How to Become an Expressive Writing Therapist in the US

Writing therapy is a treatment method that is typically used on patients suffering from trauma and other emotional and mental disorders. It can help to improve the mood and memory of patients, as well as reduce the aggressiveness of chronic diseases. Expressive writing therapists are the professionals who provide this treatment. If you want a healthcare job that combines creativity and problem-solving, this could be it. Read on.

What Do Expressive Writing Therapists Do?

One of the primary responsibilities of expressive writing therapists is to harvest the feelings and motions of patients. To do this, they:

  • Hold private sessions with patients to assess whether they are in a condition to write
  • Encourage patients to write about their emotions and feelings
  • Determining the right medium on which the client can write – This could be a diary, private journal or blog
  • Create the right physical environment for patients to express their feelings
  • Analyze the notes written by patients and collaborating with other healthcare practitioners to diagnose their conditions
  • Design and evaluate the effectiveness of intervention programs

Work Environment

Many expressive writing therapists have regular 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday work schedules. Those who run their own therapy centers often attend to clients in the evenings and weekends.

Therapists can provide services in diverse settings, ranging from their private offices to hospital consultation rooms.


The following table highlights the average annual salary for writing therapists:


Annual Average Salary

Writing therapist


Source: Indeed

Entry Requirements

Writing therapy courses are only available at the graduate level. As such, you must earn at least a master’s degree in expressive arts therapy to qualify for employment as an expressive writing therapist.

Before joining graduate school, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree. Although you can be accepted into a graduate program with an undergraduate education in diverse fields, the following can give you a good foundation:

  • Psychology
  • Art therapy
  • Social work
  • Nursing
  • Sociology
  • Medicine

You may also be required to possess some experience working with people with emotional and mental disorders in order to pursue the master’s degree. Colleges and universities offering this credential include:

  • Appalachian State University, North Carolina
  • Lesley University, Massachusetts

Some states, such as New York, license the practice of creative arts therapists, including expressive writing therapists. If your state requires a license, you will need to meet additional requirements, such as parting with a licensing fee, having the required experience and passing an examination.

Important Qualities

The skills and abilities expressive writing therapists require to execute their duties competently include:

  • Strong creative skills
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Empathy and emotional stability
  • Sensitivity to other people’s feelings
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Keen observation skills
  • A sense of humor

Career Development

Expressive writing therapists who gain vast work experience and obtain advanced qualifications often advance into the fields of academia and research. So if you want to move a step ahead you should:

Job Opportunities

The main employers of expressive writing therapists include:

  • Providers of student health services
  • Community-based clinics
  • General medical and psychiatric hospitals
  • Social service departments
  • Education systems
  • Nursing homes
  • Providers of therapy consulting services

With a PhD and extensive work experience, you can be hired to teach expressive therapy courses in colleges and universities. You could also run a successful therapy consulting business.

Finally, writing therapy is gaining popularity at the expense of talk therapy, according to the New York Times. Even though the magazine does not provide concrete numbers, aspiring expressive writing therapists have every reason to look toward to a future full of opportunities for employment.

So if you want a career that will reward your passion for helping other people, then maybe you should become an expressive writing therapist.