From therapy to poetry and back again: One writer’s journey

Pages 115-125 | Published online: 10 May 2013

This reflective piece suggests three phases from therapeutic writing to full-fledged poetry to an audience’s reading and discussion, illustrated with specific examples and commentary. The author, a social scientist, an adult educator and a published poet, begins with the role of writing in her own processing of the painful experience of a family member’s severe mental illness and suicide, showing us her earliest therapeutic writing. She then illuminates a second phase, in which she gives us an inside look at the rewriting process that led to two poems suitable for public display. She considers how the resulting poems might be used for both therapeutic and educational purposes, offering discussion prompts and questions related to the poems.

Character sketch of you in the moment of past success

Bring to mind an image of yourself in that moment of success. Notice first how you look, what you are wearing, your facial expression, the aura you project. Then turn inside and explore the feelings. What does it mean to be having this experience of success? Which of your core values does it reflect? What does it represent to you? What is the meaning of this success? How does it shape what you perceive as possible for yourself? Hold the image for at least 20 seconds, using your scent cue if you wish. Then write about yourself in the third person (the “s/he” voice), as if you are a compassionate narrator. Again, write for 7 or 8 minutes by the timer.

Kathleen Adams, “Your Brain on Ink”, p. 105

Kathleen Adams’ reflective writing prompts

As I read this, I am ∘ aware of. . . . ∘ curious about. . . . ∘ noticing. . . . ∘ surprised by. . . . ■The integrative somatic experience ∘ What happened in my body as I wrote? Where did this write “land” in my body? ∘ Did my handwriting or keyboarding change? ∘ What did I notice emotionally? ∘ Any “aha” moments? Where did I feel them? ■Action orientation ∘ Is there action to take? If so, what? ∘ What is my next step? ∘ How does this learning inform my current reality? ∘ Where can I best place my intention? My attention? My action? ∘ What is one thing I can do today?

(p. 48).

from “Your Brain on Ink”