This qualitative case study reflects the voices and experiences of five veterans who engaged in a self-expressive writing session over a period of eight weeks. The purpose was to explore whether or not self-expressive writing could be used as a therapeutic intervention. Findings indicated that the intervention helped participants express emotions, increase their awareness of personal issues, helped separate problems from self, and foster a sense of empowerment. This study reveals the potential usefulness of physically expressing problems and interacting with them deliberately over time. Such interventions may be useful components of therapy and help those populations who have limited access to therapy services or who are reluctant to be present for therapy.
Expressive writing (EW) can be a useful supplement to psychotherapy, regardless of therapeutic orientation. In an open trial of exposure-based cognitive therapy for depression, 43 participants used EW before each session, producing 928 EW samples. Using examples from these, we discuss how EW can be used to both promote and track therapeutic change. Specifically, we review the impact of EW on therapeutic growth, via self-monitoring, increased awareness, and exposure/emotional processing. We then discuss how EW can be used to track important predictors of change such as symptoms, therapeutic alliance, social support, avoidance, and hopelessness. We conclude by discussing potential limitations to the use of EW in therapy and by recommending specific strategies for incorporating EW into clinical practice.
Journal writing is, overall, a gentle process because it is self-guided.
the level at which you ask yourself questions and the responses that come to you are determined by what you are currently ready to know and deal with in writing.
This does not mean you will always be comfortable.
Writing for self-awareness implies the ability to increase awareness, and that means living at the edge of your current insight, choosing to ask for more insight.
Christina Baldwin, “One to One”, p.57