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Expressive writing intervention promotes resilience among juvenile justice-involved youth


  • Greenbaum, Chloe A.
  • Javdani, Shabnam


Youth involved in child welfare and juvenile justice systems suffer from alarmingly high rates of mental health challenges. In particular, exposure to trauma (e.g., maltreatment) is one critical experience that amplifies their risk for delinquency and recidivism. Despite a profound need to address these youth's mental health needs, there is a paucity of trauma-informed and youth-centered treatments that are clinically feasible in under-resourced residential settings (e.g., juvenile detention facilities). In response to this gap, our research team collaborated with the juvenile justice subsection of a large American city's child welfare system with the goal of creating an intervention tailored to the needs of underserved system-involved youth. The resultant program, WRITE ON (Writing and Reflecting on Identity To Empower Ourselves as Narrators), leverages research on the therapeutic benefits of expressive writing to implement a brief, cost-effective intervention in youth residential settings. This paper describes intervention development and presents findings from the pilot study, which comprised a multisite experimental evaluation of youth (N=53) residing in short-term detention facilities. This pilot study aimed to: 1) assess intervention implementation fidelity, including participant satisfaction, and 2) evaluate the mental health outcomes of youth receiving WRITE ON as compared to those in a comparison support group (CSG). Results indicated that the intervention was delivered with good fidelity, participants reported high levels of satisfaction, and WRITE ON participants exhibited significant (p<0.01) gains in resilience compared to their counterparts in the CSG. Collectively, results suggest that a larger clinical trial investigating the effectiveness of WRITE ON with system-involved youth is warranted.

Suggested Citation

  • Greenbaum, Chloe A. & Javdani, Shabnam, 2017. "Expressive writing intervention promotes resilience among juvenile justice-involved youth," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 220-229.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:73:y:2017:i:c:p:220-229
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2016.11.034

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Burke, Jeffrey D. & Mulvey, Edward P. & Schubert, Carol A. & Garbin, Sara R., 2014. "The challenge and opportunity of parental involvement in juvenile justice services," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 39-47.
    2. Chuang, Emmeline & Wells, Rebecca, 2010. "The role of inter-agency collaboration in facilitating receipt of behavioral health services for youth involved with child welfare and juvenile justice," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(12), pages 1814-1822, December.
    3. Ryan, Joseph P. & Herz, Denise & Hernandez, Pedro M. & Marshall, Jane Marie, 2007. "Maltreatment and delinquency: Investigating child welfare bias in juvenile justice processing," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(8), pages 1035-1050, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Giordano, F. & Ragnoli, F. & Brajda Bruno, F. & Boerchi, D., 2019. "Testing Assisted Resilience Approach Therapy (ARAT) with children victims of violence," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 286-293.
    2. Lou, Yunfei & Taylor, Emily P. & Di Folco, Simona, 2018. "Resilience and resilience factors in children in residential care: A systematic review," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 83-92.


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