The Healing Power of Self-Harm Recovery Poems

February 10, 2022 Kim Berkley

Reading—or better yet, writing—self-harm recovery poems can be a simple, accessible means of coping with difficult feelings around self-injury and the healing process.

Reading Self-Harm Recovery Poems

I've always found poetry of any kind inspiring. You don't have to be a poet to appreciate a beautiful stanza, though, and if you don't like one kind of poetry, there are dozens of others to explore.

Poetry has a way of exploring singular experiences in ways no other medium can, and when it's self-harm recovery poetry you're reading, experiencing these moments in this way can be incredibly motivating and cathartic. It's an excellent means by which to keep up your momentum when you're actively working through self-harm recovery or to rekindle your own sense of hope when the road ahead seems impossible to navigate.

The best self-harm recovery poems encompass both the struggle that is often involved in true healing and the beautiful things that make recovery worthwhile in the end. If you search for self-harm recovery poetry books, you can easily find a few to check out from your local library, purchase from a shop, or grab a digital version on your favorite e-reader. You can also find poetry by both professional writers and amateur wordsmiths to read for free online.

Before you do, however, just be aware that you may be exposed to triggering language or imagery. Some poets may choose to first describe their experience of self-harm before they delve into their recovery journey, and for some readers, this may trigger self-harm urges. If this is a concern for you, you may want to do some thorough research before checking out any particular book.

If this seems like too much for you right now, you might also simply read poetry not about self-harm, which can also play a role in your healing process. For example, I find poems that emphasize the beauty of nature, like Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" or "Summer Shower" by Emily Dickinson, particularly comforting.

Writing Self-Harm Recovery Poems

If you prefer to create rather than consume, you can also try your hand at writing your own self-harm recovery poems. It's okay if you've never voluntarily written a poem before. Don't put undue pressure on yourself to write like Frost or Dickinson; this isn't about becoming a world-famous poet laureate. It's about how you feel, while you're writing and afterward.

If you like a bit of challenge (or just need a bit of structure to get you started), you can try writing a particular kind of poem—a sonnet, perhaps, or a villanelle—but it's not necessary to do so. Your self-harm recovery poems can rhyme or not, depending on what feels better at the time you write them. 

If you're not sure what, exactly, to write about, here are a few ideas. Try writing a poem about:

  • Something you're looking forward to doing as a result of recovery
  • How you hope to feel once you've been clean for a while
  • How you feel now about healing from self-injury
  • Things that help you cope with urges (e.g., going for walks, spending time with pets, etc.)

The words may come easily to you, or they may not. In fact, any creative work, when used as a means of self-therapy, can feel difficult in the moment. If it gets too hard, you can stop, but pay attention to how you feel afterward, too. Sometimes you have to push a little to get the catharsis you're looking for—just be kind with yourself, and patient, as it may take a while to get there.

And, if the blank page is a bit too daunting for you, you can always start by mimicking the same structure as your favorite poems. An easy way to do this is to take a poem, remove the nouns, adjectives, and verbs, and turn it into your own personal "Mad Lib" type game. Or, try blackout poetry, where you take an existing block of text and "black out" whole words or lines of text, leaving behind only select words and phrases that then become the content of your poem.

Do you have a favorite self-harm recovery poem you'd like to share or some tips and tricks for writing poetry of your own? Please leave your suggestions in the comments—you never know who you might inspire!

APA Reference
Kim Berkley (2022, February 10). The Healing Power of Self-Harm Recovery Poems, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 22 from

Author: Kim Berkley

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Sue Rice
March, 29 2022 at 5:24 pm

The beginning of bibliotherapy with my 16 year old daughter who has not self harmed in 3 months…..
Once unmercifully entangled
The seemingly sinewy-ness
Suffocation of drowning in
Tortuous blame
Self loathing
Became a chrysalis
Doubting yet certain
Marblings struggled trusts
Abandoned yet not
Sleeping while rejuvenating
Quiet yet screaming
Seams of pain healing still
Every slowly reaching to break and be free
Wings glossed blue veins
Light effervescent lifting
Once laden with smothering agony
Births breathes becomes
With certainty— imperfect perfection
Written by Sue Rice (me) mother

April, 12 2022 at 10:03 am

Hi Sue,
Thank you so much for sharing your poem. It's beautiful. Bibliotherapy is definitely a go-to for me; I hope it's serving you and your daughter well. Take care!

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