The therapeutic value of adolescents’ blogging about social–emotional difficulties by Meyran Boniel-Nissim & Azy Barak

I’ve blogged about the use of the Internet to obtain information on mental health issues by teens with an unfavorable opinion. I continue to find it potentially dangerous for adolescents to publish diaries on the Internet even though short-term support can easily be found. It is all to easy to find information on mental illnesses and particularly people who believe they have multiple personalities. Usually, when someone publishes a blog or post in a forum claiming to be a teen questioning whether they have multiple personalities, they are flooded with supportive and caring opinions in favor of their questions. There is rarely anyone who takes the time to challenge what the teen is asking about.

Maybe the researchers below, favoring the use of the Internet for journaling as a practical therapeutic endeavor, will create new clients after adolescents learn that publishing personal thoughts and feelings for the world to read is not a good idea. Commiserating with people who believe they have multiple personalities is a sure way to develop them, in many cases.

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The therapeutic value of adolescents’ blogging about social–emotional difficulties.

Boniel-Nissim, Meyran; Barak, Azy

Psychological Services, Dec 12, 2011, doi: 10.1037/a0026664

Abstract

Research shows that writing a personal diary is a valuable therapeutic means for relieving emotional distress and promoting well-being, and that diary writing during adolescence helps in coping with developmental challenges.

Current technologies and cultural trends make it possible and normative to publish personal diaries on the Internet through blogs—interactive, online forms of the traditional personal diary. We examined the therapeutic value of blogging for adolescents who experience social–emotional difficulties.

The field experiment included randomly assigned adolescents, preassessed as having social–emotional difficulties, to 6 groups (26–28 participants in each): Four groups were assigned to blogging (writing about their difficulties or free writing; either open or closed to responses), a group assigned to writing a diary on personal computers, and a no-treatment control group. Participants in the 5 writing groups were instructed to post messages at least twice a week over 10 weeks. Outcome measures included scales of social–emotional difficulties and self-esteem, a social activities checklist, and textual analyses of participants’ posts. Measurement took place at pre- and postintervention and at follow-up 2 months later.

Results showed that participants maintaining a blog significantly improved on all measures. Participants writing about their difficulties in blogs open to responses gained the most. These results were consistent in the follow-up evaluation. ( (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved)

* formatting and bold type by blogger

updated 04-11-15

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The therapeutic value of adolescents’ blogging about social–emotional difficulties by Meyran Boniel-nissim & Azy Barak by Jeanette Bartha is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.mentalhealthmatters2.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.mentalhealthmatters2.wordpress.com.

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3 Comments

  1. Michael

     /  02/05/2012

    Different things work for different people. The fact that we are all individuals makes it impossible to come up with blanket solutions to emotional health issues. If it works, then it is great. If it doesn’t work, then we need to find something else to help.

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    • Hello Michael. thanks for your statement. It is rather generic though.

      How do you quantify if a treatment works? What do you do with a patient who was previously harmed by a particular therapy? Just askin’

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  2. K

     /  12/24/2011

    I think blogging can be a good idea… as long as people understand how much is too much. For example, if you need emotional support and are posting to a community you know to be friendly, that might be helpful since it allows one to obtain advice. But considering how entirely possible it is for future employers or relatives to locate blogs, it does carry a bit of a risk.

    As for blogging specifically for help with a mental illness, I do see the mixed effects here. After all, if someone doesn’t personally know anyone with their particular disorder(s) in their community, it could be great for them to find support. However, they would have to be careful to avoid learning to use said disorder as a way to fit in, or as a crutch. And again, they would need to refrain from making their private information easily accesable.

    As for blogging about DID, I actually view that as a good way to raise awareness. After all, there are obviously still people out there who refuse to believe it exists.
    There are, despite your claims, many people with DID out there who will only accept that another has DID after a long period of scrutinity. Those with DID were abused, after all. Many of them will not simply accept what they are told. If someone asks them if their symptons indicate DID, the common answer is that it may or may not, but they shouldn’t be sure either way without the help of a psychiatrist.
    But then, I do try to limit my online social interaction to more trusted sites. I can’t say for sure that that is how it always works, and I’m sure some areas are known for a more automatically encouraging response.

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