WellWriting for Health
by Ellen Taliaferro, MD, FACEP
WellWriting is a form of expressive writing used to promote wellness and self-improvement after past stress and
trauma. Writing as a health tool goes by several names:
- Expressive writing
- Therapeutic writing
- Emotive writing.
Research by psychologist James Pennebaker from the University of Texas in Austin and others in the healthcare
field has proven that such writing is a therapeutic tool. Their research reveals the positive effects of writing to
discharge negative and harmful emotions associated with past trauma.
Improvement of various physical and mental conditions has been reported in several patient populations through
the use of control studies. To date improvement has been shown for asthma, arthritis, chronic pain syndromes and
chronic fatigue syndrome, just to name a few.
Does expressive writing work? In the summer 2004 issue of Clinical Psychology: Science & Practice, notes
that expressive writing has in general produced good results, but the real puzzle is why does it work and how?1 To
date, there has not been a single theory produced to explain why it works. This may be, in part, because expressive
writing affects those who engage in it on many different levels: mentally, emotionally, physically and
Still, we know some things about journaling or expressive writing. Such writing leads to self-disclosure that
helps you identify your problems and recognize their emotional impact on you.
Experiences that cause you trauma can lead you to have intricate and distressful feelings. To complicate
matters, others who underwent the same trauma at the same time may be impacted entirely differently. What a mystery
that some are affected one way while others go free of lingering emotion.
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|© Copyright 2005 Ellen Taliaferro, MD.
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