Psychotherapy Bulletin

Psychotherapy Bulletin

Like most of you, I am a secret-keeper. I am given the gift of hearing private thoughts and exploring strong emotions with strangers who become clients. I am a purveyor of hope. I often do little more than listen, but the impact on some clients is profound. I marvel at how the process of revealing oneself unfolds from person to person. Sometimes, I offer interventions that enable clients to see themselves more clearly. I witness the work people do to change their lives; to put together puzzle pieces often shattered by circumstances outside their control. Every client I sit with makes me feel something. Some days I am inspired, other days I feel hopeless or helpless.

I channel the emotions I feel in the therapy room into my poetry. I don’t write poems every day, but about once a week I pen a few lines or compose a complete poem to capture what I have felt or witnessed. This is one way in which I care for myself. Writing poetry helps me release some of the emotions I hold for my clients. Being involved in the lives of my clients, I feel their distress and writing down what I have experienced helps me better understand what has gone on in the therapy room.  My poem, Survivor, encapsulates my experience running an Intimate Partner Violence Survivor group in Atlanta, GA. This poem was inspired by a dozen different women whose courage, resilience, and love have made me a better clinician and a more honest person.


Somatic memories plague
Sensory stimuli inhibit
Motor movements distort
Involuntary flashes
Unplanned lapses
Panicked pauses
Tears are my currency
Meekness my weakness
Constant vigilance
Practiced Control
Safety is possible
Victim, I was.
Survivor, I am.
Thriver, I will be.

Cite This Article

Thomas, M. (2014). Poetry as self care. Psychotherapy Bulletin, 49(3), 32.


1 Comment

  1. Michele K Synegal

    Greetings Mili,
    I am writing a book titled Widows Speak. I’m including a chapter on surviving suicide and I would like to open the chapter with your poem. May I have permission to print your poem in my book giving you the credit as author? It captures all that I want to convey.


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