Your Brain on Paper is a focused journaling/ expressive writing program that you can do in your own time, in the privacy of your own home. Or you could do it with a group or with a friend.
The program consists of a PDF workbook and 12 audio files.
Purchase NOW! Don't forget to ask for your special discount code if you have done any Expressive Writing work with Karen.
Some comments made about the workshop version of the program are:
I found I liked "lots about the program. The opportunity to see my brain on paper! The chance to write and express thoughts, ideas, feelings and resolutions."
"Especially like that the exercises were very focused...it helped me to pinpoint more effectively."
"Time to reflect in a safe environment. The writing exercises provided different ways of seeing things and thinking about things."
"I loved everything - just allowing myself to think and be able to write reflectively for the first time ever."
"Being enabled and equipped to write freely and expressively. Was very therapeutic and healing!"
"The freedom to write without sharing. The prompt questions were very useful."
"I liked the mindfulness at the beginning of each session. I felt grounded and safe. I have noticed I am more grounded and positive since beginning the program."
"Loved being able to write freely and be shown the benefits of writing honestly."
To get started go HERE to download the program. For those who have already participated in an Expressive Writing Workshop with Karen, please contact her to ask for your special discount code.
Below are some things to consider if you plan to use writing to help you work through a traumatic experience.
Write twenty (20) minutes a day over a period of four days. Do this periodically. That way you won’t feel overwhelmed.
Write in a private, safe, comfortable environment.
Write about issues you are currently living with, something you’re thinking or dreaming about constantly, a trauma you’ve never disclosed or discussed or resolved.
Write about joys and pleasures too.
Write about what happened. Write, too, about feelings about what happened. What do you feel? Why do you feel this way? Link events with feelings.
Try to write an extremely detailed, organized, coherent, vivid, emotionally compelling narrative. Don’t worry about correctness, about grammar or punctuation.
Beneficial effects will occur even if no one reads your writing. If you choose to keep your writing and not discard it, you must safeguard it.
Expect, initially, that in writing in this way you will have complex and appropriately difficult feelings. Make sure you get support if you need it.
Things not to do when writing:
Don’t use writing as a substitute for taking action.
Don’t become overly intellectual.
Don’t use writing as a way of complaining. Use it, instead, to discover how and why you feel as you do. Simply complaining or venting will probably make you feel worse.
Don’t use your writing to become overly self-absorbed. Over-analysing everything is counterproductive.
Don’t use writing as a substitute for therapy or medical care.
Louise de Salvo 1999
If you have come to the website thinking about signing up for one of the ‘Your Brain on Paper’ workshops or programmes, you may like to know a little more about the kind of writing we do in the workshops.
I first became interested in this kind of writing after my children, Ileana and Sarah died while our family was working overseas. A book by Louise de Salvo, Writing As A Way of Healing, was suggested to me by a colleague who is an academic and writer. Writing can save your life! Now, I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but many years after I first began to use this kind of writing to help me make some sense of of the horrible things that had happened in our lives, the evidence is mounting that writing has, and continues to, help people heal. And, in my very wide reading, and interactions with those who have used this kind of writing, I frequently hear the words ‘writing saved my life.’
Writing has helped me deal with my own health challenges, including anxiety and depression, and a diagnosis of invasive skin cancer. After reading Louise de Salvo’s book I searched for more information and more guidance in how to use expressive writing effectively. I read Opening Up: The healing power of expressing emotions by James Pennebaker and liked what I read. It made sense – especially for one who had such difficulty in expressing emotions in any way. Then I found Writing to Heal, a guided journal by Pennebaker. I liked that this journal was grounded in scientific research, that this way of writing had been demonstrated to be helpful. I had been a teacher and student of academic writing, but that was not helpful to me personally and emotionally, so I hoped that the guided writing in Writing to Heal might be something that would help me write my way out of the grief and subsequent depression that seemed impossible to shift.
When the book arrived I started reading immediately and found within just a few pages why the writing I had been doing was not helping. I was writing my story, but writing the same one over and over, and I was focusing on only negatives; it never went anywhere – a bit like Groundhog Day, if you have seen that movie. Writing to Heal was the beginning for me to reframe the narrative that I had in my head, to rewrite my story in a way I would not have considered, I don’t think, if I had not come across this book.
Pennebaker’s book guided me in rewriting or working through, not only the more recent traumatic events in my life, but also some of the childhood and adolescent troubling events and subsequent painful memories. I was able to lay to rest or bring closure to these and move beyond that memory induced emotional turmoil that I hadn’t even realized was always close to the surface. It also helped me understand why I struggled so much with my faith and never felt ‘enough’ in any of my relationships, including that important spiritual relationship with God.
Once I began to use Writing to Heal I wanted to open up this wonderful way of healing to others, and so I began to offer workshops. I have conducted the workshops overseas as well as in Australia. Then, for a while, I was busy with other pursuits and limited the use of Expressive Writing to my individual clients. But, it’s time now to begin to work with groups again.
Expressive Writing is not for everyone, just as other therapies are not for everyone. It is worth trying though. Below are some of the benefits that have been found when we use Expressive Writing:
As mentioned this is not so for everyone, but the evidence is strong for the benefits of expressive writing if you are willing to commit to it and give it a go. You don’t have to be going through, or have experienced a major trauma; you can use this writing effectively to help you work through any emotional upheaval. One writing course I offer looks at transition and change – and we all constantly find ourselves in situations where some sort of change is happening, even a minor one. I hope this has helped you to make a decision about whether to come along to a short workshop or enroll in one of the longer programmes. If you have any questions at all please contact me.