Kara's Column > Becoming a Certified Poetry Therapist
Please note this article was first published in April 2002, so some information may have changed like prices per credits, requirements, etc.!!
You've read Poetic Medicine and checked out the Institute for Poetic Medicine at www.poeticmedicine.com. You've read all the information you can find on the Internet about Poetry Therapy. You've talked to a few folks who are working in the field, and it sounds like a perfect fit for what you want to do with your life and art.
So now what?
Well, you go to the National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT) website
Okay, so the package arrives, and you are thinking you are set. Well, not exactly. You are just at the beginning of the process really. But this Training Guide is thorough, so be sure to cozy up with a cup of tea and settle in for some detailed reading. You will find many things in this guide such as:
All of this is very helpful. One thing to note immediately is that you must have an appropriate Bachelor's Degree previously to get your CPT. And you must previously have a Master's Degree in a clinical field to go for your RPT.
That said, you will then learn up front that you will need to be ready to make a monetary investment immediately to get started. You will need to file the certification processing fee which can be anywhere from $60 to $145 depending on your starting point in the process. This fee will need to be sent along with your application to get started.
Part of getting started will also require that you set up a relationship with a mentor or supervisor for your training. The NAPT website and written Training Guide both offer information about mentors who are available to you all over the United States. The NAPT is clear that you don't necessarily have to have a mentor geographically near you in order to work with them. But you will have to make arrangements with your mentor wherever they are to meet 1 on 1 and do peer work in order to finish the program. So travel as well as paying for the time of your mentor will be a must.
There were several mentors available to me near by as well as far away. On average, the costs come out to the following for starters:
Understand that these costs are the equivalent of paying for "credit hours" in a university. Each hour you are paying for in peer group and one on one is counting toward your certification. Know that you will also probably need to pay for some university credit hours, too, because you will need to do didactic study in psychology and literature. All those hours count toward your certification.
In addition to these things, you will need to be able to show hours completed in facilitation of therapy sessions with groups or individuals. There are lots of ways to do this in your own community, so look around for opportunities to work with local organizations such as hospice or grief support groups. You can learn a lot from taking hospice and bereavement trainings as well. You'll have to do those trainings to work in the organizations anyway, so it's possible that those trainings can count toward certification hours, too. You'll need to determine that individually with your mentor though.
As always, explore explore explore. Do your homework and research. Read as much as you can. Know as much as you can BEFORE you make the investment of your time and money. This is a commitment to your education and to your service of the community. Know as much as you can going in, and I will say that the $25 for the NAPT Training Guide is totally worth it just for the bibliography even if I never did another thing with it.
Miracles to you!
Kara L.C. Jones is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University where she honed her poetic craft under the mentorship of Jim Daniels. Her poetic and non-fiction works have been included in publications such as New Works Review, PoetsWest, Real Henna, Shared Heart Foundation's "Meant To Be", LightHearts Publication's "Soul Trek", MISSing Angels Newsletter, American Tanka, Mother Tongue Ink's We'Moon, Honored Babies, Cup of Comfort series, and more. Because she refused to give her grief writing over to the control of outside editors and publishers after the death of her son, she and her husband Hawk founded KotaPress in 1999 as a creative outlet for their expressive artworks. She has been facilitating online and in-person workshops for over 10 year, including sessions offered at the International MISS Conferences, WA State Poets Association Burning Word festivals, and Course Bridge.