Expressive writing generally helps adolescents with adjusting to life and school. However, there are times where it really does help (and can sometimes hurt).
IT IS GOOD WHEN:
1. Adolescents are not showing up and performing in class. It can help them feel more safe, understood, and supported by others, and realize they have value themselves, allowing them to be more engaged.
2. Adolescents are feeling unaccepted by their peers. It may be the case they are objectively bullied, but there are also times where we just perceive others don’t like them. Either way, writing will help figure this out and feel more accepted.
3. Adolescents are having physical/bodily symptoms. They are likely stressed and that stress is affecting their body. Trying writing to ease these symptoms.
IT IS NOT GOOD WHEN:
1. It may not help them feel like they are coping better with situations (even if they might actually be through writing). Monitor how they feel when writing!
2. Teens may not actually be able to improve their grades with this. They still need to sit, learn the material, and study.
3. If they are already feeling good about school, don’t force them to write. It might actually bring them to a more negative place!
Citation: Travagin, G., Margola, D., & Revenson, T. A. (2015). How effective are expressive writing interventions for adolescents? A meta-analytic review. Clinical psychology review, 36, 42-55.