I sometimes prescribe Focused Expressive Writing (F.E.W.) to my patients with persistent pain who also report of significant life stresses. Before that, I encourage them to speak to their MD if they have not done so; I also encourage them to seek psychological counselling.
I emphasize that I am NOT a psychologist and that this exercise does NOT replace proper psychological counseling. However I also know that the majority of our patients will not seek psychological help for their various life or emotional stresses.
This study of college students looked at the consequences of writing, talking, and thinking about significant events for just 15 min for 3 consecutive days.
Experimental group 1: Students wrote, talked into a tape recorder, or thought privately about their WORST experience
Experimental group 2: Students wrote, talked into a tape recorder, or thought privately about their HAPPIEST experience
Well-being and health measures were administered before the study and after 4 weeks.
Result #1: The participants in group 1 (who processed WORST experiences) through writing or talking reported improved life satisfaction and enhanced mental and physical health relative to those who just thought about it
Result #2: The participants in group 2 (who processed HAPPIEST experiences) through thinking, reported improved life satisfaction and enhanced mental and physical health relative to those who wrote or talked about it.
Clinical relevance #1: Take 15 minutes a day to write down your unhappy life moments in order to reduce the time you spend thinking about them.
Clinical relevance #2: Take just 15 minutes a day to just think about your happy life moments.
The Pain Truth Program recommends:
- i) Brain visualization (BV6) for experiencing pleasurable thoughts
You may try the BV6-minute guided audio and see if you like it.
- ii) Focused expressive writing (F.E.W.) to help deal with life stresses that may be contributing to pain
iii) See a mental health professional such as psychotherapist, a psychologist or psychiatrist if these exercises are ineffective