Self-writing as a tool for change: the effectiveness of a psychotherapy using diary

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Elena Faccio *
Francesca Turco
Antonio Iudici
(*) Corresponding Author:
Elena Faccio | elena.faccio@unipd.it

Abstract

There is an abundance of literature investigating the relationship between self-writing and well-being in cases of trauma or life-changing events, but no such research has assessed the value of keeping a daily diary in promoting small changes, describing an individual’s identity in its slow, but realistic evolution. This study examined how the use of diary as a narration tool contributed to improving a patient’s awareness of his personal emotions and feelings during a course of psychotherapy. It investigated the changes occurring in the prevailing writing style of a 200-page diary written by a patient suffering from hypochondria over a period of two and a half years. Sentences relating to the need for change, to the self, to suffering and to the function attributed to the self-writing activity were analyzed on the basis of specific criteria deriving from dialogical self theory, which conceptualizes ways to adopt new identity positions during the course of change. Respondent validation identified a good correspondence between the findings of the textual analysis and the writer’s own point of view. Results showed an improvement in awareness of moods and feelings. Identity positions became more integrated and writing more enjoyable. These findings demonstrate the potential of innovative use of diary writing as a longitudinal tool for consolidating strategies for change and as an additional means for assessing psychotherapy efficacy. Writing a diary proved effective both in supporting the patient’s personal reflections and changes and in making it easier for him to share his thoughts with the therapist.


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