Healing Words

Healing Words writing lessons provide self help tools

  • to develop insight, a deeper understanding of self
  • to develop solutions to personal problems
  • to enhance self-image applying poetry therapeutic methods.

Poetry therapy is a practice of helping individuals grow and develop through writing, storytelling, reading, and discussing. It can provide an opportunity to work through grief or help to cope with difficult situations. The therapist uses interactive methods to evoke feelings and responses for discussion on a therapeutic setting.

Healing Words writing lessons are not therapy but they provide therapeutic tools for a more balanced and conscious life.


 Healing Words writing lessons will introduce some easy poetry therapy exercises to help you start writing yourself a better life. You will only need an open mind, an exploratory attitude, a notebook, and a pencil, and about 20-30 minutes of time per lesson. Just let it go and don’t think too much about what you are writing. Let your pencil run on the paper and don’t stop unnecessarily. Don’t worry about spelling, your handwriting, or grammar. In Healing Words writing lessons the process is prioritised over product. You are writing for yourself!

Before you start writing, set aside a few minutes to calm down and focus on your breath. Let thoughts pass like clouds and notice – without thinking about it or trying to change it – how you inhale and exhale naturally. After a short breathing exercise you are ready to start writing.


Healing Words lessons are provided by Jaana Colson, MA, Poetry therapy instructor.  The lessons are partly based on the literature below.



Examples of poetry therapy exercises

Creative writing to express emotions: poems, stories, free writing, sentence stems, mind maps.

Journal writing to provide a historical perspective and a sense of connectedness: everyday logs, scrapbook, personal life history, picture journals.

Letters to ventilate feelings: sent or unsent letters to someone with whom you have unsolved issues,  deceased persons, or family members; letters to a character in a book, a movie or a legend; letters to your future or  past self.

Lists to cut issues into smaller pieces or to gain a sense of order or to find a new perspective: question lists, emotion lists, good/bad lists, important people  lists, goal lists, to-do lists, mind maps.

Dialogs to change perspective and to find solutions to troubling situations: dialogs with persons, events, circumstances, work, body, your “inner wisdom”, emotions, possessions…

Writing from published poems, song lyrics, pictures, movies, or books to ventilate feelings, to universalize an experience, to wake up the creativity and to promote self-disclosure.


Healing Words in practice

Ancient roots of poetry therapy

Lesson 1: Name Poem

Lesson 2: Journal Writing/Personal Life History

Lesson 3: Letters

Lesson 4: Lists

Lesson 5: Dialogue

Lesson 6: Inviting Poems

Lesson 7: Coping with Work Stress

Lesson 8: Mindful Writing/Haiku

Lesson 9: The ABC Journal

Lesson 10: Transition Stories

Lesson 11: Imaginary Safe Haven

Lesson 12: Dream Work

Lesson 13: Lose yourself in the music



Useful literature

Aarons-Mele, M. (2017) Hiding in the Bathroom.  An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

Bolton, G.; Field, V.; Thompson, K. (2011) Writing routes. A resource handbook of Therapeutic writing. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Bucay, J. (2006) Kom ska jag berätta. Stockholm: Bazar Forlag AB.

Compassion books – offers books that help children and young adults through serious illness, death, loss, and grief.

Goldberg, N. (2013) The true secret of writing: connecting life with language. New York: Aria book.

Ihanus, J. (toim.) (2009) Sanat että hoitaisimme – terapeuttinen kirjoittaminen. Helsinki: Duodecim.

Jalonen, R. (2016) Kirkkaus. Tammi.

Malchiodi, C. A. (2007) The art therapy sourcebook. New York: The McGraw Companies.

Mazza, N. (2003) Poetry therapy. Theory and Practice. New York: Brunner-Routledge.

Mäki, S.; Arvola, P. (toim.) (2009) Satu kantaa lasta – Opas lasten ja nuorten kirjallisuusterapiaan 1. Helsinki: Duodecim.

Mäki, S.; Arvola, P. (toim.) ( 2009) Tarina tukee lasta – Opas lasten ja nuorten kirjallisuusterapiaan 2. Helsinki: Duodecim.

Petersen, A. (2017) On Edge – A journey Through Anxiety. Crown Publishing group.