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The Benefits of Therapeutic Writing

The Need for Emotional Well-being

For reasons that are too numerous to elaborate on in the context of this brief reflection, chronic disease sufferers have little opportunities to express their emotional experiences in current clinical settings. Especially in this time, when real-time, face-to-face consultations are subject to restrictions and high costs, the needs for emotional expression are insufficiently provided for.

But it is of the utmost importance to know that:

  1. generally, when people don’t express emotional upheavals, this inhibition increases stress and illness, with some notable nuances of the problem. Not expressing one’s distress is also associated with a breakdown of one’s social network, a decrease in working memory, sleep disruptions, alcohol and drug abuse, and an increased risk for additional traumatic experiences. Expressive writing or the unfettered talking about a trauma can often short circuit this process.
  1. it has been well researched and documented that people who are able, with appropriate support, to establish and maintain a good level of emotional well-being, are highly motivated and committed to on-going positive coping methods, effective self-management and adherence to medication-, lifestyle- and self-compassion regimen, with significant benefits to their physical well-being.

Hence, there is currently a dire need for caring and affordable emotional support by means of easily-accessible, online options, such as telephonic / video / email facilitation, therapeutic practices such as therapeutic writing, and a range of caring emotional wellness and resilience programs.

It is for this reason that Heart and Soul Coaching has designed facilitated programs and stand-alone courses that incorporate Reflective Practice and Therapeutic Writing.

Reflective Practice

Reflective Practice is generally understood to be: ”the ability to reflect on your actions so as to take a critical stance or attitude towards your own practice and that of your peers, engaging in a process of continuous adaptation and learning" (Schon, D, 1983).

Or, to be slightly more elaborate, it is a stepping back from your situation, from events and from your direct experience, enabling you to critically appraise those aspects. To reflect on events, on your experiences and the associated feelings creates an emotional distance so that what before was mostly chaos and overwhelm, will find a place in your emotional and mental life and, with it, evoke a sense of order and calm.

Therapeutic Writing

Therapeutic Writing, or Expressive Writing as it is also known, is a method of Reflective Practice, whereby you engage in a particular way of writing indicated by the guidance that accompanies the program.

Although there is no single reason that explains the effectiveness of this writing method, numerous controlled experiments and studies (Already by 2006, well over 150 had been published in English language journals) have demonstrated that:

  • upheavals that are kept secret are more likely to result in health problems than those that can be expressed more openly. Having any trauma and not expressing it further elevates the risk.
  • when people transform their feelings and thoughts about personally upsetting experiences into language, their physical and mental health often improve.
  • writing about traumas can result in healthy improvements in social, psychological, behavioral, and biological measures.
  • the writing paradigm is exceptionally powerful. Participants, from children to the elderly, from students to maximum security prisoners, disclose a remarkable range and depth of human experiences.
  • writing about upsetting experiences, although sometimes painful during the days of writing, produces long-term improvements in mood and indicators of well-being.
  • writing or talking about personally upsetting experiences, results in consistent and significant health improvements. The effects include both subjective and objective indicators of health and well-being. The disclosure phenomenon appears to generalize across settings, many individual difference factors, and is independent of social feedback.