Selecting the best therapy is essential to producing the best possible outcomes for a client. If the client does not respond well to one therapy, then it is necessary to adjust the methods to meet their needs. Although many different therapies are evidence based, this does not mean that the selection will be successful for all patients. Evidence should be closely scrutinized to determine the scope of the study as well as the generalizability to a larger population. Often times, the similarities between two therapies may be only slightly variant but these differences can make a difference in how the client responds. For this reason, two seemingly similar therapies have been selected in order to compare and contrast the methods, application, and effectiveness. Journal therapy and poetry therapy will be explored to better support this claim.
Both journal therapy and poetry therapy focus on ways to express emotions, memories, and frustrations. Both therapies are typically incorporated with other therapy approaches but poetry therapy has recently been gained the attention of the International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy as an independent specialty (Journal Therapy, 2018; Poetry Therapy, 2018). For journal therapy, the client is given a prompt and writes out a response. The prompt can be a photograph, a list, or a letter among other creative options. Poetry therapy is divided into two methods with the first being similar to journal therapy. The client is given a poem as a prompt to open the dialogue. However, this is not a written method of communication. In the second method, the client is instructed to write a response to the poem or to write a poem of their own in response to another prompt. Both of these methods contain elements of journal therapy, but the prompts and methods of communication differ.
Journal therapy is used primarily to promote change and a sense of self while poetry therapy is recognized as being beneficial for those clients with a range of concerns “including borderline personality, suicidal ideation, identity issues, perfectionism, and grief” (Poetry Therapy, 2018). In fact, poetry therapy has been used for clients with schizophrenia to help the clients verbalize the mental processes. This has significant implications for biological psychology as it helps to connect what is happening in the brain to what the client is feeling and experiencing. This can help to move the research forward and improve the application of therapies and medications. Journal therapy could be used in the same way if the prompts are adequately considered for the client. In other words, additional research is necessary in order to determine what prompts will help these clients to verbalize their experiences.
Although there are many similarities between journal therapy and poetry therapy, the latter appears to be more effective and supported by more evidence. As the article explained, “it is recommended selected poems be concise, address universal emotions or experiences, offer some degree of hope, and contain plain language” (Poetry Therapy, 2018). This shows that there has been sufficient research to support the use of specific poems and styles of poetry to achieve the best outcomes for the client. Journal therapy, on the other hand, does not appear to have these additional guidelines.
While it may be beneficial for the client to organize their thoughts, the benefits are difficult to measure, and the outcomes are difficult to measure. Therefore, if one of these therapies were to be selected, poetry therapy would be the better option. Fortunately, as both of these therapies are used along side other methods of therapy, more research and evidence will eventually be made available and the outcomes can then be properly measured.