Journaling May Not Help Negative Emotions Regarding Separation, Agrees Denver Divorce Attorney
Denver, CO (Law Firm Newswire) December 21, 2012 - Journaling and otherwise ruminating on the emotions surrounding separation or divorce may not be helpful.
According to a recent study released by the Association for Psychological Science (APS), an individual who maintains a journal into which they record their feelings and turmoil during and after a separation, or divorce can feel just as badly months later. The researchers discovered that writing down feelings can often fix into place a sense of emotional distress.
The APS researchers set out to evaluate the psychological effects of what they call "narrative expressive" journaling to see if newly single people gained some benefit, compared to those who did not journal or who did not include in their journal any log of their shifting emotional state. "Narrative expressive" writing follows a traditional story format -- a beginning, middle and end.
The study followed 90 people who were recently separated or divorced. Participants wrote in their journals for 20 minutes each day for an average of three days, half noting their feelings and attempting to process what happened in the marriage and why it failed, while the other half of participants only noted daily activities and avoided emotional content. Researchers assessed the journalists' emotional state eight months later. Their study results found that the expressive writing seemed to slow down or halt emotional recovery, while less emotional writing seemed to not have the same effect.
"Journaling and working out one's feelings can be helpful during a variety of life changes," stated Denver divorce attorney Bill Thode. "In this case, it seems to not be the recommended treatment for working on lingering emotional issues around divorce."
How can expressive writing have a negative impact on emotional healing? Researchers suspect that the mulling over of details and recording of fluctuating emotional states may actually support brooding, self-blame and other negative feelings. The recording of issues may in some ways block the participants from "moving on" and keep the focus on negative emotions. That seems to be especially the case for the subjects identified as "high ruminators," the researchers say, people for whom brooding and answer-seeking are common.
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