Pen, Paper, Power! How Writing Heals

by Claudia Kalb

Confessional writing can be good for you.

For decades, Lori Galloway had recurring dreams about shooting or bombing her father and stepfather. Years of sexual abuse as a child left her feeling like “the most worthless person on the face of the earth.” Just talking about the trauma prompted a physical response: “I would shake violently and my voice would quiver,” she says. She also suffered frequent migraine headaches. At 40, Galloway had been in and out of counseling, on and off antidepressants; nothing did much good.

Several months ago, she tried something new. In three 30-minute sessions, Galloway sat at her computer and wrote intensively about how the abuse made her feel. The first entry was incoherent, she says. But by the third, she had gained a sense of freedom from her past. She soon felt better physically, too. The shaking as stopped, and the headaches have now disappeared. “The writing,” she says, “has completely changed my life.”

Confessional writing has been around at least since the Renaissance, but new research suggests that it’s far more therapeutic than anyone ever knew. Since the mid-1980s studies have found that people who write about her most upsetting experiences not only feel better but visit doctors less often and even have stronger immune responses. Last week, scientists reported findings that make the link even clearer. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that writing exercises can help alleviate symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. “ It’s hard to believe,” says James Pennebaker, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin and a pioneer in the field of expressive writing, but “being able to put experiences into words is good for your physical health.”

Even the best-adjusted and healthiest people acquire emotional baggage in the course of a lifetime-be it childhood angst over parental divorce, conflicts with friends and family or remorse over missteps and lost opportunities. In the scientific studies, researchers ask participants to write about a disturbing experience for 15-20 minutes a day for three or four consecutive days. Forget polish and politeness, they say. The point is not to craft a perfect essay but to dig deeply into one’s emotional junkyard, then translate the experience into language on the page.

In on study, Pennebaker compared a group of college students who wrote about trauma with a group who wrote about trivial things (what their dorm room looked like). Before the study, the 46 students visited the campus health clinic at similar rates, but after the exercise, the trauma writers’ visits dropped by 50 percent relative to the others. In another study, published last year, researchers found direct physiological evidence: writing increased the level of disease-fighting lymphocytes circulating in the bloodstream. And preliminary research shows that writing can cause modest declines in blood pressure.

Until last week, the research had focused largely on healthy people. The new JAMA study is the first to examine writing’s effect on the sick. Researchers found that asthma patients who wrote about experiences such as car accidents, physical abuse, divorce or sexuality improved their lung function by 19 percent on average. And in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, symptoms got better by 28 percent. Patients who wrote about inconsequential things showed no such improvements. “We can do a good job with medication,” says Joshua Smyth, an assistant professor of psychology at North Dakota State University and a coauthor of the study, but ”we can do a better job if we also pay attention to people’s psychological needs.”

How can writing accomplish all this? Experts agree that it’s probably more than simple catharsis. Some believe that it forces us to transform the ruminations cluttering our minds into coherent stories. Writing about an experience may also dull its emotional impact. Stephen Lepore, an associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, found that students who wrote expressively about their emotions before an exam had the same number of intrusive thoughts as those who wrote about superficial things. But they reported fewer symptoms of distress. Lepore believes their worries about the test simply became less disturbing.

Structured writing exercises aren’t for everyone. Some people prefer what Terry Vance, a psychologist in Chapel Hell, N.C., calls “letter therapy.” In a 1998 book titled “Letters Home,” Vance describes watching many people get “unstuck” from bad relationships or conflicts by writing letters to others in their lives. Conversations can dissolve into screaming matches or crying in fits, she says, but letter writing offers safety. One of Vance’s patients, who goes by the name Allen, says his letters to family members not only brought them closer but helped combat his depression. “I’ve gotten clear on who I am and what I want,” he says.

The letters don’t even have to be sent. And you can always write to yourself in a journal. Psychotherapists say journal-keeping can be a powerful adjunct to traditional talk therapy. Kathleen Adams, a therapist in Denver, says that by writing, people “literally get to read their own minds.” That process builds self-trust and self-esteem, and can speed up the gains made by talking. Louise DeSalvo, an English professor at Hunter College in New York and author of the new book “Writing as a Way of Healing,” says intensive writing about her asthma—both its symptoms and how debilitated it made her feel—vastly improved her health. She still takes medication twice a day to control her condition, but DeSalvo says she “went from really being disabled to not thinking about it.”

You don’t have to be a prolific—or even eager—scribe to try therapeutic writing. But some guidance can help. Dialogue House Associates in New York (www.intensivejournal.org or 800-221-5844), launched by the Jungian-trained psychologist Ira Progoff, offers an Intensive Journal program in two-day workshops nationwide (cost is $100-$150). Be prepared for some rigorous and wrenching assignments. Books like Kathleen Adam’s “Journal to the Self” can help provide basic tips. Or try Adam’s Center for Journal Therapy (www.journaltherapy.com or 888-421-2298), which also offers classes (between $60 and $125) across the country. Writing won’t cure cancer, says Pennebaker, but it can have a “profound effect on your health.” The power of your pen awaits.

Reprinted from Newsweek April 26, 1999

Healing Your Adrenal Glands – Reducing Anxiety & Stress

Your ability to respond to stress effectively is directly affected by how well your adrenal glands are functioning. This important organ system directly affects your level of muscular strength, blood sugar levels, energy levels and overall sense of well being.

When we are stressed, our adrenal glands produce a stress hormone known as cortisol. With prolonged stress, the adrenal glands become overworked and can no longer respond appropriately to stress. Instead, the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol, which often induces a feeling of being both “wired and tired.” In this case you may feel tired at the end of your day, but too wired to relax or sleep. Other symptoms and health problems that indicate adrenal support may be needed are low energy, exhaustion, trauma, mood disorders, sugar imbalances, high anxiety, panic attacks, hormonal imbalances, increased menopausal discomfort (the body begins to rely on the adrenals for estrogen) and thyroid problems. Everyone supporting their thyroid also needs to support their adrenal glands.

There are many products marketed that claim to help the adrenal glands; however, it is important to note most companies derive their supplements from synthetic sources and glandular products that can be over-stimulating. I recommend well-researched, high quality natural supplements that work very well to support the adrenal glands and combat many related symptoms. Premier Research Labs, founded by Robert J. Marshall, Ph.D., creates its supplements from grade 10 organic whole food and herb sources, and do not use any synthetic or chemical nutrients or additives in production or in the final product. Additionally, these formulas contain plant enzymes to increase the body’s ability to absorb the nutrients.

For restoring adrenal glands to optimal health, I recommend the following basic supplements. Dosages listed here are suggested general recommendations; it is important to decide dosage according to individual need. Because these Premier supplements are whole-food, they can be taken with or without meals. If budget is an issue, the products listed below are in order of importance.

In addition, one needs to eat a healthy, thyroid-adrenal supportive diet. If extra protein is needed (as is often the case), a high quality protein powder like Premier Whey Peptein is necessary. Premier Greens will round-out the nutrition needed along with the following supplements:

  1. Premier AdrenaVen

Two to eight capsules in the morning (beginning with higher doses and reducing over time as needed) Higher doses split morning and noon, though not later than 1 pm.

  1. Premier Adaptogen-R3

Adaptogens are substances that help the body better deal with stress. Premier Adaptogen contains highly effective adaptogens and other ingredients that make it a superior adaptogenic formula for adrenal, endocrine and anti-aging health.

One to Three capsules in the morning. One to Three capsules at lunchtime.

  1. Premier Max B-ND

Vitamin B is extremely important to all of body’s functions, and will help your body deal with stress. Premier Research Laboratory’s liquid vitamin B complex is derived from 100% food sources, and is highly absorbable and effective.

Take a half to one teaspoon in water in morning. Sip slowly. (This can be repeated at lunch time.)

  1. Premier Vitamin C 

Whole Food Herbal Vitamin C from nature. No synthetic, manufactured ascorbic acid, nor any excipients or artificial anything added or used in PRL supplements. Natural vitamin C is essential for adrenal health and numerous functions of the human body. It is easily depleted with stress and from toxic environmental factors. It is essential to take a natural food form vitamin C daily for health and immunity.

Two to three capsules in the morning. Two to three capsules in the evening (more as needed).

  1. Premier Magnesium (Glycinate) or Cardiovascular Research Magnesium Taurate

These are highly absorbable, gentle forms of magnesium. Magnesium is very effective for anxiety, depression, muscle tension, heart health and calcium absorption.

1-3 caps morning, and 1-3 caps night

  1. Bio Nativus Trace Mineral Concentrate

Another way to replenish magnesium and other minerals. This is a complete, soluble, liquid ionic mineral/electrolyte formula from nature. High in magnesium, low in sodium, without calcium.

Read label, take as needed daily in water. (Avoid water with chlorine and fluoride. See CuZn home filter systems.)

  1. Premier Pregnenolone

Pregnenolone is very helpful in supporting the adrenal glands, supporting over-all hormonal balances, anxiety, panic attacks, brain, memory, capillaries and much more.

Additional Information:

  • Avoid excess sugar, simple carbohydrates, caffeine, alcohol, MSG and all artificial sweeteners.
  • Real Stevia is good (Avoid new manufactured sugars claiming to be stevia, such as as Truvia and PureVia, and those containing erythritol)
  • Avoid ordinary table salt, as it is just sodium chloride. However, use whole natural salt in cooking and on food, as it contains important minerals. Whole real salt is very important for your adrenal and thyroid health, digestion, and the health of your entire body. Avoid high sodium in foods, but do use whole salt in your diet. The best salt is Celtic Salt from the Grain & Salt Society. You can find it in health food stores and on the internet. Be careful with ‘sea salt,” because much of it is stripped down whole salt with just a fraction of the minerals remaining. Therefore, it is nearly like table salt, which is pure sodium minus all the minerals inherent is real whole natural salt as found in the ocean. People with weak adrenals and weak thyroids usually need a lot more real whole salt in their diet.
  • Use more salt when feeling stressed and fatigued from exercise, hot weather and sweating.
  • Drinking adequate water is very important for adrenal health. Many people are dehydrated and could benefit from drinking more water, especially drinking water or herbal teas instead sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, concentrated fruit juices and other soft drinks. If you are drinking coffee, soft drinks or alcohol, these are dehydrating and you will need to drink more water. However, many people drink too much and follow the myth that everyone needs eight glasses a day. Our body gets liquids from many types of liquids and food, not just pure water. Your body will let you know you are thirsty and need to drink water. However,many people are very busy, or are not aware of their body signals, so another very noticeable indicator is your urine. If you don’t urinate enough or if your urine is very dark yellow, you likely need to drink more water. The exception to this is if your urine is darker due to intake of some type of vitamin or medication, or perhaps a certain food. It is wisest to follow your own individual needs, which depend on your activity, the weather, and other individual biological and dietary factors. Drinking far too little water can be a contributing factor in disease, though drinking far too much is also unhealthy, stressing the kidneys and washing away vital minerals. Most tap water contains chlorine and fluoride which are toxic. An excellent home water filter system the CuZn Countertop 2 Filter System can be purchased at longnaturalhealth.com, as well as CuZn filters to take the chlorine out of your shower and bath water.  Drink room temperature or warm water, liquids, etc. Cold water and especially ice water and ice drinks are unhealthy and cause digestive, urinary and other health problems. Do not over drink liquids at meal time.
  • Ground yourself to the earth as often as possible, by lying on it or walking barefoot. See past newsletters for more information and other ways to ground yourself.
  • Emotions/Trauma: Nearly all people with stressed and depressed adrenals have had or suffer from a deep emotional shock or chronic emotional stress and trauma.  Along with the naturopathic recommendations made here, it is highly advisable to seek some counseling and healing with a therapist who is qualified to help you clear the debilitating effects of emotional trauma and long-term stress from your nervous system. Combining therapy with adrenal-supportive supplements can give you back your life, energy, health and peace of mind.
  • Adequate sleep is very important in rebuilding and maintaining healthy adrenal glands. One must have at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep. If you awaken prior to completing five hours of sleep, it is best to continue lying down (without raising head from pillow or above the body) until you reach five hours. Resolving insomnia or sleep issues is very important concerning all health issues. You can find more information about sleep and supplements that will be helpful to you in past issues of my newsletter. You can find these by doing a “Site” search on my www.longnaturalhealth.com website.
  • Meditation and deep relaxation is perhaps the greatest daily thing you can do to heal your adrenals, clear stress from your body and prevent or heal disease, as well as to know true happiness. I highly encourage not only a daily meditation practice, but more importantly learning to live with your mind quiet and aware of the stillness within you. To fully understand this key to life and your greatest source of health and healing, I highly recommend that you read (or reread) ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle. I also teach meditation and relaxation techniques as a very important part of my counseling and healing practice.
  • Long Natural Health offers a number of adrenal health testing options: see ZRT and Sanesco. The Sanesco program also offers natural solutions to neurotransmitter imbalances that are often related to adrenal problems, anxiety, stress disorders, depression, mood swings, SAD, insomnia, OCD, panic attacks, eating disorders, weight issues, chronic fatigue, and other emotional issues.

Timothy Long, Psychotherapist, Transformational Coach and Naturopathic Health Consultant. Owner/Founder of Long Natural Health www.longnaturalhealth.com & www.imaginehealing.com.

Medical Doctors Are Catching on How Great EFT Works!

by Gary Craig’s Web Site

Curtis Steele, MD shares his thoughts and experiences using EFT in a psychiatric practice.

A thank you to Curtis Steele, MD from Canada for sharing some of his methods in treating disturbed psychiatric patients. Dr. Steele has a very busy outpatient practice (80 clients per week) and concludes that EFT “is the single most effective tool I’ve learned in 40 years of being a therapist.” He highlights an example with “Wanda” (Schizoaffective disorder) who he treats OVER THE PHONE and describes his approach, including some useful language.

This is an interview over the phone done by Gary Craig.


By Curtis Steele, MD

I am using EFT daily in my busy practice of outpatient psychiatry (with a focus on psychotherapy). I see, on average, about 80 patients a week, in individual and group treatment, and most weeks I treat 10-20 of them with EFT.

GC COMMENT: I was curious as to why, if EFT was the single most effective tool Dr. Steele had learned in 40 years of being a therapist, did he only treat 10-20 out of 80 patients with EFT. Remember, I don’t know the first thing about medical matters so my question came partly from my amazement at what, to me, was a low usage of EFT and partly from my own naiveté in these matters.

The reality is that Dr. Steele works in an environment where many of his patients “just want the meds” and aren’t open to anything else. Further, he must also interface with conventional psychiatrists who also resist “unconventional methods.”

While I completely understand this, my “Guide Inside” grits his teeth with the conviction that EFT should be skillfully applied across the board to these deserving (and needful) patients. As readers know, EFT has been responsible for giving many people back their lives. Further, we have growing evidence that EFT is helpful with psychotic patients and so I sometimes grow impatient with the resistance that tends to limit the free flowing use of these procedures.

Accordingly, if someone parachuted me into a community of disturbed psychiatric patients and asked me to “do my thing”, I would immediately seek ways to gain rapport with the resisting parties. Once rapport was gained I would apply EFT to these disadvantaged citizens in one-on-one sessions, in groups and in any other way I could. However, I’m not so naive to think that severely disturbed patients should be placed in my care alone. There are special needs and considerations within this population that require the presence of knowledgeable professionals. Together, though, we could apply EFT to the likely benefit of large percentages of these brothers and sisters of ours.

DR. STEELE CONTINUES: This past week I treated a lady, Wanda (not her real name), diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, who was having a return of psychotic symptoms. She had begun having auditory hallucinations and frightening paranoid ideas. She had been taking taxi cabs (which she couldn’t afford) rather than ride the bus because she was convinced a bus driver had stared at her. She was fearful about leaving her apartment because she feared something bad was about to happen to her.

She had previously been stable on moderately high doses of antipsychotic, antidepressant, and mood stabilizing medication. She had been hospitalized repeatedly when she had been at high risk for suicide. She feared that she would end up in the hospital again . She called me in a state of panic wanting me to do something.

I decided to treat her with EFT over the telephone, although I was uncertain that she could follow the instructions. She was able to do so and very shortly reported feeling better. Her voice was calmer and her thinking was more centered.

The procedure I used over the phone was:

“I suggest we try a form of psychological acupuncture without needles. It will involve tapping on different spots on your body. Can you hold the phone in such a way that you can tap on yourself?”

She said she could. Then I instructed her how to locate the karate chop point, telling her that it is a specific energy spot on the body, and to let me know when she found it. She did. The first setup phrase was “Even though I’m having this panic, I totally and completely accept myself.” After tapping for that (on seven points of the EFT protocol, beginning with the eyebrow), we tapped in the same way for two other aspects, “Even though I m afraid to ride the bus . . .” and “Even though I m afraid to go out of my apartment . . .”

The following day, I was urgently called by a nurse specialist in the clinic, who told me that Wanda had come in, very agitated. As I went to see her, she became incoherent as she tried to tell me what was bothering her. I was concerned that the EFT hadn’t helped at all. However, she affirmed that the telephone EFT had been helpful, and was eager to do it with me in the office.

Initially she couldn’t tell me what was troubling her. I’ve learned to use EFT as an investigative tool when someone can’t verbally identify the problem, and I do a setup of: “Even though I can’t say what s bothering me, I totally and completely accept myself”, followed by the reminder phrase of “these feelings” I then find that the patient relaxes sufficiently to begin to identify specific aspects of the problem, which I treat with subsequent rounds of EFT. This was the case with Wanda, and as she relaxed she began to identify issues of concern. We did several rounds of tapping for those aspects, and she visibly relaxed more. I then returned to my busy patient schedule.

GC COMMENT: Using EFT as an “investigative tool” in this way is one EFT’s seldom used features. When a client cannot identify the problem, just tapping on this inability will often bring to the surface some important core issues/memories.

DR. STEELE CONTINUES: The nurse told me later that Wanda was so relaxed that she almost went to sleep after I left. She had never seen anything like that, and expressed a wish to learn the technique, which I taught her, to our mutual satisfaction.

GC COMMENT: Reports of high success rates like this require some perspective and definition. In both my experience and that of Dr. Steele’s, success does not necessarily mean “complete resolution of a problem forever”. While complete resolutions are certainly possible (and often performed) there is often an “art of delivery” necessary to bring them about. However, if we define success as “anywhere from noticeable improvement to complete cessation of the problem” then claims of high success rates by skilled practitioners have merit.

DR. STEELE CONTINUES: As to the setup, I take time to carefully explain that this is “a form of psychological acupuncture (without needles)” and to enlist the patient’s full cooperation in doing the procedure. I tell them that this is the single most effective tool I’ve learned in 40 years of being a therapist. If they express skepticism, I compliment them on their caution, and tell them that they don t have to believe in this for it to work, but I do need their full cooperation. Then if they’re not willing, I respect their choice rather than try to push them.

My setup is repeated three times: “Even though I have (this problem) I deeply and completely accept myself,” while tapping on the karate chop point. I then tap with them using the first 7 points (I rarely find the need to use more). If they have difficulty following instructions I get their permission to tap on them. I watch for physical signs of relief, or release of affect, during the tapping, and then intuitively follow from these to related aspects. I ordinarily don t get an initial 0-10 intensity rating, but instead ask after a positive response, “Let’s say that your previous distress was a 10 on a 0-10 scale; what is it now?”

Curtis A. Steele, MD


If EFT works so well over the phone for such very disturbed psychiatric patients, just think what it can do for you! I am helping many people over the phone to heal and transform their lives with a blend of EFT, counseling and life coaching. I am having great success with everything from physical to emotional issues: improving people’s relationships, marriages, work performance, sleep; clearing anxiety, stress and blushing, energy issues, chronic pain, and much more. I estimate that my success rate is about 95%.

Want to discuss how I can help you? See Contact page to set up an appointment. I work in-person in Boulder, CO, by phone, Skype and FaceTime.

EFT for Social Anxiety, Facial Blushing, Fear, Stress, Panic Attacks, and much more!

by Gary Craig’s Web Site

Who Would Have Thought That Acupressure Could Relieve Social Anxiety Better Than Drugs or Therapy?

San Francisco, CA (PRWEB). Americans say they are more afraid of public speaking than they are of snakes or spiders. Most live normal lives despite their stage fright, but an estimated 35 million suffer from social anxiety disorder, a severe fear of meeting strangers, becoming the center or focus of attention, or performing for a group. Also known as social phobia, social anxiety is the third most common psychiatric disorder in the United States after depression and alcohol dependence. Psychiatric drugs that treat the condition are being tested in clinical trials.

But the best treatment for social anxiety, according to a growing number of psychologists and health care professionals, may be a drug-free do-it-yourself procedure called EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). Its premise is that fears, phobias, and the physical symptoms they generate are caused by disruptions along the body’s energy meridians. These are the same energy paths mapped thousands of years ago by Chinese acupuncturists. Stimulating key acupuncture points by tapping on them with the fingertips restores the energy flow and alleviates symptoms.

This simple procedure has been found clinically successful for all forms of anxiety in over 10 years of clinical trials.

Canadian psychiatrist Curtis Steele, MD, calls EFT the single most effective technique he has used in 45 years of practice. “I’ve had considerable success using EFT in the treatment of social anxiety, panic attacks, and many other disorders,” he says.

The physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder include rapid heartbeat, sweating, tremors, nausea, diarrhea, muscle tension, muscle cramps, blushing, confusion, and dizziness. These symptoms stem from an excessive fear of scrutiny by others or a persistent fear of embarrassment and humiliation when speaking to strangers. The symptoms also occur when meeting new people, when using a public restroom, or when participating in any performance, sports event, or public presentation. According to the American Psychiatric Association, social anxiety can lead to panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, and depression.

Severe social anxiety can cause chronic unemployment, dropping out of school, drug or alcohol abuse, suicidal thoughts, and other devastating results.

The problem often begins in childhood, becomes intense during high school, and lasts a lifetime. More common in women than men, social anxiety appears to run in families. It affects one out of seven Americans.

EFT practitioners report that in training workshops, it’s not uncommon for someone who was paralyzed with stage fright to use the EFT tapping process while focusing on that fear. While doing so, they suddenly relax and begin speaking or singing while thoroughly enjoying the experience. Practitioners have offered EFT as a first-aid treatment for people having an emotional melt-down just before making a presentation or competing in a sports event. EFT has also helped those who couldn’t use public restrooms.

Gary Craig, the Stanford-trained engineer who developed EFT, collects reports from EFT practitioners around the world. “Thousands of these are posted at the EFT website,” he says, “including dozens relating to social phobias and performance anxiety. It usually takes just a few minutes to learn EFT, and the results are often instantaneous and permanent. Once the underlying cause of fear and panic disappears, it doesn’t usually come back. If it does, the person can tap it away.”

That’s good new for those who are too terrified to think about things like auditions, job interviews, speeches, marriage proposals, or even a trip to the supermarket. EFT can be used by people of all ages, including children, and the EFT website features numerous reports about children overcoming shyness, bullying, stage fright, and other fears with EFT’s combination of tapping and mental imagery.

“Timothy Long is an outstanding facilitator for people ready to be free. His approach combines loving support, wisdom and simplicity. With Timothy’s help I’ve been able to permanently clear years of anguish, sadness and fear. Timothy supports me all along the way and helps me out of stuck areas in a gentle and focused way.” ~ Carol

Ready to experience the phenomenal benefits people are having doing EFT to clear all kinds of physical and emotional conditions, such as facial blushing, panic attacks, social anxiety, self confidence, fear of public speaking, fears and phobias, excessive sweating, depression and traumas? Go to the Contact page to make an appointment with Timothy Long today. Sessions in person, by phone, Skype or FaceTime.