Journaling for self-care and coping in mothers of troubled children in the community

Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2020 Apr;34(2):50-57. doi: 10.1016/j.apnu.2020.02.005. Epub 2020 Feb 10.


Aim: This mixed method research explored the benefits of a six-week diary writing intervention, and the coping strategies utilized in a sample of affected mothers who have teenagers or adult children with emotional and/or behavioral issues.

Methods: Participants were assigned to write either a best possible self or a gratitude journal, and asked to make entries at least three times per week for six weeks. A snowball sample of 34 mothers completed the six-week journal and post-test.

Results: The findings of paired t-tests indicated statistically significant increases in optimism and gratitude levels after completing the writing intervention. The mothers commonly used coping methods for parental distress were emotion-and meaning-focused coping. The three themes of journal writing experience were positive thinking, emotional well-being, and mental health self-care.

Conclusion: The current study suggests that implementing a positive writing intervention is a practical means of promoting psychological well-being as a self-care strategy for this population.

Keywords: Best possible self; Emotional well-being; Gratitude; Journaling; Mental health self-care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Diaries as Topic*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Problem Behavior*
  • Self Care*