chapter  8
10 Pages


In an attempt to establish strengths as well as pathology, my routine historytaking includes asking patients what they are interested in, and what their idea of an enjoyable activity might be (note that the use of the conditional is already a step into the ‘active imagination’ brought alive by both therapy and poetry). Rarely, if ever, does reading or writing poetry come as the answer. Poetry is definitely a minority interest. Nevertheless, at times of emotional intensity, whether painful or joyful, people turn to poetry, trite or great, as a means of containing and expressing their feelings. Since those moments are central to what we do as psychotherapists, if we wish to enhance the depth and quality of our work, it is perhaps worth listening to what poets have to tell us. There is evidence there, albeit of the experiential variety.