Engendering Self Through Monologue and Performance: Helping Your Clients Explore Identity and Sexuality



This chapter focuses on the combined use of writing and performance as a means of exploring and validating gender identity and sexual orientation. The chapter is written from my perspective as a licensed social worker, whose training in the use of these modalities derives from conferences, workshops, and extensive reading. My experience suggests that social workers can integrate these modalities into their practices even in the absence of a formal degree in expressive therapies, as long as they have basic training and can secure qualified supervision.


Sexual Minority African American Male Audience Member Sexual Minority Youth Expressive Writing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Aadlandsvik, R. (2007). Education, poetry, and the process of growing old. Educational Gerontology, 33, 665–678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. American Association of Suicidology. (2004). African American suicide fact sheet. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved May 25, 2009, from
  3. Baikie, K. A., & Wilhelm, K. (2005). Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 11, 338–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bolton, G. (1999). “Every poem breaks a silence that had to be overcome”: The therapeutic power of poetry writing. Feminist Review, 62, 118–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burr, J. A., Hartman, J. T., & Mattson, D. W. (1999). Black suicide in U.S. metropolitan areas: An examination of the racial inequality and social integration-regulation hypotheses. Social Forces, 77, 1049–1081.Google Scholar
  6. Butler, J. (1988). Performative acts and gender constitution: An essay in phenomenology and feminist theory. Theatre Journal, 40(4), 519–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cleveland Department of Public Health (CDPH) (2007). Cleveland (Only) HIV/AIDS ­prevalence report: Reported persons living with HIV/AIDS as of December 31, 2006 by selected characteristics, Cleveland resident cases, and prevalence per 100,000. Retrieved May 29, 2007 from Health Division, HIV/AIDS at
  8. Esterling, B., L’Abate, L., Murray, E., & Pennebaker, J. (1999). Empirical foundations for writing in prevention and psychotherapy: Mental and physical health outcomes. Clinical Psychology Review, 19, 79–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fink, S. O. (1990). Approaches to emotion in psychotherapy and theater: Implications for drama therapy. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 17, 5–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fitch, S. (2006). Home foreclosure hot spots. Forbes Magazine Online. Retrieved May 29, 2007, from
  11. Froggett, L. (2007). Arts based learning in restorative youth justice: Embodied, moral and aesthetic. Journal of Social Work Practice, 21(3), 347–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Froggett, L., Farrier, A., & Poursanidou, D. (2007). Making sense of Tom: Seeing the reparative in restorative justice. Journal of Social Work Practice, 21(1), 103–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Furman, L. (1988). Theatre as therapy: The distancing effect applied to audience. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 15, 245–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Garofalo, R., Wolf, R. C., Wissow, L. S., Woods, E. R., & Goodman, E. (1999). Sexual orientation and risk of suicide attempts among a representative sample of youth. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 153(5), 487–493.Google Scholar
  15. Grotowski, J. (1973). Holiday. The Drama Review, 17, 113–135.Google Scholar
  16. Harvey, A. G., & Farrell, C. (2003). The efficacy of a Pennebaker-like writing intervention for poor sleepers. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 1(2), 115–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hernandez, J. T., Lodico, M., & DiClemente, R. J. (1993). The effects of child abuse and race on risk-taking in male adolescents. Journal of the National Medical Association, 85, 593–597.Google Scholar
  18. Hornsey, M. J., & Jetten, J. (2003). Not being what you claim to be: Impostors as sources of group threat. European Journal of Social Psychology, 33, 639–657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Huss, E., Tekoa, S. D., & Cwikel, J. G. (2009). “Hidden treasures” from Israeli women’s writing groups: Exploring an integrative feminist therapy. Women & Therapy, 32, 22–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Klein, K., & Boals, A. (2001). Expressive writing can increase working memory capacity. Journal of Experimental Psychology. General, 130, 520–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Klein, O., Spears, R., & Reicher, S. (2007). Social identity performance: Extending the strategic side of SIDE. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11, 28–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kranz, A., & Pennebaker, J. W. (1996). Bodily versus written expression of traumatic experience. Cited in J.W. Pennebaker. (1997). Writing about emotional experiences as a therapeutic process. Psychological Science, 8(3), 162–166.Google Scholar
  23. LaBelle, I. R. (1987). Obituaries by adolescents: A therapeutic technique. Social Work, 32(6), 538–539.Google Scholar
  24. Lange, A., van den Ven, J.-P., Schrieken, B., & Emmelkamp, B. M. G. (2001). Interapy. Treatment of posttraumatic stress through the internet: A controlled trial. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 32, 73–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Largo-Marsh, L., & Spates, C. R. (2002). The effects of writing therapy in comparison to EMD/R on traumatic stress: The relationship between hypnotizability and client expectancy to outcome. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33(6), 581–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lenahan, T. (2005) Shortage areas of primary medical professionals. Public Health GIS and Information, 63 19–21. Retrieved May 29, 2007, from
  27. Lothane, Z. (2009). Dramatology in life, disorder, and psychoanalytic therapy: A further contribution to interpersonal psychoanalysis. International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 18, 135–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. MacCormack, T. (1997). Believing in make-believe: Looking at theater as a metaphor for psychotherapy. Family Process, 36, 151–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Murphy, L. J., & Mitchell, D. L. (1998). When writing helps to heal: E-mail as therapy. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 26(1), 21–32.Google Scholar
  30. Murray, E. J., & Segal, D. L. (1994). Emotional processing in vocal and written expression of feelings about traumatic experiences. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 7(3), 391–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nagel, D. M., & Anthony, K. (2009). Writing therapy using new technologies—The art of blogging. Journal of Poetry Therapy, 22(1), 41–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. O’Connor, M., Nikoletti, S., Kristjanson, L. J., Loh, R., & Willcock, B. (2003). Writing therapy for the bereaved: Evaluation of an intervention. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 6(2), 195–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pennebaker, J. W. (1989). Confession, inhibition, and disease. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 22, pp. 211–144). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  34. Pennebaker, J. W. (1997). Writing about emotional experiences as a therapeutic process. Psychological Science, 8(3), 162–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pennebaker, J. W., & Chung, C. K. (2006). Expressive writing, emotional upheavals, and health. In H. Friedman & R. Silver (Eds.), Handbook of health psychology (pp. 263–285). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Pennebaker, J. W., & Graybeal, A. (2001). Patterns of natural language use: Disclosure, personality, and social integration. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10(3), 90–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pennebaker, J. W., Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., & Glaser, R. (1988). Disclosure of traumas and immune function: Health implications for psychotherapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56(2), 239–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Petrie, K. J., & Fontanilla, J. (2004). Effect of written emotional expression on immune function in patients with human immunodeficiency virus infection: A randomized trial. Psychosomatic Medicine, 66(2), 272–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pizarro, J. (2004). The efficacy of art and writing therapy: Increasing positive mental health outcomes and participant retention after exposure to traumatic experience. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 21(1), 5–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rasmussen, P. T., & Tomm, K. (1992). GUIDED letter writing: A long brief therapy method whereby clients carry out their own treatment. Journal of Strategic and Systemic Therapies, 11(4), 1–18.Google Scholar
  41. Román, D. (1997). Latino performance and identity. Aztlán, 22(2), 151–168.Google Scholar
  42. Rotheram-Borus, M. J., Hunter, J., & Rosario, M. (1994). Suicidal behavior and gay-related stress among gay and bisexual male adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 9(4), 498–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Salling, M. (2006). Children living in severely distressed neighborhoods and poor housing. Public Health GIS and Information 68, 19–22. Retrieved May 29, 2007, from
  44. Sampson, F. (2007). Writing as ‘therapy’. In S. Earnshaw (Ed.), The handbook of creative writing (pp. 312–319). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Ltd.Google Scholar
  45. Scheepers, D., Spears, R., Doosje, B., & Manstead, A. S. R. (2006). Diversity in in-group bias: Structural factors, situational features, and social functions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(6), 944–960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Scheepers, D., Spears, R., Doosje, B., & Manstead, A. S. R. (2002). Integrating identity and instrumental approaches to intergroup differentiation: Different contexts, different motives. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 1455–1467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Scheepers, D., Spears, R., Doosje, B., & Manstead, A. S. R. (2003). Two functions of verbal intergroup discrimination: Identity and instrumental motives as a result of group identification and threat. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 568–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schiffrin, D. (1996). Narrative as self-portrait: Sociolinguistic construction of identity. Language in Society, 25(2), 167–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schneider, M. F., & Stone, M. C. (1998). Processes and techniques of journal writing in Adlerian therapy. Journal of Individual Psychology, 54(4), 511–534.Google Scholar
  50. Smith, R. L., & Davis, D. (2004). Cleveland No.1 in big-city poverty/Nearly half of children among the poor. Cleveland Plain Dealer. Retrieved May 29, 2007, from (archived) and archives,
  51. Sontag, S. (Ed.).(1976). Antonin Artaud: Selected writings (H. Weaver, Trans.). New York: Farrar Strauss & Giroux.Google Scholar
  52. Summerville, M. B., Kaslow, N. J., Abbate, M. F., & Cronan, S. (1994). Psychopathology, family functioning, cognitive style in urban adolescents with suicide attempts. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 22, 221–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tajfel, H. (1978). Differentiation between social groups. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  54. Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. In S. Worchel & W. G. Austin (Eds.), The psychology of intergroup relations (pp. 7–24). Chicago: Nelson-Hall.Google Scholar
  55. United States Bureau of the Census. 2000 census of population, general population characteristics, Cleveland, Ohio, Summary File (SF1). Available at
  56. Wright, J. K. (2005). Writing therapy in brief workplace counseling. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 5(2), 111–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Webster, B.H., Jr., & Bishaw, A. (2006). American community survey reports. ACS-02, income, earnings, and poverty data from the 2005 American Community Survey. Washington, D.C: United States Bureau of the Census. Retrieved May 27, 2007 from
  58. Yankah, K. (1985). Risks in verbal art performance. Journal of Folklore Research, 22(2/3), 133–153.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

Personalised recommendations