Poetry Therapy

by Charlie Rossiter

The National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT) is an international organization.  Its members are therapists, helping professionals, health care professionals, poets, journal therapists and enthusiasts and educators interested in the healing power of language.

The term “poetry therapy” encompasses those who previously called themselves “bibliotherapists”—therapists who use all types of literature for therapeutic purposes and journal therapists who guide journal writing for personal growth and healing. Poetry therapists work with the same wide range of clients that any therapists might work with from the institutionalized severely mentally ill to at-risk youth, victims of abuse, prisoners, the elderly and other specific populations.

As the major professional organization for the field, NAPT sponsors the Journal of Poetry Therapy, as well as an annual conference that features workshops, readings, panels and lectures.  Because the field is relatively small, the conferences have developed a reputation for their feeling of intimacy--long-time professionals in the field (those who write the textbooks) are readily accessible to those who are attending for the first time.  

International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy oversees training and the issuing of professional credentials for the field of poetry therapy.  Training requirements are outlined on their website.

To listen to the special extended edition of Poetry Spoken Here on poetry therapy, click here.