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3 minutes reading time (506 words)

Love & Loss: Creative Therapeutic Writing on Relationships - a book review by Elizabeth Dunford

Love & Loss: creative therapeutic writing on relationships

Monica Suswin

Cabin Press

In this short book, Monica Suswin explores the universal experience of love and loss – and how creative therapeutic writing can help us make sense of it.

This is a very personal and candid testimony. The author probes her own experiences and the various ways in which she has used writing to deal with them. She generously shares this journey in the belief that the writing process is both transformative and healing.

Sometimes playful, sometimes painfully raw, always fascinating, Monica Suswin’s account reveals a complex inner life. Writing becomes a character in itself – a cartographer, who makes maps to guide us through experience, and to help us live more fully. Suswin draws on her training in humanistic psychotherapy and on diverse sources ranging from Jung and Hegel to D.H.Lawrence and Edvard Munch; she provides a helpful and accessible Appendix for the reader who requires further enlightenment.

There are chapters devoted to writing from dreams; erotic love; the end of relationships; maternal love and love in later life.

Each chapter concludes with very practical ideas for writing, which would be equally useful for an individual seeking self-development or in group settings. These prompts are clearly and concisely presented and would be a rich source for practitioners in helping professions. They include unsent letters, freewriting, dramatic dialogues, ekphrastic writing, writing from a ‘naïve’ and ‘wise’ point of view, playing with personal pronouns to shift perspective, and using symbols and archetypes. The author is keenly aware of the need for self-care and provides important advice on when not to write!

For me, the appeal of this book is the way in which Monica Suswin shares practical ideas for writing which are rooted in personal experience and have been thoroughly tested by the author. I was intrigued by the concept of Writing as a character – a nurturing, almost maternal companion who can help us resolve painful experiences by externalising them, and who will often surprise us - but who will ultimately lead us to integration of the self and to improved relationships with others.

This mini-book is the second in a projected series On Creative Therapeutic Writing (the first, A Fox Crossed My Path, deals with depressive illness). I would thoroughly recommend it to therapeutic writing facilitators and to individuals wishing to make sense of relationships through writing.


You can find out more about Monica Suswin and her books on her website here:

Lizzie Dunford spent her childhood in a seaside manse in Ulster, where she scribbled stories as the Troubles rumbled. Studying English Literature at university scared her off writing for decades, during which she taught English in secondary schools in Belfast, Ely and Nottingham. The introduction of the short-lived A Level in Creative Writing kickstarted her own writing again. Lizzie has just completed her MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes with the Metanoia Institute and is now working free-lance. She is interested in the relationship between poetry and well-being, especially mental health. 


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Saturday, 13 April 2024

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