Twenty-one years ago I stared at the blank piece of paper in front of me and took a deep breath. My husband had already left for work, but he left me with bruises to remind me that he felt our marriage had to work. I needed the courage to leave him or the next time he may kill me, or worse, my baby. I picked up the pen and began to write down whatever came to mind. What I wrote was not important but the way I shaped my letters was.
Charles Stahl, founder of the San Francisco School of Handwriting Studies in the 1960's, whom I called "Uncle Charlie", began to teach me how to analyze handwriting when I was just 11 years old. Now the man who first taught me was teaching me to reverse the process - to change aspects of my personality by changing my handwriting using a highly personalized alphabet. I looked down at the sample that Uncle Charlie had provided me and did my best to mimic it perfectly.
By changing the way that I wrote, I was tapping into the other, undamaged, part of my brain - the part that had not been affected by the abuse. I used special techniques that I had learned and, by changing characteristics such as the height and spacing of my words, I hoped to erase the fear that I felt everyday. This was a last resort and, being skeptical thought - if this does not work, suicide may be my only option at getting out of this abusive marriage.
In the present, I not only am a survivor of domestic abuse, but am now studying to become a Forensic Psychologist. In addition, for the past 20 years, I have been the owner of the Center of Forensic Profiling. I have spent 20 years as a case consultant and international law enforcement trainer, juvenile probation counselor and fraud investigator. Last year I worked in conjunction with the State of Texas and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission on researching the effects of HFT (Handwriting Formation Therapy), a program used and now administered on juvenile criminal offenders.
The preliminary results shows a 100% success rate and has given me the chance to conduct a broader study. All of my own personal successes, since the abusive marriage, is due to the changes that I was able to make through HFT. I also knew it would help stop juvenile repeat offenders who have repeated failed with traditional therapy.
I did not have self confidence back then [in the marriage] and therefore had no initiative or assertiveness but HFT definitely gave those to me. Sometimes I think back on my life then and get an inner chill. Knowing who I am now, I cannot believe it was even me back then. It seems like someone else's life... but I have the physical scars to prove it. HFT took away all the emotional scars.
Anyone who researches handwriting analysis in general can find out that left-leaning text can indicate a repressed emotional expression or that angular letters indicate sharp thinkers. In fact, many things in the art and science of handwriting analysis is based on common sense. However the thought that the process can work in reverse is starting to take hold across the globe. At any given time I have an average of 10 HFT clients around the world.
"It is a mental thing," said Kate Jones, a probation officer with Refugio County, Texas. "With handwriting, there is a physiological connection between what they are thinking and what they are doing".
Many misinformed people consider handwriting analysis and HFT a form of "new wave" science or even 'palmistry' in nature. However I have always known this and, while I knew it would work with juveniles back in 1998, I knew society was not ready to hear about it yet. Even still, in 1987, when I completed my own handwriting therapy, I trained to become a Certified Handwriting Therapist. I then redesigned the therapy program to be more powerful and copyrighted the name "Handwriting Formation Therapy (HFT)". When I was a juvenile counselor (1998) I would watch child after child come out of traditional counseling sessions feeling worse than when they had gone in. I realized that HFT was going to work for these kids.
HFT, at its most basic, is the art of eliminating letters formations and writing styles that indicate recurring, self sabotaging attitudes / behaviors and then substituting these writing styles with formations that are still true to the inner self but are more finely developed.
Twelve years ago I began a private practice using HFT to help people who came to me with issues ranging from aggression to anxiety, additions to sexual abuse and more. Over the years I have treated a few hundred people and the only failure were those who quit before the program was complete. It is just like any other therapy - the individual has to be committed or they are going to fail - just like AA, NA or any other 'traditional' therapy they try.
One of my favorite HFT clients was Andrey, a 9 year old boy who was withdrawn and would not participate in school. His adopted parents contacted me and provided a sheet of homework with which to provide his personality profile. After going over the results his parents enrolled him in my HFT program. I then developed a whole new alphabet for him including new letters, spacing, size, slant... literally everything was new. After six months practicing the new way of writing Andrew's grades improved, he moved to the front of the class (previously insisting on being in the far back corner) and he joined the basketball team. His family was especially happy with the results because they said his sour mood no longer ruined their holidays or outings.
The changes of HFT are two-fold. HFT is fundamentally 'behavior modification on a neurological level' meaning that it has as much to do with the mental process behind changing the writing as it does with the actual act of writing itself.
If you think about it, even back 50 plus years, traditional psychologists have always said to their own clients, 'you need to start journaling'. Well it is not the pen and paper that does the healing - it is the act of writing.
HFT is like learning a new language. In order to embed the new words and speech patterns into the subconscious a person has to practice and work at it every day. By practicing a new way of writing every day, and in the process thinking about changing the character traits that correspond to that particular slant, angle or new alphabet, the new personality becomes ingrained.
It basically goes into your brain and reprograms the personality traits... fine tuning the true personality you were born with (free from trauma). HFT is not only less expensive than traditional therapy but removes the negative feelings generated by current methods. For example, because HFT is done completely in ones own home, clients do not need to worry about being labeled by society as "needing help". This is extremely important in a small town.
In addition, HFT can be completely anonymous so it removes what I call the "intimidation factor". In traditional settings a patient only wants to reveal the portions of his past that he thinks are safe, but with HFT he does not have to reveal anything - in facts no questions about the past are ever asked!
HFT does not care about the past of the clients; instead HFT focuses on today and works toward the rest of their life. Unlike traditional methods in which a person can move backwards in their treatment, it is virtually impossible to do any damage with HFT.
It kind of works like hypnosis so if you try to make someone a mass murdered but their mind does not think on those terms they would not do it in the awake state anyway. The mind rejects those subconsciously so you cannot turn anyone into an 'animal'.
Last year I took the results from my treatment of private citizens to the State of Texas asking for a chance to prove the benefits of HFT for juvenile recidivists. Many were still skeptical but I offered my initial services for free and asked for kids who had failed repeatedly with traditional methods. I asked for kids that had nothing left to lose - the 'hard to treat' cases.
The comments by the state included "well, we really do not want to see these kids wash away and be forgotten about" so they approved it. Each of the kids had committed and been on probation for three to five offenses and each failed at various traditional treatment methods several times. I liked the challenge and the fact that they turned around completely on the HFT program is very impressive although not surprising.
"I was excited about it", said Jones who supervised a couple of the participants throughout the study and still enrolls her juveniles in the HFT program. She said that both she and the Chief Probation Officer, Judy McGuill, felt like it could make a difference because it was a unique, more holistic approach to treatment.
Not everyone was as confident that the HFT program would work. Jones said that their county's attorney was concerned yet willing to give it a chance as a last resort. In the end even the attorney was impressed and very pleased with the results.
To eliminate outside factors I was not allowed to meet any of the juveniles. In addition, I did not know if they were male or female, their ages, their types of crimes... nothing. We tracked them by a number that was assigned to them. The children could write anything they wanted for their practice exercises but there were not allowed to reveal anything about their previous crimes or past traumas. They were also not allowed to see any outside counselors or receive any other therapy while on the HFT program. It was crucial that the success or failure of HFT hinge solely on the practice of writing itself.
During the course of the HFT program the kids were given a whole new alphabet and complete writing style unlike their previous method of writing. They would then practice the changes on a piece of unlined paper and the probation officer would fax it to me. In turn I created a progress report that was given to the probation officer and then to the child.
The process was more difficult for some of the kids than for others. For instance Jones said that one of the kids she supervised was not very literate so it became a bit of a chore for him to have to write every day. "He whined about it but kept doing it and, in the end, he was very happy he did" said Jones. In fact, all of the participating kids were asked, via rating scale, if they would recommend the HFT program to other kids and all said "yes definitely".
All of the kids improved their academic grades, have not committed any further offenses and increased their social skills. One of them was discharged from probation early because of their progress and one received a 'good behavior award'.
HFT saved my life from a brutal, very abusive marriage that nearly killed me. Traditional therapy did not work for me and, in fact, made me feel much worse. HFT gave me the courage to walk away and never look back. I am alive because of HFT and that is why I work so hard at helping others with HFT.