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June 15, 2015

HealthForumOnline Adds New Online Course on Expressive Writing Therapy for Treating Stress and Trauma

HealthForumOnline (HFO) adds a new online continuing education (CE) course, Expressive Writing to Promote Resilience to Stressful and Traumatic Life Events, to their library of over 100 online CE courses for mental health professionals and allied healthcare providers. This course introduces mental health professionals to expressive writing therapy and informs them about its implementation and evidence-based clinical applications to enhance mental and physical health.

Expressive writing is a cost-effective, efficient and simple clinical tool that has been used extensively as either a stand-alone intervention or means of augmenting existing therapies to facilitate coping with acute or chronic stressors (e.g., 1). HealthForumOnline (HFO), a nationally-approved (APA, ASWB, NBCC) provider of convenient, cost-effective online continuing education (CE) for counselors, psychologists, social workers and allied healthcare providers is pleased to announce a new and timely CE course entitled, Expressive Writing to Promote Resilience to Stressful and Traumatic Life Events, to its extensive library of online CE courses for mental health professionals.

The Expressive writing technique basically involves the patient writing in detail about their deepest thoughts and feelings surrounding a traumatic, stressful, or otherwise negative experience (e.g., relationship discord, exposure to trauma/loss, health-related stressors; 2-4). The majority of individuals report that they find expressive writing to be a valuable and meaningful therapeutic experience with a number of associated beneficial psychological outcomes such as reduced anxiety and increased emotional resilience (e.g., 4). Moreover, its benefits extend beyond the psychological to include desired physiological outcomes (e.g., reduced blood pressure, 5); enhanced immune function, 6; improved cardiovascular reactivity, 7). Indeed, the applications of expressive writing therapy in the clinical context, used exclusively or in tandem, are many.

Importantly, evidence suggests that emotional disclosure writing homework, in conjunction with outpatient psychotherapy, improves therapeutic process and outcomes (8). Further, the therapeutic benefits of expressive writing can be achieved even if the traumatic experience that is the subject of the writing is not directly related to primary therapeutic objectives (e.g., not writing about cancer in a treatment to reduce cancer-related anxiety). In this way, the technique promotes patient involvement and autonomy in the therapeutic process while also facilitating and modeling a climate of shared decision-making; which may in turn enhance the therapeutic alliance. Thus, expressive writing therapy may be a cost-effective addition to existing clinical treatment approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (1), acceptance and commitment therapy (9) and other clinical protocols.

This online course is designed to introduce mental health professionals to expressive writing therapy and inform them about its implementation and evidence-based clinical applications. Specifically, the course will present a theoretical foundation for expressive writing, as well as outline its potential clinical applications. A detailed description of expressive writing therapy protocols, as well as recommendations for implementing expressive writing interventions in a clinical therapy context, are provided. Finally, clinical considerations associated with expressive writing therapy are presented, including contraindications.

Mental health professionals can chose from HFO's 20 categories of continuing education (CE) topics related to psychology and behavioral medicine, including other CE courses related to promoting patient safety and reducing violence in our Domestic/Partner Violence Category. For a complete listing of our convenient and cost-effective online CE courses, visit http://www.healthforumonline.com/Our-Courses/16/.

  1. Dirkse D., et al. (2015). Linguistic analysis of communication in therapist-assisted internet-delivered cognitive behavior therapy for generalized anxiety disorder. Cognitive Behaviour Therarpy, 44(1), 21-32.
  2. Lepore, S. J., & Smyth, J. M. (2002). The writing cure: How expressive writing promotes health and emotional well-being. American Psychological Association.
  3. Pennebaker, J.W., & Chung, C.K. (2011). Expressive writing: Connections to physical and mental health. Oxford Handbook of Health Psychology, 417-437.
  4. Pennebaker, J.W., & Chung, C.K. (2007). Expressive writing, emotional upheavals, and health. Foundations of Health Psychology, 263-284.
  5. Davidson, K., et al. (2002). Expressive writing and blood pressure. In: Lepore, Stephen J. (Ed); Smyth, Joshua M. (Ed), (2002). The writing cure: How expressive writing promotes health and emotional well-being (pp. 17-30). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.
  6. Esterling, B., et al. (1994). Emotional disclosure through writing or speaking modulates Epstein-Barr virus antibody titers. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 10, 334-350.
  7. Lepore, S.J., et al. (2002). Expressive writing and health: Self-regulation of emotion-related experience, physiology, and behavior.
  8. Graf, M.C., et al. (2008). Written emotional disclosure: A controlled study of the benefits of expressive writing homework in outpatient psychotherapy. Psychotherapy Research, 18(4), 389-399.
  9. Toussaint, L., et al. (2014). Restore: the journey toward self-forgiveness: a randomized trial of patient education on self-forgiveness in cancer patients and caregivers. Journal of Health Care Chaplain, 20(2), 54-74.