The use of a contextual writing intervention to reduce restrictive emotional, experiential avoidance, and psychological distress in men
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This report examines the masculine gender norm of restrictive emotionality, in terms of its effects on mental health and its theoretical relationship to experiential avoidance. This norm has rarely been examined in the context of emotion research despite its similarity to experiential avoidance and emotion dysregulation constructs such as expressive suppression. After reviewing the psychological impact of restrictive emotionality, as well as how it may relate to other maladaptive processes, the report proposes an intervention to reduce adherence to this gender norm. Because traditionally masculine men are often averse to psychotherapy, a writing intervention is hypothesized to benefit this population. Specifically, a guided writing based in contextual reappraisal is posited to help men reduce psychological distress by reducing levels of restrictive emotionality and experiential avoidance. Contextual reappraisal is thought to help increase acceptance of one’s emotions, thus reducing the need to avoid or restrict emotional expression. A writing contextual writing intervention could benefit emotionally restrictive men by encouraging a non-evaluative stance toward vulnerable emotions while offering a private, non-threatening outlet for expression.