therepeutic writing and autobiography as therapy
journal writing oas an outlet more anxiety and depression expressing painful memories in writing
Shonnie Brown, marriage and family therapist in sonoma county
Licensed Marriage &
Family Therapist
LMFT #30787
405 Chinn Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Santa Rosa: 707-526-4353
Healdsburg: 707-526-4353
Email: shonnie@sonic.net

Contact me for

LifeStory Therapy™:

therapeutic writing specialist in sonoma county Click here for more info

Separation/Divorce Support Group for Women

santa rosa separation and divorce support group Ongoing / Weekly
Click here for more info

Recommended Reading

recommended coparenting web sites and books on Co-Parenting
and Divorce
books and resources about infidelity and marital cheating on Infidelity

Articles by
Shonnie Brown:

feelings Ten Ways to Use Therapy in Becoming Your Own Advocate
feelings "I Just Can't Help What I Feel!"
therapeutic writing classes Writing: A Healing Art
writing as therapy in santa rosa, california Uncovering Trauma Through Therapeutic Writing: Part Two
divorce support groups in sonoma county Recession Depression
Facebook and narcissism Facebook: Healthy or Unhealthy Narcissism?
recession depression counseling Healing and Recovery in a Divorce Support Group: Part One
santa rosa group therapy for divorced women Healing and Recovery in a Divorce Support Group: Part Two
coping with trauma with therapeutic writing Uncovering Trauma through Therapeutic Writing
unhealthy attachment and dependence in marriage Divorce and Attachment Issues
mother daughter relationship issues Adult Daughters and Their Mothers: A Tenuous Bond
Divorce Poison book about co-parenting 5 Co-parenting Interventions from "Divorce Poison"
writing for therapy and anxiety relief Writing as Therapy
coping with infidelity and betrayal in a marriage The Affair, Part 1
therapy to deal with husband or wife affair The Affair, Part 2
marriage and family therapist in the santa rosa area The Power In Being Wrong
co-parent empowerment group of sonoma county Inside a COPE Group: 1
help in mediating co-parenting issues Inside a COPE Group: 2
children raised in two different households Inside a COPE Group: 3
therapy for shyness, self-esteem and social anxiety Moving Beyond Shyness
good parenting practices for divorcing couples Parenting During Divorce
support groups for separated and divorced men and women The Role of Support Groups in Divorce Recovery
the stigma and shame of divorce The Stigma of Divorce
coping with one-sided divorce and feelings of betrayal and abandonment The Unilateral Divorce




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Uncovering Trauma through Therapeutic Writing

by Shonnie Brown, MFT

More and more I use writing as a therapeutic tool. In addition to being a therapist, I assist people in writing their memoirs, and this too can be very healing. Several months ago I began working with an 85 year-old World War II veteran. George remembers the facts of his life, especially the war stories, but is completely out of touch with his senses and feelings. Recently, when I was in the midst of re-editing his war tales, he silently passed me a scribbled note.

"I know you are not interested in my war stories," the note read. "But to me they are the most important part of my life... Can you imagine being left standing in the middle of this field with the entire squad down and all these Germans shooting at me? Can you imagine feeling there was no hope at all?"

"George, were you writing this to me?" I asked, deeply touched.

"I guess so," he mumbled, looking away.

George's note said everything. His family teases him about his preoccupation with old war stories, and I had colluded in not really understanding their impact on his life. I was glad that he was able to write what he had been unable to say to me aloud. Now I have a much more compassionate approach to our work.

George's grandson wrote a beautiful tribute to him which I decided to use in the memoir. It read in part: "Every day he (George) lives with the terrors he saw and endured on the battlefield... To my grandfather, as to other soldiers in America, memories on the battlefield remain an open wound..."

When I read this aloud to George, I saw tears brimming in the corners of his eyes. He excused himself to leave the room. When he returned, I mentioned that he had looked sad a bit earlier.

"Sad?" he asked, in a tone suggesting that such an idea was quite preposterous. And I began to understand how dissociated he still was from the images of death and destruction he saw every day on the front lines in World War II. I started wondering if, after all these years, I was the first person who had ever taken the things George saw and did in battle seriously. From there I began to educate myself about the war and watched several of the movies George recommended so that I could ask the appropriate questions in helping him unravel the very complex and ambivalent feelings which he had been disconnected from for so long.

When I mentioned these breakthroughs with George to my colleagues, someone remarked: "Isn't it interesting that George, in the last part of his life, decided to write the stories that no one has really paid much attention to, and that he unknowingly hired a therapist to do the writing?"

One might wonder why George wanted to write his stories. George just missed being killed at least nine times in four months of war. He has, as his grandson observed, contained these painful memories all his life. I believe that George hired me because at this time in his life he wanted to let someone know what his wartime experience was really like, as painful as it is to remember. Writing a memoir is simply the tool.


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