27 Apr Share Your Story Using Poetry
April is National Poetry Month, a great opportunity to validate how poetry can be therapeutic and used in therapy. Poetry is an effective aide to alleviating symptoms of some personality disorders, anxiety, depression, chronic illness, and trauma.
Poetry gives us an avenue to share ourselves and express feelings that may be just out of our grasp. This can be through our own writing or through the words of others.
For example, in my early 20’s, poet Sylvia Plath spoke to my angst-ridden self during some dark times. Today, Mary Oliver is my friend for the peaceful mornings of the weekend or on vacation. Alternatively, when I am feeling angry about the injustices in the world, spoken word artist Alix Olson validates and infuses me with much needed energy.
“Poetry springs directly from our primal need and capacity for communication…[Poetry] mobilizes such a concentration of devices, such an intensification of language via rhythm, syntax, image and metaphor. Reading it—the best of it—can create another, very different kind of perpetual present, an awareness that can be as ongoing in the soul as the stop-time of trauma.”
– Sven Birkerts, writing professor, Mt. Holyoke College
Poetry & Therapy
Poetry in the therapy room can be used to help you express yourself or for your therapist to validate your feelings while communicating an understanding of your world to you in a different way. You can bring in your favorite poem(s) or your own writing to help your therapist gain insight into your thought processes and experiences.
Additionally, poetry increases connection to self and therapist because vulnerable feelings can be shared through metaphor. Nicholas Mazza, PhD writes about using poetry in therapy in 3 domains outlined below.
Domains of Poetry in Therapy
- Receptive-Prescriptive: Using published poetry or literature to elicit feelings or thoughts.
- Expressive-Creative: An individual or a group write their own poetry or letters about an issue that is being dealt with in their lives. The poetry is about process not technique.
- Symbolic-Ceremonial: Using of rituals and/or symbols to mark an important moment or episode in an individual’s life; written or drawing. Example: Writing a letter to a loved one who has died to say things unexpressed in life.
Poetry Not Your Jam?
If poetry is not typically among your reading material, experience a poem before April is over and see what it brings up in you. I invite you to take a listen to If I should have a daughter, by Sarah Kay.
“Poetry is a conversation with the world, poetry is a conversation with the words on the page in which you allow those words to speak back to you, and poetry is a conversation with yourself.”
Have a good conversation with yourself this month.
Button Poetry: The best & the brightest new poets – themes that deal with mental health, social injustice, and love.
Kate Murphy, LMSW
Kate Murphy, a therapist in Berkeley Lake, specializes in helping you decrease stress and anxiety. You can live a more balanced, connected, and meaningful life. Kate works with individuals and couples over the age of 18 to support healing, communicating, and experiencing joy more often.