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Korean Journal of General Education 2014;8(1):281-310.
Published online February 28, 2014.
The Therapeutic Power of Words and a Case Study with a Student with Low Self-Esteem
Bong-Hee Lee
문학치료에서 활용되는 글쓰기의 치유적 힘에 대한 고찰과 문학치료사례
This paper is about the transformative power of words. Literature, especially poetry has the strong power to evoke and conjure up both the conscious and the unconscious thoughts and memories buried deep inside the readers. The act of writing is also powerfully healing whether it is about the reader s personal response to the literature others wrote or it is about the reader s own experiences and feelings. This paper focuses mainly on the power of expressive writing which participants write in the poetry therapy sessions and tries to demonstrate that writing has a power of its own. As G. Bolton says, “It can allow an exploration of cognitive, emotional and spiritual areas otherwise not accessible, and an expression of elements otherwise inexpressible.” The case study shows how the therapeutic writing tends to increase self-worth, social interaction and motivation for the student with low self esteem. Using the journal tool of dialog writing was very effective while using both verbal and non-verbal expressive art forms together was proved to be more powerful in the case study. This paper also argues that the expressive writing can be a challenge both to students and professors for a whole-person education. Expressive writing can help put together traditional cognitive learning and the “emotional and gut-level quality of experiential learning,”(to quote Carl Rogers) which has been neglected in our task-oriented education. This paper strongly suggests that poetry therapy classes be opened as a general education course for the college students. As a conclusion, this paper tries to remind that though we have witnessed increasing positive reports about the healing power of expressive/creative writing, there are still miles to go to have more high quality multi-disciplinary research, especially in Korea.
Key Words: poetry therapy, therapeutic writing, expressive writing, process, journal tools, self-esteem, whole person learning
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