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A naturalistic study of narrative: Exploring the choice and impact of adversity versus other narrative topics
Year Published: 2016
Psychological Trauma: Theory Research Practice and Policy
American Psychological Association
Many narrative interventions ask individuals to write about trauma and adverse experiences, but some studies suggest that open-ended topic prompts can also be effective. These authors investigated the topics participants chose to write about in a values-narrative program that offered wide discretion in topic and theme, and explored how their choices were associated with perceptions of investment and impact. The sample consisted of 717 people from the rural South who had participated in a values-narrative program. Forty-four percent of the narratives focused on an adverse experience, 37 percent were other personal stories, and only 19 percent were about impersonal topics. Participants who had more exposure to family or peer victimization were more likely to write about adversity. Participants who wrote about adversity and shared their narratives with others reported more positive and fewer negative impacts. The authors conclude with lessons for introducing a narrative exercise. Modified Author Abstract.