Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Jerricah Holder Spriggs
Submitted: June 2015
Literature review: This systematic review explored the existing research literature concerning the effectiveness of expressive writing interventions for children and young people. The review found that the expressive writing intervention was associated with a range of psychological and health benefits for studies that involved participants of secondary-or college-age. However, the research regarding the effectiveness of expressive writing interventions with primary-aged participants was less consistent. Analysis of the key features of the studies included in the review revealed that the discrepancy in findings could be due to the age differences of participants and the ability of the child to create the type of narrative associated with the well-being outcomes (i.e. a coherent, cohesive and emotionally disclosing narrative; Reynolds, Brewin & Saxton, 2000). It was therefore suggested that younger children may be better supported through more guided expressive writing interventions, such as therapeutic story writing (Waters, 2004), in which the child receives support from an adult to create more causal-explanatory and emotionally disclosing narratives (Fivush & Sales, 2006).
Empirical paper: Researchers have suggested that anxious children may underperform at school because their worrisome thoughts reduce the capacity of their verbal working memory (Eysenck et al., 2007; Hadwin et al., 2005; Ng & Lee, 2010). It was therefore hypothesised that anxious children may benefit from interventions, such as therapeutic story writing (Waters, 2008), that provide the child with the opportunity to discuss their worries in a manner that reduces anxiety. A total of 26 participants, all experiencing anxious affect that was above the average range (T score > 50), took part in the study (7 females and 19 males, M= 10 years 2 months). A mixed measures design was conducted and the results suggested that the therapeutic story writing intervention was associated with a significant reduction in child-rated anxiety and a trend for an increase in verbal working memory capacity, but not an increase in reading or writing attainment when compared to the control group.