Halprin (2001) provided a wonderful early example of the use of writing from a process-work perspective. Empirical studies have shown that disclosing one’s experience, orally or in writing, has a positive influence on measures of physical health and emotional well-being: “people who benefited from writing began with poorly organized descriptions and progressed to coherent stories” (Pennebaker 1997, 165). Writing calls us to focus on specific images, recreating them in detail, and giving them narrative form; MacCurdy (2007) suggests that “re-experiencing sensory details encoded during extreme life moments is at the core of trauma recovery” (36). Work on embodied reflective writing has also shown its usefulness in both personal and educational contexts (Anderson, 2001; Elbaz-Luwisch 2010).
In this workshop, participants will be invited to write brief personal episodes (in English or the writer’s first language, as preferred) based in bodily experience. As episodes are shared, we will focus on the listening process; if time allows, episodes may be turned into brief dialogues, letters, or poems. New understandings (individual and collective) typically arise from this experience, allowing us to consider the added value, for both therapeutic and research contexts, of sharing personal material in different languages, and in multicultural settings.