Behav Res Ther. 2011 Apr;49(4):299-304. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2011.02.001. Epub 2011 Mar 1.
This study examined the efficacy of the written emotional disclosure (WED) procedure with a sample of young adults who met diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Participants were randomly assigned to either WED or a control writing condition and were assessed at baseline and one month following the writing sessions. During each writing session, participants’ heart rate was recorded; participants also provided self-report ratings of emotional responding. Findings indicated no significant group differences for PTSD and depression symptom severity at follow-up assessment. Relative to control participants, WED participants displayed significantly greater heart rate activity and reported greater emotional responding during the first writing session; however, no reduction in emotional responding occurred for either condition from the first to the last writing session. Taken together, these findings indicate that WED may not be an efficacious intervention for PTSD. Suggestions are made for future work in this area.
younger children may be better supported through more guided expressive writing interventions, such as therapeutic story writing (Waters, 2004), in which the child receives support from an adult to create more causal-explanatory and emotionally disclosing narratives (Fivush & Sales, 2006).
Empirical paper: Researchers have suggested that anxious children may underperform at school because their worrisome thoughts reduce the capacity of their verbal working memory (Eysenck et al., 2007; Hadwin et al., 2005; Ng & Lee, 2010). It was therefore hypothesised that anxious children may benefit from interventions, such as therapeutic story writing (Waters, 2008), that provide the child with the opportunity to discuss their worries in a manner that reduces anxiety. A total of 26 participants, all experiencing anxious affect that was above the average range (T score > 50), took part in the study (7 females and 19 males, M= 10 years 2 months). A mixed measures design was conducted and the results suggested that the therapeutic story writing intervention was associated with a significant reduction in child-rated anxiety and a trend for an increase in verbal working memory capacity, but not an increase in reading or writing attainment when compared to the control group.