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.
J Ethn Subst Abuse. 2016 Jul-Sep;15(3):252-267. Epub 2015 Sep 30.
The present study evaluates the relationships between shame, culture, and drinking behavior in predicting drinking intentions in the context of an expressive writing intervention. Theory and empirical findings have generally found that shame is maladaptive and can lead to anxiety, depression, and problematic alcohol use. However, research on cultural differences suggests that shame may be differentially damaging to individuals of collectivist, Asian cultures. Previous research evaluating expressive writing as a brief alcohol intervention has shown promising results such as reduced drinking intentions and increased readiness to change drinking behavior. The present study tested the hypothesis that feelings of shame after writing about a negative heavy drinking event would be associated with greater alcohol use generally and that this effect would differ for Caucasian compared to Asian individuals. We also explored whether this differed for light and heavy drinkers. Two hundred sixty-four undergraduates (74% female) who drank at least one alcoholic beverage in the past month completed measures of demographics, baseline drinking, event-related shame and guilt, pre- and postwriting affect, and drinking intentions. Results revealed that, independent of affect, social desirability, and event-related guilt, shame was generally negatively associated with drinking intentions for Caucasians and light drinking Asians. However, for heavy drinking Asians, shame was associated with increased drinking intentions. Results suggest that interventions that elicit shame are differentially effective and should be targeted accordingly.