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The present study features a psycholinguistic analysis, using Pennebaker’s (1989) emotional disclosure paradigm, of an athlete’s experience in recovering from injury. “GL,” a male athlete rehabilitating from anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, participated in a 9-week testing protocol. A 3-day intervention was used, consisting of three 20-minute writing sessions, which promoted disclosure of negative emotions associated with injury and rehabilitation. In addition, measures of stress, mood disturbance, and self-esteem were administered from pre- to postintervention and at follow-up. Results revealed decreases in stress and mood disturbance, as well as an increase in self-esteem. Analysis of writing samples revealed increased use of linguistic markers indicating affective awareness. Findings also highlighted the importance of emotional disclosure and cognitive integration in reducing stress and enhancing understanding of injury.
The authors are with the School of Sport Science, Exercise, and Health at the University of Western Australia.