About Room to Write

Coffee and writing, writing and coffee. Or tea.

Coffee and writing, writing and coffee. Or tea.

Room to Write is a space for people who want to write their way to increased wellbeing and self-understanding. I have created workshops and groups based on careful research into the types of writing that lead to improved physical and emotional health. The serene, retreat-like setting is in the heart of downtown Brunswick, Maine.

For over twenty years I practiced psychotherapy. I was invited into people’s fascinating minds and allowed to hear stories about their lives. I felt privileged. This was honorable, deep work. Still, something more was needed in order for my work to be its most authentic. Because my life has been so enriched by writing, I wanted to synthesize writing into what I offer people.

After completing a year-long, intensive training in Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS), I was inspired to begin this new undertaking by creating a curriculum I called Writing from the Self. This was a blend of IFS and various writing methods. I developed a five-week workshop that I ran from my clinical office. It was well-received, and I have since presented the material at state and national conferences. Writing from the Self continues to be offered at Room to Write.

I also began teaching psychology as an adjunct instructor at Southern Maine Community College. I loved being in the classroom, synthesizing ideas, getting to know the students, all of it! This cinched it for me. I took a sabbatical from my practice and began working toward the venture that became Room to Write.

“Expressive & Therapeutic Writing?”

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For me, writing always has a therapeutic, elevating quality.

While I labor over essays and book-length projects with the full intention to publish my work, writing itself is a way to light up my mind, to give me purpose, and to help me understand myself. My diaries, which I’ve kept since age 9, provide solace while I work things out on their pages. I’ve learned specific practices from others and these have sparked emotional growth. Often, writing surprises me with the healing gifts it brings.

We can be intentional in the way that we write, so that more therapeutic benefit is gleaned from it. There are many, many approaches out there. I’m excited to keep learning about them, and offering them to others.

… by expressing ourselves in language, by examining (our pain), we paradoxically experience delight – pleasure, even – which comes from the discoveries we make as we write, from the order we create from seeming randomness or chaos.
— Writing as a Way of Healing, by Louise DeSalvo

Or…

maybe you’d simply like to do some expressive writing, without thinking about the therapeutic benefits of it. Room to Write is here for that, too. I believe that anyone who has that itch to put pen to paper should be encouraged. It’s not always easy to find the time or the guts, or to respect ourselves enough to even start. But we ALL have something to say. Every person deserves to express him or herself.

I understand the anguish of not writing. As a young child I knew I was meant to be a writer. But in the way that we all are crushed under unseen pressures and swayed by imagined rules, I did not believe that the writing life was open to me. Even as I penned endless stories while sitting on my bed, I didn’t believe I was as smart as my successful-writer brother. And I was sure that I was too lazy to be productive as a grownup.

It wasn’t until after I’d devoted my early adulthood to becoming a therapist, had had children and traversed divorce that I returned to my first real work in earnest. The drive to write had never left me, and – fortunately – it’s not easy to escape your authentic self.

…to write happily and with self-trust you must discover what there is in you, this bottomless fountain of imagination and knowledge.
— If You Want to Write, by Brenda Ueland (1938)
 
 
 

A Few Things about me

• I presented my program Writing from the Self at the Maine Mental Health Counselor’s Association annual conference in October 2014.

• I presented Writing from the Self at the annual Internal Family Systems Conference in Providence, RI, in October 2015.

• In the past I was occasionally overcome by what I called “Infatuation Disorder.” So I made a study of this phenomenon – why do people get obsessed in love? How can we heal this sometimes-miserable condition? In June 2015 I was a guest on Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s radio show, Maine Calling, where we discussed romantic obsession and Lisa A. Phillips’ book Unrequited. Listen HERE.

• At age 12 I began writing a “novel,” which I completed when I was 15. It was called Window Seat.

• I’ve participated in many writing classes, workshops and groups, including those offered by Joan Lee Hunter at Fifth House Lodge and by David Hochman at Upod Academy (based in LA). I was coached by the illustrious Theo Nestor, author of Writing Is My Drink. Over the years I have written drafts of two memoirs and one novel, plus countless essays and stories.

• Here are two of my published pieces:
Gone Missing, in ducts.org
Puppies, in Verdad Magazine

• I have completed National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo) four times. I credit that platform with teaching me excellent discipline, at least during the month in question.

• I grew up in rural Vermont as one of four kids. Even after so many years in Maine, I miss home.

• I received my BA in Psychology from the University of Vermont in 1991. I got my MSW from Boston University in 1995.

• Over the years I have worked mostly as a psychotherapist in mental health centers and in private practice. I’ve also worked with adolescents in schools and residential treatment programs, with autistic preschoolers, and with college students.

• Things I love besides writing: my two daughters, flower gardening, my pit bull mix Nee Nee, coffee, orchids, meditation, evenings when I don’t have to cook, wind and fog, really long walks, exploring a new trail, sitting next to a pile of books and idly choosing which one to read first, and tossing jokes back and forth with friends.