Therapeutic Writing Groups Embrace Art Forms
A research project involving 100 writers for wellbeing has detailed the many creative forms that therapeutic writing is taking. Professor Tony Wall of the University of Chester outlines the findings.
This summer, The University of Chester and Lapidus International’s study investigated the impact of COVID-19 on the provision of therapeutic writing groups across the top 1% health-deprived areas in England. The initial findings shed light on the diversity of practice and practitioners and how adaptable the community has been to respond quickly to the pandemic using technology.
The University of Chester and Lapidus International’s study involved 16 web analyses and focus groups, and discovered that creative writing for wellbeing opportunities are well positioned to support the wellbeing of a diverse population through and post COVID-19.
In some areas, writing for wellbeing groups are being delivered specifically for young people and children, for older people, people over 50, people of colour, people with dementia, people with autism, people with disabilities, those recovering from addictions, carers, women, the homeless, people with lived experience of hate crime, families and people identifying as Afrikaans.
The study has also found that creative writing practices are being used in conjunction with other expressive art forms, such as song, drama, movement, walking, or mindfulness practices – including in nature or open spaces.
In some areas of the most health-deprived areas in England, this broader combination can account for a third of the opportunities offered. In practice, however, it is likely to be a lot higher given innovation and cross-fertilisation of practice in health and wellbeing communities.
It is not surprising that many opportunities ceased because of the COVID-19 lockdown. But it is clear that practitioners were able to quickly move some of their activities online and some created new activities to connect with their communities. There are also signs that those opportunities are restarting through social distancing.
Although the study suggests that practitioners seem to be poised as a diverse community ready to support the wellbeing of diverse communities in communities that need it most, there remains a concern that moving online is not always inclusive.
For example, for some with social anxiety the intensity of the head-on, face-to-face digital medium might be prohibitive, and they may not even get to hear of the opportunity if they rely on their close friends to access groups. Equally, the move to digital assumes a sufficient level of wealth to be able to access data to be able to connect with an online session.
A common theme from the study has been that communities are calling for more people to be able to access the wellbeing benefits of the activity – and that this would be an effective way to drive the recovery of England post-COVID-19.
Findings from the study will be made publicly available before December 2020. Please contact chair[at]lapidus.org.uk or Professor Tony Wall at the University of Chester to know more.
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