Healing Hearts with Poetry-Therapy


                                                                                                           Healing Hearts with Poetry
                                                                                                         Carolyn K. McGraw, MA, CHT

A poem can change a life…writing poetry saved a life in my English class! As my students wrote about their feelings, they uncovered the beauty in their pain.
They were high school dropouts off the streets working to earn their diploma. They struggled to listen through their anger and depression. I reminded them that it is not about what is wrong with you, it is about what happened to you. I searched for a way to bring a calmness to their chaos which was interfering in their learning ability. Inspiration led me to create “Poetry-Therapy” which is a therapeutic writing and performance arts program to heal emotional pain.
I began with the question, “What do you want to heal in your heart?” Khayree replied, “Abuse.” I hesitated, unsure of how to guide him next, so I asked, “If this experience was a book what would it be called?” He uttered, “Limbo.”
Khayree shocked me when he handed me his 7-page poem an hour later. Tears came as he read his epic poem that eloquently painted his journey from hatred and rage to forgiveness and love. His emotions melted away as he read his own healing remedy…forgiveness, imbued a calming inner strength in his demeanor.
This young man, a former convict, had transformed his painful past into a beautiful, soulful masterpiece! With confidence in his new-found talent, Khayree expressed that he could never go back to a life crime. He stood in the limelight for a just a moment then lovingly turned to his classmates and said, “You can do this too!”
Amazing things began to unfold as students followed Khayree’s example of unleashing their toxic feelings prose. My poets began to see themselves more positively as their poetry reflected a light of hope that beamed out of them as they recognized that their peers were truly inspired by their open-heart art.
Next, we had a poetry contest and one former gang member was surprised to win. My students really enjoyed sharing their poetry and reported that it was more helpful then going to counseling. They discovered that writing and sharing was their therapy.
“Limbo” went viral receiving high praises after landing in the Folsom Prison to be read by an inmate to 25 convicted murderers. We have since been invited to share our story and poetry at the State Capital, TV and radio.
Studies have shown that Poetry-Therapy is an effective treatment for depression, grief, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse. The process helps to strengthen coping skills, integrate feelings, reframe traumatic events and give a more positive outlook for the future.

Our “Healing Hearts Program” focuses on social/emotional intelligence teaching tools to greater inner peace to alleviate anxiety and depression. Workshops and coaching offer strategies to enhance self-esteem, creativity and confidence to prevent bullying/suicide.

Book us for speaking/workshops/training/coaching for students, teachers and parents.
Carolyn K. McGraw is an Educational Consultant, Teen Life Coach, Wellness Practitioner and Poet.

www.CarolynKmcGraw.com (916) 844-6136 carolyn@carolynkmcgraw.com

Success Strategies for Teens is a free series of lessons for schools, churches and organizations to better help teens navigate the challenges of life with tools to overcome anxiety, depression, bullying and violence. Lessons are designed with discussions and activities focused on social-emotional intelligence and life skills to help teens make wiser choices, learn respect and improve self-esteem. The Success Strategies lessons are a useful tool for teachers and leaders to better identify teens in need of professional assistance before it is too late! Sign up for our FREE Success Strategies lessons, “It’s All About Respect” at www.adalloyd.com. 


Enhance social-emotional intelligence and well-being through the Arts & Life Skills Training

We offer an inspirational self-development series designed to foster self-esteem and compassion. Your students will learn effective and creative tools to alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, bullying issues and more rapidly.

 Our program provides students/teachers with a creative outlet for emotions and for acknowledging their story and how that story impacts their every day life.  Each of us have a life story that we have created up until this point.  Good, bad or a combination thereof our history (story) does not define our future.  That is ours to script.  Our program includes creating a life plan, success strategies, mindset training, healthy coping skills, therapeutic writing and presentation skills – public speaking, music, dance, art and more.




The Healing Hearts program includes the following components

 A 60-90 minute presentation that introduces the choice to heal from whatever burdens we carry.  This presentation introduces specific tools to facilitate change.  Its purpose is to provide hope that there is a better way and that dreams, with proper action, have the power to become reality.

 Poetry/Creative Writing-Therapy (2-two-hour workshops)

  • Power of words
  • Coping skills
  • What do you want to heal?
  • Brain dump
  • Therapeutic writing steps
  • Public speaking skills (share your story)
  • Spoken word performance

Interactive Well-being Workshops (90 minute)

1.  Who Am I? Loving you

  • What is your story? lessons learned
  • Take off your mask-how to be real
  • Process your feelings in healthy ways


2.  Mind-Set Training & Self-love

  •  Power of positive thinking
  • Creating affirmations
  • Self-compassion & kindness
  • Be your own friend

 3. Roadmap for change  

Where am I?  Who am I?  Where do I want to go?  Who do I want to become?      

  •  Personal
  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual
  • Professional 
  • Financial
  • Relationships

 4.Create a personal vision and life plan map

  •  Explore values & needs
  • Find out your love language
  • What is your life purpose

5. Motivation, attitude and goal setting 

  • How to make attitude adjustment
  • Reward efforts
  • Focus and priorities
  • Decision making

 6. Accountability & self-reflection

  • What’s working?
  • What are you learning?
  • How are you changing?
  • Personal empowerment toolbox

 These components can be scheduled weekly or biweekly.  

 Option 1 – 6 Well Being Workshops, 2 Poetry/Creative Writing Workshops, 1 Inspirational Presentation…$10,000.

 Option 2 – 6 Well Being Workshops  1 Inspirational Presentation…$7,500

 Option 3– 4 workshops of choice & Inspirational presentation…$5000

Personal Life Coaching maybe added to program