Clin Psychol Rev. 1999 Jan;19(1):79-96.
The use of writing, alone or in conjunction with traditional psychotherapy, has increased substantially in recent years. The most widespread use of writing has been for single-shot ad hoc purposes or to log behavior. The purpose of this review is to summarize a decade of research demonstrating the efficacy of writing about past traumatic experiences on mental and physical health outcomes. It is widely acknowledged in our culture that putting upsetting experiences into words can be healthy. Research from several domains indicates that talking with friends, confiding to a therapist, praying, and even writing about one’s thoughts and feelings can be physically and mentally beneficial. This review highlights advances in written disclosure that determine some therapeutic outcomes. In addition, we attempt to explore the mechanisms that predict improved psychological and physical health. Finally, limitations of previous studies are highlighted, and suggestions for future research and application are made.