Power of the Written Word

Power of the Written Word


It is one thing to say you wish to do something, and another to actually act upon the wish. Where does writing appear on this spectrum? If you are writing with intention, you are that much closer to acting on your goals. Studies claim that there are both emotional and physical health benefits to expressive writing.

Expressive Writing

Expressive writing does not necessarily include mundane activities that are present in a daily journal. It is an exercise in depth. Instead of writing about neutral topics, such as daily activities, a person needs to search further and go into detail about something that has a profound effect upon him/her.

Early Studies

The first study focuses on college students. The control group wrote about superficial topics while the others wrote about ‘the most traumatic or upsetting experiences’ in their lives. The students who wrote about deeper topics reported fewer days in which they were ill. These findings suggest writing about traumatic experiences contributes to ‘long-term decreases in health problems’ (including alcoholism).


Participants within expressive writing studies showed significant improvement in several respects. Individuals had lower stress, improved functioning, were generally in a more positive mood, and overall showed improvements in general well-being. The contrast between expressive writing participants and those with alcoholic tendencies is significant. Those with alcoholic tendencies tend to go through bouts of depression, are often stressed, and do not perform as well at work or in school.

How Can Writing Help the Rehabilitation Process?

Writing is a therapeutic technique. To make the biggest difference, an individual needs to focus on trouble areas: for example, alcohol use. Studies demonstrated that writing about something traumatic or highly emotional for only fifteen minutes a day can significantly improve general well-being. Recovering alcoholics have a couple of major topics to cover. First, individuals can focus upon life as an alcoholic. They can write about the lowest days in detail. When this topic seems exhausted, it is time to switch gears. Write about current struggles within the rehabilitation process. Please write with as many vivid details as possible. These expressive writing pieces need not be shared with anybody if this is beyond an individual’s comfort level. The simple act of getting these feelings on paper will be therapeutic on its own.