“Finding the unexpected”: An account of a writing group for women with chronic pelvic pain

Pages 95-103 | Published online: 14 May 2012

The focus of this article is on a creative writing group developed for women with chronic pelvic pain. The authors address whether their experiences have anything to say about how creative writing sits within the current Western health paradigm and its approach to people who suffer from medically unexplained symptoms.


Writing in solidarity: the lived experience of African American adolescent girls writing poetry

Pages 1-14 | Received 25 Jul 2017, Accepted 15 Sep 2017, Published online: 28 Nov 2017

This article offers an expansion of the poetry writing and research featured in “Culturally Responsive Poetry” published in the Journal of Poetry Therapy in 2011. In this article, a follow up to the coeducational poetry pilot is provided through the experiences of African American adolescent girl poets. “Writing in Solidarity: The Lived Experience of African American Adolescent Girls Writing Poetry” is the outcome of an in-depth phenomenological research study exploring the lived experience of eight African American female high school students participating in an after school poetry group. The process of writing in solidarity is one of call and response that evokes a sense of understanding and concern for one’s self, poetry group members and community. Through this writing process, a sense of sisterhood is forged for the adolescent girls and the power of individual and collective naming (to call forth one’s own identity or identities) uncovered.


The healing power of writing: applying the expressive/creative component of poetry therapy

Pages 141-154 | Published online: 20 Feb 2007

The healing aspects of writing are explored in this article. This includes an overview of the evidence for the use of writing in therapeutic capacities, as well as a discussion of the limitations. A case study involving the use of journaling with a client suffering from Lupus is presented. Brief illustrations of the use of writing in couple, family and group modalities are also presented.


Figures of grief: metaphors from a bereavement writing group.

Omega (Westport). 2007-2008;56(4):359-67.

Young E1.

In a community-based bereavement writing group, patterns of metaphor emerged and helped the group members identify and deal with particularly challenging aspects of death and grief, including taboo subjects such as abuse and suicide. The metaphors show how a bereavement writing group functioned to address the needs of people coping with different kinds of grief effectively and efficiently. Analysis of the specific metaphors suggests why figurative language enabled the group to bond quickly and strongly, delve into the complex emotions death elicits, and integrate experiences of loss and grief safely and productively. The patterns of metaphors the group produced in their writing about death and grief are discussed in terms of bereavement processes, and the topics the group used to elicit the figures of speech are presented for further refinement and use.


A systematic writing program as a tool in the grief process: part 1.

Patient Prefer Adherence. 2010 Dec 6;4:425-31. doi: 10.2147/PPA.S14864.

Furnes B1, Dysvik E.

The basic aim of this paper is to suggest a flexible and individualized writing program as a tool for use during the grief process of bereaved adults.


An open, qualitative approach following distinct steps was taken to gain a broad perspective on the grief and writing processes, as a platform for the writing program.


Following several systematic methodological steps, we arrived at suggestions for the initiation of a writing program and its structure and substance, with appropriate guidelines.


We believe that open and expressive writing, including free writing and focused writing, may have beneficial effects on a person experiencing grief. These writing forms may be undertaken and systematized through a writing program, with participation in a grief writing group and with diary writing, to achieve optimal results.


A structured writing program might be helpful in promoting thought activities and as a tool to increase the coherence and understanding of individuals in the grief process. Our suggested program may also be a valuable guide to future program development and research.


Does therapeutic writing help people with long-term conditions? Systematic review, realist synthesis and economic considerations.

Health Technol Assess. 2016 Apr;20(27):vii-xxxvii, 1-367. doi: 10.3310/hta20270.

Nyssen OP1, Taylor SJ2, Wong G3, Steed E2, Bourke L4, Lord J5, Ross CA6, Hayman S7, Field V8, Higgins A9, Greenhalgh T3, Meads C10.


Writing therapy to improve physical or mental health can take many forms. The most researched model of therapeutic writing (TW) is unfacilitated, individual expressive writing (written emotional disclosure). Facilitated writing activities are less widely researched.


Databases, including MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Linguistics and Language Behaviour Abstracts, Allied and Complementary Medicine Database and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, were searched from inception to March 2013 (updated January 2015).


Four TW practitioners provided expert advice. Study procedures were conducted by one reviewer and checked by a second. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and non-randomised comparative studies were included. Quality was appraised using the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool. Unfacilitated and facilitated TW studies were analysed separately under International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision chapter headings. Meta-analyses were performed where possible using RevMan version 5.2.6 (RevMan 2012, The Cochrane Collaboration, The Nordic Cochrane Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark). Costs were estimated from a UK NHS perspective and three cost-consequence case studies were prepared. Realist synthesis followed Realist and Meta-narrative Evidence Synthesis: Evolving Standards guidelines.


To review the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of TW for people with long-term conditions (LTCs) compared with no writing, or other controls, reporting any relevant clinical outcomes. To conduct a realist synthesis to understand how TW might work, and for whom.


From 14,658 unique citations, 284 full-text papers were reviewed and 64 studies (59 RCTs) were included in the final effectiveness reviews. Five studies examined facilitated TW; these were extremely heterogeneous with unclear or high risk of bias but suggested that facilitated TW interventions may be beneficial in individual LTCs. Unfacilitated expressive writing was examined in 59 studies of variable or unreported quality. Overall, there was very little or no evidence of any benefit reported in the following conditions (number of studies): human immunodeficiency virus (six); breast cancer (eight); gynaecological and genitourinary cancers (five); mental health (five); asthma (four); psoriasis (three); and chronic pain (four). In inflammatory arthropathies (six) there was a reduction in disease severity [n = 191, standardised mean difference (SMD) -0.61, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.96 to -0.26] in the short term on meta-analysis of four studies. For all other LTCs there were either no data, or sparse data with no or inconsistent, evidence of benefit. Meta-analyses conducted across all of the LTCs provided no evidence that unfacilitated emotional writing had any effect on depression at short- (n = 1563, SMD -0.06, 95% CI -0.29 to 0.17, substantial heterogeneity) or long-term (n = 778, SMD -0.04 95% CI -0.18 to 0.10, little heterogeneity) follow-up, or on anxiety, physiological or biomarker-based outcomes. One study reported costs, no studies reported cost-effectiveness and 12 studies reported resource use; and meta-analysis suggested reduced medication use but no impact on health centre visits. Estimated costs of intervention were low, but there was insufficient evidence to judge cost-effectiveness. Realist synthesis findings suggested that facilitated TW is a complex intervention and group interaction contributes to the perception of benefit. It was unclear from the available data who might benefit most from facilitated TW.


Difficulties with developing realist synthesis programme theory meant that mechanisms operating during TW remain obscure.


Overall, there is little evidence to support the therapeutic effectiveness or cost-effectiveness of unfacilitated expressive writing interventions in people with LTCs. Further research focused on facilitated TW in people with LTCs could be informative.


This study is registered as PROSPERO CRD42012003343.


The National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment programme.