I am a firm believer in the power of the pen.
The act and process of writing, say by journaling, composing a poem or just playing around with words, can connect us with an internal reservoir of knowledge that may be there in the background but just outside of our awareness – or as devoted diarist Virginia Woolf suggested, “It sweeps up accidentally several stray matters… which are the diamonds of the dustheap.”
Writing can be like a key, a compass, an anchor, and much more. In turn, you might think of Writing Therapy as a space where counselling, writing, literature and language can align and form a new constellation of insight and self-understanding. I believe that using writing this way can not only aid us in navigating our life’s journey but also help our inner and outer landscapes flourish and bloom in ways we may have previously felt impossible – and isn’t this the essence of therapy?
Depending on the individual client, sessions may consist of some combination of talking, writing, sharing and reflecting on what has been written – for others, the writing element may be more of a tool to dig deeper between appointments (say, by journaling), with the sessions themselves more centered around traditional verbal exploration but perhaps informed by the client’s writing. I might introduce you to specific creative/reflective writing exercises and techniques that I think you may find beneficial, and we might also draw on existing published works or an intriguing, impactful metaphor as a springboard for writing and reflection. Like writing itself, this type of therapy allows for a fluid, creative approach, drawing on a medium you are already familiar with and are perhaps passionate about.
And maybe writing isn’t for you at all, and of course that’s okay! I use writing in therapy as a potential tool for change but it is always the client who decides how much or little we use that tool, if at all.
I have undertaken specialised training in this area through the Metanoia Institute London and Professional Writing Academy and have facilitated or co-facilitated workshops around creative writing and wellbeing at Big Smoke Writing Factory and PCI College, where I am also an educator of counselling trainees. I lead a creative/reflective writing group for qualified therapists and am myself a mentee of UK-based writer and creative consultant Meg-John Barker.
I have contributed an article about Writing Therapy to Writing.ie here:
You can also watch me talk a little below about writing as a self-care tool, recorded April 2020: