When I think of my past year at LIRIC, I am reminded of Simba from The Lion King....
A growing number of studies on the effects of expressive writing demonstrate an improvement in the long-term physical health of participating writers. However, the findings for psychological and emotional health benefits are not as robust or consistent. With reference to the transformation-through-writing model, I take an autoethnographic approach to explore how creative writing supported an increasing level of self-awareness about my own experience of childhood sexual abuse. I attribute the positive effect writing had on my psychological and emotional health to a combination of concepts discussed in the literature on expressive writing, namely emotional catharsis and cognitive processing. From this analysis, I suggest that creative writing may be an effective healing model for adult survivors of childhood trauma if the expressive writing paradigm is adjusted to align with individual stages of healing, recognize the individual’s culture and coping style, and provide sufficient time for the individual to heal through writing.
After presenting several theories and dimensions of loneliness, this article sets forth specific ways in which the practice of poetry therapy, which involves facilitating expressive writing and sharing of personal responses to select poems, can not only offer relief to those experiencing loneliness, but also foster empathy toward individuals suffering from a sense of isolation. Addressed to professionals engaged in helping individuals in clinical and non-clinical settings, this article draws from the author’s experiences as a certified poetry therapist and psychologist working in clinical and community-based educational settings and also from the author’s workshop presented at the 2019 Creative Bridges Conference.Poetic materials, along with creative writing and group discussion prompts, are referenced as apt choices for addressing loneliness arising from life transitions involving loss, lack of belonging due to social discrimination, communication breakdown, and chronic dysfunctional patterns. A final section of this article briefly addresses the way in which poetic expression can enhance appreciation for solitude as a healthful state differing from loneliness.
This paper is an account of a self-heuristic enquiry into the experience of using artwork and reflective creative writing to map fragments of my dreams over a ten-week period in early 2020. During this time, I generated a series of dream maps and associated reflective creative writing, from which emerged themes of orientation, perspective, journey, beasts, and body. As a cross-art exercise in transforming ephemeral dream fragments into concrete maps, poems, dialogues, and other written forms, it was an extended journaling of personal metaphor that was both playful and deeply informative. I argue that the novel techniques I used in this project contributed to integration of my self and could similarly benefit others. My intention for this paper is to share personal discoveries I made through the work, and to offer practical guidance—in the form of a nine-step procedure—to other practitioners who would like to try this approach.
This paper explores the spiritual health of an individual living recovered from an eating disorder. The goal is to advance understanding of diary writing as a contribution to healing and wellbeing. Frameworks guiding this study include autobiographical/performative and document analysis approaches. Data focused on spirituality was collected from diaries, journals, and art created, each critically analyzed for leading themes. Themes emerging from the inquiry included individual courage and connectedness, the role of diary writing and gaining self-knowledge, and maintaining daily spirituality in recovery.
In this paper, I explore my autistic identity through poetry. I briefly explain the medical model of autism, diagnosed as a disorder through the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), highlighting the amygdala as a brain structure that is particularly affected by autism. I outline my writing process for this project and offer suggestions for practitioners or other autistic writers. I then present a collection of sonnets where I problematize the deficit-based pathologizing of autism in the DSM-5, contrasting it with the social model of disability. I conclude with my ambivalence toward getting a medical diagnosis.
This paper explores themes of the liberatory in therapeutic writing. It includes a narrative account of a series of difficult encounters at a writing for wellbeing conference and then reflects on this through an ‘otherwise’ lens. By engaging Saidiya Hartman’s term otherwise, the author highlights possibilities for practice in the field as it navigates the unbearable encounter of race. Terms such as therapeutic writing, creative writing for therapeutic purposes (CWTP), and writing for wellbeing, which do not explicitly reference the liberatory, or processes of ‘getting free’, do not account for the experience, knowledge, and possibilities of Black life. Writing OtherWise is proposed as a mode of practice that creates capacity for being with the difficult encounter and expanded possibilities for writing as personal and collective freedom-making.
Lowen Clarke presents a new therapeutic aide based on a phenomenon that complements the basics of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing). The phenomenon has been made into a useful tool as a picture book. This combination has calming results for clients with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and dissociation. Lowen introduces the phenomenon, the book, and the lived experience that underlay its discovery and publication
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