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Writing Therapy

Writing therapy has been defined as “client expressive and reflective writing, whether self-generated or suggested by a therapist/researcher” (Wright & Chung, 2001). Writing about traumatic, stressful, or emotional events has been demonstrated to result in improvements in both physical health and psychological well-being in clinical and non-clinical populations (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005). Specifically, writing therapy has been investigated as a treatment intervention for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and bereavement. Read more
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Therapeutic Letters

  • Ingrassia, A. (2003). The use of therapeutic letters in NHS psychotherapy: A tool to help with engagement, missed session and endings. British Journal of Psychotherapy, 19(3), 355-366 view abstract
  • Prasko, J., Diveky, T., Mozny, P., & Sigmundova, Z. (2009). Therapeutic letters–changing the emotional schemas using writing letters to significant caregivers. Act Nerv Super Rediviva51(3-4), 163-167. download archived copy
  • Instructions for writing compassionate letters  download archived copy

Recommended Reading

  • Baikie, K., Wilhelm, K. (2005). Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 11, 338-346
  • Pennebaker, J. W. (1997). Writing about emotional experiences as a therapeutic process. Psychological science8(3), 162-166. download archived copy

What Is Writing Therapy?

Example Writing Therapy Instructions

“For the next <number> days, I would like you to write about your very deepest thoughts and feelings about the most traumatic experience of your entire life or an extremely important emotional issue that has affected you and your life. In your writing, I would like you to really let go and explore your deepest emotions and thoughts. You might tie your topic to your relationships with others, including parents, lovers, friends, or relatives; to your past, your present, or your future; or to who you have been, who you would like to be, or to who you are now. You may write about the same general issues or experiences on all days of writing or about different topics on each day. All of your writing will be completely confidential. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or sentence structure. The only rule is that once you begin writing you continue until the time is up (15 or 20 minutes is typical).”

(Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005)


  • Baikie, K. A., & Wilhelm, K. (2005). Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 11(5), 338–346.
  • Wright, J., & Chung, M. C. (2001). Mastery or mystery? Therapeutic writing: A review of the literature. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 29(3), 277–291.