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Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovering From Trauma and Emotional Upheaval Hardcover – May 15 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 164 pages
  • Publisher: New Harbinger (May 15 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572243651
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572243651
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1 x 25.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #616,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

James W. Pennebaker, PhD, is professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. He is author of Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions.


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Format: Hardcover
Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovering from Trauma and Emotional Upheaval by James Pennebaker presents clear suggestions for using journaling to recover from life's difficult periods. Pennebaker, a researcher, discovered the healing power of expressive writing in the mid 1980s by accident. He writes in his introduction, "Ever since then, I've been devoted to understanding the mysteries of emotional writing." He's also been devoted to sharing what learned so that ordinary people can put this knowledge to good use.
Writing to Heal is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to try writing through trauma. In addition to expressive writing, Pennebaker covers how to construct story in order to understand and overcome a traumatic event. Other topics include looking for and writing about positive emotions, finding benefit from the experience, and forgiveness. Of special note are his instructions about using pronouns to shift perspective, a technique that arose from his research.
In my own work with bereaved people, I've repeatedly seen the mysterious power of writing to heal. Pennebaker's guided journal stands out because in it he shares technique without providing specific prompts that too often distract people from reaching inside to deal with their unique emotional issues.
I also like the fact that the book is written in a simple style. Pennebaker's concise, no-nonsense writing means that this book is useful to a number of people, including those who normally don't read many books and those who are too emotionally distraught to concentrate on a longer book. I will definitely recommend Writing to Heal in my workshops and when I speak at conferences.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I truly believe in writing as part of the healing process. This type of book would be a good one for a group working together. For those dealing with grief, bereavement, and mourning, whether it be death or other life trauma, it is difficult to find the discipline to write on a regular basis. For myself, I found it hard to do anything. Decisions were hard to make, and plans were difficult to come by.

Kay Porterfield's review is excellent, but if you do not have self-discipline, and a support group, I would suggest this book might not be a good investment. There are many lined pages for writing, but I find this limits me. I prefer my computer keyboard or a pad of paper.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa3793d44) out of 5 stars 13 reviews
74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa34a51d4) out of 5 stars A Valuable Resource April 13 2004
By Kay Porterfield - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovering from Trauma and Emotional Upheaval by James Pennebaker presents clear suggestions for using journaling to recover from life's difficult periods. Pennebaker, a researcher, discovered the healing power of expressive writing in the mid 1980s by accident. He writes in his introduction, "Ever since then, I've been devoted to understanding the mysteries of emotional writing." He's also been devoted to sharing what learned so that ordinary people can put this knowledge to good use.
Writing to Heal is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to try writing through trauma. In addition to expressive writing, Pennebaker covers how to construct story in order to understand and overcome a traumatic event. Other topics include looking for and writing about positive emotions, finding benefit from the experience, and forgiveness. Of special note are his instructions about using pronouns to shift perspective, a technique that arose from his research.
In my own work with bereaved people, I've repeatedly seen the mysterious power of writing to heal. Pennebaker's guided journal stands out because in it he shares technique without providing specific prompts that too often distract people from reaching inside to deal with their unique emotional issues.
I also like the fact that the book is written in a simple style. Pennebaker's concise, no-nonsense writing means that this book is useful to a number of people, including those who normally don't read many books and those who are too emotionally distraught to concentrate on a longer book. I will definitely recommend Writing to Heal in my workshops and when I speak at conferences.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa34a5258) out of 5 stars Writing to Heal Aug. 6 2006
By Mindfull - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found the exercises in this book easy to do. I also found it interesting that you were asked to limit the number of days you wrote. I guess I have a tendancy to want to dwell on things. Writing as I did, did seem to help me deal with the issue on which I focused. Pennebaker is a credible researcher and this approach is based on empirical study. I recommend it to others.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa34a5570) out of 5 stars Gentle, kind support for those in pain Aug. 1 2009
By Marla Scripter DC - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I searched high and low in a quest to find something appropriate for people with emotional trauma that they are not prepared to discuss with another. Do I know what the problem is? Not necessarily, but I can tell that it is painful and delaying healing.

This is the only book I found that I recommend for this purpose. There are plenty of books on journaling...some for artistic development, for writing skills, and for breaking dysfunctional behavior patterns. This is not one of those.

There are others on journaling to heal, but this is the only one gentle and wise enough for my taste.

This is the book that you give as a gift from the heart for a person in need, which might mean a gift to oneself. Pennebaker treats the reader wisely (never show your writing to anyone else), gently (if this exercise does not feel like what you need, here are several more), and intelligently (here is the research that supports this method).

Only criticism is the cover design...should be a neutral color, should be more discrete. But no matter, it is still worthy of 5 stars. Buy this book and put on a bookcover!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa34a5abc) out of 5 stars good guide for working through feelings Sept. 18 2008
By merlot - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
i didn't actually write in the book as i already had a journal that i use but i did read through the book and use the advice that was presented. i didn't follow every single exercise but i found this to be a valuable resource. i believe, as the author suggests, that there is healing through writing. i would suggest this book for those new to journaling as well as those that journal but want to get a different perspective on jounraling when going through a difficult life situation. this might be a nice gift for someone who is going through a difficult situation but wouldn't normally journal but would benefit from the exercises.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa34a5324) out of 5 stars I couldn't agree more March 4 2006
By Madison Avenue Publishers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book for anyone who has experienced loss.

For some reason, the literary community is lagging this re emergence of narrative that is insightful, painful and ultimately healing. I applaude the author and the authors who have written books on personal travails that have changed their lives - Second Chance Ranch, A Year of Magical Thinking, to name only a few. I highly recommend it!


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