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J Consult Clin Psychol. 2002 Feb;70(1):169-78.

Does disclosure of emotions facilitate recovery from bereavement? Evidence from two prospective studies.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Utrecht University, Research Institute for Psychology and Health, The Netherlands.


Two longitudinal studies assessed whether disclosure of emotions facilitates recovery from bereavement. Study 1 tested prospectively over a 2-year period whether the extent to which bereaved persons talked about their loss to others and disclosed their emotions was associated with better adjustment to the loss of a marital partner. There was no evidence that disclosure facilitated adjustment. Study 2 randomly assigned recently bereaved individuals either to the Pennebaker writing task (J. W. Pennebaker & S. K. Beall, 1986) or to no-essay control conditions. The writing task did not result in a reduction of distress or of doctors visits either immediately after the bereavement or at a 6-month follow-up. Beneficial effects were not demonstrated for bereaved persons who had suffered an unexpected loss or who at the time of the study still expressed a high need for emotional disclosure.

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