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Abstract

Support exists in many populations for the use of written disclosure to express thoughts and emotions about a traumatic experience. The present study examined language use in a variation of the writing task modified to include an imagined dialogue with another person. We hypothesized that this method would increase cognitive, affective, and present-tense word use, all of which are linked with beneficial outcomes from writing. We randomly assigned 169 college students to write in one of three conditions: trauma narrative, trauma dialogue, or control writing. Results suggested that writing about traumatic experiences in the form of a dialogue promotes greater present-oriented, affective experiencing and cognitive processing than does writing in the form of a narrative.