Putting poetry back into the mind: how can therapeutic writing benefit clients of psychodynamic psychotherapy?
Deed, Bronwyn Gaye
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This work aims to explore how therapeutic writing can benefit clients of psychodynamic psychotherapy. The role of writing in developing the self is reviewed and discussed in the context of the therapeutic relationship. Therapeutic writing is then explored from the theoretical perspectives of attachment theory, and object Relations. In particular, Winnicott’s notion of transitional space is compared with writers’ experiences of poetic space, and writing as a transitional object is discussed. This dissertation found, through reviewing the existing literature, that there is little research directly addressing therapeutic writing in relation to psychodynamic psychotherapy. However, a small body of authors in the emerging field of writing as therapy does provide a psychodynamic context and interpretation of writing as a therapeutic practice. These authors make use of psychodynamic processes, understandings and interpretations in their research, for example, by valuing notions of the unconscious and transference, use of free association, and attention to the therapeutic frame in relation to the therapeutic relationship. Accordingly, these authors are given prominence throughout this study, supported by the other research currently available. The dissertation concludes that therapeutic writing can contribute significant benefits for clients. It may facilitate purposeful self-reflective work which supports or augments the therapeutic process between or beyond sessions. It may contribute to development of insight, self-regulation and complex perspectives of past events, and can be a useful bridge for strengthening the self and the therapeutic relationship. The paucity of research literature on the clinical implications of writing and the therapeutic relationship within psychodynamic psychotherapy suggests that further research is indicated in this area.