Expression and trauma
Posted by gregdowney on June 3, 2008
Just a brief note. I came across this press release from the UC of Irvine, Expressing feelings after trauma not necessary, research shows, based on work by psychologist Roxane Cohen Silver. As the press release details:
Talking it out has long been considered essential to recovering from a trauma. But new research shows that expressing one’s thoughts and feelings after a traumatic event is not necessary for long-term emotional and physical health, a finding that could change the way institutions devote money and resources to mental health services following collective traumas.
The research looked at the effects of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks and found that ‘individuals who communicated their thoughts and feelings about the attacks reported more physical health problems and emotional distress over time, even after controlling for exposure to and distance from the attacks.’
What I appreciated about the release though is that Silver didn’t feel the need to propose that a uniform therapy form need replace the current orthodoxy. That is, she simply acknowledges that people are different, and that different coping and recovery techniques might work for various people. I found the lack of one-solution-fits-all rhetoric pretty appealing. Certainly, we find in different cultures that people cope in a variety of ways; imposing therapeutic techniques, rather than just creating or offering therapeutic opportunities, often is counterproductive.