AN EXPRESSIVE WRITING INTERVENTION TO COPE WITH LESBIAN-RELATED STRESS: THE MODERATING EFFECTS OF OPENNESS ABOUT SEXUAL ORIENTATION

Authors


  • Robin J. Lewis, Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University; Valerian J. Derlega, Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University; Eva G. Clarke, Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University; Jenny C. Kuang, Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University; Andrew M. Jacobs, Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology; Michelle D. McElligott, Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology.

  • This research was supported by a 2002 Wayne F. Placek Award from the American Psychological Foundation to Robin J. Lewis and Valerian J. Derlega. Portions of this research were presented at the American Psychological Association meeting in 2004 in Honolulu.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Robin J. Lewis, Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529-0267. E-mail: rlewis@odu.edu

Abstract

Over the past two decades, expressive writing interventions have been used successfully to reduce distress and improve well-being for those dealing with traumatic events, stressors, and illnesses. The purpose of this study was to investigate an expressive writing intervention for lesbian-related stressors. As expected, writing about traumatic events related to sexual orientation reduced self-reported confusion and perceived stress over a 2-month period for those lesbians who were less open about their sexual orientation. Interestingly, writing about such traumatic experiences was associated with increases in confusion and perceived stress for those who were more open about their sexual orientation. Applying this paradigm to assist individuals in coping with stressors related to their sexual orientation represents an important addition to the expressive writing literature. Furthermore, it offers a promising, cost-effective method to assist closeted lesbians in coping with stressors related to their sexual orientation.

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