Scientific Research: Writing about Trauma is Good for Mental Health


Writing is a therapeutic tool that can be used to deal with a variety of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, ambivalence and trauma. Some professionals have incorporated a number of counseling theories such as narrative therapy into their treatment techniques, so it is recommended especially after a person has experienced trauma in his life. Patek Norval, a teacher of professional writing and a communications consultant at RMIT, a research university in Australia, says the health benefits of writing about trauma have been documented, calling it “good,” and research suggests that writing about trauma can be good. Useful because it helps people to re-evaluate their experiences by looking at them from different perspectives, according to a report by the Australian “The Conversation” website.

For example, Dr. James W. Pennebaker, Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas, has done a lot of research on the health benefits of expressive writing, and in one early study, he asked 46 healthy college students to write about their personally traumatic life events and superficial topics for 15 years. 1 minute on 4 consecutive days, for 6 months after the experiment, students who wrote about the traumatic events visited the campus health center less frequently, and used less pain relievers compared to those who wrote about the unimportant matters.

Pennebacker’s research has led to an understanding of some of the issues associated with writing.When writing about traumatic events, this can help relieve the emotional stress of negative experiences, but writing about trauma is not a comprehensive treatment and may be less effective if people also have ongoing mental health challenges, such as depression. Or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Researcher and physician Bissell van der Kulk asserts in his book “The Body Preserves the Result,” that trauma is more than just a stored memory that is erased. It is a powerful effect to which our entire mind, our self, and our feelings can change in response to trauma, because the feeling of pain is very complex.

Norval noted that writing is probably not the only or sometimes the most accurate remedy, but if managed correctly it may have a good result, then sharing stories about personal suffering can be a valuable learning experience.

Jill Paris, a psychologist, says that writing about trauma is beneficial in most cases, as long as teachers and their students monitor levels of stress and provide a space for empathy where storytellers are given time and tools to manage complex emotions that may arise, so that the writing experience yields better results.

Expressive writing enables people to learn how to better regulate emotions. It can also foster an intellectual process – creating a story about a traumatic event – that helps someone break free from the endless mental rotation, and the repeated thinking of the same fact.

In addition to the importance of timing, some studies have found that people who write about a traumatic event as soon as it occurs may feel worse after expressive writing, perhaps because they are not yet ready to face it. As such, Dr. Pennebaker advises doctors and patients to wait at least a month or two after a traumatic event. Before trying this treatment technique.


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