Self-disclosure as therapy: The benefits of expressive writing
As psychiatrists, we often provide our patients with a prescription in the hope that the medication will alleviate their symptoms. Perhaps we engage our patients in psychotherapy, encouraging them to reflect on their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions to alter their cognitions. We may remark that our goal is for the patient to "become their own therapist." What if we encouraged our patients to express themselves in a less structured manner and become their own therapists through writing?
Benefits of expressive writing
Writing about an experienced traumatic event--specifically, to express emotions related to the event--has been associated with improved health outcomes. (1,2) Many of these improvements are related to somatic health and basic function, including decreased use of health services, improved immune functioning, and a boost in grades or occupational performance. (1) Patients who participate in expressive writing also have demonstrated improvements in distress, negative affect, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)...