“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear,
my courage is reborn.”
The aim of the therapeutic writing group is to help women foster insight and self-awareness as well as to generate support from others through the process of writing. The group meets weekly for a 75-minute session.
WHAT TO EXPECT AS A MEMBER OF THIS GROUP:
After initial introductions and check-ins, we go straight to the business of writing. At the beginning of each writing period, the therapist presents a journaling prompt to the group. This prompt can take the shape of a poem or a sentence stem, it could be an excerpt from a book, or it might originate from something that’s emerged organically in the group. Depending on the nature of the prompt, we might spend some time with the prompt itself (as with a poem), or not…. For example, the group might be offered the following prompt: “I boarded the plane and took my seat. It was then that I realized I was sitting next to a younger version of myself. I felt…” and then be instructed to write in what is referred to as stream-of-consciousness style, meaning writing whatever comes to mind without pause or interruption or editing until directed to stop (for maybe five minutes or so). The objective is to keep the pencil/pen moving, even if thoughts don’t flow freely. People often struggle with this initially; the urge to edit is powerful, but the idea is to let your mind unfold on the page without judgment or censure.
Writing periods are followed by an invitation to share one’s writing or one’s experience of writing with the group. We then make room for reflections and feedback from the therapist and group members. Depending on how things progress, there might be up to five writing/sharing periods within a single group session.
ABOUT THE WRITING TECHNIQUE:
The aim of this writing process is to allow unknown or repressed material to emerge into the conscious mind. That is why we begin the writing periods with journaling prompts, which serve as a tool to prod the unconscious. This process is further supported by the technique of stream-of-consciousness writing, which serves to circumvent our natural tendency to censor our thoughts and feelings. Oftentimes, unwanted, compulsive behaviors are driven by unconscious thoughts and feelings. Becoming more aware of these thoughts and feelings can help us move through the world in a more deliberate and productive fashion.
ABOUT THE GROUP ENVIRONMENT:
Write Your Heart Out… is not a class or a workshop; it’s group therapy. This is important because the therapeutic environment, protected by principles of confidentiality and non-judgement, creates a uniquely safe space for vulnerable, hidden/edited material to find expression. Paying attention to what the writing reveals and then further validating and processing it within the group has a powerfully beneficial therapeutic effect.
An added benefit of group therapy is that people can discover that there is a universal quality to our most vulnerable and private perceptions and impulses. This insight can reduce a sense of isolation, shame, anxiety, and depression; it fosters a deeper sense of connection with others as well as, ultimately, with oneself.
DO I NEED EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER?
No experience needed. Again, Write Your Heart Out… is a therapy group, not a class or workshop. The idea is to use writing as a tool to facilitate self-awareness. The group avoids critique and pays no attention to grammar, spelling or structure. In fact, the intention is to leave all that behind.
HOW DO I KNOW IF THE GROUP IS RIGHT FOR ME?
The group is suitable for adult women who wish to know themselves more deeply through the process of writing therapeutically. In order to determine whether the group is an appropriate fit and to learn more about individual needs and expectations, the therapist meets with each potential participant for a 30-minute session before admitting her to the group.