A preliminary test of the therapeutic potential of written exposure with rescripting for generalized anxiety disorder Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • This experiment tested a novel written exposure intervention for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) that consisted of guided rescripting of participants’ worst fear. After describing their worst fear, adults with GAD ( N = 79) were randomly assigned to one of three writing interventions, each consisting of three sessions on consecutive days: (1) standard written exposure (WE), (2) written exposure with rescripting (RWE), and (3) neutral control writing (NC). Measures of symptoms and worry-associated processes were administered at pre- and post-intervention, and at 1-week and 1-month follow-ups. Worry declined significantly in all three conditions. Participants in WE reported significant reductions in fear of anxiety, whereas those in RWE reported significant reductions in fear of anger. Participants in RWE and NC reported a significant decrease in fear of positive emotion. Following RWE, participants perceived their feared scenario as less costly and perceived themselves as better able to cope with it, whereas participants in the WE and NC did not show these changes. Cognitive avoidance, intolerance of uncertainty, and negative problem orientation did not change. Findings suggest overall, RWE was not superior to WE, and that more research is needed to assess their therapeutic potential. Strengths and limitations are discussed for the benefit of future research on exposure for GAD.

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publication date

  • April 1, 2019