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.
The brain’s emotion processing system is briefly discussed as a model for understanding the emotional benefits of expressive writing. The act of writing integrates both brain functioning and subjective experience.
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.