How Does Expressive Writing Therapy Work?

Writing about traumatic, stressful or highly emotional events may not provide improvement in psychological health. When asked to do so in an expressive capacity, the ability to look at past traumatic events and experiences for short periods of time can support people in the long term. This may result in a higher level of emotional connection and resilience over time.

How it Works

Expressive writing therapy works by asking participants to dive into emotional experiences, thoughts and feelings to pull away some of the nuances and tie the experience to relationships, people, the past, present and future. This is done over a short period of time. Initially, the impact in the short-term may increase distress, negative mood and physical symptoms but over the long term, people who participate in the exercise are able to elevate health benefits and self-report positive health outcomes.

Benefits of Expressive Writing

Some of the following are just a few of the health benefits reported by individuals who utilize expressive writing therapy:

  • Fewer stressful events leading to doctor visits
  • Improved immune system function
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Improved lung function
  • Improved liver function
  • Fewer days in hospital
  • Improved mood or affect
  • Improved memory
  • Higher grades at school if studying
  • Less absenteeism from work

Using EFT in Recovery

Expressive writing is a great therapeutic tool that can be incorporated into uses for self-help following therapy. Email-based or internet writing are also ways to incorporate this into a practice for individuals in recovery. The following are other ways to use the process to support emotional and physical health:

  • Carried out in a private, personalized place free of distraction
  • Write on three or four occasions on consecutive days of the week
  • Set aside 10 to 30 minutes to regain composure following writing
  • Can be used for problem-solving, goal-setting, relaxation, mindfulness and exercise prescription to deal with long standing issues on a regular basis


The Villa helps people who are struggling with addiction recover in mind, body and spirit. If you are seeking ways to challenge yourself in recovery and want to know more, contact us. We will help you find the best resources and tools to support your individual journey.