Improving a Writer’s Self-Esteem after PTSD

Here is a sample of my proposal:


Writing is no stranger to therapy because it is considered an essential outlet for a healthy mental and emotional well-being. For years, practitioners in the mental health field (psychologists, behavioral therapist, cognitive- behavior specialist) have used logs, questionnaires, journals and other writing forms to help people write about stressful experiences or emotionally charged issues from stresses and/or traumas. One form of writing therapy in particular is expressive writing therapy.

 Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition, the word express means to represent in words, to make known the opinions or feelings of (oneself), to give or convey a true impression of, and to subject to pressure so as to extract something. As its name suggests, expressive writing, basically involves you (the writer) to pour your heart and mind into words, without worrying about spelling, punctuation, grammar and other writing mechanics. It can be a powerful way to enhance the inner being.

This therapeutic form is becoming more successful as a coping method for patients diagnosed with PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety and mental health disorder that may develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. Exposure to these traumatic events may be direct, witnessed, indirect and/or repeated or extreme indirect. More than 90% of adults in the U.S. have been exposed to at least one of these kinds of events in their lifetime. In addition, many people may experience other types of highly distressing events that can result in post traumatic stress symptoms.

Professionals in the mental health field may refer to expressive writing in the format of journaling. The term journal comes from a French word that means to journey or travel. A patient becomes a writer on his/her personal journey while maintaining a  written record of his/her inner experiences in life.  It’s normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after a traumatic event. At first, it may be hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about. Expressive journaling/writing helps people to better cope with the symptoms of PTSD (such as anxiety and anger) because the physical action can make a difference in reducing body tension and restoring focus. 


Article # 1- A Postmodern Journey on Learning about Autoethnography


Sarah Wall’s article An Autoethnography on Learning About Autoethnography, focuses on a more possible progressive approach to qualitative research that permits the writer/researcher to connect and personalize their study based on personal experience to cultural , in addition to a nontraditional means of defining the study’s inquiry and the writer/researchers expression. Although this article is about autoethnography, Wall’s unique direction in her study helps her to recognize her own voice and  self within her writing and not to mention other’s works. Through her thorough readings of fellow autoethnographers on their individual journey, Wall acknowledges her questions, concerns and/or curiosities are probably shared with many people. 

Thoughts:   Surprisingly, I actually liked this article because it was easy to relate. Like Wall mentioned, yes the article is about autoethnography but it focuses more on self, voice, experience and challenging the genre of inquiry. Basically she is a part of her research. I appreciate the inclusion of Pelias, Duncan, Holt, Muncey and Sparkes. None of these writers have anything in common except for the theme of autoethnography. The way they chose to relate in such a humanistic manner; as if, life isn’t all about their research. It’s humorous how well the stories are similar yet different.

Work Cited:

Wall, Sarah. “An Autoethnography on Learning About Autoethnography.” International Institute   for Qualitative Methodology (IIQM): University of Alberta (2006).




Question: What effects, if any, does expressive writing have on a creative writer’s self-esteem after PTSD?




This research requires the use of the empirical evidence in association to the mixed method approach. The key variables of the study are


Empirical/ Qualitative –


Although talking may not resolve trauma entirely, it is used as an addition in my study as a minor collaborative option in constructing a framework to understand observable written phenomena and realities. Basically, the talk helps me, recognize and understand some feelings or thoughts when writing.

Weekly prompts/guides, Plutchik’s emotional word wheel is required for expressive writing. Every week is broken down with a routine for encouragement.Each section includes time for writing.

 Example Week 1- 4 days 15-20 min starts Tuesday


  • Personal Observation: Describe myself (strengths/weakness, likes/dislikes, hobbies,) 


Include in a journal- date, time (start & end) and emotional words= mood (frustrated, excited, depressed, loved) (PLutchik, 2002)


  • Interview: Weekly therapy discussion (W) & self-esteem questionnaire- involves asking questions, listening and recording answers
  • Focus Group Discussion: Weekly RWJ Family Medicine Group for Mindful Coping (TH)- focused and interactive small group session to have a chance to talk, share and provide diverse opinions. Coping Skills take home manual (Linehan, 2015)


The results of these various positive interactions encourage me to open up more. Even if negative thoughts arise, positive reinforcement is shared and/or referred to manual. 

  • Test:

I will be given weekly validity tests/questionnaires. This is done prior to the subject’s expressive writing.

The scale below is a sample of a self-esteem test I’ve previously taken. These sort of questions are most widely used to measure self-esteem/depression/anxiety. My tests usually include a little bit more about the relationship between self-esteem and life outcomes. Each section has a number to calculate at the end.


That’s just a peek into my work. Hope it wasn’t too confusing but didn’t want to share all.

Thank you