Many people carry around unresolved feelings and thoughts tied to difficult experiences, with no idea what to do with them. When left unattended for too long, these pent up feelings can lead to a variety of physical and mental health issues—sleep problems, depression, and even physical illness. Therapy can help, but it’s not always available for various reasons. Fortunately, long-time researchers and writers James Pennebaker and Joshua Smyth have developed ‘expressive writing’ as an innovative approach for expressing one’s emotions and achieving better health and wellness. They sat down with psychologist Eugenio Duarte to discuss various expressive writing strategies anyone can use as well as the research that backs up their methods. They’re all contained in their new book, Opening up by writing it down: How expressive writing improves health and eases emotional pain (3rd edition; Guilford Press 2016).
James Pennebaker, the originator of expressive writing, is Regents Centennial Professor of Psychology at University of Texas at Austin, and a long-time researcher and writer on the links between expressive writing and physical and mental health. Joshua Smyth is Professor of Biobehavioral Health and of Medicine at Pennsylvania State University, and also an active researcher into expressive writing and other means for promoting health and well-being.
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