The Transformational Power of Expressive Writing

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Dawn Louise Thibert
Thivvia Ragunathan


In this paper we write about our collaboration setting up and running expressive writing groups, which became workshops, in a Child and Adolescent Mental Health service in a National Health Service in London. Thivvia was a psychiatry core trainee on placement and Dawn the lone family therapist. The idea for the group arose during lockdown when we were in the office, and in a chance corridor conversation, we discovered we shared a love of journalling and poetry. Dawn related this to narrative therapy ideas, which resonated well with Thivvia’s cultural storytelling traditions. Creativity sparked between us and together we were able to navigate the power structures in the service and evidence base discourses to get management permission to do this. Thivvia drew on her knowledge of poetry to create prompts to facilitate others to write creatively as a form of self-expression. In this writing, We write in a poetic style congruent with the poetic expression being developed in the workshops. We practice and write with decolonising intent, differentiating our voices, so that our separate nuances can come through as a resistance to dominant white western academic co-writing practices of seeking consensus, which can drown out alternative ways of knowing. Dawn reflects on the decolonial stance she actively adopts to support Thivvia’s instinctive storytelling and ways of knowing that had been suppressed by her medical training.  We reflect on the experience throughout, include some of the poems we created and conclude by encouraging others to be bold in bringing in creative practices, offering suggestions of prompts to use to encourage expressive writing.

Article Details

How to Cite
Thibert, D. L., & Ragunathan, T. . (2022). The Transformational Power of Expressive Writing . Murmurations: Journal of Transformative Systemic Practice, 5(2), 53–72.
Author Biography

Dawn Louise Thibert, Systemic Psychotherapist

I currently am the family therapist at Merton CAMHS and I am starting private practice including family therapy and systemic supervison.