cult recovery 101

Writing Workshop: Coming to Terms with Your Story: A Pre-Conference Writing Workshop for Post-Cultic Recovery

Facilitator: Karen Pressley
Wednesday, July 4, 2012 (10:00 am – 5:00 pm)

After leaving a high-demand group, how do you come to terms with the people, events, and countless details of the memories that shaped that time of your life? Outside of counseling or talks with caring friends and family members, exploring the fertile subject matter of your experiences can be an otherwise daunting, seemingly irreconcilable task without a means of connecting the dots and coming to terms with your personal story. Your story is composed of countless moments, scenes, and choices that may hold difficult, tragic, repressed, or even magical events and circumstances. This Writer’s Workshop focuses on the healing qualities of writing that can help you to make sense of your experiences, re-establish your well-being, and re-discover your personal voice. We’ll use techniques that help you to create meaningful accounts that not only document memories, but that can help to diffuse the impact they might have on your thoughts and emotions. These techniques are based on research that shows that writing is a productive, healing process that has been found to reduce physical and emotional illness in people who write regularly.

As a participant in this workshop–and whether or not you consider yourself a skilled writer–you are addressed as a writer with a voice, an author with an authoritative position over your life story. If you have been more accustomed to being the object rather than the subject of your circumstances, particularly if you have been denied authority in the group, writing about your life can play a significant part in erasing years of invisibility and interpretation by others. With the goal of “write or be written,” you will learn writing techniques that will enable you to express the hard-won, deep layers of truth that you might discover but not otherwise share as part of daily social communication. As one writer said after developing a memoir, “Each time the authentic words break through, I am changed.”

The teacher of this workshop is a writing professional, a university instructor of composition, a published author, and a former sixteen-year cult member. She believes that writing is empowering, whether you write to lay bare your soul with absolute frankness for others to read and learn by, or you simply want to make sense of your life for personal healing purposes. By guiding you to put pen to paper as you explore your experiences through these specialized writing techniques and exercises in this three-part workshop, she will show you how writing can bring the very needed joy that comes from transforming your subject matter into material that helps you to grow while you create something of value for yourself and, if you choose, to share with or to help others.

The writing workshop will take place on Wednesday July 4, 2012 (10:00 am to 5:00 pm), the day before the ICSA Annual Conference in Montreal, which takes place July 5-7. The location will be the conference site: Holiday Inn Select Montreal Centre Ville Downtown.