Gillie Bolton has devoted the past three decades to the research, learning and practice of creative writing as a therapeutic tool, with her Reflective Practice: Writing and Professional Development now in its third edition. She’s joined forces again with Jeannie Wright, an academic and practising therapist to offer a lively and comprehensive companion to anyone engaged in reflective writing in counselling and therapy – although I think it could apply to anyone interested in the pursuit, regardless of profession.
Reflective Writing digs deep into the exploration of what reflective writing is (while reflexive writing is described as a focus inward rather than outward). The authors make a compelling case for why it is a potentially enriching and professional responsible endeavour. Like therapy, or any other pursuit to develop personally, writing in this way may reveal unknowns and half understood knowns to ourselves that could deepen our understanding of our relational work. It may also serve as a confidential release. However, unlike therapy, it’s only you at the helm to decide where, when and how to proceed. It’s free too.
While dealing with the practicalities (when and how to start, and basic principles), discrete chapters deal with writing in groups, writing about the past, exploring the present and the use of imagination to write about the future. Case studies and vignettes bring advice and guidance to light, and there are plentiful self-directed exercises. Dealing with blocks are explored (I loved the idea of writing a quest story about searching for facility in writing), and a relevant practical discussion of e-therapy, on-line counselling and the use of email and Skype will grab growing numbers of us. Writing in and for supervision has its own chapter, as does thinking about tools to assess your process. Theory is integrated throughout with a light touch – psychodynamic, person-centred and CBT ideas alongside mindfulness practice too. Narrative therapy obviously features most.