The use of writing in a therapeutic manner can be traced back to psychotherapeutic traditions that encourage the expression of emotions (see Smyth & Helm, 2003). The majority of psychotherapeutic paradigms, regardless of theoretical orientation, consist of some form of interpersonal disclosure that includes identifying, labeling, and disclosing emotional experiences (Smyth & Helm, 2003). Although individuals may have a desire to disclose their thoughts and emotions about a distressing experience, social constraints may limit such interpersonal disclosure (Lepore, Silver, Wortman, & Wayment, 1996). Some individuals may refrain from discussing negative events due to the social stigma thought to be associated with the experience. Other peoplemay lack a social support system and/or receive insensitive or inappropriate support (Wortman & Silver, 1989). In contrast, written emotional expression offers the opportunity to express one's thoughts and feelings without regard to social constraints or barriers that might accompany interpersonal disclosure and reduces the likelihood of negative interpersonal responses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes