Can psychotherapy reduce the incidence of health problems? A general model of psychosomatics assumes that inhibiting or holding back one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is associated with long-term stress and disease. Actively confronting upsetting experiences—through writing or talking—is hypothesized to reduce the negative effects of inhibition. Fifty healthy undergraduates were assigned to write about either traumatic experiences or superficial topics for 4 consecutive days. Two measures of cellular immune-system function and health center visits suggested that confronting traumatic experiences was physically beneficial. The implications for psychotherapy as a preventive treatment for health problems are discussed.
Pennebaker, J. W., Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., & Glaser, R. (1988). Disclosure of traumas and immune function: health implications for psychotherapy. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 56(2), 239.