Expressive Writing in Coaching
DEFINING EXPRESSIVE WRITING
At its most basic form, expressive writing or journaling is the act of writing down thoughts and feelings to sort through problems and come to a deeper understanding of oneself or the issues in one’s life. Kathleen Adams, one of the pioneers in the field of expressive writing/journaling describes the essence of expressive writing in this quote:
“I define expressive writing as writing that reflects honest thoughts and feelings about authentic lived experience, with a side of insight. In this definition, trauma and stress are excellent topics, and so are hopes and dreams, confusions, confessions, secrets, successes, troubles, ideas, desires, and the “everyday normals” that comprise a life.”
WHY EXPRESSIVE WRITING WORKS
Beyond witnessing the power of expressive writing myself, there have been numerous studies done that show the efficacy of using expressive writing to improve physical and mental health.
And it’s not just the act of expressive writing/journaling that aids in improving physical and mental health -- it’s the act of consistently and consciously using the method to work through emotional upheaval, exploration of the self, and personal growth.
But why does it work so well? Because by the very nature of writing in this very specific way, we develop intimacy and knowledge of our inner self. Even when a writer is hesitant to approach the page, it’s inevitable that even the surface level writing will reveal insights into the way our brains and feelings are working together. Through the act of reading one's own writing, we are able to internalize, comprehend and learn about ourselves whether we want to or not. That is the power of expressive writing.