Fair et al. (2012) “I’m Positive, I Have Something to Say”: Assessing the Impact of a Creative Writing Group for Adolescents Living with HIV

literature type:

journal article


Cynthia D. Fair, Linda Connor, Jamie Albright, Emily Wise, and Kathleen Jones. The Arts in Psychotherapy. 2012; Vol. 39, No. 5: pp 383-389.


This paper describes and evaluates “Teens Out Loud,” a creative writing group for adolescents with HIV infection. Youth with HIV frequently face a host of medical and social challenges, and often experience a lack of social support. Relatively few studies have explored interventions designed to support the growing number of perinatally infected youth who are living into adolescence and young adulthood, nor the effects of creative therapies on adolescents with HIV. The Teens Out Loud groups took place monthly in a mid-sized city in the southeastern United States. Interviews were conducted with seven adolescents (mean age 16 years, six females, six African-American), four guardians, and five group leaders regarding perceptions of the group. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and coded using grounded theory. Qualitative analyses indicated that group members experienced improved confidence, communication skills, support and a desire to share experiences with others. Guardians reported improved self-expression, behavior, and writing skills amongst their participating adolescents. Group leaders noted increased openness among members and described the group as a “safe place” for adolescents talk about HIV. Concerns included disclosure, discussion of sensitive topics, and finding a balance between recreation and academics. Results suggest that creative writing groups can promote personal growth and decreased isolation of youth living with HIV, and confirm the need for more research to further explore benefits of writing as therapy.



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