Early on in the Spring of 2020, with the increasing COVID-19 measures coming into place, I was asked to host an online writing workshop for previous visiting clients to my writing retreat. 

I was more than a little sceptical about working online, as I was convinced that my face to face interaction was an essential part of who I am in person.

Within my own therapeutic work, I have used journaling for a long time to both process and record, and I mentioned this to the fiction writers I was working with in that first workshop, as a way they might be able to manage unexpected or unfamiliar emotions arising in the enforced isolation of the pandemic. 

By their very nature, writers are often self-isolating, but finding themselves disconnected by law from their monthly writing groups and meeting other artists in cafes and libraries was an uncomfortable place to be for many of them. I was asked to run a short workshop on journaling techniques and ways to process through their most comfortable medium.

Feeling nervously aware of unfamiliar technology, I set about creating a space for myself and others. Sitting in the first workshop, back in the summer of 2020, I could sense the need to connect, and the flow and release of emotions through writing as the group.

The sharing of the experience, without the content of our writing, was therapeutic. The first participants reported back that it had been incredibly powerful therapy. I corrected them. It was therapeutic, not therapy, I said. They asked for a regular slot. 

I found a peace held within the purposefulness of providing this different space for others, and yet, the carefully chosen prompts of music, art, quotations or simple questions, struck a chord in myself too. The group evolved, allowing my own journaling to flourish in a differently creative way. Familiar and past patterns, previously explored and processed, presented differently and allowed a gentleness of experience through creative dialogue with myself and with others. 

I was reminded of the way that we take what we need from the process of writing.  The realness of our rising and falling emotions and our struggles to keep up with changing expectations from within as well as outside of ourselves, has been a valuable reminder of the way our creatives selves can support our logical and practical selves. Some of my journaling group have gone on to write creatively, some have stayed with the process as exploring their own situations. All of us are enjoying connecting with ourselves and others deeply. 

Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.