Therapeutic Writing Techniques
"Poetry or story making is therapy for both the body and soul"
Therapeutic writing can be a wonderful complement to therapy. Creating space for yourself, to get what's inside out, and to reflect upon yourself and your patterns is what therapy is all about! Learning to become a reader of your story, and an author of your life, is how your best self shines!
Here are some therapeutic writing practices that can help get you started:
A short burst of writing, contained by a time limit, allows for the expression of deep emotion without loss of connection with the present. These sprints can be on any topic, and it could be helpful to keep a list of topics for your sprints. Who am I? Why am I here? What do I want? You can use topics over and over again, as they can be interpreted differently each time, depending on where you are in your life.
Lists are pretty easy to do and can help for prioritizing and organizing. Examples would include to-do lists, wish lists, lists of roles or relationships, lists for positive reinforcement, like three preferred incentives for yourself or gratitude lists, three things that happened today for which you are grateful. Seeing your accomplishments in black and white can be deeply gratifying and checking off tasks can also give you a sense of mastery.
These are short exercises where you attempt to capture the essence and the emotional experience of a memory. This can be a writing about any memory at all, and the challenge is to write with enough detail that the reader can feel present in the experience. This activity can strengthen mindfulness skills like grounding, observing, orienting, etc.
Lists of 100
The rules for these lists are as follows: write fast, repeat as much as you like, number the items, don't censor. After reaching 100, group your items--you might be surprised what you find!
This is a popular technique, and can help both organize your thoughts to a particular person, help tease out your feelings about a particular relationship, and provide some relief related to communicating those feelings when its best not to do so in person. Unsent letters can also help with grief, and writing unsent letters to your younger self can be healing as well.
The great thing about therapeutic writing is that you can be free to genuinely express yourself. No one is there to judge your writing ability, or to critique your work. Your writing is simply a way for you to get to know yourself, to express difficult thoughts and feelings. Sharing your work in therapy can help to strengthen your relationship with your therapist, to allow you to take healthy risks and practice vulnerability and intimacy in a safe setting. Creating Space Counseling and Wellness can help you figure out if therapeutic writing could be helpful for you and offer guidance on best ways to start!
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