How Can Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP) Support People to Improve their Mental Health?

Chair: Dr Emily Blewitt

Panellists:

Clare Scott, Chair of Lapidus

Dr Louise Younie, University of Bristol

Christina Thatcher, Cardiff University

Claire Williamson, Metanoia Institute

Nigel Gibbons, Counsellor/Metanoia Tutor

Kate Pawsey, Writing Time/Metanoia Graduate

The focus of this panel is the application of Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP) in the UK. With the government facing growing mental health issues, an arts and health agenda is emerging. Lapidus is the UK organisation that provides networks and information for people interested in writing for wellbeing.

Metanoia Institute provides a Masters-level course in CWTP to prepare writers for the challenges of working at this growing edge (www.metanoia.ac.uk/cwtp). Many writers take up residencies in institutions where people may have a history of trauma (e.g. prisons) and need appropriate support to assess competence and find appropriate interventions for vulnerable people.

Creative Writing students often draw on their own histories, whether requested to ‘write about what you know…’ or not. As Micheline Wandor (2004) raises, there are pedagogic issues around teachers managing groups where students use themselves as subject. Meanwhile, creative writing students find that outcomes from their studies inform contemporary social issues.

Some counsellors and psychotherapists use creative writing activities and bibliotherapy to support client expression (Hedges, 2005) and creative arts are being incorporated in some therapeutic trainings.

The medical profession are looking towards patient narratives for information on treating patients (Baruch, 2013) and creative reflective practice has become an important strand in medical training on medical courses (e.g. School of Social and Community Medicine – University of Bristol)

This panel aims to open up the questions and ethics of CWTP and hopes to bridge some of the, at times, uncomfortable divide between creative writing and CWTP.

Friday 7th July, 12.30