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  • Writer's pictureFelicity Jefferson

Writing as Therapy

Writing can be an extremely useful tool to help you continue your therapeutic work between sessions. With most clients I will often recommend using writing outside of session to support their healing journey. Writing doesn’t appeal to everyone though so it definitely isn't necessary and there are alternatives (see down below).

There are a variety of different ways you can use writing, here are five that I often recommend:

1. Keep a journal

I recommend keeping a daily “journal” where you can write anything that is on your mind. You might like to write down the events of the day, feelings or ideas that have come up, or even write about intentions or plans for the future.

Daily journaling can be helpful in many different ways. In the early stages of therapy, it can help us to become more aware of our thoughts and feelings, and how they relate to different life experiences. Through this people are often better able to see how certain behaviours or thoughts may be contributing to low mood or anxiety. It can also help you to remember things that happened over the week that may be relevant to discuss in therapy.

2. Writing after session

After a therapy session it can also be very helpful to take some time to sit and write about what you experienced, what was discussed and any insights.

Taking this time should help you to get even more out of sessions. By reflecting on what just happened you will be more likely to remember key lessons and insights. Sessions can also be quite emotional sometimes and this can help you to have a smoother transition back to everyday life.

3. Write a letter

Humans are extremely social creatures and our well-being is intimately tied to our relationships to others. As such many of the issues people seek therapy for involve at some level a difficulty with another person. It may not be helpful or even possible to speak directly to that person, however writing a letter to them and keeping it to yourself or disposing of it afterwards can be therapeutic.

Why is writing so powerful?

Writing is a way for us to express ourselves and also to connect with and listen to what we are feeling. These two processes are essential parts of healing for most people and will be explored in many different ways in the therapy room. Writing is a way that you can continue this process between session and is a great skill to develop to help you manage your long-term well-being.

Other considerations

Whilst writing can be very helpful. It can also be harmful if it is used as a tool to criticise, judge or shame ourselves. To ensure that your writing experience is therapeutic try to have a non-judgemental and self-compassionate approach to yourself during the process. This is a lot easier said than done though. If you are struggling with this it can be helpful to discuss your writing with your therapist. This way they can help you work towards creating a more non-judgemental and self-compassionate attitude toward yourself during the process and ensure that your writing practice is therapeutic.

Alternatives to writing

Writing helps us as a tool for self-expression and allows us to work through our thoughts and feelings. Thus any modality that allows for self-expression can be a great alternative. This could include painting, drawing, dancing, song-writing, role-play or acting and any other artistic form used to explore our thoughts and feelings. It's all about trial and error and exploring what works best for you.

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