In 2004, a cover story was written by the American Psychological Association with findings that writing therapy provided many benefits to those with terminal or life-threatening diseases. The study found that patients who wrote about life experiences were higher on CD4 lymphocyte counts – a “gauge of immune functioning”. Participants reported experiencing placing more structure and organization to their anxieties, as well as improved processing afterwards. On a basic level, there’s no doubt that writing can help release pent-up emotions, which can inflict further physical consequences. What about mental illness and/or addiction, however? What do studies say about these areas?
Writing has continuously proven to be an effective complementary treatment method alongside psychotherapy and other options. With writing therapy, a client is given a theme by their therapist to focus on, typically – unless that person decides to engage in some informal writing therapy on their own. Mental health has been shown to improve greatly using writing therapy; a 2017 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology involved the assessment of 89 patients whom were either assigned to complete a positive writing intervention resource diary (RD) or no intervention, as a control group, over the course of 4 weeks. Self-reported questionnaires were then completed on depression, emotion regulation, and resource activation both before and after the intervention.
The study’s findings revealed that participants experienced extremely lower depression scores, along with an increased use of the emotional regulation strategy “reappraisal” and the decreased use of suppression after therapy. Reappraisal served as a purpose for individuals to rethink their emotional response to the events in their life – for example, if a person is still upset about a person who treated them poorly in the past, writing therapy may have helped them view the experience as one that showed them they needed to slowly disengage with that person anyways because they were becoming no longer healthy for them.
These same benefits, and more, can be applied to addiction recovery; greater time to process and reflect on past events while increasing understanding of one’s role in these events leads to a greater chance of success in recovery. When it comes to addiction recovery, you must work hard each day and find out which treatment methods work best for you – writing therapy is something that you should speak with your therapist about to begin.
Therapy is a primary component of treatment for rehabilitation from a substance use disorder and/or mental health disorder. Attending treatment with certified clinicians and counselors is critical for a full recovery. At one of New Vista Behavioral Health’s treatment providers, you are receiving exceptional care, held to a higher standard. Our programs result in better outcomes, ensuring a better recovery. For information call us today: 888-316-3665.