Episode 189 Unlocking Healing | Integrating Poetry Therapy In Holistic Counseling: Interview With Ashley Steineger

Jul 10, 2024

What is poetry therapy, and how does it differ from traditional forms of therapy? How can poetry in therapy help your clients on their healing journey?

MEET Ashley Steineger

Ashley Steineger is a holistic psychologist and poetry therapist who has a passion for using holistic and creative healing modalities. She is the author of ‘The Poetry Therapy Workbook’ and runs workshops on how poetry can be used to help with anxiety, depression, and grief. Ashley works in a variety of settings including private practice. She has a special interest in working with Empaths, Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs), and anyone who has been told they are “too emotional” or “too sensitive.” Ashley is trained in Reiki and mindfulness instruction and loves collaborating with other holistic healing professionals. 

Find out more at The Poetry Therapist and connect with Ashley on Instagram

The Poetry Therapy Workbook by Ashley Steineger


  • Who is poetry therapy for? 6:35
  • What are the benefits of poetry therapy? 8:32
  • Poetry prompts for integrating into sessions 18:49

Who Is Poetry Therapy For?

  • Using poetry as a tool for evoking emotion
  • The importance of finding what works for each client
  • How to guide your clients through the process

What Are The Benefits Of Poetry Therapy?

  • Finding beauty and healing in your pain
  • How to promote empathy
  • How to share your emotions in a safe way
  • How to start incorporating poetry into your sessions
  • Which clients resonate best with poetry therapy?

Poetry Prompts For Integrating Into Sessions

  • What is “The Poetry Therapy Workbook?”
  • Using song lyrics instead of poetry
  • What is the “Power of the Mind?”
  • How to be trauma-informed when using poetry in a session
  • What are some challenges when using poetry in therapy?

Connect With Me

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Resources Mentioned And Useful Links:

Find out more at The Poetry Therapist and connect with Ashley on Instagram

The Poetry Therapy Workbook by Ashley Steineger


Chris McDonald: Are you ready to discover the healing power of words? In today's episode, I sit down with holistic therapist, Ashley Steininger, to explore how poetry can transform you, your clients, and your therapy sessions. Join us as Ashley shares her journey, techniques, and powerful success stories that reveal how poetry can be a profound tool for emotional healing and self discovery.

Discover your inner poet and help your clients along the way. Grab a pen, notebook, find a cozy spot. Get yourself settled in because this episode is packed with insights and inspiration you won't want to miss on today's episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast.

This is Holistic Counseling. Podcast for mental health therapists who want to deepen their knowledge of holistic modalities and build their practice with confidence. I'm your host, Chris McDonald, Licensed Therapist. I am so glad you're here for the journey.

Have you been interested in adding yoga into your therapy sessions, but are unsure how? Get ready to unlock the power of yoga in your clinical practice with my recorded one hour training, Startup Strategies for Integrating Yoga into Clinical Sessions, and earn one continuing education contact hour. In this training, learn how to harness the powerful benefits of yoga in breath.

to help your clients learn how to reduce their anxiety and depression. You will also learn how to differentiate between slow, mindful yoga and fit yoga to tailor your approach for therapeutic settings, get started with confidence and develop skills essential for integrating yoga into your practice, how to create a trauma informed approach, and you even get a script to help you learn how to guide clients safely through a yoga sequence for anxiety.

Transform your clinical sessions and empower your clients with the healing power of yoga today. All of this, including one CE for only $65. Go to HC podcast.org/startup yoga. That's HC podcast.org/startup yoga today. Welcome to today's episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast. Healing can take many forms, and one reason I love holistic counseling so much is we can offer clients healing in so many ways.

It's not a one size fits all. And one way we can offer healing is through poetry therapy. So here today to share with you is Ashley Steininger. She's a holistic psychologist and poetry therapist who has a passion for using holistic and creative healing modalities. She is author of the Poetry Therapy Workbook and runs workshops on how poetry can be used to help with anxiety, depression, and grief.

She'll discuss the numerous benefits of integrating poetry into mental health therapy sessions, as well as practical tips on how therapists can incorporate poetry into their practice, from using existing poems to encouraging clients to write their own. So we're going to dive into the therapeutic potential of poetry and how to help clients to articulate their feelings, connect with their inner selves, and find meaning in their own experiences.

So whether you're looking today to expand maybe your toolkit or you're new to the field and eager to learn some innovative approaches, I'm sure this conversation today promises to provide you some insights and practical strategies that you can use right away. Let's dive in. Welcome to the Holistic Counseling Podcast, Ashley.

Thank you. I'm so happy to be here. So let's start with what inspired you to integrate poetry into clinical sessions? That's such a

Ashley Steineger: good question. And

Chris McDonald: I, I

Ashley Steineger: think

Chris McDonald: about

Ashley Steineger: that. Every day, but you know, I started off as a therapist. I just loved it. And then I've always loved poetry, creative healing. I kind of got burnt out right after starting my private practice.

We all know how hard that can be, but I decided to go like, I feel like in life you have to follow your passion. And so I knew I loved helping people, but I also just poetry has just been with me since I was a little girl. And so I went back to school and got my MFA. my master's in poetry, just kind of on a whim.

I was like, didn't know what I wanted to do. Do I want to be a therapist? Do I want to be a teacher? Do I want to be a poet? And so I went back and got that. And then just, it became clear to me that, okay, this is so helpful. Using poetry is so helpful. And how can I combine both my degrees to help people?

people. So I was really just kind of, I was inspired just by my lifelong love of poetry. I'm the kind of person who jumps from hobby to hobby. Like I'm, you know, I get bored with things real quick, but I found that poetry, it always inspired me. It always held my interest. So I thought, okay, like, let's, let's see where this can take me.

Chris McDonald: Yeah, I love that. And I, I didn't tell you this about myself, but I've always loved poetry too. I have a degree in journalism and used to love, and I still love to write, but poetry was always one of those things that I found so healing and helpful, especially when I was in college, I really dove deep, took a deep dive into it.

So I could see where you could make that leap with how healing it can be.

Ashley Steineger: Absolutely. And science is just starting to pick up on it. Like they're doing studies to say. journaling, poetry, all these things actually help with anxiety, depression. And so I didn't need to know that, but it's really good. You're funny.

I didn't need to know that, but it's great for people who are like, help me, you know, people who are more maybe scared to branch out, scared to do any sort of holistic kind of creative stuff. I'm like, well, actually there's science to it. too. So that's always good.

Chris McDonald: So it's good to know that integration is there as far as I know some people get worried with licensure and having the evidence base, et cetera,

Ashley Steineger: et cetera.

And so there is, I say, et cetera, no, you're right. And I think that people get in their minds, like I can't do poetry or they see it for like the elite or the educated, like something that's snobby. The first thing I do in my workshops or working with people is just dispel those myths. Like, if you've written like a heartfelt meme, like if you've shared something on Instagram, if you like song lyrics, so many things are poems, you get to decide what to do with it and how to make it and how to create it.

And it's not like some, you know, Shakespeare sonnet from the 17th century that you, or whatever that you were forced to memorize when you were in high school. Like, it's not that at all. It's, it's. Way different. So my first thing is I always try to dispel the myths. of like what poetry is and isn't. So is it for everyone?

Yeah, I, a hundred percent. I have people who tell me I'm not a poet and I'm like, okay, like if they really don't want to, obviously I'm not going to push it, but I've always been able to find a poem that I've read to them that has elicited some emotion. Right. And. That's the whole thing with poetry therapy.

Poems are just used as tools to evoke emotion, and so then we have this emotion, anxiety, depression, grief out in the open, and we can share in it, we can process it. It's a, it's a catharsis, I guess. If someone was really stubborn and they didn't want to, I'm not gonna push it, but I really do think that poetry is for everyone.

Chris McDonald: Yeah. So you don't have to be someone who's just good at quote, unquote good at writing.

Ashley Steineger: Exactly. That's in my present. My first thing in my workshop is it's not about quality. There's no good or bad poems. There's just poems and they're all special in their own way.

Chris McDonald: Their own way. It just reminds me of art too.

Cause I use art and therapy and a lot of people initially too, they become fearful, especially as adults. If we use it with children and teens, it's different, but adults are, Ooh, I don't know. I can't do this. They're always looking at the, what is the project at the end? They can hang on the wall, but that's not the point.

And I wonder if poetry is the same. Is it the process?

Ashley Steineger: It's the process and it's just the catharsis. It really is. That's a good comparison. Art therapy is so similar. You don't, I think as adults, we just have all these self judgments and we're like, we don't even know where to start. And I'm like, it doesn't matter.

Like just, you know, Just write a sentence and I, you know, I'm here to guide you. And so usually by the end of, of working with a client with poetry and we've come up with something that, that gives me information to then help them. Cause that's the whole point. Poetry is healing. And so, or to help themselves, you know, you don't need a poetry therapist.

You can write poems in your journal, in your diary with friends. Um, and I feel like that's just equally as healing. So I know you

Chris McDonald: mentioned the catharsis. Is there other benefits or goals of poetry therapy? So many.

Ashley Steineger: Again, I go through this in my book. I have a whole section about the goals. Ventilating any overpowering emotions, just getting that out of you is a goal.

Just the act of creating something beautiful. So like you have from pain usually, so you have something painful and you're creating something beautiful or meaningful. out of that poem. You know, it improves, it's been shown to improve self esteem. One of the things I think that people don't think about is that it really promotes empathy and togetherness.

So like if I read a poem by somebody who's really grieving, I'm going to have an emotional reaction and be like, Oh my gosh, I, I know that feeling I've felt the same way. So it really promotes like this, just cohesiveness among humans of like, we all have emotions. We all grieve. And it's just a really, I think, freeing and safe way to share that emotion.

Without like sitting down and actually talking to someone and it's like, Hey, I'm sad, but you could share it in a poem.

Chris McDonald: Yeah. I could see that even for like group therapy to, to have that experience to share together.

Ashley Steineger: Absolutely. Groups like usually with different subjects, like an anxiety group or a grief group, they've done a lot of studies in veterans with PTSD, that poetry really helps share those experiences.

Because in a poem, you can say anything and it doesn't, it's not right, it's not wrong. You can say anything from your heart. And oftentimes with PTSD, there's, there is no words to describe some of the things that people have been through. And so poems, again, it's like the safe medium to say, Oh, I can say anything without judgment.

It doesn't have to be right or wrong. And then maybe other people can read it and they can help me or they can relate to

Chris McDonald: me. So how do you approach it with a client who's never done it before? How do you incorporate it with them?

Ashley Steineger: That's, so that's a good question. Usually my clients that come to me ask for it, like they say, I've seen you do poetry and I'm really into that.

If I have a client who is just maybe really left brain, maybe really analytical, just doesn't desire that. I will just suggest a poem based on something that an emotion that we've been talking about in therapy. So if they're processing a past trauma, I might gently at the end of the session say, Hey, here's a really good poem or two about the same subject.

Why don't you give it a read if you want to and see, see if it resonates. And oftentimes they, I don't, and that's their choice, but, um, I don't really get to the actual writing of poems unless someone is is we've had that conversation, you know, and usually it happens. They, people seek me out. I think

Chris McDonald: specifically for that,

Ashley Steineger: maybe, you know, being in, you know, this, Chris, too, being a holistic therapist, people see, they want, they see us and they, they want to see us.

I think that there's just such a need and desire for these more creative means, whatever it might be. So I've had people just say, I don't want to just sit here and talk. And I'm like, perfect. You're like, perfect. Let's do, you know, you do yoga, I might do poetry. We all have our, our little things that we're passionate about.


Chris McDonald: Yeah. So it's offering that space for that. And, and I guess, is there different ways to use poetry?

Ashley Steineger: There is. Um, again, It's just going to depend on the individual. I think just like age is a huge thing. If someone's like a teenager, um, I don't deal with a lot of kids, you know, a teenager, I might read to them or show them, or we might work on different poems than like an older adult.

And, you know, there's, Poetry there, it really has three components. One where I find poems that match an emotion that the client or situation that a client is dealing with that someone else has written. And so we read those and discuss those. And then the second component is when they create. original poems based on a prompt that I give them or that we come up together is usually what happens.

And then the third, which I don't use too often, but it's the, I think the most fun is there's a ceremonial component where say someone's going through a trauma, um, a divorce, they're very angry. We might write a poem and then we might go outside and burn it. There might be some sort of ceremony we might, or flush it, or some sort of ceremony or ritual with the poetry to, to help with that release.

So that's always the fun. I love when I get to do that.

Chris McDonald: I just had a visual too, of like, could you have like a poetry slam where people read their poems and I know they did this in elementary school and everybody snaps, you know, instead of clapping at the end, wouldn't that be cool?

Ashley Steineger: And then we all go outside.

They're all angry. Yeah, do we all burn them? We all burn them. Burnham in the full moon with our crystals. I'm let's set that up, Chris. I know,

Chris McDonald: right? We need an event here. That's so awesome. Well, I used to work a lot with teenagers and one of the things that I used to do was not poetry therapy per se, but music lyrics.

Which, to me, it sounds like that could be similar to what you're saying, and I would have them look up lyrics that would match something that they're similar to how they're feeling or the opposite of how they might want to feel. And then they would share that too. So sometimes something that's already out there for those that don't want to write can be helpful.

Ashley Steineger: That's it. I'm so glad you brought that up. Song lyrics, for the people who maybe poetry's too hard, you know, isn't my thing, or they're telling me, I don't know if that will work. More people can, I think, relate to me. I mean, everyone can relate to music, I think. And so song lyrics, I will say, okay, like we don't have to write a poem.

Like let's, we can write a song or like you said, and it's easier just finding song lyrics. Music therapy is, you know, phenomenal. And so, yeah, finding song lyrics, but we can write them on the page different. Like you can change them. Poetry, you can write it however you want on the actual page. There's so many techniques, you know, you can use the whole page, you can use a small part of the page.

And so song lyrics are one of those things, really cool things that go hand in hand with poetry because they are poems. Exactly.

Chris McDonald: That's one way to reach your teen clients too, therapists, to, to really use music. Oh my gosh. That's one way that I really was able to connect with my teenagers and also with groups too.

We use, we would, I would have them as a group. Each, everybody bring in different song lyrics.

Ashley Steineger: Yeah. That's a smart idea. That's poems and songs. That's hand in hand. I think for sure.

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Elevate your wellbeing and become a more mindful counselor today. Check it out at HC podcast.org/workbook. That's HC podcast.org. Is there certain kinds of clients that resonate more with this? Do you find

Ashley Steineger: so that is a good question to most of my clients are, you know, they've been told their whole lives are too sensitive.

You know, they have, they're the HSPs. um, the genetic trait. I don't, I could talk, we could do a whole nother podcast. Exactly. That's a whole

Chris McDonald: episode.

Ashley Steineger: Yeah. You know, and I identify as a highly sensitive person and that's only Eileen Aaron's research. It's like one in five, maybe 15, 20 percent of the whole world.

And so our brains are just wired to process things deeply. We, our emotional range is, is, way bigger than other people's 80 percent of the world. And so I find that a lot of people who come to me are the highly sensitive folks that people their whole lives, they've been told you're too sensitive. You're just anxious and they've been judged.

And so they find me. And usually those people are also extremely creative. And so really it's been easy for me. Just to offer these workshops or just mentioned poetry and people have just been super excited. Really? I don't have to, I don't feel like I have to try it. Yeah, yes. Exactly. I don't have to sell it.

And so, you know, again, I just. I've given clients poems who maybe aren't, uh, feel as though they're not as creative. Everybody's creative in some way. Um, and that's my job. I just have to figure out where a poem can fit in and what type of poem. And, you know, I've had some people say, Oh, that was pretty. And then we just talk about something else.

And that's fine. That's fine, too.

Chris McDonald: That didn't go over so well.

Ashley Steineger: But I always try, Chris, and I always, the majority of the people are some of the moments in sessions to me that make me tear up or that I feel just. This connection is when people say, Hey, like I wrote you this Paul about my grief or my sadness or my depression.

May I please share it with you? And I'm just like, Oh my God. That's

Chris McDonald: wonderful. Yeah. That's amazing. I wondered with introverted clients, if that might be helpful to you. Cause I know you and I are both introverted and I'm introverts out there. Have a lot going on inside, but don't necessarily always share it.

Ashley Steineger: You know, and I don't know many, I have one best friend who's an extrovert poet, but in all my circles, 99 percent of them are extroverts. Are they introvert? Isn't that

Chris McDonald: interesting?

Ashley Steineger: Yeah. I have one and she, I love her. She does so many good things for the poetry world. She runs a press, et cetera. Yeah, the majority of my clients and the majority of poets I know are, were the introverts.

Chris McDonald: So that might be something to think about too, especially those that might have more difficulty putting emotion, you know, into words, into verbal words, I should say.

Ashley Steineger: No, that's a good point. I could have a whole workshop, poetry for extroverts. And I would have to go home. I know sit in the dark with my cat for an hour because gosh, I would got to download after that.


Chris McDonald: funny. So can you share something from your book? One of your prompts? I know you have some amazing poetry in there and you have different ways that you integrate it into your workbook.

Ashley Steineger: Absolutely. Yeah. So my workbook was funny how I wrote it during COVID. I would write like an exercise here and exercise there.

I didn't feel there was no rush, no hurry. And then like a year ago, or I guess last six months ago, I was like, I really want to do this. Like, I just felt this needs to happen. So I had written the majority of it already and I just had to put all the prompts and all the exercises together. So it came together really quick.

The very first exercise I always like to, to share in the very first exercise in the book is, or one of the very first is just your favorite poem exercise. And so. A lot of people don't know, like people who are new to poetry are like, I have no idea. But for me, it gives me a chance to see kind of where they're at emotionally.

Like if they pick a poem that's really beautiful or happy or sad, then we discuss that. And so the very first exercise in the book is like, it says, favorite poem. Palms have the power to evoke specific and often intense emotions. What is your favorite poem? The poem that gives you goosebumps, that grabs you by the heart and squeezes.

The poem that brings a smile to your face or a tear to your eye. And then the exercise is to bring that poem to mind and write about why, why, why it's your favorite poem, and then try to construct another poem based on the same themes. And again, there's a clarifier, there's no good or bad poems. But if someone doesn't have a favorite poem, again, Song lyrics.

Um, in the back of the book, I have a list of poems that are categorized by emotion. And so people can just go through and search. That's really cool. Yeah. Cause a lot of people, again, they don't have a favorite poem. Would someone ask me what my favorite poem is? I don't, I have a favorite one. That's right.

That's a good question. The honest answer is, I don't know. It changes based on my mood. There's a really great poem called Thanks by a famous poet, W. S. Merwin. Check that one out, that it just brings, I don't know, it just makes me cry in a good way. So yeah, that's where I usually start with because then it also gives me information of how much do they know even about poetry and what poems I need to pick to best help them.

Can you share another exercise? Yeah, absolutely. I could share the whole, we could share the whole book. Let's see. This is one I really like. It's in the middle of the book. It's called The Power of the Mind. Um, and it goes with other holistic means. So we all know that Like visualization, visualizing things is an extremely powerful tool and that there's like a really strong link between visualizing, visualizing positive outcomes and health.

So the more that you think positive and the more you visualize yourself being healthy in whatever way, the healthier you're going to be, right? The power of positive thinking. And so for this exercise, I say, Bring to mind a current goal or desire, so something that you want, something that you've been working on.

And I have people spend some time journaling or thinking about that goal and then writing a poem as though they already have that goal. So writing a poem about their life. So say, gosh, what's a good example. They want to make a million dollars. I don't know. Everybody wants to make a million dollars, I suppose.

Write a poem as if you already had it. So the point of that poem is just. I'm just going to go through it quickly. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. I'm really big on safety. And if you're going to, and feeling safe, trauma informed, trauma sensitive, and poetry brings up or can bring up a lot of intense emotions, some of them positive, some of them not.

So one of the first exercises in the book is I have people think of a poem or write a poem about a safe space. And so that way, when they're using the book, they can go through, if they're feeling overwhelmed, and come back to that safe space poem. I probably should have put that maybe as the first one, but I'm really big on like, you know, poetry, like anything, if you're going to read my book, I want you to feel safe.

I want you to feel happy. And so that was one of the, one of my favorite prompts is, is, is. is writing a safe space poem. And then each of the prompts have a little example next to it, too. But yeah, so those are a couple, you know, I think I have 50 in there. Wow. That's a lot. It, it was, you know, it sounds like a lot, but I wrote them over such like years of time that it really, by the end, it wasn't, it didn't feel like a lot because.

Yeah. That's phenomenal though. Yeah. How else do you keep it trauma informed? That's a good question. Yes. I have a disclaimer in the book, obviously, because again, poetry therapy, there, there's informal and formal poetry therapy, right? And I tend to use the words poetry healing. If I'm talking about like other people doing it by themselves without a therapist, because I don't want, I don't want people to feel unsafe.

I don't want people to have no place to process their emotions with somebody safe. So I always have every disclaimer before my book, before workshops to say, Hey, like poetry can bring up intense emotions. What's your plan if that happens? So just having that open conversation. And usually in session, I'm a trauma informed therapist anyway.

So we've already had that discussion of like, What's your safe place? What can we do? I don't just use poetry with everyone, right? I make sure that it's appropriate before, if someone's processing something extremely deep, well that poetry might not be the right time or might not be the right time to, to introduce it.

So just having open conversations, I think, I think poetry's supposed to be fun, but oftentimes it can get. As, as we can, it can get dark and depressing.

Chris McDonald: That's what I wonder because I know I've had journaling activities for clients like for homework, but then sometimes people get stuck in rumination with that if it's not like prompted.

And I wondered with poetry, is that a cautionary tale with that too? We have to really be mindful that people aren't getting too caught in rumination or dark thoughts that could, I guess, not be helpful in some way.

Ashley Steineger: Yeah. No, I agree with you. A lot of times I tell people, if you're feeling like, if you're having an anxiety attack or a panic attack, et cetera, et cetera, let's do some other coping skills first and ground yourself, et cetera.

And then we can, when you're feeling better, when you're feeling safe, then we can process that in a poem. But I do think when people are feeling extremely overwhelmed, journaling in general, or just writing it down, getting that, again, the catharsis. getting it out of you. So I'll have people just click a voice note on their phone and just start saying everything that they're thinking.

And then later in session, maybe with me where it's safe, where it's calm, we put that together into a palm. And that is so empowering. That's a good idea. Yeah. And you know, it, it really is. It, it takes, again, it takes something painful and it makes it into something beautiful and something that could maybe help other people.

So I, I have found it to be very empowering to like take journal entries for when people are really struggling, work with them together and put it into a poem and then share that or read that together. It's, I, that's one of my favorites.

Chris McDonald: Yeah. Cause I can see that transformation you're talking about, maybe the word comes up, right?

Yeah. Yeah. Do you assign homework then with clients for poetry?

Ashley Steineger: Sometimes. I always do homework in quotes. I always say Whatever you want to call it. Prepare homework. Or if I see, I ask for permission. If I see a poem that's just really relevant to what they're going through, I ask their permission if I can email it to them.

And nobody says no. Everybody is always happy about that. And vice versa, if they see a poem that they want to email me or song lyric or whatever, um, my email is always open. Um, cause again, the sharing I think is what is also very helpful. And it really doesn't, it can be a poem, it can be a journal entry, it can be words, it can be.

Whatever, when we feel heard, that really helps with anxiety, grief, depression. Absolutely.

Chris McDonald: You know, I had a thought as you're talking about this, because I'm a somatic therapist, that I think you could integrate poetry therapy with somatic practices as well. This could be a beautiful combination because I'm thinking of even safe place, right?

Because one of the things I teach is that inner resourcing. So noticing a place where you feel safe in your body, where do you feel grounded? Right. Could you do that as part of poetry therapy too, right? Wouldn't that be cool? That would be so cool. I'm writing that down. See, I know we put, uh, great minds think alike, right?

Exactly. So yeah, but I think definitely if we look at the holistic perspective on any of these modalities, there's so much we can integrate together, I think, to make a beautiful thing.

Ashley Steineger: You're right. And you know, one, one thing doesn't work for everybody, but also sometimes like one thing works for a little bit and then it stops working and you have to have so many tools in your tool bag.

I tell people that they're like, I tried deep breathing and then it didn't work. So I, I gave up and I'm like, Oh, then what else did you try? And then they're like, nothing. And I'm like, okay, that's fine. Let's talk about it. But oftentimes I think people get frustrated when they try one thing and it works.

And then for whatever reason, that thing stopped working. So it's, it's always good to have lots of

Chris McDonald: things. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. With breathing though, some people, I always ask them, how do you breathe? Because sometimes they'll go, there's their deep breath and that now that ain't going to help. That's a whole other conversation, but definitely just, just looking at the body, how can you bring the body into poetry therapy?

I wonder how, how do you feel in your body? What sensations do you notice as you? Read this or have this, these, um, different thoughts about this poem. And I don't know, there's a whole lot you could do with that.

Ashley Steineger: No, Chris, I love that you said that because it's often we're writing a poem and I'm very much thinking of the catharsis and processing those emotions.

But you're right. Like reading a poem gives me goosebumps and that's information or when I'm reading a poem. And that's it, right? Exactly. Or where is my anxiety when I'm reading this poem? Is my throat shaky? Is my voice shaky? Is my chest tight? Yeah, that's a really good, I love that. I love that. So there we go.

So we're

Chris McDonald: creating new therapy as we go here on the Holistic Counseling Podcast. Awesome. So I guess, is there any challenges you've had with using poetry therapy?

Ashley Steineger: That's a good question too. I think that some people. fine poetry to be like, it's good for the moment. Like they, they might not see the, what I see and how it's so useful in so many different situations in therapy.

And so I have clients who will be very into it. And then they're done. Like they've written a cool poll and then they're like, okay, cool. I'm done. And that's fine. Whatever their process is. But it's a challenge for me because like anything, I'm so passionate about it. And I know that it's helped heal me from so many of the things that I've gone through that I just want to share it.

So that can be a challenge, but obviously I'm going to do what the client, what is the client of,

Chris McDonald: I think that's hard. Sometimes clients don't see the big picture of what we're trying to teach them, of what could really, the benefit is, you know,

Ashley Steineger: well, and then I always get like, and there's a point to this, people who come in, if they've had just something really tragic happen and they tell me, or I think that they were thinking, A poem is not going to help me solve my severe depression.

And I tell them, you're right. It's not like, it is not. It's not, we're not going to read a poem and you're going to be cured, but we can integrate it with other things. It's just a helpful, like I said in the beginning, it's just a helpful tool. to help us get to where we want to be. Yes, exactly. So I leave it, I leave it in and out of sessions, or I try to.

Chris McDonald: Yeah, yeah. And I think that that gives a good perspective too, that it can be a healing tool and helpful for them. So what's the takeaway you could share with counselors who might be listening that may be interested in using poetry therapy, but are unsure how to get started?

Ashley Steineger: Yeah, you know, I think fear holds us back a lot.

Like we were saying that I'm just not a poet. Like, I just can't do it. But I think, I just saw people just do it. Write a poem. Do not think about the quality of it. There's so many good poets. Email me and I'll send you a list, um, if you want, anybody. Um, there's so many, poetry's not what I think most people think it is.

It is so deep, like poet, it's just come so far. And so I think that a key takeaway for other therapists is. Please just try it. Like, what's the worst that can happen? You read something heartfelt, or your client writes something heartfelt, and then you move on if it's not effective. But it really, you just have to start somewhere.

And I think, don't let that fear hold you back. It's, it's, or, or a song like we've talked about. There has to be, I think 100 percent of people who are listening, have a song, take those lyrics, write them down on a page, maybe change where the words are or such, and, and then just go for it. Really don't let the fear stop you is my tip.

Chris McDonald: Good words. So what's the best way for listeners to find you to learn more about you?

Ashley Steineger: Yeah. My website is the poetry therapist. That's my poetry therapy website. My counseling website is just my name, ashleysteininger. com. So either of those have links to workshops, groups, and I also have an Instagram account at the poetry therapist where I post prompts, things from my book, upcoming workshops.

All the good stuff.

Chris McDonald: Fun. And we'll have that in the show notes, listeners, so you can access that. But thank you, Ashley, so much for coming on the show. Of course. Thank you. This was a lot of fun. And that brings us to the end of another episode. Thank you for listening today and listeners, are you ready to take your journey as a holistic therapist to the next level?

I'd like to personally invite you to be part of my growing community of like minded individuals like yourself who share that passion for holistic therapy and are invested in your own self care. Come on over to my Facebook group, the Holistic Counseling and Self Care Group. It's a welcoming space to connect with other fellow holistic therapists, ask questions, share experiences, and exchange ideas.

Go ahead to hcpodcast. org forward slash holistic group. That's hcpodcast. org forward slash holistic group. And this is Chris McDonald saying each one of you much light and love till next time. Take care. Thanks for listening. The information in this podcast is for general educational purposes only, and it is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are giving legal financial counseling or any other kind of professional advice.

If you need a professional, please find the right one for you. The holistic counseling podcast is proudly sponsored by. Simply part of the SiteCraft network.

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