James Pennebaker is a groundbreaking psychologist and researcher who discovered that writing can be therapeutic for relieving stress, coping with anxiety, and coping with trauma. Pennebaker has had many publications which are considered landmark in the argument toward writing being therapeutic. Recently, he, along with researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand were able to find that therapeutic writing relieved symptoms of patients with HIV/AIDS.
The sample size for the study was small, but significant. Patients in the study were actively fighting HIV/AIDS with low counts of CD4 lymphocytes, which helps doctors gauge how these patients’ immune systems are functioning, according to “Writing To Heal” published on the American Psychological Association’s website. Just four 30-minute writing sessions resulted in the CD4 lymphocyte count increasing in these patients. Though the boost in immune system didn’t prove to have longevity, the fact that writing had an effect on the immune system at all is significant. Specifically, the writing sessions focused on negative life experiences.
The immune system is influenced by stress. Stress causes inflammation of the cells, down to a molecular level, which causes inflammation overall. Chronic stress and inflammation result in a weakened immune system. Some of Pennebaker’s other work reveals that writing can relieve stress from trauma and other difficult life experiences. For patients living through the struggle of HIV/AIDS, stress is high, both mentally and physically. Relieving stress means relieving inflammation, which means supporting the body in recovery.
Findings like these apply to men who are in recovery as well. Addiction is stress on the body and the mind. Many men who are in recovery have experienced numerous negative life experiences, addiction being perhaps the least of them. Writing helps men process what they have been through and release some of the feelings they have been holding onto. “Venting emotions alone– whether through writing or talking–is not enough to relieve stress,” the article explains. “To tap writing’s healing power, people must use it to better understand and learn from their emotions…”
Being connected to their emotions is something that men in treatment for addiction likely haven’t been for many years of their life. Writing therapy is a deeply effective therapy approach for men in recovery, helping them to process their feelings, relieve stress of early recovery, and begin to heal their lives from the inside out.
Men at Tree House Recovery in Portland, Oregon are put on a path to freedom from recovery, by creating sustainable changes in their lives. Inspired by innovative evidence based practices, theories, and philosophies, our program helps men create a life without limitations. Call us today for information on our addiction treatment programs: (503) 850-2474