The best drug and alcohol rehab programs are always looking to implement different treatment strategies that can aid in recovery. One such out-of-the-box approach is “poetry therapy”, and it is gaining in popularity.

In keeping with its status as the premier outpatient addiction recovery program in California, Lasting Recovery is one of a small handful of drug rehab centers in San Diego that utilizes poetry therapy as part of its multi-level treatment approach.

What Is Poetry Therapy?

“Bibliotherapy” is a non-traditional approach to healing that focuses on the effect that therapeutic writing and reading has on a person’s well-being. Typically, poetry therapy takes place in a group setting. In a normal meeting, participants will read aloud from a piece of verse chosen by the therapist. The piece is meant to be representative of the experiences and feelings common to many people who have a history of addictive or psychological disorders.

Participants are then asked to write down how the piece of verse made them feel – the emotions they felt in response; in particular, how those emotions juxtapose with their addiction or other past traumas.

They are guided by the therapist and encouraged to share what they have written with the group, with each person contributing their own responses and insights, to the original piece, their peers’ efforts, or both.

How Can Poetry Therapy Help Addiction Recovery

Poetry therapy is beneficial because it gives people in recovery a healthier way to process and release feelings that they were unable to express due to the cognitive and emotional changes from the growing denial of their addiction. This can lead to a Catharsis — emotional release — and can aid in emotional health.

This is especially true in a group setting. Addiction is a lonely disease that can cause a person to feel disconnected from other people. This isolation is a factor in their ongoing addiction.

When an individual in recovery shares their writing, hears the supportive words of their peers, and understands that their experiences and feelings are common to others in the group, they begin to no longer feel quite so alone.
Because of this fellowship, each person can draw strength and inspiration from the other.

Poetry Therapy At Lasting Recovery

With Jim Hornsby, LMFT

When asked about the power of the poetry with his clients he said the following:

Poetry & writing is a transformational art. Watch as the writers, young or adult, acquire confidence, acquire voice, acquire vocabulary, acquire skill. Watch their personalities grow confident, grow strong, grow independent…the transformation is remarkable.

My job is to make it safe to write, to encourage and to remind students they are writing to increase self-esteem and self-awareness that will help them heal. Each human being, especially alcoholics and drug addicts, have a story to tell and a story to change. Poetry helps them do this.

Poetry helps them discover strengths hidden by addiction. Poetry brings these intuitive strengths to the surface and enhances intrinsic awareness in the first days of recovery with two main ingredients. 1) writing from the heart. 2) writing as a storyteller. We don’t worry about spelling or grammar, we simply focus on the individual’s story.

In the Preface of his book Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making (Penguin-Putnam, 1997), my mentor John Fox wrote,

‘Poetry is simply speaking truth. Each of us has a truth as unique as our own fingerprint. Without knowing that truth, without speaking it aloud, we cannot know who we are and that we are already whole…One of the best kept secrets in this technically oriented culture is that simply speaking truth heals.’

I create a container of safety that allows human beings to touch their own humanity by writing and speaking their truth.

Program: IOP-Morning, PHP Full Day

If you are looking for a drug rehab in Southern California that combines established, evidence-based treatment protocols with non-traditional wellness-based approaches, Lasting Recovery can offer you the best chance to restore sobriety, stability, sanity, and serenity to your life.

Lasting Recovery – “Where Wellness Begins…”

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