Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Creative writing-Psychological aspects, Psychotherapy-Methodology, Psychotherapy patients, Affect (Psychology), Affective education, Authors-Psychology, Lacan, Jacques, 1901-1981, Language and emotions, Narrative therapy, Writing, Affective process, Flow, In the zone, Narrative


This study asked: What do the affective experiences of engaging in psychotherapy and engaging in creative writing have in common, as perceived by the client-writer? The subjective experience of six "client-writers," individuals who selfidentified as both creative writers and current or former psychotherapy clients, were explored to determine whether being in a typical psychotherapy session and in a typical creative writing session involved similar feelings and affective processes. Study findings showed that expressing feelings, accessing the unconscious, making discoveries, exploring and/or learning about oneself, and using creativity were common to both creative writing and psychotherapy; releasing energy, developing insight, identifying and/or resolving conflict, solving problems, and taking risks were also often common to both activities. In addition, many participants reported that being in an altered state of consciousness, or "in the zone," was a frequent and optimal experience in both creative writing and psychotherapy. Also, participants' "knowing" when therapy was "working" or, similarly, when their writing was "right" appeared to involve a virtually ineffable "feedback loop" of receiving, evaluating, and acting upon subtle affective information—a process one study participant described as "feeling my way." For both psychotherapy and creative writing, negative feelings often prompted engagement. Implications for theory, clinical practice, and education, as well as directions for future study, are discussed.




iii, 173 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 155-161)