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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A critical incident study of poetry therapy Miller, David West


This study explores the effectiveness of poetry as an ancillary psychotherapeutic technique in a group counselling setting. Five adult immigrants/refugees (less than five years in Canada and who were learning English as an additional language) from Hong Kong, Iran, Guatamala, Colombia, and one Canadian Native Indian volunteered for and completed a workshop, "Settling in Canada", and participated in subsequent data collection procedures. Flanagan's (1954) Critical Incident Technique was used to discover what poetic events facilitate and what poetic events hinder the process of settling in Canada. Non—poetic events were analysed in the same fashion. Data was drawn from three sources. Two post—workshop critical incident interviews provided data from which 10 poetic and 8 non—poetic facilitating categories, and 1 poetic and 2 non—poetic hindering categories were induced. These categories were supported by workshop leader observations and by poetry produced by the participants. The results indicate that poetry used in a variety of ways facilitates exploration of and expression of feelings, increases self—esteem and confidence, promotes dialogue among workshop participants and others, expands one's definition of self, and enhances personal problem solving. The participants in the Settling in Canada workshop stated that these factors helped them settle in Canada.

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