Using a blog as a form of journaling is becoming increasingly common. With email we are familiar with the phenomenon of responding rapidly and emotionally. In the blogging world, the same phenomenon may take place. While this type of immediate cathartic release may be similar to placing words on the pages of a journal, the aftermath that follows the use of blogging as journaling may be experienced much differently. The authors discuss the line between a self-help experience, a cathartic and possibly therapeutic intervention, and concern for the person who may be revealing too much. The therapist can prepare the client for feelings of empowerment, relief, and even exhilaration. They can also prepare for the risks, such as feelings of vulnerability, exposure, and possibly being re-traumatized. That the therapist may also want to establish boundaries within the therapeutic relationship about a client’s blog is also discussed.
J Trauma Stress. 1999 Apr;12(2):355-61.
The authors hypothesized that writing longhand about a stressful experience, compared to typing, arouses greater negative emotion. Eighty college students were randomly assigned to describe either a neutral or stressful topic by typing or writing longhand, in a 2 x 2 factorial design. Students describing the stressful topic, compared to the neutral topic, wrote for a longer period, used more words, and reported greater negative and less positive affect. Consistent with prediction, writing about a stressful experience longhand induced greater negative affect than typing, and led to more self-rated disclosure. These findings suggest a method whereby therapists can help patients control their levels of negative affect when producing a trauma narrative.
Br J Health Psychol. 2008 Feb;13(Pt 1):27-30. doi: 10.1348/135910707X250929.
Manipulations of the setting and instructions were tested for effects on language use and reported health following expressive writing (EW).
Participants (N=76) wrote in one of three conditions that differed by setting and the delivery of writing instructions.
The results showed that altering the context for EW influences participants’ language use and their perceptions of the experience. There was no effect of conditions on self-reported health.
Future research should attend to the ways in which manipulations of EW context affect proposed mediators such as language, as well as outcomes of EW.
“When I am in simultaneous process and observation mode, I like to leave the left page of my journal or notebook blank and write only on the right side. Switch it up if you are left-handed. Thus I have a “parking lot” for notes on process that I might come back to for the reflection – or I may just leave them as jottings, field notes that accompany the experiment.”
Kathleen Adams, “Your Brain on Ink”, p.102