"As amazing as motherhood can be, it also turns your world upside down. Rather than focusing on yourself, all your effort and hard work suddenly goes into caring for another person. Many women struggle to retain a sense of who they used to be, seeing themselves only as a mother – an essential and valuable role – yet one that needs to be balanced with a sense of their previous self." (CM, Nov 2013)
Why and when was ‘Write as Rain’ set up?
Jenna and I worked as psychologists together for a number of years. We found that traditional face-to-face therapy didn’t suit a lot of people and it was a very inflexible way of offering therapy. Often everyday practicalities (work, transport etc) often made it a difficult for people to attend appointments, and those that were able to make it along often didn’t feel like opening up then and there. Anybody who has children, works full time, or lives in an area without local English-speaking services understands how challenging it can be getting to a a face-to-face appointment. As a result, Jenna and I became interested in finding a flexible and accessible way to offer therapy. Something people could access easily, without the need for appointments, travel or waiting around. We both already had a long-established interest in writing and journalling, and as we began to look further into the research we soon discovered that there was a wealth of evidence demonstrating the therapeutic benefits of writing. It made sense to us to develop a service where people could be supported and empowered to experience the many benefits of writing - at their own convenience and with the support of a qualified therapist. With theses values and principles in mind, Write As Rain: Written Word Therapy was born - we launched the service in May 2013.
What is your background?
I grew up in London and Jenna grew up in Sydney. We met when I moved to Australia and we both practised as psychologists together for a number of years. Jenna has specialised in supporting clients with trauma, transition and adjustment, grief and loss, anxiety and depression, and disabilities. Since moving to London in May 2012 she has also run regular Therapeutic Writing group sessions which focus on improving wellbeing and managing stress. I have worked with clients who want to change specific behaviours, move beyond past traumas, improve their relationships and balance the competing demands of life. I have worked as an individual and group therapist and I currently specialise in supporting mums with adjusting to their new role and maintaining their own wellbeing.
What different services does ‘Write as Rain’ offer?
Write As Rain is a unique service that enables people to email a therapist at any time that suits them. When you think of going to therapy, you might picture yourself sitting in a room (or even lying on a couch) while a therapist asks you questions about your life. In fact, therapeutic support can be found in many different ways. More people are becoming familiar with the idea of using online forums for support. Online therapy can be extremely effective (sometimes even more effective than face-to-face therapy), and it is also cost-effective, flexible and convenient. Write As Rain combines online therapy with writing. We use an evidence-based approach that supports you to make changes and reach your goals, whatever these might be.
Do you offer advice for a specific issue that someone may have?
People write to us for a whole range of reasons. Some have on-going problems in their lives, some suffer from depression or anxiety; some may have one particular issue that they are struggling with. Some write to us on a weekly basis, while others feel that just once is enough to get them back on track. We are able to share our thoughts and insights, although the main focus of our service is helping the client (who knows themselves best) to find the answers and approaches they need to make real, long-lasting improvements in their life.
You encourage people to express themselves through writing. What advantages does this have over face-to-face therapy?
For those looking for a way to express themselves, writing can be a simple yet incredibly effective tool. Lots of people find they can express themselves more quickly, easily and authentically when it’s through writing. Some people may find that they are not ready to talk about a traumatic experience, yet writing about it gives them the release they require in order to start working through it. Some find that words come much more easily to them when they are writing.
Of course there are a host of practical advantages too – writing can be done from anywhere and at any time. Our clients can jot down just a paragraph or two and then come back to it later, making it much more convenient than face-to-face therapy for many people, especially if you have limited spare time.
Isn’t there a danger that people will ‘hide’ behind a computer screen rather than open up? Are there dangers associated with ‘baring all’ to an unknown audience?
In fact, research indicates the opposite: being online can be empowering and will often lead to you being able to express yourself more openly and honestly. This is called the ‘disinhibition effect’ and it means that you are likely to be more confident in exploring aspects of your self and identity when online. Being open and honest is crucial for effective therapy, so this is a real plus.
There are risks to be aware of though. Most importantly, when people reveal their deepest and most painful or emotional secrets when no one is physically present, they can be left feeling vulnerable and alone. This is why its important to ensure you have support and a plan for looking after yourself, particularly after writing about a difficult or traumatic experience. At Write As Rain, we provide this information prior to beginning writing, and ensure that clients are properly supported throughout the process.
What if people are not used to writing about themselves, how do you encourage them to ‘open up’?
We suggest exercises and writing prompts to help people get started, no matter where they are in their writing journey. We have exercises to suit everyone, from the novice to the experienced writer. You’ll be amazed at what can come out in only a few minutes of writing.
Whilst we may encourage someone to explore certain areas, the control always remains with the client. After all, they’re the expert on their own lives, and no one knows better than them whether they’re ready to go down a certain path or not.
Your service is mainly targeted towards women – which social profile do they tend to have and what are their main concerns?
The women we support are usually around 25 to 40 years of age. They can be mothers and / or career women; they tend to be well-educated, accomplished and capable women, who need some extra support in their life as well as a bit of time to devote to themselves. Our clients approach us with a whole myriad of different concerns, including relationships, parenting, work / life balance and issues relating to re-location. The common theme seems to be the range of competing demands that are often placed on women in this day and age.
What have you found are the main issues that modern mothers are facing and how do you advise they overcome them?
One major issue that mothers face is losing a sense of their identity. As amazing as motherhood can be, it also turns your world upside down. Rather than focusing on yourself, all your effort and hard work suddenly goes into caring for another person. Many women struggle to retain a sense of who they used to be, seeing themselves only as a mother – an essential and valuable role – yet one that needs to be balanced with a sense of their previous self.
There are so many pressures on mums today, and they may set themselves unrealistic multi-tasking goals – keeping the house clean, the children happy and having a successful career whilst also investing time in their relationship. Many women may feel that they need to be successful at everything and not being able to live up to these perceived ideals can leave them feeling as though they are failing.
Women often have extremely busy lives that are focused on meeting the needs of others, and as such they often forget to meet their own needs by accessing adequate support and giving themselves much-needed time out to focus on themselves.
If a client has suicidal thoughts, how do you go about addressing this?
As we are an email-based service and our responses take up to 72 hours, we’re unfortunately unable to provide crisis support.
We will always complete a risk assessment based on a client’s initial intake form and the writing they submit to us. If we believe that someone requires immediate support we will respond at once providing the contact details of more appropriate service providers.
Do you encourage your clients to pursue further avenues through writing once they have found their ‘voice’?
Absolutely. Writing does not stop being helpful once you have used it to work through a particular issue. Whilst we specialise in the use of writing for well-being, writing is a technique that will always provide a level of insight, awareness and reflection – wherever or whenever you might choose to use it.
Can you sum up the potential of expressing oneself through writing for anyone who may be reading this?
Writing is an extremely powerful tool that offers a whole host of benefits and can result in significant improvements in your physical and emotional health.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings allows you to reflect on your personal experiences. It can also be used as a form of mindfulness, allowing you to focus on how you feel in the present moment.
Writing can produce incredible results, including increased insight and resilience; happier mood; sharper decision-making; stronger relationships; and perhaps most importantly, a better nights sleep.
People have used writing to explore and express their emotions for thousands of years, but only relatively recently has research provided scientific evidence that when people transform their feelings and thoughts into language, almost every area of their health and well-being improves.
What is the best way for people to contact you?
Email us at email@example.com or send us a message via the enquiry form on our website: www.write-as-rain.co.uk/Contact.html