10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Use Writing as Therapy

Did you know that writing was a widely recommended method in psychotherapy? If you go to a therapist, they might suggest journaling as a technique that helps you verbalize your feelings and thoughts.

In addition to journals, therapists also recommend creative writing, questionnaires, logs, and other forms of writing, which help people overcome trauma and stress.

But you don’t have to go to therapy if you don’t want to or don’t need to. It’s okay. You can take this one method and benefit from it on your own terms.

If you’re feeling low, nervous, or burned out, writing can help you get to the bottom of your issues. There are scientifically proven benefits to the method, which should convince you to try it.

How Writing Works as Therapy: Science Proves It

1. Writing Helps You Handle Anxiety Outbursts

If you suffer from anxiety, you know that writing is the last thing you think of during a horrible attack. But Judith Ruskay Rabinor, the author of A Starving Madness, recommended her patients to send her emails when anxiety strikes them. This method helped the therapist to track their thinking patterns and respond as needed.

In this particular case, the therapist worked with patients suffering from eating disorders. But the method is applicable to all other anxiety cases. If you can force yourself to write in such a moment, do it. Later, when you read about it, you’ll understand what took you to that point. It’s quite possible for you to realize how you can prevent the same thing from happening again.

But remember: anxiety is a serious condition and requires therapy.

2. Gratitude Journaling Makes You a Better Person

What are you grateful for today?

After all that stress you went through, it’s easy to forget about the things worth living for. Gratitude journaling is an effective way to remind yourself about them.

A study from 2015 showed that gratitude activated the areas of the brain responsible for value judgment and moral cognition. How is that important for healing? When you realize that, as a person, you can do something for others, you focus on that calling. You become grateful for everything you have, and you want to help others to have something more.

3. Writing Promotes Emotional Wellbeing

Joshua M. Smyth and Stephen J. Lepore conducted groundbreaking research that showed the potential of expressive writing for improving one’s mental and physical health. The researchers found that expressive writing helped people to adjust to normal living after traumatic events.

Their method, called The Writing Cure, has been applied in various situations, including repressive coping, violence prevention, and adjustment to cancer.

4. Freewriting Helps You Get Deep Stuff Out of Your System

Take a blank piece of paper. Close your eyes for a moment and think of a random period of your life. You don’t have to force these thoughts to come up. Just start writing and they will follow along. Describe any thoughts, feelings, smells, and impressions that come to mind.

This method is called freewriting, and it might help you take subconscious issues out on the surface. When you get them out, it will be easier for you to deal with them.

5. Writing Prevents Thought Suppression

Thought suppression is a defensive method, which helps you avoid things you don’t want to face. However, it also leads to psychosomatic illnesses. The exact effect of thought suppression is unknown, but researchers assume they negatively affect the immune system. They showed that thought suppression caused a major decrease in CD3 T lymphocyte levels.

Writing is a great method against thought suppression. It’s all about thought expression.

6. Writing Helps People to Cope with PTSD

A study from 2010 showed that cognitive behavioral writing was helpful in reducing all symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder in children from 8 to 18 years old.

The method is not limited to children, though. Anyone suffering from PTSD can benefit from it.

7. Writing Helps You Recognize Emotions

How do you feel?

That’s the question you get whenever you visit a therapist. They don’t ask just because. They ask because they want you to dig deep into your feelings and verbalize them.

In many situations, you have no idea how you feel. You know you feel something really strongly, but you don’t know where it comes from and what it is. So you decide to brush it off. Suppress it!

One study showed that by writing about emotional experiences, people were more capable to cope with them.

8. Writing Helps You Recognize Positive Events

Most research studies are focused on the effects of writing after experiencing trauma. But one particular study showed that writing about positive feelings and events also had positive health implications. This type of writing has nothing to do with suppressing thoughts and emotions. However, it places your focus on the positive things in life, which bring back the emotional balance.

9. Writing May Be Effective in Reducing Depression Symptoms

James W. Pennebaker was one of the first psychologists to explore the healing power of writing. In the late 1980s, he studied the concept by asking a group of patients to write objective about neutral topics, and another group of patients to write about their deepest feelings and thoughts.

The people who wrote about deep thoughts and emotions made fewer visits to the therapist over the following months. Writing helped to reduce their depression symptoms.

10. Writing May Reduce Your Blood Pressure Levels

An elevated blood pressure is a common sign of stress. Researchers showed that the method of expressive writing helped patients to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

If you’re dealing with high blood pressure and you know it spikes when you get nervous or worried, you should definitely try expressive writing for 15 minutes per day.

Are You Ready to Write?

Fifteen minutes per day is not a lot of time. You have that time to devote to yourself, don’t you? Start expressing your thoughts and feelings. It helps you overcome struggles and understand your emotions better.

But remember: writing does not substitute psychotherapy. If you need to see a therapist, don’t hold back. Writing is just an additional element that helps. A lot!

This article is written by Silvia Woolard: She is a professional writer at UK Best Essays and novice entrepreneur from Phoenix. She also works in a field of popular psychology and marketing. In her free time, she loves to travel around the globe.