Language and Writing Project
Director: Peggy Penn, MSW
The project’s premise is that all of us have many internal parts, or voices, some untapped, and that when one puts pen to paper new voices are released and new information is revealed.
The suggestion to a client to write often arises from an impasse in the therapy— when, for example, a couple struggling with a cancer diagnosis finds it impossible to have real dialogue about their true feelings of the moment. We may ask a client to write an open, spontaneous narrative about an issue, or to write about two conflicting parts. We feel that the writing is most effective when it is made relational—either to oneself or a significant other.
Much of the writing is in the form of letters—letters of appreciation, gratitude, regret, longing, disappointment, etc. The elements of catharsis, surprise and discovery are key in the use of writing in that it opens up previously undiscovered descriptions and possibilities. The writing, always done at home, is then brought into the session to be read aloud.
Aside from the written word, careful attention is paid to the language our clients use—often, for example, asking what other words/meaning might be within the particular description given. We and our clients have enjoyed using metaphors with frequency, hoping the clients can come up with their own, but gently suggesting ours when we feel they might apply.
- Patricia Booth, MSW
- Joan DeGregorio, MSW
- Sally Witte, PhD