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Scriptotherapy

“Tears are words that need to be written.”

~ Paulo Coelho

The healing power of the written word is at the core of scriptotherapy.  Writing has a restorative element to it that can be beneficial on many levels.

The process of exchanging intentional words with a therapist can help you:

  • gain insight 
  • see new perspectives
  • be thoughtful in how you contemplate your life
  • declutter your mind
  • tap into your inner wisdom that promotes healing solutions
  • make sense of your past
  • gain clarity for your future

 

What is Scriptotherapy?

Scriptotherapy is the bridge between expressive writing and in-person therapy sessions.

Using email in a secure, HIPAA-compliant and confidential client portal, we will use therapeutic writing as an analytical process to address what’s bringing you to therapy—whether that be anxiety, depression, parenting concerns, codependency issues, relationship problems, negativity, trauma, fear, anger, conflict, etc.

I will respond to your message just as I would if we were meeting in person by:

  • asking clarifying questions to help us both dig deeper to find the root of the problem
  • providing you with observations that can lead to change
  • teaching you new coping skills
  • suggesting additional resources
  • assigning homework if/when appropriate
  • highlighting areas for self-exploration

Scriptotherapy can be a convenient alternative or adjunct to traditional in-person therapy for those whose schedules don’t allow for consistent therapy sessions.

Why is Scriptotheraphy Effective?

One could argue that the need for healing—whatever the cause of the wound—is a result of not being able to fully process our stories. When stories are untold and unprocessed, they leave wounds that continue to affect us (sometimes in ways we don’t even realize). When we’re forced to sit with our stories, process them, and feel them, we can heal from them.

Due to the nature of the written word, writing encourages you to be deliberate in your words, helping you think through a situation in a way that is more intentional than speaking or thinking does. In contrast to verbal conversations, which change and take on new meanings as they occur, the permanence of the written word demands critical thought and insight as you write.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. Maya Angelou

This is because writing triggers a different assessment process, enabling you to tap into a storehouse of understanding that promotes healing solutions.

When we apply writing to therapy, there are many benefits. In-person sessions are sometimes laden with distractions and many attempts, on both therapist and client’s parts, to try to explain something in a clear way. Finding the right language to describe a situation can be validating and cathartic—and writing can be a more direct avenue for the correct words.

Research has shown that:

Writing Benefits your Mood
Research has shown that writing about life goals can help you feel happier and healthier.

Writing also helps to alleviate the negative effects of stress and depression.

Writing also helps you elaborate on your thoughts. When your thoughts are staring back at you from the screen, you’re forced to analyze your thoughts in a way that is hard with a spoken conversation.

Writing Aids in Emotional Healing
In individuals who have experienced a traumatic or extremely stressful event, expressive writing can have a significant healing effect. In fact, participants in a study who wrote about their most traumatic experiences for 15 minutes, four days in a row, experienced better health outcomes up to four months later (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005).
Writing Helps You Heal Physically
Another study tested the same writing exercise on over 100 asthma and rheumatoid arthritis patients, with similar results. The participants who wrote about the most stressful event of their lives experienced better health evaluations related to their illness (Smyth, Stone, Hurewitz, & Kaell, 1999).
Writing May Improve your Immune System
Writing about stressful events helps us take steps towards acceptance, minimizing the impact these stressors have on our physical health.

Studies have proven that people who wrote about past traumas strengthened their immune cells, called T-lymphocytes, and had fewer health-center visits for six months after writing.

A recent study suggested that expressive writing may even improve immune system functioning, although it may need to be sustained for the health benefits to continue (Murray, 2002).

Writing Can Illuminate Meaning
In addition to these more concrete benefits, regular therapeutic writing can help the writer find meaning in their experiences, view things from a new perspective, and see the silver linings in their most stressful or negative experiences (Murray, 2002).

It can also lead to important insights about yourself and your environment that may be difficult to determine without focused writing (Tartakovsky, 2015).

Writing Can Increase Motivation
Research has shown that writing about your goals is beneficial for motivation.
Writing Can Boost Your Productivity
Another study showed that when those handling stressful jobs wrote about their experiences in a journal, their productivity increased.
Writing Promotes Problem Solving
Dr. Sheppard B. Kominars, author of Write for Life: Healing Mind, Body, and Spirit Through Journal Writing, notes that writing about our thoughts helps us move problems into a different dimension of consciousness. “You actually change the problem by framing it and moving it into an area of your experience more involved with problem solving,” he said.
Writing Helps Convey Complexity
When we have a lot of on our minds, often what we’re trying to say is right on the tip of our tongue, or we have so much going on in our heads that it all comes out in a confusing mess. Writing has been shown to help us communicate complex ideas more effectively—and let’s face it, our lives are complex!

Scriptotherapy FAQs

How do I get started with scriptotherapy?
1. Schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation (link to my scheduling page)

2. Once we agree to work together, I will send you all the necessary paperwork to get started.

3. We will meet in person or over video-chat for your first session. While emailing back and forth can be an alternative to in-person sessions, I do require that we meet face-to-face during the first session to get to know each other.

Can I do scriptotherapy instead of in-person sessions?
With the exception of meeting face-to-face for your first session, yes, yes, subsequent ‘sessions’ can be scriptotherapy/done over email.
Can I do scriptotherapy in addition to in-person sessions?
Adding scriptotherapy/email sessions between in-person sessions can be a powerful accelerator of healing and growth. Many clients choose to do this if they can’t come to counseling as much as they’d like, or to continue the processing done in session throughout the week. This can be particularly helpful if a situation comes up between sessions that requires additional support.
What would be different from you emailing me in response to my problems and my best friend/mom/mentor?
Although scriptotherapy is based in a form of communication that you use to communicate with other people in your life, that is really where the similarities end. As your therapist, I will offer research-backed therapeutic interventions that pull from the methods of therapy that I’ve found benefit my clients most:  Post-Induction Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.
How do I know what to write?
Based on your goals, I will have a good idea of approaches and prompts that can help you lead to the processing that can help meet your goals. Beyond that, our emails will begin to resemble the rhythm of a conversation that flows naturally.
What about confidentiality?
Scriptotherapy takes place via a secure, HIPAA-compliant client portal.
Are there reasons I shouldn’t consider scriptotherapy?
Scriptotherapy is most effective when you have a strong foundation of other sources for support and are able to use coping skills when life gets hard.

If you are currently struggling with self-harm, thoughts of ending your own life, or are in an unsafe environment, in-person counseling is a more supportive option for you. I cannot provide a higher level of care or emergency services via scriptotherapy.

What are the limitations to scriptotherapy?
Modalities such as EMDR and aspects of Post Induction Therapy are experiential and require in-person sessions. You should also be aware that there is a quality of synchronicity, attunement, and the important communication that occurs in body language that is missing in scriptotherapy.
What is the cost of scriptotherapy?
The first in-person initial session is billed at my regular rate of $195 for 75-minutes.

After that, each emailed response is billed at $100 per hour, which includes the time I spend reading your email, reviewing your relevant history, analyzing assessments, and the time necessary for writing a thoughtful response.