Creative Therapeutic Writing
My approach to the art of writing is to become aware in the moment of its energetic power and become more attentive to my flow of words. Sometimes fast. Other times slow to emerge.
This is what allows me to explore what I really want to express and articulate.
The Oxford English Dictionary helps with definition:
‘to create’ is to bring something into form, especially out of nothing
in its widest sense ‘therapeutic’ signifies ‘the art of healing’
The Benefits of Writing for Yourself
The unfolding of writing may come from the blank sheet, the empty mind before the words tumble out.
The blank page serves us with this potency – and in turn writing allows us to feel the power of who we are and how we express ourselves. Writing also allows us to be completely private, or to share with others if we so choose.
In finding my own creative and imaginative expression with words, I also heal myself. If what I am writing about hurts. If what I am writing about hurts then the expression through words, captured by me, helps to contain the pain – be it an old one from my past, or a new one in the present.
I have explored experiences and feelings from a reasonably long life which has given me the distance to reflect and hone many pieces of writing through redrafting and editing. My process as a writer has looked at my life as a woman, a daughter, a mum, a wife, a lover, and as a friend and colleague.
In my working life I have been a radio producer (BBC Radio 4), freelance journalist, and a practicing psychotherapist and these skills along with an MA in Creative Writing (Sussex University 2002) have all integrated into how I have explored writing about my inner and outer world.
We all have many roles in life – writing digs deep into the essence of being a human-being.
Writing can help find out what we think, know, feel, experience, remember and understand. It is an ally when making difficult life decisions, clarifying an argument, understanding someone else's point of view. Writing can enable exploration of what we think about specific issues (personal, work political, social, spiritual), life values, as well as what we need and want.
(The Writer's Key, Gillie Bolton, 2014. p.159)
finding a voice
We all learnt to write at school so it makes sense that this genre of writing is becoming popular. Just like the spreading of social media, which is open to everyone. The world of expression is no longer the place only for the experts. We all have a voice.
Creative Therapeutic Writing allows us to find our own individual voices to express who we are without concern about being a writer with a hidden novel to whip out of a drawer, a play to put on a theatrical stage, or poems for an audience beyond those we might wish and trust to listen.
This writing may, if we choose, be only for ourselves. Words just for our own eyes.
No-one necessarily sees what I write. But in the process of writing, I will have heard myself more clearly inside my own mind. I will acknowledge my feelings and thoughts through the loop from my writing hand to the page or screen and back again face-to-face with myself. And that's what makes the difference.
form & craft
A piece of writing, however, may become any literary form the writer wishes with the skills of redrafting and editing – the craft of writing. A poem, dialogue, prose or an experimental placing on the page may be polished into a creative work. This process, I have found, is just as therapeutic as writing for its own sake.
A piece of writing may be scrunched up, shredded or burnt – these acts may indicate that the writing has had a therapeutic function. It has achieved what it needed to do and brought thoughts out of the writer’s head or emotions from the physical body – whether from heart or guts – onto paper. You don't have to keep what you write, or even read back what you've written. The act of writing itself is where its power lies.
Definitions for this kind of Writing
Definitions are arbitrary: they divide and limit. Useful for the intellect to understand, but creativity might defy definition. Yet we like to define what we do and put boundaries in place. This kind of writing has many definitions and embraces a wide field of practitioners: poets, nurses, doctors, teachers, social workers, counsellors, psychotherapists, the clergy and those from other faiths, and outside defined faiths – twenty- first century spiritual practitioners with backgrounds in a diverse variety of activities like yoga, acupuncture, mindfulness. And cross-overs into other art therapies.
Here are some of the current phrases in use now in no particular order:
Words for Wellbeing
Writing for Wellbeing
Writing for Personal Development
Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes
So there is a confusing amount of writing being accomplished by a lot of people with different agendas. Academics are making sense of all the new parameters of this emerging genre. It has been evolving for the last twenty years or so. Much research has shown the health benefits of writing. More research is being carried out.
Academia and research is not my field. But you can find out more through Lapidus International - The Words for Wellbeing Association.
A piece of writing may serve both the imagination and the therapeutic. There is no conflict. It all rests with the person who makes the writing, who feels the satisfaction, finds the meaning.