Writing Cures: An Introductory Handbook of Writing in Counselling and Psychotherapy

By Gillie Bolton; Stephanie Howlett et al. | Go to book overview

Introduction: writing cures

Gillie Bolton

Writing is our cultural medium, particularly since the rise of the use of computers and virtuality, and the mushrooming of printed texts-books, journals, newspapers, magazines, signage, clothing. Writing is everywhere in the western world. Thinking onto the page is part of life. Therefore it would seem odd if writing were not an essential element of a therapist's, counsellor's or clinical psychologist's relationship with a client or patient. When Freud developed 'the talking cure', writing was something which special people did at special times. Some 150 years later things have changed.

Yet things have not changed fundamentally: writing has been known to be psychologically beneficial since Apollo was the god of both poetry and healing. The ancient Egyptians, one of the first peoples to write, knew that writing had tremendous power: they thought a god could be contacted directly through the written word, that a person could be damned forever, or their memory erased through writing or deletion of writing.

Writing is different from talking; it has a power all of its own, as Writing Cures amply demonstrates. It can allow an exploration of cognitive, emotional and spiritual areas otherwise not accessible, and an expression of elements otherwise inexpressible. The very act of creativity-of making something on the page which wasn't there before-tends to increase self-confidence, feelings of self-worth and motivation for life.

Writing can also be an unparalleled form of communication-with the self in the first instance, and later with another such as the therapist. A therapeutic session is brief; paper and pencil can always be there-in the middle of the night, for hour after hour if necessary. This can engender greater independence and self-reliance. Clients do not always need to be listened to by another; they can-to an extent-listen to themselves and work on their own understandings on their own. Writing can also (if not cathartically destroyed) create a record potentially invaluable to both client and therapist, together or separately. Writing also enables online communication, which can be a means of bringing client and therapist together when otherwise this might not be possible for geographical or personal reasons.

Writing Cures is a charting and demonstration of the theoretical underpinnings, the ways in which writing is already being used in therapy, and an indication of some

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