A structured writing intervention for Mexican American college students with worry related to educational success
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The present study modified an intervention known as the expressive writing paradigm to assess its efficacy in reducing academic worry, general anxiety, and general psychological distress in a sample of Mexican origin college students. Traditionally, the expressive writing paradigm involves having participants write about a topic of concern for 15 consecutive minutes, 3 consecutive days, without attending to details about grammar or punctuation. The aim of the present study was to modify the writing paradigm into a more structured, problem-focused writing intervention and to assess whether this modification would facilitate the reduction of Latino participantsí academic worry and produce a reduction of their overall worry and psychological distress. The expressive writing paradigm was modified by incorporating components of cognitive behavioral therapy, and specifically cognitive restructuring, into the new writing intervention. It was hypothesized that by combining the writing paradigm and cognitive restructuring techniques, the benefits derived from the expressive writing paradigm would likely be enhanced. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions ñ the traditional writing paradigm (TWP) condition, the structured writing intervention (SWI) condition, or to a control group condition. This study also assessed the relation of level of acculturation and traditional Mexican family values on the efficacy of the treatment interventions. Assessments were conducted at pre-treatment, post-treatment, two week follow-up, and one month follow-up. Results indicated that the TWP condition outperformed the SWI condition at post-treatment in reducing overall psychological distress. However, these effects did not last at follow up assessments. Additionally, family value scores served as a moderator of treatment effects. The results of this study highlight the importance of conducting culturally-informed intervention research to assess the validity of the assumption clinicians currently use to guide their treatments. These findings also highlight the importance of focusing on patients' values when formulating treatment interventions. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.