Therapeutic use of poetry
Poetry therapy aims to promote emotional healing and personal growth by interacting with poetry and other literature. These interactions are ‘receptive’ which means reading existing poetry and discussing emotional reactions and responses to the material; or ‘expressive’, meaning that we write poems to express ourselves and explore the emotions, meanings, and perspectives that arise in our own writing. Poetic devices such as metaphor and imagery help to explore what we hold in our subconscious mind.
The focus of poetry therapy sessions can range from exploring painful feelings to achieving a greater self-understanding. Poetry can help to identify and reframe the meaning assigned to personal life events, including the many forms of heartbreak - relationship endings, grief and loss, broken dreams, trauma or illness, and major life transitions. Sometimes it is difficult to talk about feelings because emotions linger inside as ‘formless’. However, reading and writing poetry can guide us to the beliefs and meanings we hold subconsciously in our minds. When we honour and give form to what is in our subconscious, we can transform the way we think and feel about our life circumstances.
From the brain science perspective, research shows that the brain responds to poetry as it does during introspection and ‘at rest’ state. Something special seems to happen in the brain in response to poetry which has the potential to contribute to our psychological well-being.
Poetry therapy can achieve the following:
Helps express emotions that might otherwise be difficult to talk about
Increases self-reflection, self-awareness and self-understanding in current life situations
Supports new perspectives on personal realities and specific issues
Validates emotional experiences allowing you share them with others.