The focus of this article is on the role poetry writing plays in helping those bereaved or depressed to cope with their emotions. Through a therapeutic process of applying her thoughts to writing poetry, the author, mother of a special needs child, expresses herself and the trauma of her experience. The writer utilizes free verse to allow thoughts to freely form on the page instead of forcing them into a tightly constructed form that might hinder the therapeutic writing process.
Qual Health Res. 2015 Mar;25(3):348-59. doi: 10.1177/1049732314551059. Epub 2014 Sep 22.
There is literary evidence stating that expressive writing affects health outcomes. Nevertheless, the processes underlying its benefits remain unclear. In our previous article, we described the benefits of writing; in this article, we investigate the meaning-making processes underlying the traumatic experiences of parents of children with leukemia in off-therapy. We collected the writings of 23 parents and grouped them according to the parents’ psychological outcome (low/good/high) with respect to anxiety, as assessed during a follow-up. We qualitatively analyzed the texts written by parents with good psychological outcomes to highlight their main meaning-making processes, that is, how they put into words the shattering experience, reordered the events, connected their emotions and the events, reevaluated the event, and reconstructed the time process. We found that parents with low/high outcomes articulated these processes differently. Furthermore, we discussed the uses and functions of written narration for each group.
Cancer Nurs. 2016 Jul-Aug;39(4):E51-60. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000300.
Expressive writing has been shown to improve quality of life, fatigue, and posttraumatic stress among breast cancer patients across cultures. Understanding how and why the method may be beneficial to patients can increase awareness of the psychosocial impact of breast cancer and enhance interventional work within this population. Qualitative research on experiential aspects of interventions may inform the theoretical understanding and generate hypotheses for future studies.
The aim of the study was to explore and describe the experience and feasibility of expressive writing among women with breast cancer following mastectomy and immediate or delayed reconstructive surgery.
Seven participants enrolled to undertake 4 episodes of expressive writing at home, with semistructured interviews conducted afterward and analyzed using experiential thematic analysis.
Three themes emerged through analysis: writing as process, writing as therapeutic, and writing as a means to help others.
Findings illuminate experiential variations in expressive writing and how storytelling encourages a release of cognitive and emotional strains, surrendering these to reside in the text. The method was said to process feelings and capture experiences tied to a new and overwhelming illness situation, as impressions became expressions through writing. Expressive writing, therefore, is a valuable tool for healthcare providers to introduce into the plan of care for patients with breast cancer and potentially other cancer patient groups.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE:
This study augments existing evidence to support the appropriateness of expressive writing as an intervention after a breast cancer diagnosis. Further studies should evaluate its feasibility at different time points in survivorship.