Poetry As Therapy

Poetry As Therapy

“The word therapy comes from the Greek therapeia, meaning to cure through involvement in one of the expressive arts: dance, song, poetry or drama. Poetry as therapy uses the traditional techniques of poetry — rhythm, sound, metaphor, etc. — but the focus is the person writing.”  (from poetrymagic.co.uk/therapy – click on the link above for more information)

I usually provide art materials in my sessions with clients who may be experiencing depression, anxiety, stress, bereavement, relationship difficulties or mental health problems. However it’s not infrequent that a client will bring some writing to the session.  Sometimes this is journal writing, but more often it is poetry.  Poetry enables those experiencing strong emotions to express their anger or sadness in a form of writing that has sound patterns and rhythm.  It’s almost ritualistic in its evocation of the person’s internal world, bringing it to the outer world to be witnessed and acknowledged.  The creation of the piece, the reading of it and the witnessing of it are components of the healing process.Clients also bring poems written by others, and on occasions I have come across a poem that so matches a client’s expression I want to make a copy for them.  Sharing poems with clients, or reading together a found poem brought by a client, is an immensly moving process, and profoundly affects the therapeutic process by offering a ‘third’ viewpoint that acknowledges the client’s emotion, names it and brings the person out of isolation for a moment, for longer or for life.

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