Event Title

Writing and the Broken Child: Expressive Writing as a Coping Strategy for Childhood Trauma

Faculty Mentor

Amy Gerald, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

English

Location

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 221

Start Date

24-4-2015 2:05 PM

Description

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, thousands of children face a traumatic event every day; how they perceive these tragedies can determine their future outcomes. Through psychological studies and personal experience, I will demonstrate in this paper how expressive writing is a positive method for coping with traumatic events. A pioneer of writing therapy, James Pennebaker, reveals that traumatic events that are kept secret will result in more health problems. This is why expressive writing is so successful: it gives people the opportunity to manifest their trauma on paper without having to let others know about their trauma. The writing process makes a child think about his/her traumatic experience and how to grow from trauma. Dr. Pennebaker validates the process of expressive writing; making feelings graspable and turning traumatic experiences into language is what makes expressive writing a positive method in coping with tragedy. When a child experiencing trauma can translate his/her thoughts onto paper, that child can then begin to heal from tragedy. Many psychological studies were performed using expressive writing; the results all showed a minimum of sixty-seven percent improvement in suffering children, both mentally and physically. The creative writing class I teach, for middle school students who have been taken away from their home, reveals a vast improvement in the students’ writing abilities as well as a confidence in themselves. Expressive writing is a social outlet for children; in addition to helping them deal with their current trauma, this technique may help them in the future.

Comments

Presented at the Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium (BigSURS), April 2015

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Apr 24th, 2:05 PM

Writing and the Broken Child: Expressive Writing as a Coping Strategy for Childhood Trauma

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 221

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, thousands of children face a traumatic event every day; how they perceive these tragedies can determine their future outcomes. Through psychological studies and personal experience, I will demonstrate in this paper how expressive writing is a positive method for coping with traumatic events. A pioneer of writing therapy, James Pennebaker, reveals that traumatic events that are kept secret will result in more health problems. This is why expressive writing is so successful: it gives people the opportunity to manifest their trauma on paper without having to let others know about their trauma. The writing process makes a child think about his/her traumatic experience and how to grow from trauma. Dr. Pennebaker validates the process of expressive writing; making feelings graspable and turning traumatic experiences into language is what makes expressive writing a positive method in coping with tragedy. When a child experiencing trauma can translate his/her thoughts onto paper, that child can then begin to heal from tragedy. Many psychological studies were performed using expressive writing; the results all showed a minimum of sixty-seven percent improvement in suffering children, both mentally and physically. The creative writing class I teach, for middle school students who have been taken away from their home, reveals a vast improvement in the students’ writing abilities as well as a confidence in themselves. Expressive writing is a social outlet for children; in addition to helping them deal with their current trauma, this technique may help them in the future.