The effects of writing about traumatic experiences on adolescents identified as emotionally disturbed (ED)




Evans, Catherine M. Garno

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Texas Woman's University


The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of writing about traumatic experiences on adolescents identified as Emotionally Disturbed (ED). Adolescents identified as ED (N = 48) were randomly assigned to an experimental writing condition or a writing control condition. An additional group of subjects served as non writing controls. Participants in the experimental writing group and writing control groups wrote for 3 0 minutes on two separate occasions. Similar to the Pennebaker and Beall (1986) study, the adolescents in the experimental group wrote about their deepest emotions and thoughts and about the events in their lives that :were most upsetting to them. Participants in the writing control group wrote about superficial topics, such as what they did since waking that morning. Participants in the nonwriting control group did not engage in a writing task. Number of absences from school and overall grade point average were collected for each participant as pretest and posttest measures. All subjects completed the Behavior Assessment System for Children Self-Report ofPersonality (BASC-SRP) at the conclusion ofthe study. Multivariate Analyses of Variance (MANOVAs) examined the relationships between the overall BASC score, absences, and grade point average and the writing condition. A MANOV A on the posttest scores did not indicate statistically significant differences between the groups. A MANOVA on the difference scores from the pretest to posttest did not reveal significant differences concerning grades and absences. These findings suggest that the experimental writing treatment did not have an effect on the dependent measures. Results were discussed in terms of evaluating the effectiveness of the writing intervention and the necessity for future studies to address the psychotherapeutic needs of ED adolescents.



Graphotherapy, Physic trauma, Teenagers--Mental health, Adolescent psychiatry, Mentally ill children