Therapeutic Storywriting Groups

What is Therapeutic Storywriting?

Drawing by Nick

Therapeutic Storywriting is an innovative and creative way for SEN teachers to support children whose emotional difficulties are getting in the way of their academic learning.

By working with the metaphor in stories – written both by the child and the teacher – emotional issues are addressed in a way that does not overwhelm the child.

  • A 10-week SEN intervention for children with BESDs
  • A therapeutic teaching approach which uses story metaphor as a means to explore aspects of the self
  • Evidence-base shows it supports both emotional literacy and develops writing skills
  • Aims to provide an emotionally containing environment in which to support the thinking process
  • Implemented by educational professionals with training in therapeutic storywriting
  • Particularly appropriate for use with pupils aged 7-13 yrs


Addressing the ‘E’ in ‘SEBD’

Boy writing

Therapeutic Storywriting addresses the need  to consider the ‘emotional’ as well as the ‘behavioural’ aspect of Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties.

The approach is integrative, drawing on person-centred, psychosynthesis and psychodynamic models. It is complementary to a positive behavioural approach and acknowledges the systemic nature of the school learning environment.

Group work

Drawing of DragonTherapeutic Storywriting  Groups  consist of 4-6 children require an hour and run weekly for  10 weeks.

The group intervention is suitable for pupils aged 7-13 years.

Research and evaluation reports

SERSEN Therapeutic Storywriting project

Teacher skills required

  • understanding of the relationship between emotional and cognitive development in the child
  • understanding significance of story metaphor
  • ability to empathise
  • ability to reflect on own feelings engendered by the child
  • experience of teaching literacy
  • ability to model through own storywriting
  • ability to establish secure boundaries for a group

What People Say about Therapeutic Storywriting Groups

Therapeutic Storywriting Groups  was considered the most effective intervention for supporting vulnerable pupils by the schools in our area.
Educational Psychologist, Medway

The course was extremely useful & the website was an added bonus. It was great to train and set up a groups at the same time.
Learning Mentor

The groups are good for pupils who may have had a few difficulties. You can write stories and talk about problems but don’t have to say it is you.
 Y6 pupil

It’s helped me to release my anger in small portions. Now it goes into my pencil and into stories. I can make a story around how I feel.
Year 5 boy

A therapeutic teaching approach

Therapeutic Storywriting is a therapeutic teaching model that uses the educational curriculum as a therapeutic context.  It does not require educational professionals to become therapists but rather to bring psychological-mindedness to their work in supporting pupils with severe behavioural emotional and social difficulties.

Aims of the Therapeutic Storywriting Group Intervention

The aims of the Therapeutic Storywriting group intervention are to help pupils:

  • process difficult emotion using story metaphor
  • develop their motivation and engagement with the writing process
  • to develop emotional vocabulary
  • to improve social skills

Pupil Target Group

Pupils will generally be on the SEN register for Behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESDs). They are selected because emotional anxiety is getting in the way of their learning. Pupils may or may not  have literacy levels below that of their peers.

Who delivers Therapeutic Storywriting Groups?

Therapeutic Storywriting  Groups are designed to be implemented by SENCos, SEN teachers, HLTAs, Learning Mentors, Educational Psychologists,  and other professionals supporting  pupils with behavioural, emotional or social difficulties.
Training educational professionals

Read more …

Therapeutic Story Writing book coverTherapeutic Storywriting – A Practical Guide to Developing Emotional Literacy.

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