Is prevention better than cure? A systematic review of the effectiveness of well-being interventions for military personnel adjusting to civilian life

Self-expressive writing as a therapeutic intervention for veterans and family members

Pages 201-221 | Published online: 23 Oct 2013

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.

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.