do today?

(p. 48).

from “Your Brain on Ink”

Meaning of reflective writing

There is growing evidence that resolution of trauma (or its smaller cousin, stress) requires somatic (body) involvement. The reflection write develops the habit of checking in with the embodied experience of writing, a good gauge of how your nervous system is processing the writing.

(p. 45).

When you are present to what emerges on the page by reading what you have just written and writing a few sentences about what you notice, you are developing an observational part of your brain. You are gaining separation from the write itself and taking note of both the process of writing as well as any insights that the writing yielded. What happened in my body as I wrote? Did my handwriting change? Was there a smile on my face or tears in my eyes? Were there any “aha” moments? Paying attention, cultivating curiosity and noticing what emerges as a function of the process of writing is similar to meditation practices that cultivate concentration and invite insight.

(pp. 45-46).

The reflection write is the consummate expressive writing tool for focused attention.

(p. 46).

The reflection write is an exercise in the process of paying attention, particularly if curiosity and compassion are brought to that process. Reflection supports the process of choosing to fire circuits that over time will change our brains in service of greater healing—and, likely, the authorship of a more integrated, coherent story.

(pp. 46-48).

from “Your Brain on Ink”