Further examination of the exposure model underlying the efficacy of written emotional disclosure

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2005 Jun;73(3):549-54. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.73.3.549.


In the current study, the authors examined the effects of systematically varying the writing instructions for the written emotional disclosure procedure. College undergraduates with a trauma history and at least moderate posttraumatic stress symptoms were asked to write about (a) the same traumatic experience, (b) different traumatic experiences, or (c) nontraumatic everyday events across 3 written disclosure sessions. Results show that participants who wrote about the same traumatic experience reported significant reductions in psychological and physical symptoms at follow-up assessments compared with other participants. These findings suggest that written emotional disclosure may be most effective when individuals are instructed to write about the same traumatic or stressful event at each writing session, a finding consistent with exposure-based treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Disclosure*
  • Female
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis*
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Saliva / chemistry*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / metabolism*


  • Hydrocortisone