Story Writing Is Often An Overlooked Therapeutic Technique
There’s a growing movement in the psychotherapy community to use short fiction writing as a means of therapy. This joyful undertaking is unique among the arts; it offers the benefits of sitting down and focusing on putting together something concrete and tangible while letting the mind travel to any place at the same time as it wishes. There is a third benefit, and it can be the biggest one. Reading the story together as therapist and client in a safe setting will provide added insight into the client’s personality or personal challenges they are now facing. Purpose Anyone who is literate can write a short story. Some may be challenged by this more than others, and some clients may decline to participate in this type of exercise. The writer should always be presented with the option to share the story or keep it to herself. In either case the process is an undertaking worth taking a shot at. What does it take to write a short story? It allows the mind to wander to places that are not real. This gives oneself permission to visit and work through those places in a healthy and productive fashion. Because the narrative is fictional, even though it will inevitably be crafted in some shape or form based on the experiences of the writer, this creates a healthy separation between traumatic events and the shame that often comes along with them. By telling a story, not just conceiving of it and then letting it slip into the wind but actually telling it on a page, any writer can create something wonderful out of thin air. With individuals who appear stuck in place and having trouble finding motivation toward life in general, dreaming up a short story may turn out to be a fun diversion and also a way to be productive. Implementation There are a few ground rules to follow if adopting this technique. The client should never be coerced or otherwise pressured into starting a project at all. Some may simply have no interest, while others will likely decline to take the time and effort it takes to write when one has never written before. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time to discuss the benefits but pushing the issue defeats the purpose of the exercise. When a story is completed it needs to be made clear that the writer can choose to share it, or not. It should not be expected the story be read aloud or handed over in written form. For many the act of writing in and of itself will be the purpose. Others may be eager to share something they have created in a safe setting. In this case the copy should always be returned to the client afterward, unless they specifically request to gift a copy. Any discussion should be open-ended without a list of questions drawn up in advance or too much effort placed into deciphering the story’s meaning. It may be useful to discuss what the client was thinking about while putting together different parts of the narrative. Lastly and most importantly, it need always be said and put into practice that such stories are treated with the same mandatory confidentiality as spoken communication. Sharing the story with anyone would not only be a betrayal of trust but could lead to leakage of what might otherwise turn into a profitable venture for the writer.