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Emotional disclosure through writing and drawing: A controlled trial on emotion regulation, coping, and subjective well-being outcomes


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Amorous, L 2012 , 'Emotional disclosure through writing and drawing: A controlled trial on emotion regulation, coping, and subjective well-being outcomes', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Regulating emotions is important for a number of adaptive outcomes such as
satisfaction with life and coping. Research has demonstrated that the inability regulate
emotions can impact on health, psychological conditions, social functioning, and can
increase the use of maladaptive coping strategies. Therefore, strategies that facilitate
emotion regulation become imperative to well-being and coping outcomes. Recent
studies have investigated the efficacy of emotional disclosure writing as an emotion
regulation technique and found effects such as increased life satisfaction, improved
interpersonal relationships, and improved coping. The purpose of this study was to
determine if emotional disclosure through drawing would have an effect on emotion
regulation, well-being, and coping similar to the effects of emotional disclosure
writing, as this would enable illiterate or hard-to-reach at-risk populations to benefit
from the effects of emotional disclosure. The study used a community sample (N =
115) in a controlled trial design with five experimental conditions; emotional
disclosure writing (EDW; n = 29), emotional disclosure drawing (EDD; n = 22)
placebo writing (PDW; n = 18), placebo drawing (PDD; n = 16), and control (n = 30).
Emotional disclosure participants drew or wrote about their emotions for 30-60
minutes once a week for 4-weeks, placebo groups focused on the contents of their
wardrobe. Participants in the writing and drawing conditions filled in PANAS-X
questionnaires prior and after their weekly sessions. Outcomes were measured prior to
and 6-months post disclosure. Data were analyzed using Repeated Measures Analyses
of Variance to evaluate within and between group differences. There were significant
effects on the COPE subscales of Positive Reinterpretation and Growth (F(4, 81) = 3.13, p < .05), Mental Disengagement (F(4, 81) = 3.23, p < .05), and Active Coping
(F(4, 81) = 6.16, p <. 001), Religious Coping (F(4, 80) = 3.11, p < .05), Restraint (F(4,
81) = 4.60, p < .05), Substance Use (F(4, 81) = 4.19, p < .01), Planning (F(4, 81) =
7.72, p < .01), and the OQ-45 interpersonal relations scale (F(4, 81) = 2.56, p < .05).
In these analyses, participants in the disclosure groups outperformed those in placebo
or control. Furthermore, the EDD group reported greater increases in adaptive coping
strategies and greater decreases in maladaptive coping strategies compared to the
EDW group. No effects were found for satisfaction with life. The PANAS-X analyses
showed a group effect on positive affect (F(3,82) = 3.13, p < .05), with significantly
larger increases for the EDD group. There was also a time*group interaction on
negative affect (F(9,252) = 2.26, p < .05) suggesting significant increases in negative
affect in EDW, whilst the EDD group decreased. In summary, this suggests that EDW
and EDD differentially affect emotion regulation and coping. This has implications for
the application of emotion regulation techniques.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Amorous, L
Keywords: emotional disclosure writing, coping, drawing, emotional regulation, subjective well-being
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