Relaxation The 6 keys to therapeutic writing

The 6 keys to therapeutic writing


Writing is a way to express our deepest desires and to be able to achieve them. By writing what we feel we name our fears, we recognize them and we face them; We express concerns, we express our contradictions and, through words, it is easier for us to clarify them.


Therapeutic writing consists of writing for ourselves. So that? “We write to get rid of painful images. To establish an extraordinary fact. To pose a problem. To accept the rupture of the perfect or of what one believes is perfect. To go through a tunnel. To transcend… ”, affirms the pioneer of this approach, Silvia Adela Kohan, in the book Therapeutic writing.

Before the popularization of computers, the existence of blogs and social networks, many adolescents had a personal diary that was locked with a tiny key. There they poured the most unspeakable experiences, their feelings, reflections on life that they did not want to share with anyone.

And it is that when we write we name our fears, which allows us to recognize them, dissect them and face them. We express our contradictions, and thus we have the opportunity to clarify them. We give expression to our deepest desires and longings, which makes it easy for us to find a way to achieve them. Great geniuses from all disciplines have written on a paper or a notebook that problem that they could not solve, and that simple act has activated the creativity that, after a time of maturation, has made the answer emerge.


The mind is a centrifuge of ideas that runs at full speed. Some researchers have calculated that we can harbor up to 60,000 thoughts a day, and many of them are confused in an amalgam of ideas, sensations and emotions that bubble inside us like a swarm of enraged bees.

When we start to write, it is impossible to put all that on paper or in a text file, because the mind goes much faster than the hand or the hands, if we write on a computer and that is where the magic lies. That difference in speeds is what makes us choose the essential information and discard all the rest. “Writing is sifting”, affirms the author and speaker Álex Rovira.

If you write about your relationship with your father, for example, about the endless experiences you have shared, about the tapestry of complex feelings that shape the map of your relationship, you are going to have to pull a single thread. And so, taking your thought – and your heart – to the essential, you will end up finding your way in the middle of the forest.

Many people need to write what they feel to understand each other. And, in addition, the alchemy of writing allows them to assimilate hard experiences and even heal disorders. Silvia Adela Kohan tells in her essay that by writing Funes el memorioso, Borges overcame his insomnia and that Isabel Allende alleviated her pain over the death of her daughter by writing Paula.


The paper or the sheet of the word processor – is a launch pad, a fertile ground to cultivate where perhaps nothing will grow at first, but with time the sweetest fruits sprout. As we practice writing, this tool becomes more powerful and transformative, as the fantasy novelist Jane Yolen points out: “Exercise your writing muscles every day, even if it is just a letter, a few individual notes or an entry in your journal. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles contract. ”

If you’ve decided to exercise your writing muscles, the following tips will help make the experience highly therapeutic:

  • 1. Don’t judge yourself while you write. You should not be tempted to correct or rewrite what you are writing. It would be a brake to stop you drawing conclusions in the middle of writing. Its therapeutic power is in “letting go” of what you carry inside without censorship, opening the floodgates of the inner swamp. In the future, when you read it again, you will already be able to draw your conclusions.
  • 2. Be brave. There is no topic that is taboo or that should be set aside in therapeutic writing, since if it is knocking on the doors of your attention, it is precisely because you should pay attention to it. Silvia Adela Kohan says that: “You cannot be a coward when writing.” We write to discover what beats deep within us, to tell ourselves what we dare not express otherwise.
  • 3. Find your own voice. What others have written may be an inspiration, but not a way forward. Each person has their own way of expressing themselves and the function of creative writing is to discover it. Some people prefer short sentences, because they allow them to synthesize what they think. Others are explored by long circumlocution. All paths are valid.
  • 4. Ask yourself direct questions. If you don’t know what to write about, but want to exercise these muscles, asking yourself direct personal questions can lead to important discoveries. Some examples: What scares me at this point in my life and why? What is the existence that I would like to be living, instead of the one I have now? What important things am I not doing to attend to the urgent?
  • 5. Write yourself a letter. Mario Reyes proposes the exercise of writing a vital biographical summary, as if we had already died and an outside person remembered the best of us. Because this is the question: how would you like to be remembered? What is left for you to do so that your life can be told in this way? “The good news”, comments this Uruguayan-born coach at the end of the exercise, “is that you are alive: you can do it”.
  • 6. Over time, reread your writing. It is enlightening to revisit a personal text after a while, as it reveals what progress we have made and what supposed problems have ceased to exist without having to do anything special. Taking a look at our old writings gives us the look of an archaeologist interpreting the past. Understanding where you come from helps you realize where you are now to decide what to do with the rest of your life.
MindFixes Staff
MindFixes is dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental disorders and advocating, educating, and serving all people with mental and substance use conditions. MindFixes is determined to persevere, learn, grow, love and laugh through our wellness journey and we invite all to join.


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