Expressive writing

Joshua M. Smyth, Danielle Arigo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Expressive writing is a blanket term encompassing many specific approaches to writing therapeutically, typically consisting of one or several brief writing sessions that encourage the expression of one's deepest thoughts and feelings about a personally important or stressful experience. Participants who write in this way often show meaningful improvements in a wide variety of physical and mental health outcomes relative to comparison conditions. There is tremendous heterogeneity in response to expressive writing, suggesting that there are important, often unmeasured, moderators. Additionally, there are likely multiple mechanisms of action for expressive writing. As such, expressive writing continues to show potential for clinical utility, but its use must be carefully considered in light of available evidence and with attention to potential individual differences in response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Mental Health, Third Edition
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 1-3
ISBN (Electronic)9780323914987
ISBN (Print)9780323914970
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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