Implementation of an Expressive Writing Intervention for Adolescents During Inpatient Psychiatric Hospitalization

Yuko Taniguchi, Mason Schlief, Jered Bright, Sue Simon, Jarrod M. Leffler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Given the high rates of mental health concerns and communication difficulties for adolescents, a treatment intervention to allow for effective expression may be therapeutic. One of the leading writing practices is Pennebaker’s Expressive Writing (EW) intervention. EW involves individuals writing about their feelings and thoughts regarding negative life experiences. Benefits of EW include a reduction of psychological symptoms and doctor visits, and better adjustment. Objective: The objective of this study is to examine the role of using EW and creative writing as a group intervention for youth admitted to an inpatient psychiatric hospital (IPH). Methods: The current study evaluated participant engagement in a 3-day EW activity facilitated by nurses and graduate students on the IPH unit under the supervision of the IPH unit nurse manager and course instructor. Participants included 23 youth between 12-and 18-years-old. Results: Of the 23 participants, 49.69% discussed vivid descriptions of illness, 24.5% discussed negative emotions, 20.25% included casual explanation, 5.52% discussed polarized view, and 16.56% discussed their desires, wishes, and goals. The response rate of clinician’s review of the EW content included 58% of clinician’s coding was on the patient’s current state, 24% was on causal explanations, and 18% was on treatment options. Conclusion: The current EW intervention facilitated by nursing staff and graduate students in an IPH was found to be engaged by participants and provide an additional therapeutic resource to participants. EW may foster patient communication with staff about their functioning, mental health concerns, and treatment needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-37
Number of pages15
JournalAdolescent Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Bentham Science Publishers.


  • Adolescents
  • group therapy
  • implementation
  • inpatient treatment
  • milieu therapy
  • psychiatric care


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