Guest post by Mary Ann Cohen
MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE that writing is only for writers. However, just as with any form of art, writing is for all of us. And while it may be true that not all of us are artistically inclined and born with a particular talent, we are all born with the desire to express ourselves. Expressing yourself through creative activities such as writing can be very beneficial to your mental health and personal growth.
What is Writing Therapy?
Writing therapy can be defined as journaling for therapeutic benefits. This is a low-cost and easily accessible form of creative therapy anyone can try at home. No matter whether you decide to try it on your own or with the guidance of a professional therapist, writing can help you propel personal growth, practice creative expression, and feel a sense of empowerment and control over your life.Writing takes you on a journey of self-discovery that will eventually lead to self-realization and spiritual growth. Click To Tweet
Writing therapy is not the same as keeping a journal of life events. Although it can be free-form, the outcome is better if therapeutic writing is more directed and based on prompts or simple exercises. Instead of focusing on recording past events, you analyze your thoughts and feelings. All expressive art therapy activities aim to provide you with an outlet to release emotions and establish interaction with your inner self. When we have a hard time processing a particular emotional state, expressing ourselves through art may be the least painful way to do it.
How Writing Therapy Works
In order to enhance your personal growth, you must cultivate the ability to observe, express, and understand your own thoughts and feelings. There is no better way than writing to do it. Writing takes you on a journey of self-discovery that will eventually lead to self-realization and spiritual growth.
When you are feeling stressed or anxious, your thoughts do not come in complete sentences, but rather in an interrupted, looping cacophony. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can lead to crucial insights such as realizing that you are particularly scared about a situation, that you are no longer passionate about your job, that you are falling in love and similar. We often tend to hide things from ourselves and through creative expression we reveal the most vulnerable parts of ourselves.
To explain things in a more straightforward manner, when you are writing, painting, sculpting or engaging in some other creative activity, you are speaking to another consciousness. The reader and the speaker are two different parts of yourself who, joined together, could help you realize who you really are in the present moment. When writing is used as a form of creative therapy, it creates a mind-body-spirit connection.
By using your hands in positive ways (or when it comes to dancing, your entire body), you release all trapped worries, fears and memories in your body. By expressing and processing old concerns and stress, you are letting go of the past, stay in the present moment and give yourself space to heal emotionally.
Mental Health Benefits of Writing Therapy
Creative therapy can help improve memory, stimulate creative thinking, and enhance problem-solving skills and out-of-the-box thinking. If you have gone through a stressful event, expressive writing can help you find meaning in your experiences, view things from a new perspective and finally heal and go back to living a normal life. Creative activities can also help you see the silver linings in negative experiences, and lead to vital insights about yourself that will enhance personal growth.
Studies have shown that writing therapy is effective in treating mental conditions such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and process complex emotional states and feelings such as grief, loss, chronic illness issues and communication skill issues.
How to Get Started with Writing Therapy
There are many ways to start writing for therapeutic purposes, but to set yourself up for success, make sure you follow these simple tips:
Use whatever format you find comfortable and set a goal to write a little bit every day. Always start by writing down what you want to write about. Investigate your thoughts and feelings and be completely honest with yourself. It’s okay to write as much as you need, even if it’s only a few words. Never forget that the goal of writing therapy is not to become a skilled writer or write a novel, but to increase self-expression and self-awareness. You don’t have to write something perfect in order to appreciate and respect your art. You should always be proud that you have managed to express your thoughts and feelings authentically and without fear.
Popular therapeutic writing activities include free-writing, poetry, and composing a letter. No matter what you opt for, it is very important never to censor your thoughts and feelings but to acknowledge them. What makes writing therapeutic and so vital for personal growth is telling the truth.