Writers’ Group Offers ‘Safe Space’ for Trauma Survivors

Posted: January 14, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

Mason’s Sexual Assault Services (SAS) and Counseling and Psychological Services host groups every year to help survivors of traumatic events cope with their experiences.

The groups incorporate a variety of methods, but never before have they focused so much on poetry and writing to heal painful memories.

The newly formed Write to Heal survivors’ writing group will help give its members new meanings to past experiences while exploring each member’s poetic imagination.

All undergraduate and graduate students who have survived a traumatic event, whether it be sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking, are invited to attend. The first meeting will be held Tuesday, Jan. 15, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Counseling Center group room of Student Union Building I. A schedule for future meetings will be discussed among the group.

The group’s unique method of emotional therapy was developed by Connie Kirkland, director of SAS, and Kathleen Gless, SAS outreach specialist.

“Writing as a form of healing is something I have been doing my whole life, which is why I proposed this idea,” says Gless. “Writing is an act that keeps me surviving and thriving. As I’ve journaled and written poetry to recapture and rewrite my own experiences, it’s become a lifetime passion.”

Gless acknowledges that while expressing thoughts through poetry works for her, it may not work for everyone. But it’s her goal to help everyone in the group find and explore their space of comfort. She explains that Write to Heal it is not a survivor group in which all are expected to verbally share their struggles with others, but rather find comfort in journaling, note taking and even drawing.

The first meeting will begin with an activity in which each person writes a line of poetry in response to a quote. During the meeting the members will have time to write, and at the end, they’ll have the option to share if they wish. Everything is kept confidential.

Gless is optimistic about the group’s potential and hopes to take it beyond the spring semester. She also hopes to create another group aimed at faculty and staff.

All those who are interested in attending are asked to contact Gless by phone at 703-993-8186 or by e-mail.

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