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date: 22 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Expressive writing (EW) was developed in the 1980s by Pennebaker and colleagues, who defined it as “writing focusing on traumatic, stressful or emotional events, and the feelings inspired by these.” There have been developments in terms of process, covering a range of instructions, target groups, and writing conditions and, more recently, benefit-finding writing (BFW) about benefits derived from stress or traumatic situations. EW has now been trialed across a broad range of situations, involving mental and physical health domains. Results from meta-analyses find small but significant improvements more related to physical health than mental health parameters. It is thought to be best suited to people with mild-to-moderate psychological distress who are addressing stress-related conditions and situations. The chapter describes common forms of EW and explores the place of BFW. Some mechanisms for expressive writing are discussed, but these are still speculative.

Keywords: expressive writing, emotional disclosure, stress, stress and coping, coping, psychological distress, benefit finding

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