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Cross-Cultural Therapists' Stories: Algorithms, Therapeutic Writing, and Mental Health

Before the much-awaited week of rest, also known as Holy Week in our country, I had a meeting with the IT expert who helps us with the website for our center. During the meeting, I confirmed my strong desire to acquire more knowledge in new technologies and discovered the idea of writing for the most technical and influential reader I never thought I'd have: the algorithm.

Me: "But why write a blog? Nobody reads posts anymore. It's not that we don't want to, it's just that we think no one is interested."

IT Expert: "That's true, no one will read your blog, and probably not even your posts, but Google likes it, and that's what matters."

And from there on, it was all about keywords, making it sound like it was written by a human), the number of characters, and hey, there's ChatGPT, would Google realize that it might have been written by its cousin?

Writing, which we have had for thousands of years, starting in Mesopotamia, drawing the history of Egypt, playing a key role in the birth of civilizations, and allowing us to learn from the knowledge of Greek philosophy and stories that explain human nature at the level of the best psychology manual such as The Iliad, now has the algorithm as its main reader. At least digital writing of more than 500 characters.

This situation can lead us to different conclusions, criticisms, or even hopes. It can even make us fall into learned helplessness (the feeling that nothing we do or write will matter) and apathy that will make us ask an artificial intelligence to write a text for us, only to have another AI validate it, living among algorithms.

But we can also ask ourselves why and for whom we write and how much of what we write seeks social validation or is highly connected to our ego. We can go back to the idea of writing for ourselves, to put into words what we feel or to clarify what we think.

We can write to connect with the present moment early in the morning, to give ourselves time to focus and design our day. We can write to find serenity and states of flow amidst the chaos and frenzy of stimulation and stress. We can write to become children again and play at inventing the most fantastic stories. We can write to spend time with ourselves and our minds in the here and now.

The therapeutic benefits of writing are no mystery. When we write, we allow ourselves to name how we feel through our own stories or those of others. We also activate brain regions like the prefrontal cortex involved in reasoning and analysis, thus helping us soothe certain emotional states.

Writing, whether for others, for ourselves, or for the algorithm, is therapeutic because it recognizes, camls, and creates.

We can listen and distract ourselves, we can read and lose concentration, we can watch and not observe, but it is almost impossible to write and think of something else at the same time.

In therapy, writing serves us to work on mental health in various ways. It helps us promote self-awareness, train emotional regulation, allows us to play with language by constructing creative and healing metaphors, and also helps us to design the life we want to live.

How much time of your day can you dedicate to writing for yourself?

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