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WRITING AS A THERAPEUTIC TOOL

Posted by Tess Adams

311 Days Ago


"I was angry!  So angry...

I began stabbing at the cornflakes packet with my spoon when I was ten.  Then I took to writing big angry words on the cardboard - nasty words, swear words.  Then I felt better.  So I tore then up.  I found solace in writing large angry words on paper (toilet paper included).  I took up French,  and German – I had discovered a hundred ways to say ‘screw the lot of you." 

Sometimes that's all you need to do - to get it out.  Grab your pen, your paper and just start to write. Or open your laptop and get those fingers moving. Commit to writing, say a page, of absolute gobbldigook, "I am writing, I don't know what I'm writing, I am writing, I am...  There is ONE rule though:  you need to forget all about the spelling, the grammar the construction of sentences!  Let yourself go, let it all go - pour it onto the page. Eventually, a cohesive thought will emerge:  I hate my therapist!  Write it down.  Anything at all that comes into your head, write it down.  Find yourself a notebook that you like - preferably with tear-out pages.  Because I suspect there may be a few flying towards the bin.  It doesn't matter.  And then you might just one day write something that makes sense to you and you think "Hey did I really write that?"  You see when you get into the zone, when you enter that 'stream of consciousness, your thoughts can bypass your conscious every-day mind, they can wriggle their way out past you, despite you.  Then they are out there, not festering so much in there - in your head (ache), your heart (ache), your sore throat, your nervous cough. And you do feel better.  Trust me.  Try it.  Stick with it.  Its like any new habit - takes a while to form.

And then there's the diary or the journal - these can be therapeutic too.  You don't need to feel pressure to write in it everyday - just whenever you feel like it. It can help you to notice patterns in your own behaviour and emotional responses. It is an opportunity to reflect on your experiences, feelings, thoughts and behaviour. And it can be a way of expressing yourself, especially expressing difficult or deep emotions relating to your relationships. Again, it doesn't matter about the spelling, punctuation or whether its even readable.  

A man walked into his counsellor's office a few months ago because of issues around his sexuality. He was not looking for a cure, merely to “be happy in my own skin”. Looking back through journal entries helped to clarify things for him; to put “things in perspective”. He was able to see the 'real' meaning of things he had written in frustration, in anger, in desperation.

Writing, be it scraps of paper, be it a journal, be it a file on your computer, can tell you things you didn't even know about yourself - it can show you what you want to change, what is missing from your life, or what you would like to do more of. It can be empowering. It can be a release. It can be an alternative to self destructive behaviour.  

And here's a little poem I wrote for you:

My therapist is acting out

playing up, abandoning me to my demons, he’s changed

our sessions, messed them up, messed me up, he says

he’s dealing with an elderly relative's illness, he says

he needs to make a few alterations, he says

it like I’m a broken light bulb he’ll get around to fixing

one day and I say that’s fine, I can handle the  break.

 

                                         To prove it I acquire another tattoo, a slithery snake

but then he tells me we’re good again, we’re OK

his sick elderly relative has passed away.

 

                                                And you know I’m glad about that, and then

I’m guilty for being glad about that, and then I’m angry

for having to feel like that, and in our next session he spots

the snake curlicue across my hand (like it’s hard to miss)

and he says: OK, Let Me Have It.  So I do.  I tell him I’m furious

with my mum, the bitch left me when I was young...

Oh yeah, I def. let him have it.  Right?

So get writing...

Copyright: Tess Adams, 13 June 2017


Tess Adams

Article written by Tess Adams - Leigh

I am a fully qualified, experienced psychodynamic counsellor and I can also work in a cognitive way (CBT) when the situation demands it. CBT is useful for treating the symptoms but not the underlying issues. It can be very useful as a starting point to equip you with... [read more]

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