Writing for Wellbeing
Theory, Research and Practice
- Available for pre-order on June 19, 2023. Item will ship after July 10, 2023
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Writing can support our wellbeing under the most difficult of life circumstances, helping us to adapt to significant change and to make sense of loss. Numerous Expressive Writing studies have confirmed this and methodologies for practice underpin its effectiveness. However, few detailed accounts have previously offered explanations of how and why putting pen to paper can be so beneficial. This book of 14 chapters enters the landscape of Writing-for-wellbeing: it demonstrates the transformative power of writing in a wide range of contexts. Topics include how two young widows used writing to foster post-traumatic growth, the empowerment and healing potential of Black women’s blogs, playwriting exploring LGBTQ identities and queer belonging, how writing helps the newly literate give voice to their trauma in the Australian outback, and how the smuggled writing of Behrouz Boochani gave the world access to the voice of refugees held in offshore detention. This resource discusses the theory and research at the foundation of writing and poetry as a therapeutic and reconstructive practice. It aims to make the topic accessible and affirms its key place alongside visual arts and music-based therapies. This book contains individual and global perspectives, addressing at its core the ubiquitous nature of trauma in our culture and the potential for its reshaping. This volume is a holistic and inspiring resource for those who would use or teach Writing-for-wellbeing.
Table of Contents
Reinekke Lengelle and Katrin Den Elzen
Chapter 1: When your Partner Dies: A Conversation about Writing and Post-Traumatic Growth in Widowhood
Katrin Den Elzen & Reinekke Lengelle
Chapter 2: Poetry and Connection: Encounter, Surprise, and Dialogue
Reinekke Lengelle, Jon Sayers, & Geri Giebel Chavis
Chapter 3: The Write Road to Self-Discovery, Recovery, and Growth
Chapter 4: Managing Life Writing and Trauma: A Reflection
Chapter 5: The Self as Chambered Nautilus: Discovering the Healing Power of Writing as a Graduate Student
Chapter 6: Writing as an Antidepressant in a Pandemic
Chapter 7: Teaching Therapeutic Writing in a Higher Education Context
Chapter 8: Narrating Grief and Loss: A Writing-For-Wellbeing Study
Katrin Den Elzen and Robert A. Neimeyer
Chapter 9: Life Writing as Resistance: Human Rights Defender Behrouz Boochani and Australia’s Offshore Detention Regime
Rahel Den Elzen and Adrienne Munro
Chapter 10: A Black Woman’s Blog Posts: Writing for Personal and Social Empowerment and Healing
Chapter 11: Creative Writing, Reading and Queer Belonging: Gender Insubordination in the American Deep South
Chapter 12: Doctors Hold Untold Stories too: Writing the Self in Medicine and Health as an Act of Self-Care
Chapter 13: Memoir and Reader Perception: The Reader-Author Relationship
Katrin Den Elzen
Katrin Den Elzen, PhD, is a research associate in the School of School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry, Curtin University, Perth, Australia and a guest lecturer for therapeutic writing for graduate students in counselling at Murdoch University, Perth. She works as a grief counsellor and Writing-for-wellbeing facilitator. As a component of her doctorate in creative writing, Katrin has written a grief memoir entitled My Decision about her experiences as young widow. She is a special issue’s editor for two Special Issues on Living with Loss for the British Journal of Guidance and Counselling. She has been widely published, including in the British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, The Journal of Constructivist Psychology, Life Writing, TEXT, The European Journal of Life Writing, and LIRIC.
Reinekke Lengelle, PhD, is associate professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Athabasca University, Canada and a researcher at The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands. Her book "Writing the self in bereavement: A story of love, spousal loss, and resilience" was published by Routledge in 2021 and won the Qualitative Inquiry Book Award in 2022 and the "Way of Life: Best Book Award for Ethnography" in 2021. Her Dutch book on Writing the Self using poetry is called "Jezelf Schrijven" (2018). Reinekke has spent 25 years teaching "Writing the self", developed several graduate courses, and is the author of numerous book chapters and articles on this topic as it pertains to personal development, mourning, and career learning. She is also a symposium co-editor with the British Journal of Guidance and Counselling.
"Den Elzen and Lengelle have gathered experts from a range of disciplines and perspectives to illustrate the depth and breadth of Writing-for-well-being as a means of addressing human experience to facilitate growth. The scope is inspiring. In particular, authors address writing as an approach to trauma, loss and fear which beset modern society. At last we have a book that brings together current research, theory and practice with the authority to show that this field has come of age. It will inspire practitioners, writers, therapists and individuals to take up the pen and begin to understand more deeply the experiences that make them who they are."
Kate Thompson, Existential Therapist and author of Therapeutic Journal Writing: An Introduction for Professionals
"Den Elzen and Lengelle give a clear guide to illuminating our lives by writing its stories. They guide us through the theory and practice of developmental reflective writing: we do not learn from experience alone, but from what we do with it afterwards. We are inspired to restore (re-story) our relationship with ourselves, with others and with our world. A life-enhancing process: we learn, in this writing, to ‘tread softly’."
Dr. Gillie Bolton, author of The Writer’s Key: Creative Solutions for Life and co-founder of Lapidus
"A comprehensive, passionate blend of the theory and practice of Writing-for-wellbeing that offers a rich expanse of diverse international writing from practitioners and academics who are using, researching, developing, and teaching creative practices such as poetry, memoir, or autobiographical writing to support recovery and promote personal growth. This book makes an important contribution to a rapidly growing body of knowledge, bringing together current research of personal and social transformation through the use of writing."
Dr. Kim Etherington, Professor Emerita of Narrative and Life Story Research, University of Bristol, UK, and author of Becoming a Reflexive Researcher: Using Ourselves in Research
"Writing-for-wellbeing teaches us in a sublime way how re-storying significant losses processes the event and restores wellbeing. The book is an ideal guide for creating meaning not only for the traumatized person but also for those seeking to address change and transition. A truly dialogical achievement!"
Dr. Hubert Hermans, Narrative Psychologist and Researcher, Founder of Dialogical Self Theory and Professor Emeritus Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
"This book transforms our day-to-day reality by embracing the power of writing, especially for those who have never considered themselves writers. It allows us to re-evaluate our interactions with the world around us and reinterpret our experiences through observation, self-exploration, reflection, creation, and healing. I’m especially inspired by this application to medicine wherein both patients and practitioners share in the illness narrative rather than place protective barriers between them. In so doing, writing invites the healing element of empathy while embracing, sharing, and joining in the shared human experience."
Dr. Susan M. Wieczorek, Associate Professor of Communication, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, USA
"That writing has the ‘power to transform’ and respond to ‘individual and collective trauma’ is well documented here. Den Elzen and Lengelle’s book is a welcome addition to the growing field of Writing-for-Wellbeing. These chapters are generous offerings from experienced writers, scholars and practitioners who openly share their skills as facilitators and personal reflections as individuals healing themselves. The contributions explore an unexpectedly diverse range of applications and cast light on a wide variety of global settings. Writing-for-Wellbeing narrates the successes and celebrates new possibilities in this important area."
Cheryl Moskowitz, author of The Psychodynamics of Writing, and co-founder of Lapidus