Is training in creative writing a feasible treatment adjunct for clients suffering from cronic alcohol-use disorder?

Rikke Hellum, Stine Lauvring Jensen, Anette Søgaard Nielsen

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Introduction: If and how various ways of expressing oneself creatively might help heal and resolve mental problems is a question that has been discussed for decades. Creative writing is typically used as an add-on to traditional therapy rather than being an integrated part of the therapy. There is a lack of research into the effect of implementing creative writing as an add-on to therapy for alcohol dependence. The aim of this study was to introduce creative writing to chronic alcohol-dependent clients. Method: A creative writing course was held as a pilot study with six workshops each lasting two hours. Six clients recruited from a harm reduction unit in a Danish alcohol treatment centre and suffering from chronic alcohol-use disorder participated in the workshops. The workshops were led by two professional authors experienced in teaching creative writing. At the end we conducted three interviews: one with the clients, one with the therapist and one with the authors. The interviews were analysed with a focus on the clients’ perspective. Findings: In the analysis, we found that writing can give the clients a lower self-esteem, make them fear failure, and it can be too private. We also found that writing can increase the clients’ self-confidence and unity in the group, give them new nuances of life, stimulate their brain, give zest for life, and improve relations between clients and care providers. Further, we identified a few points of importance to be added to the organization of the workshops. Conclusion: We found that clients suffering from alcohol-use disorder participating in creative writing profited from increased self-confidence, a sense of unity, were better able to appreciate the nuances of life, experienced stimulating brain activity, had more zest for life, and that the intervention improved relations between clients and care providers.

TidsskriftNordisk Alkohol- & Narkotikatidskrift
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)299-313
StatusUdgivet - 1. aug. 2017