Practitioner Certificate Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP) for Therapists
This Practitioner Certificate offers qualified therapists and senior trainees the opportunity to learn about principles, practice and applications of Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP). All are welcome – you do not have to have done much creative writing before, only be willing to participate.
We will look at applications and ways of working with writing and creativity, and how these might contribute to therapists’ existing practice, or in their own creative and reflective process and self-care.
The 10 days (5 x 2 day workshops) provide a lively and engaging introduction to CWTP theory and practice. Highly experienced tutors combine experiential learning with taught elements and carefully-chosen reading. You will be guided through creative writing and reflection exercises in a supportive and accessible way that is designed to enable all who wish to learn more about this field to participate and develop as practitioners. There will be a reading list and tasks set before and between sessions.
The course is suitable for qualified therapists and senior trainees who are interested in learning about Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes and its applications. There will be creative writing activities for students in each learning day as part of the experiential learning.
Fiona Hamilton, Graham Hartill, Nigel Gibbons, Claire Williamson
Fiona Hamilton specialises in therapeutic writing in the NHS and complementary healthcare, and wellbeing arts projects with community groups. At the University of Bristol she teaches Poetry of Medicine which complements the clinical curriculum for medical students and develops involvement with whole person care. She provides mentoring for people in a variety of roles and walks of life including as a support for people in caring professions. Her book of poems Bite Sized was adapted for performance and is the basis for workshops for young people, clinicians, carers and parents on themes of body-mind issues and mental health. She wrote Words and thresholds: an exploration of writing process and practice for the publication Scriptum and contributed a chapter to Medicine, Health, and the Arts (Routledge, 2013) on using writing in healthcare. Recent publications are Fractures (2016), poems exploring buildings and place, and an essay Clay Bricks for BBC radio, published in the book Cornerstones (2018).
Nigel Gibbons is a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice, working with individuals, couples, and groups. He is a supervisor and a workshop facilitator using creative writing. He has particular interests in Focusing; the Person Centred approach within arts based therapies, therapy research, and narrative approaches. He is a tutor on the Diploma in Counselling at Network Counselling and Training and with Orchard Foundation, and runs sessions for the Medical Humanities course at Bristol. He facilitates workshops for, amongst others, Cruse and Relate. As a supervisor for Cruse Bereavement Care he works with groups and individuals. For twelve years he worked for Central TV, the ITV company in the Midlands, as a producer, director and researcher, eventually becoming a head of department. He has made over one hundred factual programmes for ITV, Central and Channel 4. He has published a number of articles and contributed to Writing Routes edited by Gillie Bolton, Victoria Field, and Kate Thompson, and MA2.
Graham Hartill is a writer-in-residence at HMP Parc, Bridgend. In 2013 he was the first writer-in-residence at Swansea University College of Medicine and, with Victoria Field, ran a popular course, Writing in Health and Social Care, for nine years at Ty Newydd, the Writers’ Centre for Wales. He worked for many years for the Ledbury Poetry Festival, as an outreach writer with elderly people and has worked widely in the fields of dementia and mental health. A founder member of Lapidus, Graham has contributed to seminal collections and conferences in the field. Papers include: Poetics of Memory: In Defence of Literary Experimentation with Holocaust Survivor Testimony, with Professor Frances Rapport, in Anthropology and Humanism (2010) and Versions of Events: Lies, Judgments and Poems in Poetry Wales (2017). His latest published poetry is a collaborative translation with Wu Fu-Sheng: Seven Masters of the Jian’an Era for The Commercial Press, Beijing, 2018. Chroma was published by Hafan Books in 2012 and there is a new collection in the pipeline with Aquifer Books.
Claire Williamson has worked extensively using creative writing in therapeutic settings, including bereavement, addiction recovery, new parents, older people and cancer care. Claire’s M-level research explored the life-sustaining effects of writing, and as a doctoral candidate at Cardiff University, she’s studying ‘Writing the 21st Century Bereavement Novel’. Claire is Programme Leader for the well-established MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes, the only Masters course in the UK on this subject. Claire has authored a number of book chapters and journal articles (e.g. on working with young people, creative process, a dialogue on the current CWTP field (with Dr Jeannie Wright), and is the author of four published poetry collections, the latest is Visiting the Minotaur (Seren, 2018).
Each workshop includes: writing activities, discussion, theory input, and focus on one CWTP area in relation to therapists’ practice with clients, in supervision, or with themselves for self-support. There will be tasks and reading to do in between sessions.
Day 1 Introduction to Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes
The first day is an introduction to Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP). Students will identify their learning objectives and find out how this field has evolved. There are examples of applications in different settings, together with some initial theory and research into its effects and uses. We will consider how CWTP overlaps and differs from ‘talking therapies’, taking a look at writing approaches used within a number of therapeutic practices, including letter writing, stories, free fall writing, and poetry. We will consider best practice when establishing a CWTP group, with a gentle lead-in to our initial writing activities.
Day 2 Working with Metaphor and Myth
Metaphor is embedded in our everyday language and can enable communication of complex multi-levelled experience. Personal and shared myths are used to relate and explain experience and identities. We will look at theory from key texts to highlight ways of working with metaphor and myth, and to inspire students’ writing and reflection. Writing activities will include ‘finding your metaphors’ and ‘stories we live by’. We will discuss challenges and pitfalls of these areas of work and students will have the opportunity to devise an exercise of their own.
Day 3 Working with Characters and Voices
Creative writing can facilitate access to and expression of different facets of self. By approaching the facets ‘slant’ through characters and voices there is the opportunity for both playful and serious consideration of self and identity, and of our ways of relating to others and environments. We will draw on theory and examples demonstrated by practitioners in different settings. These methods can be applied to issues and questions around identity such as gender and ethnicity.
Day 4 Focusing, Mindfulness and the Writing Space
The day will include sessions on process approaches in CWTP with particular attention to Focusing and Mindfulness. We will do some close observation and contemplative writing activities. We will also explore how creative approaches can help us to understand social graces, ‘filters’ and therapist roles in fresh ways. We will look at a transference issue as part of thinking about how CWTP can aid therapists with self-care and preparation and completion of work with clients.
Form and Language
Day 5 Language, Intimacy and Distance
CWTP involves spending time with language and attending carefully to nuances of voice, register, tone, word choice or word avoidance. These all play a part in the therapist’s practice and by paying attention to chosen expressions as well as the language of written texts such as poems we are able to make conscious choices about the forms of expression we use, and to enhance our ability to tune in to others’. We will look at varieties of language, genre writing and structured poetic form. We will explore how to choose a form with a client to assist with an issue.
Day 6 Using and Choosing Different Forms in Writing
CWTP is a holistic practice in which writing attends to physical, intellectual, emotional, and transpersonal experience. We will try out some different forms of writing and see how they can be used to attend to different parts of the self and experience. We will look at autobiographical fiction and how multiple layers of narrative and challenging subjects can be approached. We will also try out some different poetic forms from structured to freer ones, and think about what each one provides in terms of containment and freedom for the individual voice, or for collaborative work.
Writing and Particular Needs
Day 7 A Palette of CWTP Resources
This day is devoted to expanding on our discoveries and homing in on some of the variety of CWTP methods and approaches that can be employed for particular clients and groups, and at particular times during work with clients. As well as written and spoken word, CWTP can include objects, pictures, music, movement, natural and urban environments, and other materials. How do we decide what kinds of activities fit a particular situation? Students will try out activities that promote a safe space and enable writing from different parts of themselves. They will also devise their own exercise bearing in mind ethical awareness and best practice.
Day 8 Writing Through Life Stages
In this session we focus on stages and ages of life and writing connected with them. For work with the inner child, we will explore how writing can be used to access ‘play space’ and the child self. Alongside this, we will look at what forums and modes of writing may be suited particularly to working with younger people and the influence of modern media in CWTP. The second focus area of the day is working with themes in later life. This includes CWTP approaches to loss and bereavement, and ways to enable expression about experience and sharing among older people.
Day 9 Getting Into Practice
Our final two days of the Practitioner Certificate course will begin with revision of what we understand by CWTP and how students wish to apply their knowledge in individual and/or group work with clients. The integration of CWTP approaches with therapeutic work will be discussed, and how work with clients can be shaped effectively through a series of sessions or as a one-off intervention. During the day students will develop their devising of CWTP activities for particular needs, using interactive methods to share and evolve methods for their own practice.
Day 10 Demonstrating Competence
Prior tasks and activities will enable each student to show they can design and deliver a CWTP activity tailored to particular needs, reflect on their practice, and assess their current competence in the field drawing on their own, tutors’ and peers’ input. There will be an opportunity to consider how CWTP fits within their own therapy practice and to outline their own ways forward.
Practitioner Certificate Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP) for Therapists
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