Using Popular Quotations to Enhance Therapeutic Writing
Wiitala, Wyndy L., Dansereau, Donald F., Journal of College Counseling
The authors describe the use of therapeutic writing as a technique for managing personal problems. It was hypothesized that having individuals intermittently read inspirational/motivational sayings would further enhance the benefit of therapeutic writing. The results indicate that popular quotations can be used with therapeutic writing to make the process more interesting and enjoyable. Recommendations are provided to counselors who may want to use this technique with clients.
One way to cope with stressful events is to engage in a task that encourages emotional expression, such as expressive or therapeutic writing (e.g., Pennebaker, 1989, 1997). Therapeutic writing as a means of dealing with stressful or traumatic events has been studied extensively during the past decade. The process involves writing (without feedback) about the thoughts and feelings surrounding a stressful event. Research has suggested that writing for 15 to 30 minutes for 1 to 5 days can have positive results (Pennebaker & Seagal, 1999). Some of the benefits include increased grade point averages, fewer health center visits (Pennebaker & Francis, 1996), decreased impact of intruding thoughts about the stressful event (Lepore, 1997), and increased insight into personal issues (Francis & Pennebaker, 1991). Writing about personal problems has been thought to benefit individuals by providing a release of negative emotions associated with the problem and restructuring the problem in a way that creates more insightful and coherent thinking (Francis & Pennebaker, 1991; Pennebaker, 1997).
Despite the clear advantages of having clients engage in therapeutic writing, there are some limitations of this technique. One limitation is that of closed-system thinking. When individuals engage in therapeutic writing, there is a lack of external ideas and insights, such as the ideas and insights that would be available in a counseling situation. Thus, individuals may remain "stuck" in their current patterns and have difficulties shifting perspectives or even knowing how to start to do so. A second limitation is related to the level of interest or enjoyment experienced when writing about problems. Many clients report …
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Publication information: Article title: Using Popular Quotations to Enhance Therapeutic Writing. Contributors: Wiitala, Wyndy L. - Author, Dansereau, Donald F. - Author. Journal title: Journal of College Counseling. Volume: 7. Issue: 2 Publication date: Fall 2004. Page number: 187+. © 2007 American Counseling Association. COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group.
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