About Writing Therapy...

Writing therapy involves the expression of thoughts and feelings on paper as a means to promote health and well-being through the powers of the arts to heal.

There are a number of different approaches to writing therapy. Journal therapy focuses on expressing emotions, and delving into one's internal life so that, by putting a problem or concern into words, people can work out a solution. In poetry therapy, a person may be asked to create original verse, prose or other form of visible language that draws upon their experiences and emotions, or to write in response to an encounter with someone else's poems as a way to express their thoughts and feelings.

Poetry therapy and bibliotherapy are terms used synonymously to describe the intentional use of written language for healing and personal growth. The term biblio means books and, by extension, literature. Therapy is derived from the Greek word therapeia meaning to serve or help toward wellness. Basically then, bibliotherapy is the use of written language to promote health.

By encouraging people to put difficult emotions and memories into words, writing therapy provides therapeutic release. After a session of writing therapy, many people say they feel calmer and more in control.

The goals of writing therapy...

1. Develop accuracy and understanding in perceiving self and others
2. Enhance creativity, self-expression, and self-esteem
3. Strengthen interpersonal and communication skills
4. Ventilate overpowering emotions and release tension
5. Find new meaning through new ideas, insights, and information
6. Facilitate change
7. Increase coping skills and adaptive functions

A typical session is an interactive process comprised of three components: the literature, the trained facilitator, and the client(s). A trained biblio/poetry therapist selects a poem or other form of written or spoken media to serve as a catalyst and evoke feeling responses for discussion. The interactive process helps the individual to develop on emotional, cognitive, and social levels. The focus is on the person's response to the literature, always keeping in mind the psychological health and well-being of the client.

The poetry therapist creates a gentle, non-threatening atmosphere where people feel safe and are invited to share openly and honestly what comes up for them. The facilitator chooses literature that will be effective therapeutically, that is, life-affirming. This requires training, extensive knowledge of multi-media literature, and clinical skills.

The value of the interaction lies in the four-fold process:

1. Recognition - The participants recognize or identify with some aspect of the selected material.
2. Examination - The participants explore specific details of the material with the assistance of the bibliotherapist.
3. Juxtaposition - Using contrasts and comparisons to look at an experience from varying points of view to provide enhanced awareness that may become the basis for wise choices in attitude and behavior.
4. Application to Self - In making a connection between him or her self and the literature, and by applying the new knowledge in the real world, a participant can experience increased strength and self-understanding as well as enhanced interpersonal relationships.
The process of reading and writing, encouraged by the sensitive guidance of professionals trained in bibliotherapy, acts as a significant catalyst for self-integration.

Research studies published by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and others show that writing therapy is effective assistance for myriad situations, personality types, cognitive capacities and literacy levels. Some scientists believe that the release offered by writing affects the body's physical capacity to withstand stress and to fight off stress-related infection and disease. Writing therapy has also been shown to have a positive impact on heart rate and blood pressure.

Writing therapy has been used effectively to help people with a number of physical and emotional problems, including life-threatening illnesses such as HIV and cancer; chronic conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis; drug and alcohol addictions including smoking; eating disorders; and trauma. It has been shown to be beneficial for combating low self-esteem, depression, and stress-related ailments. Additionally, writing is a helpful coping tool for grief and loss, spirit-mending, caregiver support, and for anyone who is seeking cathartic relief, self-regulation, self-knowledge or guidance through transition. Words heal.

All material, images, and text on this site are copyright of Linda Lanza ©1981-2013 and may not be reproduced in any form without expressed written permission.

For more information or to schedule a workshop, contact:

Linda Lanza
P. O. Box 7695
North Brunswick, NJ 08902