Share via Email It has helped groups as diverse as Vietnam veterans, psychiatric prisoners and sex offenders to deal with personal trauma.
Research into the therapeutic action of writing[ edit ] The expressive writing paradigm[ edit ] Expressive writing is a form of writing therapy developed primarily Therapeutic writing James W.
Pennebaker in the late s.
In contrast, control participants were asked to write as objectively and factually as possible about neutral topics e. For both groups, the timescale was 15 minutes of continuous writing repeated over four consecutive days. It was also instructed that should a participant run out of things to write, they should go back to the beginning and repeat themselves, perhaps writing a little differently.
Typical writing instructions include: For the next 4 days, I would like you to write your very deepest thoughts and feelings about the most traumatic experience of your entire life or an extremely important emotional issue that has affected you and your life.
You might tie your topic to your relationships with others, including parents, lovers, friends or relatives; to your past, your present Therapeutic writing your future; or to who you have been, who you would like to be or who you are now.
You may write about the same general issues or experiences on all days of writing or about different topics each day. All of your writing will be completely confidential.
The only rule is that once you begin writing, you continue until the time is up. Several measurements were made before and after, but the most striking finding was that relative to the control group, the experimental group made significantly fewer visits to a physician in the following months.
Although many report being upset by the writing experience, they also find it valuable and meaningful. The significantly increased lymphocyte response led to speculation that expressive writing enhances immunocompetence.
The results of a preliminary study of 40 people diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder suggests that routinely engaging in expressive writing may be effective in reducing symptoms of depression. This was first discussed by Josef Breuer and Freud in Studies on Hysteria but not much explored since.
Studies have shown that expressive writing results in significant improvements in various biochemical markers of physical and immune functioning Pennebaker et al, ; Esterling et al, ; Petrie et al, ; Booth et al, This suggests that written disclosure may reduce the physiological stress on the body caused by inhibition, although it does not necessarily mean that disinhibition is the causal mechanism underlying these biological effects.
Therefore, although inhibition may play a part, the observed benefits of writing are not entirely due to reductions in inhibition.
If this is the case, then writing might use or even stimulate parts of the brain that are not stimulated by talking. It is helpful to write it down, in other words, in safety and in non-judgment.
Trauma can be quite isolating. Those who have suffered need to understand how they feel and also to try to communicate that to others.
They simply "enter" into a private "chat room" and engage in an ongoing text dialogue in "real time". Given the huge disjunction between the amount of mental illness compared with the paucity of skilled resources, new ways have been sought to provide therapy other than drugs.
In the more advanced societies pressure for cost-effective treatments, supported by evidence-based results, has come from both insurance companies and government agencies.
Hence the decline in long term intensive psychoanalysis and the rise of much briefer forms, such as cognitive therapy. Where both parties remain anonymous the client benefits from the online disinhibition effect ; that is to say, feels freer to disclose memories, thoughts and feelings that they might withhold in a face-to-face situation.
Both client and therapist have time for reflecting on the past and recapturing forgotten memories, time for privately processing their reactions and giving thought to their own responses.
With e-therapyspace is eliminated and time expanded. Overall it considerably reduces the amount of therapeutic input, as well as the speed and pressure that therapists habitually have to work under. Whether distance and reciprocal anonymity reduces or increases the level of transference has yet to be investigated.
In a randomised controlled trial, expressive writing was tested against direction to an online support group for individuals with anxiety and depression. No difference between the groups was found.
Both groups showed a moderate improvement over time, but of a magnitude comparable to what one would expect to see over the time period concerned without intervention. Journal therapy The oldest and most widely practiced form of self-help through writing is that of keeping a personal journal or diary —as distinct from a diary or calendar of daily appointments—in which the writer records their most meaningful thoughts and feelings.
One individual benefit is that the act of writing puts a powerful brake on the torment of endlessly repeating troubled thoughts to which everyone is prone.
Moreover, as Kathleen Adams notes, through the act of journal writing, the writer is also able to "literally [read] his or her own mind" and thus "to perceive experiences more clearly and thus feels a relief of tension".
According to Weigl, "What it helps you do is externalize things, give a shape to it. You own it now.Bolton is now a research fellow in medical humanities at the University of Sheffield using therapeutic writing in reflective practice seminars with medical and health professionals.
Writing in a diary or journal is generally focused on recording events as they occurred, while writing therapy is focused on thinking about, interacting with, and analyzing the events, thoughts, and feelings that the writer writes down.
Writing is a common therapeutic tool, mainly because it is super cheap and effective. All you need are a pen, paper, and some thoughts. Plus, it has some very real therapeutic benefits. – Healing Writing Prompts – A collection of therapeutic writing prompts from well-respected therapeutic writers and healers.
These creative writing prompts, pulled from our favourite therapeutic writing books and articles, focus on both healing writing and on writing creatively. From the Spring issue of Stroke Connection magazine. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of her stroke, Carol Keegan of Silver Springs, Md.
developed a writing workshop that would assist survivors in exploring how stroke changed their lives. The result is a guided autobiography workshop called?Life after Stroke?
where survivors gain an appreciation of what they have accomplished. Writing is no stranger to therapy. For years, practitioners have used logs, questionnaires, journals and other writing forms to help people heal from stresses and traumas. Now, new research suggests expressive writing may also offer physical benefits to people battling terminal or life-threatening.