Therapeutic writing can be a power tool to help increase self awareness and deepen the self reflection process.  The main purpose is to help you explore any issues, until you get to the core of what you are experiencing.   The first part of therapeutic writing is to write down what you are feeling (unfiltered), the second part is to respond, ask questions and explore as an ‘observer’ or your wise/core self.  

Some intentions to keep in mind, to help with the process:

  • During the second part of the exercise when you are more the ‘observer’, don’t judge what any feelings as good or bad - it just is.  Be curious about why you are feeling that way instead of judging it.
  • The purpose is not to “fix” anything.  Nothing is broken, especially not you.  The exploration will just help to progress further in your thinking, awareness and understanding.
  • The more honest you are – the more you will get out it.  It takes courage to have that raw honesty … and sometimes trust in knowing that you will be okay.
  • Once you get to the core of things, they transform.  But, changing things or ‘solving things’ can’t be the main purpose or intention, as that is too much of a suffocating hold on the process.  Releasing control of wanting that to happen will help you achieve it more authentically.
  • The point is not to eliminate ‘negative’ emotions forever, but rather connect with them.  Get to know them, get to know why they have shown up, and be okay when they do visit.  This helps us to learn how to better deal with them and ultimately not be afraid of them.​


These are only guidelines – it is impossible for me to put any words down that will universally fit or be relevant to all possible challenges that people face.  So, take what you need and ignore what you don’t.  The point is to first connect with what is happening, write all that down, unfiltered, raw and real.  Then, in the second part you become more of an observer of what is happening.

First, write down what you want, need and have to say (don’t worry about anything except writing it down and getting it out of your head, heart, body, … whatever it is and where ever you store it – release it with words).

Write:

What the problem is.
How the problem makes you feel.  What emotions are present.
What is happening as a result.
Write down any worries or fears you have about the problem.
Include what your thoughts are – what sort of things do you tell yourself regarding this issue.
 
THEN LEAVE IT A WHILE.

It might be for an hour while you go for a walk,
It might be a day,
It might be a week,
It might be longer,

When you are ready to continue writing, take a moment to ground your self first.  You are going to comment on what you have previously written, and add to it.  But, from a different perspective – where you are looking AT the problem and the feelings associated (rather than them being inside and a part of you).

When you read back what you wrote early – it might help to imagine that a friend wrote it.  Remind yourself that a human being willing to be vulnerable wrote it.  Offer compassion and kindness in your comments – the same way that you would if anybody else had written it.

Once you have connected with your core self - that space inside you, where everything you have ever experienced has been used to gain strength, understanding and wisdom.  That’s the place we are connecting with, that’s the part of you that is going to help you address what you have already written.

You may want to write this second part in a different colour or style to easily see the difference…. although eventually it all becomes the same voice again.

As you write; try to open things, ask for explanations, redefine what words mean, ask questions and then answer them.

Identify Thoughts
Identify what the thoughts and thinking are like – are they helpful, illogical or unkind?  Are they true?  Do you think other people think this way?
What would you think if a friend said those types of things to you?  Would it be acceptable? Mean?  Maybe even abusive?

Clarify emotions
Label feelings and emotions as specifically as you can (ie; you might be upset – but what other emotions do you see being present? use the list of emotions to help if needed). 

Look for patterns
Explore when else this emotion/issue turned up in your life?
How do you react when it shows up?
What meaning do you place on this issue/emotion?
Is this the first time you are experiencing anything like this?

Identify your expectations
What are your expectations regarding this problem?
What are your expectations about the way you feel emotionally?

Identify beliefs
What beliefs surround the issue or your feelings.  Are the beliefs valid?  Are they useful?  What impact do these beliefs have?

Address control
Do you have any control over the problem?
Do you have any control over the emotion that is triggered?
Do you have any control over how you respond to the emotion?
What choices do you have available to you?

Clarify what the problem is
Is the problem the problem (ie; what happened)
Is the emotion the problem?
Is your reaction to the emotion the problem? How would you like to react?

Ask yourself questions
What do I need?
What am I deprive of?
Am I being kind to myself? 
Am I being compassionate to myself?
How do I want things to be?

Offer advice
What might be helpful?
Is acceptance needed anywhere?
Would kindness make things easier?
Is patience needed?  Is action needed?  Is just sitting in the ‘I don’t know’ unknown place needed for a while?
Would changing the way you talk to yourself help?
Offer whatever advice you have…..

Lastly, imagine what your life would be like:
if you didn’t have this issue?
if you didn’t have the thoughts about this issue?
if you didn’t have the beliefs that surround this issue?
if you weren’t fearful of anything around the issue?
if you didn’t react to the emotion?

Which emotions might be present instead?
Who would you be?

Some times this process continues even after you stop writing, so give it a day or two for the process to continue.

  

Guidelines for Therapeutic Writing

Soulful Self-Care

Therapeutic Writing

Writing can be very therapeutic and has many benefits.  The therapeutic writing on offer here is more of a teaching, to connect with self awareness and increase self reflection.


Therapeutic writing is designed to:


  • Develop the awareness of the ‘observer’ self,
  • Helps you explore things to gain a better understanding,
  • Challenge perceptions and offers the ability to gain a different perspective,
  • Create self reflection around the stories that shape your life and the impact of beliefs,
  • Increase the connection you have with your self (which flows on and into the other relationships in your life).
  • Think in a meaningful way, rather than being 'stuck in the mind'.