This article aims to integrate bibliotherapy and narrative therapy. The use of writing and reading processes can help reveal preferred stories. Asking people to talk about themselves and tell their life stories using excerpts from poems makes their story unique and exotic. Writing in this fashion empowers their experiences and exposes the details of the unique outcome that are embedded in the text. Similarly, this type of writing enables people to express experiences that are difficult to articulate in ordinary words. This article demonstrates the contribution of therapeutic writing and the discourse that arises from it for narrative therapy that is usually conducted orally.
This article comes with a companion piece:
Toward a poetics of therapy: A response to Michal Simchon’s ‘Words From the Brink of the Chasm’— Steve ArmstrongThis is a complementary piece in response to Michal Simchon’s observations about the integration of bibliotherapy and narrative therapy in ‘Words From the Brink of the Chasm’ (2013). I make some suggestions about what might be called the poetics of therapy. In particular, how poetry can enliven therapeutic conversation; how poems and a poet’s passion for precise word choice, help guard against stale imagery or description and can aid in locating vivid descriptions for lived experience that might otherwise be practically beyond words. Based on Simchon’s discussion of free-writing in groups and Bachelards’ Poetics of Reverie (1969), I offer a re-imagining of White and Epston’s (1990) landscape of action and consciousness.
When asked to provide suggestions for further reading in relation to the theme of African American experience, I chose these three books as I believe they are particularly applicable to the situation of African Americans and others of African descent living in the West as a result of slavery and colonialism. I have found, when I am asked to teach about Black America, that these texts are the ones which I find myself recommending to students time and time again.