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Title: The Use of Creative Writing as a Therapeutic Activity for Mental Health in Occupational Therapy.
Author: Cooper, Pauline
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2008
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This research project takes place in a National Health Service setting within one south east London /Kent borough. The study concentrates on the use of two different models of writing being used with Adult Mental Health Service Users in both community facilities and in-patient settings. The writing is used as part of the clients' therapy programmes or on-going post-treatment support plans. Tpe literature search showed that the field of writing is vast and complex and is usefully categorised by Celia Hunt and Fiona Sampson (1999) using the Three Strand definition. This model is used in organising the findings ofthis study to understand how writing can be utilised, by therapists and non-therapist facilitators, in a mental health setting. This qualitative study utilises a post positivist, subtle-realist paradigm using qualitative methodologies: action research and participant observation, undertaken by an occupational therapist. The purpose is to understand and clarify how writing works and may be utilised through recovery from illness and as a method of support and creativity to wellness in a therapeutic context. Central to the project is the difference in nature of the two models of writing used: Using Writing As Therapy (UWAT) and Creative Writing (CW), and the outcomes of each through the group process. Of major importance are the resulting data collected from written and spoken comments of group leaders and clients, regarding the benefits and concerns ofusing writing, in the journey partnership towards wellness and future aspirations. The results indicated that UWAT clients found particular benefits from belonging in a group where they could use their page to re-organise or play with memories and experiences. D.W. Winnicott's (1971) 'potential space' between inner thought and outer reality and Wilfrid Bion's (1962) notion of 'containment' provided a theoretical base for understanding these concepts. UWAT clients reported cognitive changes and an increase in self-knowledge through gaining distance from their stories through writing, though some were unable to utilise this knowledge to facilitate recovery. CW clients used writing to distance themselves from painful emotions by writing their feelings but not discussing emotive content together verbally. They experienced a less safe environment, deprivation of positive feedback and problems with 'writer' identity.· This project will be of interest to occupational therapists and other practitioners using writing with adult clients who suffer from mental health problems presenting with significant symptoms of depression.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available