Location

Harborside Center East and West

Strand #1

Mental & Physical Health

Relevance

A therapeutic tool that promotes self-healing, reflection, and growth, expressive writing is healthy both for the heart and soul. Expressive writing has been widely used within the mental health field, as a way to assist clients with insight into their thoughts, feelings, and actions. A therapeutic intervention, clients are provided with assignments that focus on writing about topics, to include: anger, anxiety, and past traumas.

Brief Program Description

Written words are a very powerful tool that is used to facilitate self-healing, awareness, and growth through the communication of one’s deepest thoughts, emotions, and desires. The purpose of this poster session is to provide mental health providers (community, school, criminal justice) with an overview of expressive writing, forms of expressive writing that can be utilized, and implications for professional practice with At-Risk Youth.

Summary

When neglected, at risk youth tend to seek outlets that may be detrimental to themselves and society. By providing these youth with a tool, expressive writing, as an outlet to channel their energy, mental health professionals working within a variety of setting, will enable youth at risk for delinquency, poverty, and/or failure, the ability to deal with and heal from their personal issues as well as begin to choose a more constructive path. The development of writing groups for At-Risk Youth, provide the youth with a safe haven to express themselves as well as facilitate the development of their personal identities, intellectual development through critical thinking and reasoning, social awareness, self-esteem, as well as future orientation.

Evidence

Having worked with at-risk and incarcerated youth it is noted that no two kids are alike; however, there are a lot of dark personal traits that they have in common. A lot of these kids have been victims of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. Many come from broken homes or homes riddled with drug and gang issues. Many have had parents leave, either by choice, suicide, homicide, or incarceration. Most have some sort of addiction issue, which is often accompanied by drug or alcohol abuse. These are wounded kids that would benefit from expressive writing. Expressive writing, takes on a several forms, to include: creative, journaling, poetry, and letter, and have been proven to be beneficial to individuals who have or is currently facing traumatic events in their lives. According to Baikie & Wilhelm (2005), in the past 20 years, literature focused on expressive writing has seen an increase and been proven effective in improving the physical and emotional health of individuals. Furthermore, according to Baikie & Wilhelm (2005), the following has been identified as long-term benefits to expressive writing: “students’ grade point average (Pennebaker & Francis, 1996; Cameron & Nicholls, 1998), absenteeism from work (Francis & Pennebaker, 1992), re-employment after job loss (Spera et al, 1994), working memory (Klein & Boals, 2001) and sporting performance (Scott et al, 2003). In addition, writing about emotional topics changed the way that participants interacted with others, suggesting that writing may also have an impact on objectively assessed social and linguistic behaviour (Pennebaker & Graybeal, 2001, p. 339)”. Baikie, K. A. & Wilhelm, K. Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 11, (338-316), 2005.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Karla L. Sapp is a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) and a Licensed Professional Counselor in Georgia. She recently earned her Doctorate of Education in Counseling Psychology from Argosy University, as well as, she is a graduate of Armstrong Atlantic State University (BS Criminal Justice) and South University-Savannah. Dr. Sapp has been practicing for 6 years, specializing in mental health and addictions counseling, within the following settings: inpatient acute hospitalization, outpatient, drug court, and is currently a Drug Treatment Specialist with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, where she works with incarcerated male offenders. She has also worked with the military population, while providing services within the inpatient setting, as well as juvenile offenders as a Juvenile Probation/Parole Specialist II with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice for 5 years. Dr. Sapp, a scholarly practitioner, also has a research/counseling interest in Expressive Writing, Criminal Offenders, Men Therapy, Sports Counseling, and Disaster Mental Health/Crisis Counseling.

Keyword Descriptors

expressive writing, at-risk youth, mental health, well-being, therapy, therapeutic

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 4:00 PM

End Date

3-3-2015 5:30 PM

 
Mar 3rd, 4:00 PM Mar 3rd, 5:30 PM

Unsilencing the Voice Within: Expressive Writing as a Therapeutic Tool

Harborside Center East and West

Written words are a very powerful tool that is used to facilitate self-healing, awareness, and growth through the communication of one’s deepest thoughts, emotions, and desires. The purpose of this poster session is to provide mental health providers (community, school, criminal justice) with an overview of expressive writing, forms of expressive writing that can be utilized, and implications for professional practice with At-Risk Youth.