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Expressive Writing: Words That Heal

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Expressive Writing: Words that Heal provides research results, in layman's terms, which demonstrate how and when expressive writing can improve health. It explains why writing can often be more helpful than talking when dealing with trauma, and it prepares the reader for their writing experience. The book looks at the most serious issues and helps the reader process them. ...more
Paperback, 198 pages
Published November 12th 2014 by Idyll Arbor (first published April 14th 2014)
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Mad Girl's Love Song

"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drop
Clarissa Ashlyn
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must-read for writers, people who want to become writers, and anyone who is trying to overcome past traumas. As a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my writing, it was initially difficult for me to "just write"; even about my most basic of emotions. It's so ingrained in my nature to write, re-read, edit, delete, re-write, so and and so forth. So you can imagine how large of a switch it was for me to just start writing; about anything, everything, whatever popped into my head ...more
Polly Callahan
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
you can get the essence of it in the first 40 pages;
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
this is a surprise of a self-help book. research based, not promising panacea, complete with responsible caveats. it's given me quite a lot of ideas for furthering my writing practice. my main complaint is that the latter sections of the book are incredibly unimaginative. still, i can see this being helpful to some folks. ...more
Lewis Hines
Jun 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Very much a “how to” manual. Provided many options of writing in order to deal with traumatic experiences as well as how to simply be more mentally healthy. An interesting method. Will try some. Skimmed a few chapters. Once again, DEFINITELY a how to manual. Can become boring or repetitive if not actually doing the exercises. Not necessary to read the whole thing of wanting to simply understand the basic premise.
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great if you're after a workbook with lots of exercises! ...more
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I skimmed through this book. Sometimes helpful, but often obtuse. Will use as a resource.
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good research on journaling, and a description of the exercises used in a couple of contexts. Agrees with other authors I've read on the benefits of keeping a journal. ...more
Alia Makki
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Expressive writing can be a valuable tool in helping people to deal with traumas and emotional upheavals. Whereas many people can benefit greatly from writing, others don’t. If after writing, you feel as though you haven’t reaped any benefits or if you still need help in coping with your experience, please seek the advice of a physician, psychologist, or counselor.”

That said, you know how the world responds to you when you’re ready? When the teacher arrives when the student is ready to learn? T
Apr 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Not what I was expecting to read. This is not a book to help aspiring writers as I once read in a review. This is a way for you to do a self-therapy, although its effectiveness is questionable. Found it repetitive and the assignments quite boring.
Agnès S
Feb 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
Directo y simple, con instrucciones para varios tipos de ejercicios de escritura. Me ha parecido bien fundamentado, no simple charlatanería, los autores son conscientes de que estos ejercicios no lo curan todo, pero pueden ayudar en algunos casos.
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Anyone can learn the power of writing.
Nikola Nesic
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A book that can help you more than you think it can
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This provides an approachable text on an interesting technique I use in my work.
Doranne Long
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I think wonderful book is a powerful tool, with great potential for "using expressive writing to overcome traumas and emotional upheavals, resolve issues, improve health, and build resilience." The authors talk about the health benefits of writing; they act as coaches to assist in actual writing experiences, with specific day-by-day instructions. They also discuss different types of writing, including story telling, poetic, legacy, and affirmative writing. In their conclusion, they state "to con ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non_fiction
I'm not a scientist of the mind :-), so more than half of the book was not interesting to me, but the whole concept was and I tried the simple version of expressive writing, which was writing my heart and soul. You know, all the things I wanted to say, my deepest feelings, the ones I don't share with anyone, my wants and needs, anything that crossed my mind. Then I set the paper on fire - something so revealing cannot fall on the wrong hands. I appreciate the concrete facts and was a little skep ...more
Karen Mace
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As are his other books, this is a great resource from Pennebaker. If you are an Expressive Writing enthusiast and/ or therapist who uses it in your work with clients, you may not find anything new.
Josephine Ensign
Feb 10, 2016 rated it liked it
A bit simplistic in places, but a useful resource for reflective writing about and through trauma.
Troy Brown
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has helped me out tremendously. Brought out things in me I didn't know were there, things that were affecting my relationship even. ...more
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James Pennebaker is an American social psychologist and husband of Ruth Pennebaker. He is the Centennial Liberal Arts Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. His research focuses on the relationship between natural language use, health, and social behavior, most recently "how everyday language reflects basic social and per ...more

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“Remember that this is the first of four days of writing. In today’s writing, your goal is to write about your deepest thoughts and feelings about the trauma or emotional upheaval that has been influencing your life the most. In your writing, really let go and explore this event and how it has affected you. Today, it may be beneficial to simply write about the event itself, how you felt when it was occurring, and how you feel now. As you write about this upheaval, you might begin to tie it to other parts of your life. For example, how is it related to your childhood and your relationships with your parents and close family? How is the event connected to those people you have most loved, feared, or been angry with? How is this upheaval related to your current life — your friends and family, your work, and your place in life? And above all, how is this event related to who you have been in the past, who you would like to be in the future, and who you are now? In today’s writing, it is particularly important that you really let go and examine your deepest emotions and thoughts surrounding this upheaval in your life.” 0 likes
“Remember to write continuously the entire twenty minutes. And never forget that this writing is for you and you alone. At the conclusion of your twenty minutes of writing, read the section “Post-writing thoughts” and complete the post-writing questionnaire. Post-Writing Thoughts Following the Day One Writing Session Congratulations! You have completed the first day of writing. After each writing exercise, it can be helpful to make objective assessments about how the writing felt. In this way, you can go back and determine which writing methods are most effective for you. For this and for all future writing exercises, respond to each of the five following questions either at the end of your writing or in a separate place. Put a number between 0 and 10 by each question. 0 — Not at all 1 2 3 4 5— Somewhat 6 7 8 9 10— A great deal ____ A. To what degree did you express your deepest thoughts and feelings? ____ B. To what degree do you currently feel sad or upset? ____ C. To what degree do you currently feel happy? ____ D. To what degree was today’s writing valuable and meaningful for you? E. Briefly describe how your writing went today so you may refer to this later. For many people, the first day of writing is the most difficult. This kind of writing can bring up emotions and thoughts that you may not have known that you had. It may also have flowed much more easily than you expected — especially if you wrote about something that you have been keeping to yourself for a long time. If you don’t want anyone to see your writing, keep the pages in a secure place or destroy them. If keeping them is not a problem, you can go back and analyze the pages at the end of the four days of writing. Now, take some time for yourself. Until tomorrow.” 0 likes
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