The use of poetry as a therapeutic medium is well known and accepted in the sphere of expressive therapies in psychotherapy and mental health practice. Less attention has been paid to the use of poetry as a tool in behavioural medicine to facilitate adjustment in the face of challenging medical conditions.
This case study offers an illustration of how poetry was employed within a Narrative Therapy framework to facilitate coping and adjustment to spinal surgery and recovery for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (ASI) in a South African adolescent girl (“Buhle”). The concurrent challenges of adolescence, social issues and a serious medical condition is explored in relation to Buhle’s current presentation and developing identity issues.
Poems written by Buhle during the course of therapy are presented and discussed with reference to their relevance to her stage of development, medical diagnosis and identity work in the psychotherapeutic process. The utility of poetry as a therapeutic medium is critically considered in the context of the biological, psychological and sociocultural elements of the Buhle’s presentation.