YoungMinds in Schools: Therapeutic storywriting
Therapeutic storywriting aims to develop confidence in children and young people to talk about, and understand, any troubling emotions that are holding them back and increasing numbers of schools are using the programme with great success.
As part of a series of videos filmed in Tottenham schools (the others in the series are Mindfulness, Involving Parents in Children’s Learning and Whole School Emotional Wellbeing), Therapeutic storywriting shows how children with emotional and behavioural difficulties can be helped to explore their feelings in safety.
Therapeutic storywriting was developed by Dr Trisha Waters and works with the metaphor in stories written by pupils themselves to address the emotional issues that are getting in the way of children’s learning. The stories they write allow children to project their feelings onto the characters they are writing about. This enables them to explore difficult feelings without getting overwhelmed. Research has shown that the storywriting groups really do help children and young people to develop not only emotional skills but literacy skills too.
Children in the groups first do a short mindfulness exercise which helps establish a calm, peaceful environment before writing begins. It is important that children feel safe enough to allow emotional issues to arise so each session opens with a few minutes of mindfulness. They then identify their feelings and place them on a feelings ladder. To get their creativity flowing, children are given a sentence to start their writing and they develop their own stories for ten minutes. They work in a closed and safe environment which really helps to develop their self-confidence. The writing sessions also help them to develop the vocabulary they need to express their emotions. Therapeutic writing sessions can also involve some drama where the children act out each other’s stories.
Therapeutic storywriting training is being delivered by YoungMinds in Schools funded by the Department for Education. You can see the YoungMinds in Schools pages on Therapeutic storywriting here and the research projects can be accessed here. The video on Therapeutic storywriting filmed in Tottenham schools can be viewed here.
Therapeutic storywriting clearly offers children and schools a variety of benefits. Children who take part in these sessions enjoy their writing more, their behaviour improves, their confidence develops and they become calmer, happier, more compassionate and more willing to be heard and to share their opinions. Inevitably, these benefits are felt right across the school.