Healing PTSD through Writing

Photo Credit: Photo by anankkml. From FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: Photo by anankkml. From FreeDigitalPhotos.net

On June 1st, my friend Wanda Sanchez and I launched our first co-written book together, Love Letters from the Edge. We wrote this book as two women who’ve experienced abuse and trauma, as well as undergoing successful trauma treatment. Our goal is to provide encouragement and resources for women who have suffered from the devastating effects of wounding life experiences.

One of the most life-changing elements of our trauma therapy was engaging in writing that helped us bring significance and resolution to our traumatic experiences.

In fact, we found writing to be so important to our healing that we incorporated focused writing activities into Love Letters from the Edge. Many of those activities include incorporating Scripture passages as the reader is encouraged to confront negative patterns of thinking with the truth of God. Many of the lies women struggle with (men as well) find their roots in painful and traumatic experiences.

Jan Fishler, author, speaker, writing coach, and creator/presenter of writing workshops, tells about the role that writing played in her recovery from trauma.

Fishler states, “I’d repeated my adoption story many times without the benefit of healing the abandonment issues that were the foundation of my trauma. It wasn’t the act of putting pen to paper either (actually spending hours at the computer), recalling memories as they came up, and turning them into scenes. The real healing didn’t begin until my older, wiser self began to make sense of my situation, filling the gaps between scenes with a perspective that comes only from wisdom and age. In my case, this happened quite by accident.”

One of the most healing aspects of therapeutic writing is the process of transformation and resolution that comes when incomplete, unprocessed, and unresolved traumatic experiences are given new significance by a wiser self that speaks a new ending to an old story.

For the Christian, that healing comes as we gain God’s perspective of ourself and begin to live in that reality.

So where can you begin?

Wherever you may be on your journey through trauma, begin by journaling your experience. Take on the role of a reporter and get down the facts. The goal is not to re-experience the event, but to observe it from a distance. The goal is to record, not to judge or evaluate.

When you and your therapist feel you’re ready, take your writing to a deeper level. Look for significance. How did the experience leave you “stuck”? What effect did it have on you? Allow the voices of maturity, perspective, and truth within you to speak to these broken places. The goal is to show compassion,affirmation, understanding, and to unburden these broken parts of yourself through written dialogue.

As your story is transferred to the written page and then back through your eyes and into your mind, your story is reprocessed by both the right and left hemispheres, helping your brain to heal and your trauma experience to be “rewired” with a beginning, middle and end. This same process is often true when trauma survivors create art and music.

Writing is accessible to almost anyone. For more information about writing as a path to healing, visit James Pennebaker’s website.

What about you? Have you incorporated writing in your trauma therapy? Share your story with us.

John 8:32: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

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