• Kayla-Jane Barrie

What Is Writing Therapy?


Do you ever get lost in the stories you tell yourself? The versions of yourself that don’t seem to identify with who you are today? Perhaps there is an emotion or experience you are holding on to. A fear is lingering in the back of your throat.


There are many ways to incorporate art into your emotional growth and spiritual healing journey. You don’t need to be a writer at any level to benefit from this modality.


“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.”

― Graham Greene, Ways of Escape



Writing is an effective way to bring mental, emotional and physical energy together to produce something that expresses how you feel about a person, event or situation. This form of treatment can be performed one-on-one in a group setting or at home, depending on what you are most comfortable with.

I often meet writers and non-writers who attend my courses and say, “I knew something was bothering me, but I couldn’t express it.”

That is the magic of this work.

If I had never discovered the benefits of therapeutic and reflective writing, I wouldn’t be able to help the people I do today. I was stuck in a place where I didn’t value my voice; I lived in an old narrative about myself and my worth. As I began to incorporate poetry and word therapy into my routine, I found my voice. The voice who was ready to speak that inner fire, listen deeply to others, and regain my confidence to help you express yourself.

Benefits Of Writing Therapy

Writing therapy provides the tools and space to examine your life through creative writing. You may be feeling anger towards yourself or perhaps stuck in an experience. Holding onto these pieces of emotion needs a release. Writing therapy allows that release in a compassionate, non-judgemental space. Key benefits include:

  • Memory improvement

  • Promote relaxation and relieve stress

  • Discover meaning in events or relationships

  • Introduce a new perspective

  • Find positives in any experience

  • Improve physical health


How Does It Work?

There are a few different styles and structures with therapeutic writing. My three main areas include:

Intuitive (Free Writing) This style of writing allows you to put things that are on your to paper. There is no judgment or censoring involved in free writing. The aim here is to listen to your intuition and let it guide you. You may have partial phrases or isolated ideas. Other times you may complete and coherent structure. You are encouraged to accept and acknowledge the positive and negative emotions that come up.

Poetry You don’t need to be a poet to use this style of writing in your healing journey. When we use poetry in our sessions, I will guide you with prompts and styles to help you organize your thoughts. In some sessions, we free write and turn our words into a poem.


Letter Writing Writing a letter to yourself or another induvial can help express feelings toward the other person or experience. Letters can say what you wish to say but can’t. It allows a place to release and cope with what you’re thinking. Sometimes letter writing can help you find ways to have that conversation

What Does Writing and Reflective Writing Help With?

There isn’t just one condition or theme that the session is designed for. Sometimes we explore bliss, joy, and awe; others find words to describe our anxiety, sadness, and anger. Notice how I say we – writing therapy is not a lonely journey. Whether you work with me one-on-one or join a group session, you are with a group of compassionate people who want to hear your stories.

Here are some of the most common areas in which writing has been effective to help:

  • Anxiety, depression

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Grief and loss

  • Relationship issues (with self and others)


Studies On Therapeutic Writing

It’s important to note the studies that support the qualities and benefits of writing therapy:

  • In individuals who have experienced a traumatic or highly stressful event, expressive writing can significantly heal. Participants in a study who wrote about their most traumatic experiences for 15 minutes, four days in a row, experienced better health outcomes up to four months later (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005).

  • Another study tested the same writing exercise on over 100 asthma and rheumatoid arthritis patients, with similar results. The participants who wrote about the most stressful event of their lives experienced better health evaluations related to their illness (Smyth, Stone, Hurewitz, & Kaell, 1999).

  • A recent study suggested that expressive writing may even improve immune system functioning. However, it may need to be sustained for the health benefits (Murray, 2002).

  • In addition to these more concrete benefits, regular therapeutic writing can help the writer find meaning in their experiences, view things from a new perspective, and see the silver linings in their most stressful or negative experiences (Murray, 2002).

  • It can also lead to important insights about yourself and your environment that may be difficult to determine without focused writing (Tartakovsky, 2015)

“There are thorny, unfinished chapters being written in our lives all the time. Writing can help us find our way through these challenges.”

― Sandra Marinella, The Story You Need to Tell: Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss



Not sure if you’ll like writing therapy at Word Alchemy?

Contact me to book a free 30-minute clarity call.