Therapeutic Writing – A Journey in Healing
Therapeutic Writing has helped me in my darkest hours and on my hardest days. I’ve used it to help process my friend’s suicide, the loss of my dog, the pandemic, my unmother crisis, and other traumas. I’ve also used it to explore ideas and concepts, and to better understand and build empathy for myself and others. It’s a way to find meaning and perspective in difficult experiences. In fact, whenever I go through something hard, I comfort myself by saying at least this will serve as the basis for a great piece of writing.
It’s not something I intentionally started, but as I became more serious about my writing practice and went into therapy, I put more structure around it to make it psychologically safer and more beneficial. And I have found it to be a diverse and flexible tool that can be customized to abilities and needs. Fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid formats can all be used in therapeutic writing. Ekphrasis (a photo prompt), a memory, or a pain point can be used as a springboard.
There are no rules, only guidelines (in my unexpert opinion). Here are some of mine.
All writing can be therapeutic (but is not necessarily therapeutic writing).
What makes therapeutic writing different is the intentionality, preparation, and unpacking that surrounds the process.
Therapeutic writing is great—but it’s not a replacement for therapy.
Like coffee and cream or singing and the shower, they are better together.
A therapist can help guide and support the journey.
It’s important to centre self-care and psychological safety in the process.
Ask yourself questions like, what do I need before, during, and after the process to explore this safely?
This will look different for different people.
Having a framework or guideline can help—especially when you are starting.
I’ve shared one below!
One Therapeutic Writing Framework
I look forward to facilitating a free session on Therapeutic Writing open to the public tomorrow night! It has been generously sponsored by the Health Accord and organized by WritersNL for Wellness Week in Newfoundland and Labrador.
For more information and/or to register, go here.
I’ll also be on CBC NL’s On the Go tonight speaking about it!