Is writing Therapeutic?

Therapy is expensive.  This post highlights ways in which writing can help over-come emotions that are difficult to process. Writing is one way in which we can help ourselves heal after difficult events in our lives.

What is writing therapy?

It’s expressive writing often used to treat bereavement, abuse, desertion, substance abuse and many other types of emotional trauma.  It was developed by James W Pennebaker in the 1980’s.  The idea is that writing triggers a part of the brain, not triggered by traditional verbal therapy (Psychology Today Magazine). The link is psychology

Why is it therapeutic?

Some people find it liberating to write about traumatic experiences.  It can be a tool for venting emotions–clinicians often use it as a tool to help their clients. Some people find it liberating because it helps them put pieces of their lives together.  It works with inner and outer conflict. For many centuries poets have been writing about their painful experiences through expressive writing:

Sharing stories with others that have similar experiences is beneficial both to the writer and the reader.  Research shows that writing about painful experiences benefits the immune system, especially those with HIV, asthma, and arthritis.

… Yes, you heard it right, writing benefits the immune system. Even writing about positive experiences can benefit physical health.  Research is still pending on who benefits the most according to American Psychological Association.

What should I write?

Accounts of childhood memories such as abuse are very common, if shared they communicate with others with similar experiences.  I mentioned the sharing of stories–Humans connect through stories. You don’t have to share to benefit though.

Journal writing is a great way to write down some of your challenges, and concerns about life.  Some people have written autobiographies–You don’t have to be famous to do this one. I started writing, by playing with poetry.  This happened when I was going through something very bad–something I had no control over. Over the past ten years, I have taken it seriously, and continue to study the craft.

One great way to approach the task is something called ‘free writing.’ You set a timer and don’t stop until time is up.  Don’t throw out what you write.  Tuck it away somewhere where you can pull it out later. Others write letters to people and then tear them up.

The main point here is that writing benefits your immune system and your overall health and maybe even happiness.

Keep Writing!

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