Trauma and Health
Writing about the perceived benefits of trauma
After experiencing a traumatic event, simply taking the time to write about it can have health benefits, such as less frequent health problems, improved immune system functioning, and better adjustment. Researchers at Southern Methodist University recently explored a related idea. They conducted a study to see whether writing about the perceived benefits of traumatic events, instead of writing about the actual traumatic events, also could have health benefits.
In the study, 118 undergraduate students wrote for 20 minutes each day for 3 days. In particular, they wrote about a traumatic event, the perceived benefits of a traumatic event, both, or neither. They also responded to some questionnaires. Additionally, after getting the necessary permission from the participants, the researchers examined the health center records for each participant.
Just like in other research on this topic, the results demonstrated that writing about trauma could lead to health benefits. The results also demonstrated that writing about the perceived benefits of trauma could lead to health benefits. These findings are important because, compared to writing about trauma, writing about the perceived benefits of traumatic events may provide a less upsetting but effective way to benefit from writing after experiencing a traumatic event.
Source: King, L. A., & Miner, K. N. (2000). Writing about the perceived benefits of traumatic events: Implications for physical health. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 220-230.