Therapeutic Writing

hostaMy work as a writer/editor and as a counselor dovetail in Story Groups, in the work I do with clients who want to use writing in therapy, and at the four-day Story Workshop, where we use writing to deepen the counseling process.

What It Is

The short description of therapeutic writing is this: You write about an incident in your life; I read and comment on it from a counselor’s perspective; then we discuss it together. But that definition doesn’t capture how powerful it can be to write your stories. Therapeutic writing adds another dimension to regular counseling because the process of writing your stories reveals subtleties that are often missed when the story is verbal. It can clarify important parts that you are skipping over and help you understand why a particular memory bothers you or seems to have a hold on you. The writing process forces us to slow down and carefully choose which of the thousands of details are the important ones. It invites us to take our stories seriously and experience them in a way that is life-giving and redemptive.

As I interact with your story, I focus on the macro level (images and metaphors, showing instead of telling, using the tools of fiction writing) instead of the micro level (sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and even some larger issues like flow and coherence). The goal is not to publish but to understand. I can certainly help you work toward getting published, but that is a very different type of editing.

The goal of therapeutic writing is to help you experience more freedom through better understanding the events, both big and small, that have shaped you. Usually I offer writing therapy in conjunction with regular counseling, but it also can be used as a powerful tool to bring to sessions with another therapist.

How It Works

You choose a story from your childhood and write it, paying attention to the setting and people’s faces and what you felt. Then you e-mail your story (preferably in Word) four or five days prior to our meeting. I read and write comments on your story and e-mail it back to you a day prior to our conversation. At our appointment time, you visit my office and we discuss the story.

Cost

I charge $130 per 45-minute session. Most people find it helpful to have 25 minutes of editing and 45 minutes of conversation. Longer pieces, over 600 words or so, require more time for editing. I suggest that we set up three sessions and then assess how our process is working. My hope is that the writing would help you make new connections and see in new ways.