Writing as therapy
- Felicity Jefferson
- February 2, 2021
Writing can be an extremely useful tool to help you continue your
therapeutic work between sessions. With most clients I will usually
recommend using writing outside of session to support their healing
journey at some point during therapy.
There are a variety of different ways you can use writing, here are five that I often recommend:
Keep a journal
I recommend keeping a daily “journal” where you can write anything that
is on your mind. You might like to write down the events of the day,
feelings or ideas that have come up, or even write about intentions or
plans for the future.
Daily journaling can be helpful in many different ways. In the early stages
of therapy, it can help us to become more aware of our thoughts and
feelings, and how they relate to different life experiences. Through this
people are often better able to see how certain behaviours or thoughts
may be contributing to low mood or anxiety. It can also help you to
remember things that happened over the week that may be relevant to
discuss in therapy.
Writing after session
After a therapy session it can also be very helpful to take some time to sit
and write about what you experienced, what was discussed and any
Taking this time should help you to get even more out of sessions. By
reflecting on what just happened you will be more likely to remember key
lessons and insights. Sessions can also be quite emotional sometimes and
this can help you to have a smoother transition back to everyday life.
Write a letter
Humans are extremely social creatures and our well-being is intimately
tied to our relationships to others. As such many of the issues people seek
therapy for involve at some level a difficulty with another person. It may
not be helpful or even possible to speak directly to that person, however
writing a letter to them and keeping it to yourself or disposing of it
afterwards can be therapeutic.
Why is writing so powerful?
Writing is a way for us to express ourselves and also to connect with and listen to what we are feeling. These two processes are essential parts of healing for most people and will be explored in many different ways in the therapy room. Writing is a way that you can continue this process between session and is a great skill to develop to help you manage your long-term well-being.
Whilst writing can be very helpful. It can also be harmful if it is used as a tool to criticise, judge or shame ourselves. To ensure that your writing experience is therapeutic try to have a non-judgemental and self-compassionate approach to yourself during the process. This is a lot easier said than done though.
As a result, when starting out with writing it can be helpful to discuss your writing with your therapist. This way they can help you work towards creating this non-judgemental and self-compassionate attitude toward yourself and ensure that your writing practice is therapeutic.