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:

  • Journaling
  • 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 socially.

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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WellWriting For Health After Trauma and Abuse by Ellen Taliaferro - Dr T

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"This is a very compelling book. I like the voice and the examples from Dr. Taliaferro's life in emergency medicine."

--Jennie Walsh
Parkland Hospital Foundation, Dallas


© Copyright 2005 Ellen Taliaferro, MD.
You have permission to publish part or all of this article electronically or in print, in your newsletter, on your website, or in your e-book, as long you maintain the hyperlinks in the article for web or e-book publication and include the following information: “Written by Ellen Taliaferro, MD, author, speaker, and expert witness. Dr T can be contacted through http://www.healthaftertrauma.com. A copy of your reprint or publication would be appreciated.