What is Expressive/Therapeutic Writing? Expressive writing is a form of expressive therapy. It is similar to art or dance therapy, where a creative art form is used therapeutically. The unique power of expressive writing lies in its ability to promote expression of powerful emotions while integrating them with thought and reflection. In the process, the writer achieves balance and perspective.
Most people know intuitively that writing helps. Novelists, poets, diarists and memoir writers have experienced the power of writing to heal the wounded psyche. I glimpsed this power, and the potential of combining writing with therapy, at a creative writing workshop. Since then, I have learned expressive writing techniques developed by diarists and psychologists. I offer them in talk therapy for any client who is comfortable with this approach, and in workshops. The results can be remarkable.
How does it Work? Expressive writing provides a wide, creative range of techniques - logs, lists, reflective writing, describing positive moments, writing an unsent letter, dream journals, narratives, poems or describing traumatic moments.
Some clients keep a journal in between sessions, which can speed up therapy and provide continuity and focus. It can also generate more detailed, relevant information and history than might arise in talk therapy.
Writing is an effective way for clients who are overwhelmed by shame to begin to express themselves.
Research: James Pennebaker, Ph.D. began researching the effect of writing about stressful, traumatic events in the late 1980s. His work, which has been replicated in over 200 studies, shows that writing about stressful, traumatic life events can improve the writer\\\'s immune system, emotional, cognitive and social well-being.
Other Benefits: Although expressive writing in therapy is not intended as art or craft, it taps into creative energy. It can be valuable as a creative journal that provides a wealth of material for writers. Expressive writing techniques are an excellent way to work through writers\\\' block.
Who Should Consider Therapeutic Writing? Anyone who is comfortable with writing. Anyone who has kept a journal – students who blog and journal often integrate therapeutic writing easily into their therapy. Anyone who wants to experience the freeing power and energy of writing.