The author first presents an introduction and rationale for the concept of using creative writing as therapy, either self-prescribed or as part of professional treatment. She then provides practical guidelines for starting a journal (Chapter 3), and for beginning to write poetry, fiction, and autobiography (Chapter 7).

The text includes an accessible introduction to images and metaphors--aspects of the craft--as well as to methods of capturing dream material (Chapter 6) for use in one's creative writing. The later chapters present therapeutic writing in various contexts--as group work (Chapter 9), or in various institutional settings (hospital, nursing home, hospice, and prison). There are examples of therapeutic writing, especially poetry, throughout the book.


This is a hybrid textbook, addressed both to health professionals and to patients. I use the word "textbook" to indicate its scope and practical orientation. However, the book does not suffer from the dull writing and derivative ideas that often characterize textbooks. The book also has a "meta-" dimension: it deals with how the health professional might introduce creative writing as an aspect of therapy, as well as how to teach (or do) the writing itself.

Addressing the former issue, Gillie writes, "For a health professional to suggest a personal journey of exploration like writing, the relationship between themselves and the patient must be one of trust and empathy." (p. 176) In general, Bolton places more emphasis on the health professional's role as therapist than does John Fox in his Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making (in this database). The two books compliment one another.


Foreword by Sir Kenneth Calman.


Jessica Kingsley Publishers

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