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Your Brain on Ink


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Table of Contents

Foreword Preface Dear Reader: An Introduction to the Workbook Section 1: A User-Friendly Guide to Your Brain and Your Journal 1. Prelude 2. Welcome to Neuroplasticity 3. The Art and Science of Expressive Writing 4. The Journal Ladder 5. Brain Maps 6. The Reflection Write Section 2: The Write Way to Positive Brain Change 7. The Brain as Velcro (R) and Teflon (R) 8. Your Limbic System 9. The Brain Takes the Shape the Mind Rests Upon 10. Neural Darwinism 11. Neurons that Fire Together, Wire Together 12. For Your Olfactory Delight 13. The Masking of a Negative is Not a Positive 14. From Positive State to Positive Trait 15. Building Neural Circuitry 16. Series of Three 17. And Now for Something Completely Different 18. Anticipate a Blossoming of Creative Delight 19. Short Bursts of Radiance 20. A Radical Departure 21. Overwriting the Negative Section 3: Our Last Collective Firings 22. Reprise: Your Brain Takes the Shape Your Mind Rests Upon 23. Bridging Into the Future References Literature Review: Evidence-Based Research on Expressive Writing Acknowledgments About the Authors

About the Author

Deborah Ross, LPC is a licensed psychotherapist in the Washington DC area. She has graduated from both the Mindsight Institute's program in interpersonal neurobiology and the Therapeutic Writing Institute, from which she earned the Certified Journal Therapist credential. Kathleen Adams LPC is a licensed psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado. She is the founder/director of the Center for Journal Therapy and the online Therapeutic Writing Institute and is the series editor for the It's Easy to W.R.I.T.E. expressive writing series.


In this companionable and lively workbook, the complex worlds of positive psychology, neuropsychology and expressive writing weave together. The result is accessible information and practice - an amazing feat of integration and utility. Ross and Adams make this weave look simple like the Russian Ballet makes turns and leaps look easy. The workbook clearly explains the neurological context of self-improvement and the expressive writing practice that is its vehicle. The book moves gracefully between information, exercises and dialogs; the reader/writer is engaged, active and absorbed throughout. Your Brain on Ink presents state-of-the-art information and writing techniques in a fun and practical way. It is a valuable contribution to the journal writing world. -- Beth Jacobs, PhD, author, "Writing for Emotional Balance and Paper Sky: What Happened After Anne Frank's Diary Ended"
Ross and Adams have hit a home run with this workbook - it's compelling, informative, and very easy to read. The authors combine advice and insights about the power of therapeutic writing with the scientific research to prove why this kind of writing is so important. Interactive exercises and activities allowed me to integrate the content on a much deeper level. Now I'm even more committed to my journaling! I will return over and over again. -- Robert MacPhee, author, "Manifesting for Non-Gurus" and partner journal; former director of training for Jack Canfield; creator, Excellent Decisions Leadership Program
Your Brain on Ink is the perfect curriculum for all the helping professions: medicine, nursing, psychology, counselors and coaches. It provides the science of neuroplasticity and expressive writing in a unique pairing that promises to create new positive tracks in the brain. The process allows one to embody a new understanding and gets the brain to maintain a new direction through self-directed brain change. I am eager to use this in teaching and as adjunct homework for my clients, and I am grateful for a whole new understanding of brain neurology presented in simple and profound wording. Ross and Adams, your guides on the side, will open you up to new perspectives you didn't know how much you needed in order to be effective in your own life and those of others. -- Linda W. Peterson-St. Pierre, PhD, MFT, MRN; emeritus professor, University of Nevada-Reno Medical School
Adams and Ross are a wise and masterful team in the creation of this user-friendly trail map into the worlds of neuroscience and expressive writing. The journal ladder is clinical brilliance and indeed creates a sturdy bridge to enriched community of practitioners and researchers alike. As clinicians, it is important to be able to offer our clients ways to continue growth work between sessions. This book offers ten-to-twenty minute writing 'bites' that are both safely and powerfully constructed. This book goes far beyond the goal of 'advancing the dialogue' about the role of expressive writing in healing. This is groundbreaking work. -- Nancy S. Scherlong, LCSW, PTR-M/S, CJT; writer, adjunct faculty at Columbia and Adelphi Universities; expressive arts trauma therapist and positive psychology coach
Ross and Adams have woven a unique workbook for self-awareness, mindfulness, healing, and growth, all in the context of modern brain science. Simple, guided exercises are distilled from decades of scholarly research, making neuroplasticity available to all who seek self-directed change. Fresh writing and carefully constructed prompts invite readers to join the dance and observe their own brains in real time. This book provides fascinating and ready access to passion, clarity, and purpose. -- Nathan Ohren, founder/director of Write4Life.com and host of the JournalTalk podcast
Your Brain on Ink is a masterful dance between two expert and wise practitioners. In precise and conversational language, Deborah and Kay explain and illustrate the fertile intersection between brain research and expressive writing. You are guided, step by small step, into a sustainable writing practice that will - literally - change the shape of your brain. From my viewpoint as a business coach and facilitator, this workbook is a quantum advance in how to help clients shift perspective and behavior by activating their own powers of expression and reflection to rewrite the brain maps they live and work by. This pioneering work will change many brains - and many lives - for the better. -- Edwina Cowdery, business coach and facilitator, Sydney, Australia
Your Brain on Ink is a treasure added to the expressive therapies field. This is the first therapeutic writing book that takes into consideration the neurobiological response to trauma and the sensory healing response it requires. Journal therapy is a natural medium to work with the amygdala's release process and this book explains the manner in which this is done and the profound potential healing effects. As the focus on trauma healing moves from a lens of trauma-informed care to trauma-applied practice, this book addresses both in practical, understandable, and applicable language. And because journal therapy is also a mindfulness based practice, the astounding benefits of mindful brain changes are apparent and honored throughout. This is an exciting, succinct, and timely addition to the field. -- Cherie Spehar, LCSW, CTC-S, RPT-S, founder/director/lead clinician, Apex Center for Trauma Healing, NC
If we are as happy as we choose to be, to paraphrase Abe Lincoln, how can we become happier than we are, and feel that way more often? According to Deborah Ross and Kathleen Adams, the answer comes from neuroscience: by frequently writing about experiences that leave us feeling more positive in the moment, we strengthen our brains' ability to do more of the same over time. Based on recent neuroscience discoveries and time-tested journaling techniques, this practice diminishes our brains' evolutionary mandate to focus on the negative, allowing us to observably shift our feelings toward the positive end of the scale in ten to twenty minutes of writing. And, like an athlete building muscles through repetitive movement, the more we use these techniques, the more our brains build and strengthen the neural pathways for positivity. In world that seems to be drifting ever more negative, Your Brain on Ink: A Workbook on Neuroplasticity and the Journal Ladder provides a very real way to lift ourselves into more positive realms. -- Barbara Stahura, CJF, co-author of "After Brain Injury: Telling Your Story"

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