I offer training in the therapeutic use of poetry via the US-based International Federation for Biblio-Poetry Therapy which can lead to the qualification of Certified Applied Poetry Facilitator. I am a fully trained and approved Mentor-Supervisor, working closely with a team of others who have long experience in this work. The IFBPT is a not-for-profit organisation incorporated in 1983.
This brief summary attempts to answer a number of FAQs.
If you are seriously considering training, I encourage you to browse the IFBPT website and to purchase the most recent training guide here. The Training Guide will be your constant point of reference during your training.
Why biblio-poetry therapy?
There is growing awareness that creative reading and expressive writing, especially in a group setting, can benefit health in many ways. Many people have a favourite poem that can be comforting at times of stress. Many of us instinctively write – poetry, diaries, letters – as a way of managing our feelings or processing experiences.
Biblio-poetry therapy works with this natural impulse. It is possible to discover the benefits alone, but working with a trained facilitator, especially in a group setting, can be safer, more enjoyable and enable individuals to ‘move on’ but always at their own pace.
A ‘biblio-poetry therapist’ brings together knowledge of literature, psychology and group process to facilitate the use of creative reading and expressive writing to promote wellbeing.
Some practitioners are trained therapists or clinicians using biblio-poetry therapy techniques with clients and patients as part of their treatment. Some may be primarily writers or other professionals such as librarians, who facilitate the use of creative reading and expressive writing for wellbeing in the general population, or in clinical settings under appropriate supervision.
What does training via the IFBPT offer me?
- Confidence that the organisation is long-established and that its Mentor-Supervisors are required to maintain high levels of practice and on-going professional development.
- It shows your seriousness and commitment to professional standards in practice.
- A demonstration to potential employers that as a trainee you have been assessed for suitability for this work.
- Certification is a vote of confidence in your practice that comes after assessment by a panel of long-standing experts in the field.
- Collegiality – being part of a community with similar interests and enthusiasms.
- A chance to develop your practice in the context of others working in similar fields.
- Enjoyment – if you enjoy reading, writing and reflecting on human processes, this will give you a formal structure in which to start.
Currently, there is no formal recognition for this qualification in the UK but it will demonstrate to potential employers your seriousness, commitment and professionalism in this work.
What do I need to start?
You would usually need to be a university graduate and will need to demonstrate what are called ‘core competencies’. These include academic qualifications in psychology and literature and an understanding of ethical issues. If there are gaps, it’s possible to make these up during training.
You will also need the personal qualities, self-awareness and maturity necessary to facilitate groups and to be able to provide references from 3 persons of standing.
The training is a big commitment in terms of time, money and energy so it is important to be sure you wish to take it on, and to think realistically about your own resources.
What will I need to do to start training?
- Select a Mentor-Supervisor. This person will guide you through your training and offer in-depth feedback on your practice. Ideally, it should be someone geographically close but with Skype, email and phone supervision, it need not be. There is a list of Mentor-Supervisors on the IFBPT website and we recommend potential trainees contact more than one.
- Devise a training plan together that will enable you to fulfill the following requirements:
- 200 hours didactic learning – ie reading and other kinds of learning, including set texts, studying, attending conferences and lectures.
- 120 hours facilitation – ie facilitating your own groups under supervision
- 60 hours supervision – at least 40 of these will be with your mentor-supervisor
- 60 hours peer poetry therapy experience – being in a poetry therapy group facilitated by a qualified practitioner some of which may be on-line.
It’s possible to have some credit for past experience – this will all be discussed with your M-S before you submit the training plan for approval.
How long will it take?
Between 2 and 5 years from the date of your training plan being accepted. Compiling the training plan can take several weeks and it is possible to begin counting hours from the date of your intention to train – so please indicate when you are seriously ready to go ahead.
What will it cost?
There are fees to the IFBPT, currently – US $ payable by Paypal
Submitting training plan: $50
Applying for credential $135
Renewing credential $100 (every two years)
Mentor-Supervision with Victoria Field
Supervision hours – a minimum of 60 over the course of training @ £30 per hour – £1800
(up to 20 hours may be delegated to an appropriately qualified person, some may be group supervision)
Peer Poetry Therapy Experience
Between 40-60 hours as a group member with a facilitator who is a qualified poetry therapist – or has been approved by the Federation.
You should allow at least £400 – £600
One way of accruing these hours is to attend conferences – such as the National Association for Poetry Therapy annual conference or Lapidus Days – or residential courses such as those at Ty Newydd. You should then allow for travel and accommodation. Typically, a trip to the US from the UK will total £1000 or so. Residential courses at Ty Newydd or elsewhere are up to £600 depending on length.
Up to 20 hours of Peer Experience may be with another recognised arts therapist or related organisation.
The cost of this will depend on the training plan. You will wish to buy certain textbooks, others can be borrowed.
Attendance at conferences and workshops will vary in cost.
You may begin by volunteering and there may be costs of travel, materials and so on.
Later, you may be paid for your facilitating, enabling you to earn-as-you learn. Your M-S will give guidance.
I now make it a condition of training that people complete the online Introduction to Therapeutic and Reflective Writing course at the Professional Writing Academy as this 8 week course is a good indication of commitment, maturity, organisational skills and understanding of the work. It contributes 20 hours of didactic and 20 of peer hours to the qualification.
Download a reading list here