Talking about a problem helps people vent their emotions and work through the issue. Writing can have many of the same positive effects, and it’s a particularly helpful practice for people recovering from addiction. Many rehab centers include writing therapy as a complement to traditional addiction treatment.
The writing process helps clients come to terms with the nature of addiction and move forward toward long-term recovery.
What Is Writing Therapy?
At a treatment center, writing therapy often takes the form of a class led by a therapist. Clients may be asked to write about specific topics and themes. Like other types of therapy, writing therapy can be adapted to help clients deal with a number of issues: abuse, anger, grief and much more.
Clients may be asked to write a letter to an individual. The letter will never be sent, so it acts as a safe place to release feelings that might be hard to express verbally. These letters can help clients take leave of the past and move forward.
Other activities might include asking clients to write a letter to their younger selves, or to open up a dialogue between themselves and their drug use.
How Does Writing Help?
Writing as a form of therapy offers many benefits for participants:
- Control: People in recovery sometimes feel pushed into revealing more than they want to share. Writing allows participants to share feelings at their own pace.
- Stress relief: Writing can help lower stress levels and increase mindfulness.
- Privacy: It can be difficult to share certain feelings and thoughts with a group. The anonymous nature of writing allows clients to talk about emotions and memories without the fear of being judged.
- Permanence: Looking back on older journal entries can help a writer see how much progress they’ve made. It can also help the writer identify certain experiences and feelings that might have led them to relapse.
Research has shown that journaling and other forms of writing therapy can make a real difference for people undergoing addiction treatment. A landmark study on expressive writing found that participants who wrote about their deepest thoughts and emotions reported better physical and psychological health during the following months.
These health benefits are believed to stem from allowing writers to confront long-suppressed emotions and process traumatic memories.
Journaling throughout Recovery
The practice of writing doesn’t have to end when you leave the treatment center. Journaling can be an important part of recovery, and most addiction treatment specialists recommend the activity to their clients.
The habit of writing in a journal each night is a good way to review your day; in fact, journaling aligns with the tenth step in most 12-Step Programs: “Continue to take a personal inventory, and when you are wrong, promptly admit it.” Your journal can serve as a safe, judgment-free place to take stock of your actions each day and release thoughts and feelings that might otherwise stay trapped inside.
It’s clear that writing therapy can play a valuable role during addiction treatment and beyond. Writing can help clients express their feelings and take a more active role in their recovery. After leaving the rehab center, a daily journaling practice can be a powerful recovery tool.
At our treatment center, our licensed therapists understand the power of writing therapy, and clients are encouraged to express themselves through writing. Contact us today for more information on our individualized treatment programs.