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Journal/Book/Conference Title

Behavior Therapy





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DOI of Original Publication



A definitive version was subsequently published in Behavior Therapy, Volume 45, Issue 3, May 2014, Pages 344–357, doi:10.1016/j.beth.2013.12.006

This research was supported in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Andrea Konig, Alison Eonta, Stephanie R. Dyal, and Scott Vrana, Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University. Alison Eonta is now at Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System and Stephanie R. Dyal is now at University of Southern California.

Date of Submission

February 2015


Writing about a personal stressful event has been found to have psychological and physical health benefits, especially when physiological response increases during writing. Response training was developed to amplify appropriate physiological reactivity in imagery exposure. The present study examined whether response training enhances the benefits of written emotional disclosure. Participants were assigned to either a written emotional disclosure condition (n = 113) or a neutral writing condition (n = 133). Participants in each condition wrote for 20 minutes on three occasions and received response training (n = 79), stimulus training (n = 84) or no training (n = 83). Heart rate and skin conductance were recorded throughout a 10-minute baseline, 20-minute writing, and a 10-minute recovery period. Self-reported emotion was assessed in each session. One month after completing the sessions, participants completed follow-up assessments of psychological and physical health outcomes. Emotional disclosure elicited greater physiological reactivity and self-reported emotion than neutral writing. Response training amplified physiological reactivity to emotional disclosure. Greater heart rate during emotional disclosure was associated with the greatest reductions in event-related distress, depression, and physical illness symptoms at follow-up, especially among response trained participants. Results support an exposure explanation of emotional disclosure effects and are the first to demonstrate that response training facilitates emotional processing and may be a beneficial adjunct to written emotional disclosure.


Copyright © Elsevier Ltd. NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Behavior Therapy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Behavior Therapy, Volume 45, Issue 3, May 2014, Pages 344–357, doi:10.1016/j.beth.2013.12.006

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