Athletes' experiences of expressive writing about sports stressors

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Objectives:This study explored athletes' experiences of expressive writing about competitive sport stressors using standard expressive writing and reversal theory framed writing (Apter, 2001).Design:The study employed a qualitative approach including narrative analysis of expressive writing and semi-structured interviews with athletes.Method:Sixteen athletes were randomly allocated to a standard expressive writing or a reversal theory framed writing group. Both groups completed expressive writing about a stressor using standardised instructions. The reversal theory writing group were instructed on reversal theory states and imagery use to recreate them which they employed to write from different state perspectives in four subsequent sessions. Standard writing group participants completed four sessions following usual expressive writing instructions. Both groups completed a final session following these instructions and were interviewed about expressive writing and their perceptions of the stressor.Results:Key outcomes were: re-evaluation and perspective changes, self development, stressor confrontation, problem solving, emotion management and, future uses of expressive writing.Conclusions:Expressive writing may be a technique that is useful for some athletes and recommendations for its application are made.

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