Selection of Poem

The selection of the poem that is to be used is of paramount importance. If the poem is to be effective, only one person truly will understand what it means and that is the author who wrote it. All other interpretations of the poem are projections on the part of the readers and in this case the clients. It must be an open-ended poem that does not lead the clients to a logical conclusion. In this case, a logical conclusion means that after reading the poem all the readers will relate similar themes or conclusions. An open-ended poem means that each person will relate entirely different scenarios including feelings and thoughts to the poem stimulus. Correlating the poem to classical music is of help to understanding the concept of open-ended. In classical music the listener is without boundaries to follow his or her own thoughts and feelings while listening to the music. In fact, the music is the stimulus to the inner world of the person listening and in group therapy the poem will be the stimulus for the inner world of the client

Poetry As a Projective Technique

as observed in the projections. An example of an open-ended poem is provided as follows. You may use this poem if you so choose. I have found it to elicit incredibly diverse and interesting responses.

What is it that I feel?

Has it been with me before?

Is it here to teach me more?

Inside of me, I'm not the same?

Scott Fehr


Step I: Handing Out Materials and Explanation

First and foremost it must be explained to the clients that this is not a test of intelligence nor is there any right or wrong answer to what is being requested of them.

Step 2: Actual Task

Ask them to read the poem, to themselves, and to write under the poem what they feel the author is feeling. After that ask them to write a title for the poem and also ask them to write whether they felt the author was male or female.

Step 3: Disclosure of Written Information

When all group members are finished writing ask them to individually disclose to the group what they had written. I think you will be quite surprised at the many varied responses.

Step 4: Initiating Dialogue Within the Group

After everyone has finished disclosing their information, you as the group leader can do further inquiry into the responses of the cli ents and, depending on your creative ability, can encourage dialogue within the group about each of the group members' contributions.

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