From therapy to poetry and back again: One writer’s journey

Pages 115-125 | Published online: 10 May 2013

This reflective piece suggests three phases from therapeutic writing to full-fledged poetry to an audience’s reading and discussion, illustrated with specific examples and commentary. The author, a social scientist, an adult educator and a published poet, begins with the role of writing in her own processing of the painful experience of a family member’s severe mental illness and suicide, showing us her earliest therapeutic writing. She then illuminates a second phase, in which she gives us an inside look at the rewriting process that led to two poems suitable for public display. She considers how the resulting poems might be used for both therapeutic and educational purposes, offering discussion prompts and questions related to the poems.

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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.

Creative writing in recovery from severe mental illness.

Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2013 Oct;22(5):444-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0349.2012.00891.x. Epub 2012 Dec 5.

Abstract

There is evidence that creative writing forms an important part of the recovery experience of people affected by severe mental illness. In this paper, we consider theoretical models that explain how creative writing might contribute to recovery, and we discuss the potential for creative writing in psychosocial rehabilitation. We argue that the rehabilitation benefits of creative writing might be optimized through focus on process and technique in writing, rather than content, and that consequently, the involvement of professional writers might be important. We describe a pilot workshop that deployed these principles and was well-received by participants. Finally, we make recommendations regarding the role of creative writing in psychosocial rehabilitation for people recovering from severe mental illness and suggest that the development of an evidence base regarding the effectiveness of creative writing is a priority.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23211053