When people tell their own stories through poems, songs and journals, it provides vital material for the therapeutic process: It deepens their connection to their inner voice, allows cathartic release, greater self-awareness, new insights and fresh hope. I work in the field of poetry therapy, using poems and excerpts of writings to inspire people to respond by writing their own pieces. You might be saying, wait, I’ve heard of poetry, and I’ve heard of therapy, but…poetry therapy? Yes, you read it right: Poetry therapy involves the intentional use of the written and spoken word for healing and personal growth.
People often say, Yeah, I get that writing can be therapeutic, but how does working one-on-one with a poetry therapy facilitator work, and how is it different from, say, me journaling?
What a poetry therapy facilitator like me does is provide inspiration, a safe space, and a process. I bring you poems I’ve hand selected that in some way resonate with your life experiences. But perhaps more importantly, I give you permission to write, I hear you deeply and without judgment, and I support and encourage you through the process.
Below is an example of a process a poetry therapy facilitator might lead a client through, using writing, to resolve an issue present in their life.
Step 1: Be aware of the discomfort.
Be aware throughout your day of moments where some sort of discomfort is triggered inside of you. Practice this skill of awareness of your thoughts and feelings everyday.
Sit down with a piece of paper and remember the moment where you felt the discomfort. Create the scene with words. Where were you? What was happening around you? Who was there? Take yourself back to that moment and describe some details.
Step 3: Let the discomfort speak.
After you have set up the moment in the step before, allow yourself to go into the discomfort and let those feelings speak however they want to come out. There is always some sort of message, belief or negative statement about yourself or the situation that has something to say. Trust yourself and just write it down.
Step 4: Listen for the turnaround.
This is a step of just being open and ready to listen for the higher voice of truth inside of you. This voice is about to say something loving and healing that will release the discomfort, and help you embrace the authentic perspective that is the loving truth of you. This is the opportunity for you to listen for the turnaround- the lesson, the blessings of being able to hear the positive message behind the situation.
Step 5: Write from that higher voice of truth, and conclude the poem with the message of truth you were meant to hear.
Step 6: Celebrate your poem and take ownership of your loving, authentic voice .
Acknowledge yourself for having worked through this process, and recognize what you have learned. Take this tool with you and use it again and again to find the learnings in your discomforts.
This is but one of many processes I use with my clients to help them enhance their self-discoveries and inner healing. Poetry Therapy can be a wonderful tool for parents, professionals and children experiencing homeschooling, special needs and other challenges.