Summary:Narrative Expressive Writing (NEW) for Healthcare Providers:
The Narrative Expressive Writing (NEW) is a modified writing intervention based on the principles of Expressive Writing (Pennebaker & Beall, 1986; Pennebaker & Evans, 2014) and Written Exposure Therapy (WET; Sloan & Marx, 2019). Previously both Expressive Writing and WET have been implemented to address maladaptive responses to trauma exposures among a variety of populations. Like these interventions, NEW is based on cognitive theory (Beck, 1976) which suggests that an individuals’ thoughts influence emotions and behaviors. Over time, problematic patterns of thinking and associated emotions and behaviors are reinforced and maintained, resulting in distress. NEW is also based on resilience as a psychological construct that can be learned and specifically addresses cognitive flexibility by challenging cognitive distortions and promoting reappraisal or reframing of the experience (Southwick & Charney).
Individuals participating in NEW respond to a series of five writing prompts that encourage the healthcare provider to identify and write about a single stressful or traumatic experience related to their work, and communicate their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with the event through writing. Healthcare providers receive their prompts over the course of 5 weeks. Responses to prompts are reviewed by a mental health professional, or similarly prepared clinician, trained in NEW, and confidential feedback, in the form of individualized single and double-sided reflections aimed at challenging cognitions, are offered. Healthcare providers then are encouraged to respond to the weekly feedback received in the subsequent week’s writing session. The intervention has been implemented using a HIPAA compliant electronic platform, which has allowed for asynchronous participation; thereby enhancing feasibility.