Verbal and non-verbal disclosure of recalled negative experiences: Relation to well-being


5/11 Murrumbeena, Victoria 3163, Australia.


This study investigated the relationship between methods of disclosure of recalled negative experience and well-being. Six first-year undergraduate class groups (N = 100) at an Australian university completed pre- and post-intervention measures of psychological and psychophysical well-being. For the disclosure intervention, three groups wrote, drew, or drew-and-wrote about a recalled negative experience (RNE groups); the three non-disclosure groups wrote, drew, or drew-and-wrote on neutral topics (NT groups). The expectation that disclosure of negative experiences would enhance well-being was partly supported, with writing and drawing-and-writing disclosure groups reporting increased psychological, but not psychophysical, well-being. As predicted, verbal disclosure methods were more effective than non-verbal methods, with the draw-and-write group showing the greatest improvement. Unexpectedly, disclosure via drawing alone was associated with decreased psychological well-being. Against predictions, changes were found in two NT groups: The draw-and-write group reported improved psychological, and the draw group improved psychophysical well-being. It was concluded that verbal disclosure, especially when combined with the non-verbal method of drawing, may enhance psychological well-being, but that drawing, without accompanying verbalization, may decrease psychological well-being. It is suggested that future studies address variables such aslevel of disclosure, content and time of the negative experience, with time taken to manifest changes in well-being, using both subjective and objective indicators.