In this article, a model of transformation-through-writing will be introduced that helps to explain how a transformative and dialogical-learning process occurs when narratives or poetry are used for healing. We focus in particular on how a “boundary experience” is processed—or how a painful “first story” can be rewritten to become a more life-giving “second story.” We propose that this occurs stepwise in four cognitive stages: sensing; sifting; focusing; and understanding. These stages are explained and underpinned by research on neurobiology, neuropsychology, and on identity learning. The case study used to illustrate this process, focuses on expressive and reflective writing in emotional recovery from domestic violence. To be effective, therapeutic writing requires a safe and enriching learning environment; we discuss how such an environment supports the dialogical self and what considerations a facilitator might take into account when working with a student or client.
Health Psychol Behav Med. 2014 Jan 1; 2(1): 132–143.
Published online 2014 Jan 22. doi: 10.1080/21642850.2013.879041
Inge B. Corless, a , * Rana Limbo, b Regina Szylit Bousso, c Robert L. Wrenn, d David Head, e Norelle Lickiss, f and Hannelore Wass g