Recently, I watched Jimmy Barnes, an Australian/Scottish rockstar talk about his new autobiography “Working Class Boy” and how he came to tell his life story. He talked about the horrendous abuse, neglect and trauma he experienced as a child. The interview also revealed about how he contemplated suicide, even when he was extremely successful. Then he, through the help of his wife and family decided to confront his past and give up drinking and drugs.
He bravely embarked on this journey. What was interesting to me was that he said he started to see a therapist, and they suggested he write it all down. He said “I was only able to confront my past by writing it down, otherwise I would not have been able to confront all of the trauma. When I did, I felt like I could finally put it behind me.”
Men, please, please listen to the men who are discovering writing therapy. There are too many men suffering in silence, with trauma and pain. In writing therapy you do not have to speak about your trauma, although with a good counsellor this would be excellent, but you allow yourself freedom to write it down. Write down all of the ugly thoughts and feelings and memories. Then you can burn or throw it away, and you never have to show anyone. This is why men benefit more from writing therapy than even women do. Because men finally have the freedom to express these emotions they are feeling underneath.
You can express your emotions in a safe way, and nothing you have gone through will overwhelm you in writing therapy because you are in control of what you write. The main thing is you allow yourself to be completely honest and raw about what you have gone through and you are experiencing.
Thanks Jimmy Barnes, for being honest and raw and showing other men that to face your demons, and use writing to do this, is not a weak thing to do, on the contrary, it is the strongest thing to do! I am so happy to see that Jimmy Barnes has embraced writing therapy. My dream is that men and boys and women and girls all around the world will begin to use these simple techniques that are well established to free themselves from trauma and pain.
Thanks for reading! Have a beautiful day! 😀
If you want to know how to start using writing therapy you can download my short book here:
Alex was dealing with many traumatic events from her past. I spoke to her about my book and she bought it and also was recommended to do writing therapy by a counsellor. By utilising simple writing therapy techniques, she discovered it could take her through this process, whilst still allowing her to feel safe. She bravely confronted many traumatic events from her past, with her faith, using writing therapy and she has been freed in a dramatic way. It has been amazing to see. 🙂
“I started this year using writing therapy as part of me dealing with some major traumatic experiences. I have experienced a great freedom to be able to write down what has just been pushed down for years. It hasn’t been easy, but with support I have seen great improvement in my emotional, physical and spiritual life. I love the way that you are in control of what you write. I would recommend it as it has changed my life for the better.”
My Freedom Writing Handbook introduces my own experience with writing therapy, details the benefits these techniques can provide physically, mentally and emotionally, reveals other people’s successful experiences and how writing therapy is present in movies, books and life.
To buy Freedom Writing click on this link:
To buy Freedom Writing on Amazon (as an e-book) simply click on the link above now!
Writing therapy has been researched for more than 30 years and researchers are finding more and more the manners in which writing therapy frees people.
You do not need to be a writer or good at writing, in fact you ignore grammar and you simply explore your deepest feelings about your stress and you don’t need to show the writing to anyone. In fact you need to know that this is private initially, if you choose to show others that’s fine too.
I have written about my experiences, the research about writing therapy, and other people’s experiences from my workshops. Within the book there are exercises for you to do, and I have done these exercises with many people in my workshops and have seen people receive freedom. That’s why I want to share it with you.
Simply go through the exercises and write down in a completely honest manner your responses to these prompting questions. I guarantee if you do this, you will discover things that are buried in your unconscious but that you didn’t realise were affecting your conscious life.
You can be free, you just need these simple techniques to use for the rest of your life. 🙂
The Freedom Writers movie tells the true story of Erin Gruwell, who taught at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. This was shortly after the Rodney King riots in 1994 when she began teaching a disadvantaged class who were at risk. Many students were from different racial backgrounds, members of gangs who had been in and out of prison and had experienced indescribable violence from extremely young ages. These students would not accept a white woman from Long Beach would know or even have a clue about what they faced every day.
Erin was not dissuaded, most of all she cared. She knew she could make them see they mattered, their lives mattered and they could have a different life. She came up with a brilliant idea, and she utilised writing therapy without even knowing it.
One morning in the class she told them all she had bought them their own diaries. In these diaries they could write anything they wanted, a story, a poem, an account of their day, anything, a song. She specified it didn’t matter about the grammar or structure, what mattered was they could be honest and they could write something. Lastly, she said to them, this is for your eyes only. “Write as if no one else will see. But if you want me (Erin) to read it place it in this cupboard at the end of the day and I will be the only one who reads it.” They took their journals slowly and she had no idea if they were open to the idea or not. But the following day, she checked the cupboard and it was filled with 40 books of students who wanted her to read it.
For the first time in their life, they felt they had a voice and that someone cared.
Erin utilised the power of writing therapy:
to write completely honestly
to without an audience unless you want to share it
to not be concerned with grammar, spelling etc
to write every day
These students did this, and you know what happened – through her teaching and this writing, they completely changed their lives. They were able to express the things that were happening to them – in words on a page, and this is the power of writing therapy that can be anyone’s. These students were the first in their families to finish high school and the first in their families to go to college and now they have a foundation that visits schools and inspires other students that they can have a different life.
This is the power of writing therapy. 🙂 I have seen it with the people I have worked with, I have seen it in my tutorials at university when I read their life stories and tell them I will be the only who reads it and I care about their life story. It is one exercise of writing therapy I do with my tutorials. You should see the honesty I receive and the healing they also receive. Below is a link to the movie; which shows an overview of the story. This movie is a stunning account of an amazing woman who used simple techniques of writing therapy along with her desire to see people free from prejudice and hate, and from the violence and poverty they could not escape. She is my hero as are all of those students and the students I have known who have suffered horrendously but who still stand tall and survive. I have known many of these students as well and I have been inspired by them. As Erin says in her talks, when the teacher becomes the student and is humbled by her students. Check it out…takes my breath away.
A week ago I attended the 12th Annual Narrative Therapy Conference Post Conference workshop; the Cross Cultural Inventions: Metaphoric Narrative Practice in Adelaide. I am so grateful I was able to attend. It was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. This enlightening and inspiring workshop was hosted by Ncazelo Ncube-Mlilo and David Denborough who together created The Tree of Life Narrative Therapy methodology for helping children and adults navigate through their horrendous trauma they have suffered.
Ncazelo is an educational psychologist and a narrative therapist with extensive experience working with children and communities affected by HIV in East and Southern Africa. Currently, she works with the Nelson Mandela’s Children Fund, she shared how she and David developed their unique program. (She also required us to sing and dance during the workshop which was hilarious and enlivening!) David has written many books about narrative therapy practice and works as a community practitioner, teacher and writer for Dulwich Centre, he talked about how he used narrative therapy in his work in prisons, fascinating.
At the workshop I was mesmerised whilst listening to the other attendees. Usually, it is only the presenters out the front that attendees are impressed with but I was awestruck by Ncazelo and David as well as those around me. People like a beautiful Brazilian lady, Ana Luiza who works with children and adults in the favelas near Rio De Janiero, Halimah who works with people dealing with drug abuse, pre-teen pregnancy, suicide, and other forms of extreme social issues in Mount Isa. As well as an African woman who started the Home Of Hope in Johannesburg when she realised children were being forced into prostitution, at first she accepted a few until there were so many, expansion was needed. Listening to this lady, I was entranced by the horror of what she was saying but also, by her simple compassion, she took gave them a safe place. Wow.
Listening to the narrative therapy methods described by Ncazelo and David captured my imagination and as I sat there, I felt like my whole being was being expanded in the sense that I could see how I could take these concepts, and expand them into many different directions like branches.
In the conference workshop sat amazing, outstanding individuals from Mexico, China, Canada, Italy, Australia, Brazil, Africa, the USA who are using their imaginations to set on fire ideas that help people in the most horrendous of situations. For the first time in many years, I could see how I could tangibly adapt my current writing therapy techniques to assist more people around the world, including youth and children!
Over the past six years I have been developing my own writing therapy methods and conducting workshops helping people through stress and trauma and this has produced amazing outcomes for people. I have been very blessed to be a part of this. Then, a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the Dulwich Community Centre in Adelaide. This centre conducts training in methods of narrative therapy. Some of these methods are slightly different to what I do, but I am so excited to add this to my repertoire!
With my methods I had always wanted to adapt them and make them accessible to help indigenous people in Australia, at risk youth, refugees, communities in Africa, or any parts of the world, children and adults overseas who had suffered trauma. I knew I would find a way and work with others to make this possible, though I didn’t know how it would happen.
Now, I can finally see the way. It’s a way for me to access my imagination and expand on methods developed and tested and worked on by Ncazelo and David Denborough. I can be creative, using this framework to adapt and expand my own techniques outwards, therefore allowing me to help more people with my writing therapy techniques. I was exhilarated.
David said during the conference workshop the Tree of Life method is a framework and is meant to be used to invent and create our own adaptations.
I was so happy to get to know another participant, Halimah, who is from Zimbabwe but lives and works and is Australian now, she said “when I came here, I thought wow, I’ve found my tribe!” and as we were talking I was explaining to her how I was feeling and she said; “You’ve also found your tribe.” And I thought yes. That is very true.
Freedom doesn’t come with achieving our dreams, or receiving acclamation for our talents, (though this can be amazing), freedom comes in giving your life for others, freedom comes in “losing your life” according to what the world thinks. These people were dedicated to helping others in the most dire and dank areas of need in the world and yet these people were some of the most joyous people I have met. That is why I know if you give your life for others, though you may not have impressive cars, houses, or clothes you will possess something infinitely more valuable, inner peace and fulfilment. Inner freedom and a feeling that your life is contributing to the life of others, the privilege of helping others achieve freedom and empowerment in their lives. This is something that cannot be attained or bought.