Reading a Book

poetry for well-being

and personal growth

Poetry therapeutic work aims to promote emotional well-being 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 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 and emotions linger inside as ‘formless’. However, reading and writing poetry can guide us to the beliefs and meanings we hold subconsciously in our minds, and when we honour and give form to what arises, we can transform the way we think and feel.

Even the brain science shows that something special happens in the brain in response to poetry, which has the potential to contribute to our psychological well-being.

​Poetry therapeutic work 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.


Further reading

Poetry on the Mind and in the Brain (April 1, 2019)

Why Poetry is One of the Most Powerful Forms of Therapy

(April 7, 2018)

© 2023 by Terhi K. Cherry