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Expressive Writing

First things first: we’re not therapists, we’re writers. If you need medical treatment, please get whatever help you need from a professional. We’ll be here when you get back. If you’re coming to us as one part of healing and coming home, welcome.

That said, we’ve learned a whole bunch about therapy, some first hand and some by working side-by-side with some of the best scientists, doctors, and therapists in the country. The core of our work on expressive writing is based on the research of Dr. James Pennebaker, who has been conducting research on this for over 25 years. We talked about the curriculum to Dr. Jonathan Shay, who treated patients at the Boston VA hospital for 30 years, wrote the best-sellers Achilles in Vietnam and Odysseus in America, and is a MacArthur “genius” grant recipient. We talked to Dr. Robert Sapolsky, another MacArthur grant recipient, about how the brain functions and specifically about memory. Finally, Dr Ron Koshes, a veteran, author, and the former president of the Society of American Military Psychiatrists, is a board member and a long time advisor to the VWP.

Based on all of that research, our director wrote a chapter in this book about writing as therapy, and a curriculum for our work as instructors with the National Endowment for the Arts program Operation Homecoming. In that program we work with wounded service members at the DoD’s premier research and treatment facility for PTSD and TBI, the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE). We have expanded this work to the  Washington DC Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (DC VAMC), where our programming includes a workshop exclusively for women veterans.

Our specific curriculum for expressive writing is generally not made available, but we are open to working with other veterans support groups and treatment facilities to help develop tailored approaches and programs. For more information, contact us at ron@veteranswriting.org.

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