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.
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.
Using a blog as a form of journaling is becoming increasingly common. With email we are familiar with the phenomenon of responding rapidly and emotionally. In the blogging world, the same phenomenon may take place. While this type of immediate cathartic release may be similar to placing words on the pages of a journal, the aftermath that follows the use of blogging as journaling may be experienced much differently. The authors discuss the line between a self-help experience, a cathartic and possibly therapeutic intervention, and concern for the person who may be revealing too much. The therapist can prepare the client for feelings of empowerment, relief, and even exhilaration. They can also prepare for the risks, such as feelings of vulnerability, exposure, and possibly being re-traumatized. That the therapist may also want to establish boundaries within the therapeutic relationship about a client’s blog is also discussed.
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.
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.