Online Structured Writing Therapy for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Complicated Grief (2016)

Ruwaard, J. & Lange, A. (2016). Online structured writing therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder and complicated grief. In N. Lindefors and G. Andersson (eds), Guided Internet-Based Treatments in Psychiatry. Switzerland, Springer International Publishing. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-06083-5_7 [ Chapter at publisher’s site ]


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complicated grief are related disorders for which well-described and effective cognitive-behavioural therapeutic procedures exist that are firmly rooted in theoretical work. As a result, several research groups have been able to successfully translate these procedures into e-mental health applications for the prevention, detection and treatment of the disorders. This chapter reviews online structured writing therapy (oSWT), a standardised therapist-guided Internet-based cognitive-behavioural treatment (ICBT) for post-traumatic stress disorder and complicated grief, which can be fully delivered online, without face-to-face contact between the patient and therapist. This protocol integrates three principal elements of trauma-focused therapy: (1) exposure through self-confrontation, (2) cognitive reappraisal and (3) strengthening of social support. A unique characteristic of oSWT is that it implements these three elements through writing assignments. In the past two decades, oSWT has been validated in a series of controlled studies and in routine clinical practice, with positive results. This chapter reviews these efficacy and effectiveness trials, elaborates on the details of the therapeutic procedures of the treatment protocol and identifies future research themes.

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