Write It Down

11 Aug

I was reading a book the other day that I’ll tell you more about when I finish it, but in the meantime, I thought I would share some research it contained.

It had to do with the therapeutic action of writing. In the 1980s, a social psychologist named James Pennebaker, developed this form of writing therapy which posited that “writing one’s feelings gradually eases feelings of emotional trauma.”(1)

Woman Outdoors With LaptopPennebaker did experiments where he had people write about a past traumatic experience  and asked them to include their very deepest thoughts AND emotions about it. They were asked to do so for 15 minutes for 4 days in a row. Of course, he compared that to a control group that was asked to write about something in an objective and factual way.

Although reliving their trauma was reported to be difficult, participants found that it was full of meaning and valuable. And it looks like it also have had a positive impact on the immune system.

As a mediator, I am in session with lots of people who have to deal with a loss (relationship, full-time presence of a child because of a divorce, relinquishment of parental rights etc.) Somehow, they have to find a way to move on. It sounds like writing down their feelings might provide them a path to get there.

The “old fashioned” way of doing this was called “journaling” … the newer approach is perhaps Facebook. But either way, sitting down and committing those thoughts to paper (or keyboard) may help to release them to continue forward with less weight in tow.


(1) Wikipedia, The Free encyclopedia



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