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Experiential Self-Focus Writing as a Facilitator of Processing an Interpersonal Hurt


  • Dr. Daniel W. Russell and Dr. W. Todd Abraham contributed equally to the study. We thank Dr. Chih-Yuan Weng for his valuable comments and we are grateful for Salomon Benzimra's editorial comments.

Please address correspondence to: Kelly Yu-Hsin Liao, Department of Counseling & Family Therapy, University of Missouri – St. Louis, 1 University Blvd., 413 Marillac Hall, St. Louis, MO, 63121. E-mail:



This study examined the effects of experiential self-focus writing on changes in psychological outcomes (i.e., unforgiveness and negative affect) after an interpersonal hurt and the buffering effects of experiential self-focus writing on the association between anger rumination and these psychological outcomes.


A sample of 182 college students who had experienced interpersonal hurt were randomly assigned to either the experiential self-focus writing condition, in which participants wrote about their feelings and experiences related to the hurt, or to a control writing condition in which they wrote about a recent neutral event.


Latent growth curve analyses indicated that changes in unforgiveness over time did not differ between the experiential self-focus writing and the control writing conditions. However, relative to the control writing condition, negative affect decreased faster during writing and increased more slowly at follow-ups in the experiential self-focus writing condition.


The results supported the hypothesis that negative affect resulting from an interpersonal hurt would significantly decrease over time among participants in the experiential self-focus writing group compared with the control group. Implications of experiential self-focus writing for interpersonal hurt and directions for future studies are discussed.