Letters Home: How Writing Can Change Your Life

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9780375402487: Letters Home: How Writing Can Change Your Life

A groundbreaking work that explains how the simple act of letter writing can help us confront our problems and, ultimately, change our lives, Letters Home brings us into the intimate center of family conflict as we follow the efforts of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and husbands and wives to transform themselves.
        Twenty years ago Dr. Terry Vance began assigning letter writing to her psychotherapy patients as a method of addressing past psychological and physical abuses, confronting family members, revealing long-held destructive secrets, facing down the various difficulties in their day-to-day lives, and gaining insight into their own thinking and behavior. In Letters Home, Vance describes the methodology of this therapy, which can work for anyone: how to compose the most effective and empowering letters, what pitfalls to avoid, what outcomes to expect. Using letters written by her patients--each one a haunting narrative in itself--she demonstrates how the letters can unearth unresolved conflicts and point toward mechanisms of change.
        While the stories of abuse compel and
disturb us, their message of healing and self-empowerment inspires us. Letters Home offers true self-help.

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Review:

Many of us grew up with a taboo on expressing angry or hurt feelings and became secretive adults, masking our feelings. "But masks harm, even deaden, the person underneath," says therapist Terry Vance. "Getting healthy requires becoming visible by taking off the masks and exposing the secrets--finding out who you are by discovering what you feel and think." In Letters Home: How Writing Can Change Your Life, Vance shows how "letter therapy" can help us resolve conflicts, effect change, and recover from our relationship with our parents. Learning to communicate from the heart can help mend crippling conflicts and open up possibilities for intimacy and growth. Expressing feelings and thoughts can create change, even if the letter is never mailed.

Letters Home alternates between teaching letter therapy and reprinting moving, compelling letters written by Vance's clients about subjects such as sexual abuse, beatings, isolation, and alcoholism. This book is a powerful tool for understanding your feelings and communicating them in a form that will help you to grow emotionally. Terry Vance is an astute therapist--just by reading this book, you'll gain valuable insights about yourself, how unresolved conflicts affect you, and how you can change. --Joan Price

From the Publisher:

"As the author of an epistolary novel, I know the value in fiction of addressing the unseen "you" as a narrative device. As child, parent, spouse, and friend, I am still learning the revelatory and resolving powers of letter writing. Terry Vance's Letters Home teaches us imaginative new ways to think about, and perhaps revise, our own stories."--Katharine Weber, author of Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear and The Music Lesson

"I have always loved letters, above all other forms of writing. I am drawn to collections of letters, to correspondences, which reveal the soul of the writer as no other form does; I've also written two epistolary novels. But it is only through reading Terry Vance's wonderful Letters Home that I understand why I like letters so much -- how transforming and liberating they are. This is an honest, thrilling and enormously helpful book. --Lee Smith, author of Saving Grace

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Vance, Terry
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