Self-help for a Child Therapist – The Power of Writing

written by:

I have discovered that I can write – meaningful, powerful and magical stuff. Words that capture the essence of my feelings and thoughts. That I can translate sounds, smells, tastes, memories and touch into words…that set me free.

During lockdown I was invited to a writer’s course. The timing was serendipitous. The introduction words “it takes courage to enter into the unknown,” sounded very exciting to me and something I thought I could do. There was an invitation to write freely – no rules, no right, no wrong, no spelling, punctuation or sentence structure checks. None of that or previous experience was a prerequisite. An invitation just to write.

At first my writing was messy, bitty and raw in expressing but as the course progressed, it became moulded, formed into something beautiful and inspirational – for me and also for a few whom I felt brave enough to share with.

I had a writing wobble when the homework was to write a poem. Poor marks and a disappointed teacher at school, definitely created a barrier to my adult self. But, with no critical voice of a language teacher and the threat of a red pen judging my offering, the creativity in me was set free!! I wrote for myself and it was liberating. I started to trust my own intuition and wisdom in unleashing what was inside, onto paper.

Writing about very painful, complex, answer evading topics, created a safe emotional container for me and enabled me to allow trauma memories to surface and to move towards healing.

I had a dream, before my oldest child was born, to “one day” (his 21st birthday) present him with a life story with thoughts about him during my pregnancy, events as he grew up, stories and mementos of his life. These were all still in different books, albums and memory boxes as I somehow lacked a “know how” to create this. The writing course helped with finding a framework and this dream is now well on its way. This child will be 30 next year but he will have his book!

Although I have been using writing with my clients as a way to connect with their inside worlds, I discovered for myself that writing has a profound impact on my neurophysiology.

I discovered I had some very unhelpful thought patterns and with gratitude to my brain’s plasticity, I wrote my way out of a neural looping event where my thoughts had become stuck.

I wrote my way out of neural entanglement where my thoughts were mixed up and did not seem to make any sense. This related to my mother, to whom I became a parentified child. I had a dream in which an unprocessed memory surfaced – a memory, anesthetised to prevent my heart from breaking and my mind from splitting. Writing, unhurriedly, in the safe containment of my own words, it was time to raise this carefully stored, neatly intact trauma memory. Writing towards gratitude and peace of heart and mind.

I wrote my way out of neural blunting where I wanted to write but my own internal critic said: “you are not a wordsmith, this was said already, others write much better than you.”

I wrote authentically about things that bothered me.

I wrote towards wellness.

I saw glimpses of myself in a new light.

I wrote to remember things that I am worried I will forget and what really matters to me.

I wrote about a client I found very challenging:


I knew you were trouble when I laid eyes on you for the first time on a clear autumn day. Refusing to come into my therapy room, clinging to your mother, hiding behind her, behaving like a toddler, gesturing like a mute person. The minute you had your chance, with your self-imposed wordless stance , you grabbed my carefully set out toys to create the chaos you seemed to feel on the inside. Why? Just to prove you want to be in control. Or because you were so afraid I will see the real you. The hurting, lost, abandoned and replaced baby. The you who knew and lost a mother who could not keep you safe nor save you. The “you” who hid behind volcanoes of red hot, uncontrollable rage, easily rumbling and exploding, leaving devastation in your wake.


Yet, I have grown fond of you. Your oversized dark eyes glimpsing frequently in my direction, just long enough to see if I was aware of you, the silent clear communication when you decided you will make the wall high enough to keep me out. And above all – as far away from the pain as possible.

How is your raging violence, shouting out your denied entitled demands, helping you?

How is annihilating the one woman who does not deserve this, punishing the woman you actually want to thrust your rage upon?

How is destroying all you say you hold dear, helping you to heal? What will it take to cause a change, a shift?

What do you need to willingly relinquish the debt owed to you by someone who does not know nor care?

Tell me this – what is the key that will open the door to a world of understanding and insight to banish the dark destroying forces and allow the light of healing, restoration and peace?

The creators of the course made us aware of Narrative medicine theory.Narrative medicine” is a medical approach that utilizes people’s narratives in clinical practice, research, and education as a way to promote healing.

We were encouraged to write, if not daily, then as often as possible. To remember. To foster hope. To deal with sorrow. To rebalance. Towards self-understanding. To encourage growth. To gain appreciation.

May you too use the power of your words to promote healing. In yourself and in your clients.