Stories as such and foremost personal stories originate from our needs, experiences and moreover from the basic need – meaning and sensemaking. Viktor E. Frankl stated already, that the primary motivation in a person is to discover the meaning in life and firmly believed that the meaning itself, could be discovered even in the most tragic experience (Frankl, Wikipedia). Stories, narratives of our lives as complex structures of life events and experience, are therefore a treasure to be explored.
Looking at therapeutic writing from this point of view, we can simply say, that our personal stories are our own personal treasures, sources of power, no matter their nature and content – we just might “write our way” towards feeling this power… Contemporary state of the art perception of therapeutic writing as a technique and/or approach therefore beholds many concepts in itself: the self, the story, the power to heel, to overcome, to internalize, to be more creative and many many more. One of the most interesting Slovenian professionals (sociologist and social worker) Dr. Mojca Urek, active in field of gender studies, community mental health, LGBTQ and narrative approaches, has issued an interesting book with the name “Zgodbe na delu” (transl. “Stories at work”) and within this work she is exploring the so-called oppressive elements of narrative practices and their counter effects as in being liberating as well as the role of stories and narration in social work (Sedmak, 2006, p. 253). This work calls for storytelling, personal narration and writing down stories as a potential and as an important element of working with people in order to really see the individual as a whole.
While preparing this article and researching about therapeutic writing in Slovenia we became alert to a great Slovenian journalist and writer Renata Ažman. Her life story was and remains amazing – as a journalist professional, she discovered the healing power of writing while creating and writing down her own painful life experience, being a victim herself in her young age. She was active in the field of running workshops in therapeutic writing, where participants could learn and try out, how to use writing within healing process. She was also the founder of a self-help private association for mental distress with the name “Poglej!” (transl. “Look!”) and an honourable member of the “Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Mental Health University of Birmingham” (Urek, 2015). She did not mystify the concept of therapeutic writing, and she said that this can be anything that brings instant relief – it can be a curse, an angry letter to someone, who you have been angry about for years…and even if this letter is never sent to this particular person, it was worth to shake of the burden…(ibidem, 2015).
Having also the recent experience from the HEROINES project’s on-line training of the trainers experience, our everyday working life feels somehow differently…It is about sharing, vulnerability, reflection, overcoming, becoming our own hero in the story…it is about connection…the past and the future…the pain and relief…the quietness and being heard…discovering hidden treasures in all of us (we might not even be aware of them) only waiting to be storied, expressed and helping us to only grow and glow from the inside out. What else is there to say but…Yes…We can write (do) it…!
- Sedmak, Mateja (2006). Mojca Urek: Zgodbe na delu: pripovedovanje, zapisovanje in poročanje v socialnem delu. Ljubljana, Založba /*cf, 2005, 319 str. Annales. Series historia et sociologia, letnik 16, številka 1, str. 253-254. Retrieved from: https://www.dlib.si/details/URN:NBN:SI:DOC-UGCX62MR Urek, Mojca (2015).
- V spomin: Renata Ažman (1964-2016). Socialno delo, letnik 54, številka 6, str. 377-378. Retrieved from: https://www.dlib.si/details/URN:NBN:SI:DOC-KVGIWIOH
- Wikipedia (n.d.) Man’s Search for Meaning. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man%27s_Search_for_Meaning