"The self on the page": the therapeutic value of writing


  • Zarine Roodt University of the Free State


This article comprises a review of writing as therapy, a therapy practised by the client her- or himself as a means of achieving equilibrium on a psychological level - the self on the page1. In this sense it focuses on the   therapeutic value of autobiographical writing - which is inherently a communication act. It underscores a substantial body of research which validates the notion that individuals can bring about physical and psychological change by writing about traumatic experiences. Writing in this manner vents the emotions associated with trauma, enables the individual to gain distance and insight, and could - ultimately - lead to the integration of such experiences and emotions. Therefore, it should be understood that writing in this way is a form of “selfhelp” therapy. However, some measure of support is advised for the individual wishing to practise writing as a form of personal therapy. In its treatment of the therapeutic value of writing, this article spans two broad themes: first, it posits a rationale for the therapeutic value of writing, and secondly, it explores the application of writing as therapy. In this process, a number of related aspects are reviewed, namely the therapeutic benefits, as well as the constraints related to this form of writing. On a more practical level, specific techniques and exercises are discussed briefly.


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