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Writing For Reflective Practice

This blog post follows on from Edna Murdoch’s blog post on the 25th May where she wrote about the important of how and where we resource ourselves as coaches.

This comes at a good time to link with a recent CPD day I facilitated as part of one of the CSA Community Development days for CSA Coach Supervisors, Creative Writing For Reflective Supervision.

Like many of you, I have found that the current climate is demanding and fast paced and brings with its own stresses and demands. I also recognize that it is in these times that we must deepen and fiercely commit to those self care practices which will nourish and resource us to be able to navigate our way through these stressful times. I agree with Edna that we may do this beautifully and even exquisitely with our clients but be a real empty vessel when it comes to ourselves.

It was on the back of my reflection on Edna’s blog and my new book :  ’49 Ways To Write Yourself Well: The science and wisdom of Writing’, that I finally sat down to write this blog post on the recent Community day where I facilitated a half day workshop on the theme of Creative Writing For Reflective Supervision.

The workshop started from the standpoint that we all have a writer within and much to say on the page and that we may need to be stimulated creatively to bring the inside out. My role was to stimulate our group creatively with a number of exercises and approaches to unravel us onto the blank page where we would write about topics and issues that were of value and importance to us.

In between the writing exercises were also a number of personal reflective activities intended to show how a writing practice can provide the data for self supervision and self reflection drawing on a number of varied tools and techniques that are stimulating and engaging.

The practices of writing Morning pages (a writing practice developed by Julia Cameron) and Free Writing were laid down as our platform writing practices.

Links were then made to Reflective practice and the therapeutic practice of Free Association. So much rich data can emerge from the place of the unconscious that writing and reflecting can help us to capture and record and make sense of.

The group later engaged in a creative writing activity where they wrote about a topic or theme that was of importance. These were themes and topics, which were often at the heart of our work and spoke to the essence of the message we wanted to share about our work with others. Using a timed themed writing practice to generate the content the group then received structured, facilitated feedback from their peers in small groups that was solutions focused and generative in it’s content.

Our time together was held together by creative tools and materials that help to entice and engage us onto the page. I believe the people we work with in organizations and one-to-one are hungry for workshops and training that are creatively and spiritually resourced.

A client would not shy away if you shared a poem with them that spoke from the heart on a theme or issue that was evident in the material they were brining to the session. Only today I read a blog post where someone shared a stunning poem her therapist shared with her recently which spoke wholeheartedly to the journey she was on.  She couldn’t thank her therapist enough.

Through keeping a journal and reflecting consciously through writing I find that it is easier for me to capture the right resource (copy out a poem or paste it into my notebook or notes) or quote that reflects where a client is at and to feed that back or share with them in the right moment.  I will often turn the tables and find resources that are key and significant for me.

Very often the act of journal writing of reflective writing keeps me present to the moment and current with the work I am doing. Many of you won’t be surprised when I say I am now really interested in training to become a Journal Therapist.

In chapters 43 and 44 of my book I write about the therapeutic benefits of using poetry in our work and suggest ways that this can be creatively done. I also highlight some of the therapeutic benefits of poetry such as reducing stress and providing a useful outlet for emotions. In GP and health care settings the inclusion of poetry has resulted in a reduction in consultations and a significant drop in hospital admissions. (Mayfield & Opher, 2012).

It would be a fair account to say that for many years I have heavily invested in a regular reflective practice as both an emergent tool for self-development and in a supervisory capacity to reflect on my work across my roles as a coach, trainer and group facilitator using writing as a primary method of engagement and inquiry.

My love of writing began as a young girl when I was forced to find a way to be resilient and resourceful at a time when children should have been protected from harm or abuse. It was a tender time of my life at the age of seven to have been harmed in such a way but it opened the door for me to use writing as a way to keep myself sane and whole. I start many workshops with the opening lines, “Writing saved my life.”

Those early days led to the establishment of a deep practice as a journal writer. Over the years my journal writing has been a meaningful companion contributing significantly to my own healing and therapeutic journey into the worlds of personal one to counseling therapy and therapeutic group work.

My relationship with my journal offered me a clear inroad in deepening my understanding of myself and my relationship with others and it is the sustained practice of journal writing that has stayed and is at the centre and core of my work as a coach and recently coach supervisor. The journal has been both oracle, safe haven and dumping ground for many toxic emotions over the coming years.

In 2002 when I was ordained as Interfaith Minister I made a vow to establish what I named as a Writing ministry. I knew back then that writing in so many ways whether it be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, articles, essays, books, material for training courses holds much wisdom and therapeutic value. I knew I wanted to share and encourage others to free the writer within but I just wasn’t sure of the best way to do that.

It has taken me the best part of ten years to craft what that ministry would become which culminated in the pulling together of years of research for my book 49 Ways To Write Yourself Well. I am now clearer on what my goals and purpose of that writing ministry will be and how it will emerge in my work as a coach, coach trainer and coach supervisor.

Over the next few months on the CSA blog my intention is to share some of the practices and the many therapeutic benefits of writing and show how developing a writing reflective practice informs our work and supervision.

My goal for the writing ministry includes sharing innovative creative writing exercises, which provide a number of different lens and focuses into our work as coaches and supervisors.

To show and highlight the many ways in which a writing practice can be a powerful tool for insights, self-awareness and personal and professional development.

Through workshops and seminars provide a stimulating creative space and laboratory for coaches and supervisors to create content for their writing.


  • How do you use writing in your work as a coach or coach supervisor?


  • If you attended the Creative Writing For Reflective Supervision workshop what difference has it made to your practice?


  • What questions do you have about cultivating and deepening a creative writing practice?


Jackee Holder  CSA Accredited Coach Supervisor.

May 2013