Therapeutic Writing/Expressive Writing is a means of therapy that uses writing as the tool. As long as you can read and write, you can do writing therapy. For many people writing can be an easier way to access therapy, and once the techniques are learned can be a cost effective means of engaging with a therapeutic and healing process. With therapeutic writing the dialogue can be purely within yourself, or you can share with a trusted friend or therapist.
There is evidence that far from being a substitute for face to face counselling, therapeutic writing can access different areas and emotions. Writing out feelings uses a different mental process and can be very healing. In the 1980s a researcher called James W. Pennebaker conducted projects to explore the effect of therapeutic writing, the evidence of its effectiveness has been repeated many times since. Although there is always more research to be done, some conclusions include the fact “that expressive writing results in significant improvements in various biochemical markers of physical and immune functioning (Pennebaker et al, 1988; Esterling et al, 1994; Petrie et al, 1995; Booth et al, 1997).
The neuroscience of writing trauma and pain is complex, but I like to think of it in this way – if our pain is a bucket of heavy ink that we carry around, using a lot of energy and anxiety to stop it sloshing out or getting dropped, writing things out is a way to lighten the load (and perhaps find what else we are carrying around in that bucket!).
There is further information on expressive writing at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writing_therapy
During the Coronavirus lockdown I am offering one to one therapeutic writing via email. Please see the Therapeutic Writing by Email page for further information.
Face to Face Workshops Information (to be resumed as soon as possible)
These writing groups are not about learning to be a writer, or getting published, they are meant as a safe place to explore your inner world, mental health, relationships and life using writing as the tool. Although there will be opportunity to share and feedback, this will not be compulsory, so these groups may suit those who would otherwise feel uncomfortable in a group situation. Participants can share as much or as little as they like with the rest of the group.
The general format is that there will be a range of exercises set, and time spent writing, then feeding back and discussing as appropriate. Introductory workshops are fairly short and offer a flavour of the process, while the longer workshops and weekends offer a chance for some in depth exploration and touching on some more challenging subjects.
Although the spaces are therapeutic, they are not strictly “therapy”, although run by a qualified and experienced counsellor/psychotherapist. You may have had therapy before, or this process may be a gateway into the therapeutic world for you.
For further information read the frequently asked questions.
The workshops are run by Rob Radcliffe, a counsellor and psychotherapist who is also also a writer and poet, some of his poetry can be found at his blog, poemsblog,com