Written exposure therapy for veterans diagnosed with PTSD: a pilot study.

J Trauma Stress. 2013 Dec;26(6):776-9. doi: 10.1002/jts.21858. Epub 2013 Nov 6.

Sloan DM1, Lee DJ, Litwack SD, Sawyer AT, Marx BP.

There is a need to identify alternative treatment options for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially among veterans where PTSD tends to be more difficult to treat and dropout rates are especially high. One potential alternative is written exposure therapy, a brief intervention shown to treat PTSD among civilians effectively. This study investigated the feasibility and tolerability of written exposure therapy in an uncontrolled trial with a sample of 7 male veterans diagnosed with PTSD. Findings indicated that written exposure therapy was well tolerated and well received. Only 1 of the 7 veterans dropped out of treatment, no adverse events occurred during the course of treatment, and veterans provided high treatment satisfaction ratings. Clinically significant improvements in PTSD symptom severity were observed for 4 veterans at posttreatment and 6 veterans at the 3-month follow up. Moreover, 5 of the 7 veterans no longer met diagnostic criteria for PTSD 3 months following treatment. These findings suggest that written exposure therapy holds promise as a brief, well tolerated treatment for veterans with PTSD. However, additional research using randomized controlled trial methodology is needed to confirm its efficacy.


Cognitive-behavioural emotion writing tasks: a controlled trial of multiple processes.

J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2008 Dec;39(4):558-66. doi: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2007.11.008. Epub 2008 Feb 6.

Guastella AJ1, Dadds MR.

We report on a controlled trial of three structured writing paradigms that engage the writer with cognitive-behavioural emotion-processes: exposure, devaluation, and benefit-finding. University students (N=198) wrote once a week for three weeks about their most upsetting experience. The long-term effects of these structured writing procedures were compared to an unstructured emotion writing condition and control. Outcomes indicated that exposure writing sped the reduction of intrusive and avoidant symptoms, while benefit-finding writing increased reports of positive growth. Results suggest the use of these paradigms to study emotion-processing mechanisms and, potentially, in practice to enhance coping in process-specific ways.