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A modern-day graphotherapist *

I met with Anne-Marie, a professor of graphology and graphotherapy based in Lyons, to complete a detailed analysis of three samples of my own handwriting:

• From left-to-right with the right hand,

• From left-to-right with the left hand, and,

• From right-to-left with the left hand using tracing paper (Canson).

“My first, and rather surprising, observation of these three samples is that I detect an incredible, and much more pronounced graphic ease in the sample written ‘right-to-left with the left hand’.

In the interest of further investigation, and after closer inspection, I decided to contact other frustrated left-handers who have felt free and allowed themselves, from time to time ever since their teenage years, to write from right-to-left. Left-handers who have felt constrained since childhood were happy to talk about their experiences and have their feelings validated.

To locate this practice in left-handers’ personal experience, many remember their reaction to mirror writing when they were kids. While the writing appeared backwards to other children, to them it seemed like the right way! Left-handers have had to adapt their writing to a right-handed world by conforming to the convention of writing from left-to-right.

I am surprised to see that certain phenomena are recurrent. In the “left-to-right with the left hand” writing, there are a fair number of letters drawn backwards, especially d, g, q, f, and p. Some writers, often during their teenage years, stop forming certain letters in direction they were taught.

Several letters of the alphabet do not lend themselves to this type of transgression, which is evidenced by a reversal of the conventionally accepted writing direction in addition to more or less significant alterations in the shape of the letters. It should be noted that each letter analyzed by the graphologist is infused with its own emotional value.

When I looked at the so-called “mirror writing” (right-to-left with the left hand), I noticed that the backwards letters had disappeared and one by one, they once again, quite naturally and logically, appeared in the proper direction.

Taking this logic further really helps to understand the full impact of the suffering experienced by left-handers and those frustrated by left-to-right writing conventions, who face intense pressure to adapt to right-handers’ preferences. Not only can learning to write be long and difficult, but it can also be painful; it’s easy to imagine that some might feel so discouraged they want to give up entirely. The fact that it requires so much effort deserves our attention. This is important to take into account. For left-handers, writing from right to left is a way to relax and “untangle” the mind. It is invigorating, restful, and provides instant calm and consolation when times are hard.

This exercise in a therapeutic context can be justified by its deconditioning and relaxing effect. These left-handed writers who are “over-adapted” suddenly feel freed of an enormous weight and can let their strokes wander the page. They can finally express their true feelings in their own way. They can reserve this restful practice as a place to have fun and communicate with others facing the same challenges. It’s a way to rediscover “original pleasure”, as one person put it.

When working with children and teens who are dysgraphic for various reasons, one role of the graphotherapist is to help them relax and finally feel free so they can rediscover pleasure in writing. A child who does not enjoy the process is never going to be a happy writer. So, the question is how can there be any harmony in writing if there is no pleasure in creating it? The task therefore falls to graphotherapists to be pay attention to this question of pleasure, and offer solutions.”

Continuing education is indispensible for all types of therapists. So I have had the occasion to attend seminars and take a lot of notes on tracing paper, all written in my own opening direction, right-to-left, of course!

* This testimonial also appears in the book "Gauchers en difficulté, la latérapédagogie, une richesse inexploitée" (Editions Pierre Téqui) by Joëlle Morice Mugnier

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