Writing Therapy: A Vital Tool in Holistic Rehab Recovery

She couldn’t get the words to come out. Everything was tangled up inside her. She was bursting with thoughts and emotions. But her voice couldn’t find them.

Until…she picked up a pen.

That’s when the floodgates opened. Things spilled onto the page that she didn’t realize she’d had on her mind. All her fears, hopes, struggles…everything she hadn’t been able to say to others – there it was, in blue ink.


She could breathe again. She could feel again. And it was a beautiful thing.

It’s a powerful tool. Writing. Jotting. Scribbling. Journaling. Whatever you want to call it, it helps.

And in recovery, writing therapy can be crucial.

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The Power of the Pen

Writing therapy is a way for anyone – yes, anyone – to access and express thoughts and emotions that might otherwise lay hidden for a lifetime.

It doesn’t require any writing skills. It won’t be edited or graded. It doesn’t even have to be legible to anyone but you.

It’s simple, but so meaningful. Anne Frank said it well when she noted, “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

And that’s basically what happens with writing therapy. Sure, you’ve gone through detox, but drugs and alcohol aren’t the only things you need to get out of your system.

On the path to sobriety, there are many tears. And joys. And setbacks and solutions. For most people, there are far more ideas, regrets, trials, and victories than they could ever find words for in a counseling session.

The tongue simply can’t find a way to tell the tales.

But the pen can.

Writing Therapy as an Opportunity for Recovery

Writing therapy is an opportunity. As Flannery O’Connor explained, “I write to discover what I know.” When you write as part of your recovery, you learn more about yourself.

You reveal what’s really inside. You see how far you’ve come. You start to make sense of where you’re going.

“Tears are words that need to be written.”

~Paulo Coelho

It provides release. Clarity. And a cleansing you might not achieve in other types of therapy. And it carries over.

As you get your thoughts and emotions out on paper, it helps you move forward in other areas. It can help you organize thoughts so you can one day speak them. It can help you create lists and goals (and allow you to look back at all you’ve accomplished).

It can inspire you to try new things—no longer stifled by substances, you may be surprised to discover what’s inside you.

Yes, Writing Therapy Really Works

Writing therapy is a tool that’s often used in rehab and recovery—and not just because people like to write. There’s science behind it.

has shown that writing about distressing events helps reduce the negative feelings. It can help people recover more quickly from traumatic events.

It can also help those who are struggling with various mental health issues, including anxiety. These conditions often involve thoughts that are difficult to process, and researchers explain that writing “allows you to get those thoughts down on paper, process them effectively, and finally dispatch with them.”

Other studies have shown that writing can help with depression. Research shows that writing reduces the frequency of depressive thoughts and reduces overall levels of depression in those diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

One study even discovered that “writing in a journal can be as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) when it comes to reducing the risk of depression in young adults.”

How does it work?

Maud Purcell, psychotherapist and journaling expert, explains:

“Writing accesses the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to do what it does best, i.e. create, intuit and feel. In this way, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us.”

Kathleen Adams, psychotherapist and author, adds:

“Journal therapy is all about using personal material as a way of documenting an experience, and learning more about yourself in the process. It lets us say what’s on our minds and helps us get — and stay — healthy through listening to our inner desires and needs.”

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Is It Your Turn?

Do you have feelings you can’t express? Things you’re not ready to say out loud? Or maybe you need a way to organize your thoughts, or a place to find inspiration.

Have you tried writing therapy? Perhaps it’s time to pick up a pen, and see where it leads you…

Ready to talk to a treatment specialist? Contact us today at 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) to learn about flexible treatment programs for drug and alcohol addiction.

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