Writing can be therapeutic and cathartic. Therapeutic writing exercises can help you get to know yourself, overcome bad moments, and improve mental health.
Writing is an excellent therapeutic tool and guided writing exercises are the perfect way to bring to light what we carry inside, unburden ourselves, clarify our feelings or doubts, encourage us, know ourselves better, and even help us make wise decisions.
One way to deal with any overwhelming emotion is to find a healthy way to express yourself. Writing for therapeutic purposes can bring back memories and make you cry, but it can also improve your mental health.
The benefits of therapeutic journaling are well known and therapeutic journal writing can be a helpful tool in managing your mental health. Journal writing is therapeutic because it can help you manage anxiety, reduce stress, and cope with depression.
In fact, journal writing therapy is one of the best self-care ideas to help control your symptoms and improve your mood by helping you prioritize your problems, fears, and concerns.
This article is not intended to replace professional consultation. If you think you may be suffering from depression, these exercises can in no way replace professional help.
These therapeutic writing exercises for adults are just tools for those who want to get to know themselves better and move forward in one or more areas of their lives.
If you need professional help, you can get free online counselling for women from a trained counsellor to help you deal with stress, overcome any problems, moments of crisis or growth, or changes in your life.
7 Therapeutic Writing Exercises For Mental Wellness
This list of therapeutic writing exercises and writing activities can help you overcome bad moments, get to know yourself, make decisions, and achieve personal growth.
You’ll find therapeutic writing activities and therapeutic writing prompts to help you clarify your feelings and get things out in the open in a safe and effective way.
1. Freewriting exercises
Objective: The objective of freewriting exercises is to find solutions or new ideas to help you solve a problem or dilemma.
Freewriting is a therapeutic writing exercise that can help you find the solution to a dilemma you don’t know how to get out of.
How To Do It:
The freewriting technique was invented in the early twentieth century by the avant-garde writer Dorothea Brande and the idea is to write the first thing that comes to mind, without erasing, without crossing out, without stopping to think.
The purpose of freewriting is not to create a literary work but to let the ideas flow freely, without the restraint of our judgment, morals, shame, or logic. To use freewriting ideas therapeutically, you must have a problem or an issue in mind that you wish to solve.
You can sit down, with a paper and pen (it must always be handwritten) and write anything that crosses your mind without stopping for at least half an hour.
If your shopping list comes to mind, then write down the shopping list… you can gently return to the subject that worries you while leaving yourself the freedom to allow the association of ideas, so that logic does not interrupt the path to a possible solution.
You can also use freewriting exercises to find new writing ideas if you’re a professional writer, creative writer, or paper helper and need ideas for essays and academic texts.
2. Therapeutic letter writing ideas to resolve conflicts
Objective: The objective of therapeutic letter writing is to clarify and discover your emotions and release them to try to resolve a conflict.
Whether it is a person you live daily with, such as your partner or a co-worker, or someone you no longer see, or someone who is not even alive, you may have an unresolved conflict with them that does not let you move forward.
Unlike the previous exercise, the objective of letter-writing ideas is not to find solutions but to bring to light what you feel and to discover what lies beneath.
For example, you may find that underneath anger with the other person, there is a hidden fear. You may even end up forgiving them at the end of this therapeutic writing exercise.
Note that when you practice writing letters for therapeutic purposes, this work is for you and you alone. This letter is not intended to be read to anyone or sent to them, but simply to serve as an exercise. You can keep it, tear it up, burn it, or do whatever you like with it.
How To Do It:
Again, set aside at least half an hour just for yourself. This therapeutic letter writing exercise should preferably be done by hand. Start writing a letter about what you feel about that person. But, remember, it must be in this order:
Step #1: First, you tell them why you’re angry or upset. Let out all your anger on the paper. If you have to use profanities or harsh words, do it. The more you let it out, the better. You should try to make the letter several sentences long at least, but it could be a whole sheet of paper so you can cover whatever you need.
Step #2: Do the same thing, but now tell the person who hurt you what it is that makes you sad or makes you feel bad about this situation. This is no longer about blaming or accusing them, but about looking inside you.
Step #3: Continue the same letter writing exercise, but now it is about revealing to them the fears you have. What fears did you feel in this situation that caused you to react the way you did?
Step #4: This part of the therapeutic letter writing exercise is dedicated to repentance. Even in the healthiest discussions or conflicts, you may feel that you’ve messed up or said something you shouldn’t have. Or conversely, there may be something you could have said or done differently. Let it out onto the paper.
Step #5: The final paragraph of your letter writing exercise is devoted to love. In fact, some therapists call this exercise the love letter. Tell the other person what you appreciate about them, what makes you or has made you happy. Tell them what you are grateful for.
This therapeutic letter writing exercise can help you feel feelings you didn’t know you had, and it is a safe way to vent and express your thoughts and feelings about a conflict without hurting anyone else’s feelings. Again, letter writing therapy is only for you so you don’t have to send the letter to the person who hurt you.
3. Fictional story writing exercises
Objective: The objective of fictional story writing exercises is to re-live a situation from your past by observing it from a distance.
Fiction writers are probably familiar with creative writing exercises such as these and if you’ve been writing fiction for a long time, you’ve probably already done this therapeutic writing exercise more than once.
Fictional story writing exercises are about shedding new light on a situation from our past, usually, one that occurred in childhood or adolescence.
Please note that this does not refer to significant traumas that may need immediate psychological help – these should only be supervised by a professional.
How To Do It:
Have you already chosen some story writing ideas based on a situation from your childhood or adolescence? Good!
Now write a story where you narrate the situation, BUT from the third person point of view, where the main character is different from you. For example, you can change the gender, age, or some important feature of the character.
Even if much time has passed, writing everything from the objective point of view of another character will give you even more distance, and you will be able to see what really happened from other angles.
It may also help you better understand the reactions of other people involved, or understand yourself more – and perhaps forgive yourself or be proud of how you were or are now.
4. Write a letter to the child you once were
Objective: The objective of this letter writing exercise is to let off steam, feel your feelings, forgive yourself, understand yourself, and love yourself unconditionally.
This therapeutic letter writing exercise can be compelling and bring many things to light as we remember the child we once were.
You can achieve many healing objectives with this seemingly simple exercise, but it may not be easy for everyone to do it because of the emotions it can bring up.
How To Do It:
There are two variants of this therapeutic letter writing exercise.
#1: Write to the child you once were
Imagine the child you were, what you liked about that child, what made you sad, what you regret. Then write a letter to them and tell them everything you feel -the more detail you write, the better.
If there are names, dates, anecdotes, the more you will live, and the richer and more therapeutic this letter-writing exercise will be.
Express your unconditional affection, your forgiveness, and your pride for the child you once were in this therapeutic letter writing exercise.
#2: Write to your adult self from the child you once were
Now you can do just the opposite. Get back into the skin of that child, remember how you felt, what you wanted, what you feared, what dreams you had, and now write to your adult self. Try to let your child give you advice and remind you of what was important to you back then.
During these therapeutic letter writing exercises, remember that you are no longer that helpless child. You are now an adult and many of the things that trapped you or frightened you are no longer true and no longer have any power over you.
5. Write a list of things you appreciate
Objective: The objective of this positive psychology therapeutic writing exercise is to help you feel better and to relativize problems. This coaching exercise is very encouraging and can help you regain strength and purpose.
How To Do It:
Write a list of at least 30 things (or even 50) you appreciate in your life and are grateful for.
This is perfectly possible since you can be thankful for many things – from your parents giving birth to you, for a beautiful day, or your health, or electricity, or the existence of chocolate bars.
This therapeutic writing exercise helps you appreciate and focus on the good things and positive feelings you experience in your life so you can enjoy them more.
A variation of this is to add this to your daily routine writing and write down just three things you’re grateful for each night in a journal or diary. You can even use this as one of your diary writing ideas so it can become a part of your daily routine.
Daily writing exercises that focus on appreciation and gratitude can train your brain to focus on the positive and increase your happiness quotient.
6. Write a letter to read at your funeral
Objective: The objective of this therapeutic letter writing exercise is to let off steam, discover who you are, what you want, and what is valuable in life.
There’s so much that can emerge during this therapeutic writing exercise, making it one of the most powerful of all these writing exercises – although they’re all perfect and valuable.
How To Do It:
As in the previous therapeutic writing exercises, find a moment of silence and, preferably by hand, write the letter that – supposedly – would be read at your funeral when you are no longer around.
Like the previous ones, this letter writing exercise is supposed to be an exercise just for you, and then you can keep the letter or tear it up.
It’s time to get it all out, so speak clearly to the people you want to tell things to, both negative and positive, of course. Remember your sorrows and joys.
Wish good things to the people you love and give thanks for what you’ve enjoyed most in your life. Take advantage of this opportunity to tell the people who will be listening about all the things you did to be happy.
This therapeutic letter writing exercise can give you perspective and clarity in your goals and values. It is an emotional exercise with many possibilities and can help you clarify what is most important to you in your life.
You can even do this letter writing exercise many times, at different points in your life, and save the letters to see how your perspective changes over the years.
7. Write about the life you want
Objective: The objective of this therapeutic writing exercise is to shape your mind to make it easier for you to allow abundance into your life and program your mind to achieve your goals.
This neuro-linguistic programming exercise appeals to the study of the brain that says that the words we use shape our reality.
If we constantly complain, we will only see the negative. If we repeat to ourselves, “how unlucky I am,” we will invariably transform that “prophecy” into reality.
NLP has many therapeutic writing exercises used by psychologists and life coaches to help us change our self-image and vision of ourselves and our lives.
How To Do It:
This therapeutic writing exercise is about describing the life you want in the future, in detail, and with all its successes – work, love, health, family, even the house you will live in, the achievements you will have achieved.
Note that this writing exercise should be done in the present tense as if you were already living it, so you can feel all the feelings and emotions you would feel as if you were living it.
The more detailed and concrete you can make your vision, the better. As part of the technique, you should repeat the writing of this ideal life many times, perhaps even make it your daily life essay, to program it into your mind.
Of course, this therapeutic writing exercise can do no wrong, and, at the very least, it can make you feel that those goals or dreams are more attainable than you think.
So, did you enjoy these therapeutic writing exercises for beginners? You can add these writing ideas and writing activities for adults to your daily writing routine or to your writing hobbies. You can find more women’s mental health articles here.
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