Wednesday, April 10th   See Conference Schedule 

Pre-Conference Workshop

12:30 pm- 6:00 pm  Pre-Conference Session I: Day Trip with Geri Chavis and Barbara Kreisberg:  National Portrait Gallery USA/Smithsonian American Art Museum and bus tour of historic sites in the Washington DC area

Join us as we begin our excursion with lunch at the beautiful Robert and Arleen Kogod Courtyard, a quiet place beneath an elegant glass canopy amid lush garden plants. Individuals will be responsible for their own lunch. We will then tour the National Portrait Gallery USA, which has a rich array of individual and group portraits and is described as introducing us “to the people who shaped the country—poets, presidents, actors, activists, visionaries and villains,” and “weaving story and biography.” We will continue onto The Smithsonian American Art Museum collection, which captures the aspirations, character, and imagination of the American people throughout three centuries. Its artworks reveal key aspects of America’s rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. At the museums, participants will be invited to focus on works of art that draw their particular attention and be given specific prompts to write from. During the bus tour of historic sites, participants will be asked jot down sense images along the way. We will then come together back at the hotel for writing and sharing. (100% Peer Experience) Educational Setting (3 peer hours).

Geri Chavis, CPT, LP, PhD, CM is a certified mentor, certified poetry therapist, licensed psychologist, and literature professor emerita at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has published numerous articles, reviews and three books related to biblio/poetry therapy, two of which are required texts for individuals pursuing biblio/poetry certification: Poetry and Story Therapy: The Healing Power of Creative Expression and The Healing Fountain: Poetry Therapy for Life’s Journey, co-edited with Lila Weisberger. Geri has served as president and board member of the National Association for Poetry Therapy, has won numerous awards including NAPT’s Lifetime Achievement and Pioneer Awards, presented a wide variety of workshops, and taught interdisciplinary courses within the U.S., the Republic of Ireland, and UK. She has developed and taught courses for trainees in Poetry Genre; Literature of Other Genres (with thematic focus on Marriage and Family Relationships); and more recently, Creative Writing.

Barbara Kreisberg, MS, CPT has served on the NAPT Board as Vice President and Conference Chair.  She is a contributing author of The Healing Fountain. She has worked for over 25 years in both Boston and Miami with a variety of inpatient and outpatient populations in the area of mental health using reflective writing and poetry therapy to promote personal growth and wellness. She has presented workshops at NAPT conferences, local universities, hospitals, cancer support  groups and other community settings on the healing power of writing reflectively using poetry therapy and journal writing techniques. She currently facilitates ongoing writing groups her community in Miami, FL. In 2014 she received the Outstanding Service Award. In 2019 she received an award In Appreciation of 5 Years as NAPT Vice President and Conference Chair. In 2022, she received the Luminary Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Thursday, April 11th   See Conference Schedule 

Pre-Conference Workshops & Events

9:30 am-12:00 noon  Pre-Conference Session II: Strangers in a Strange Land: Finding Home with Poetry Therapy

Peggy Osna Heller, social worker, clinical poetry therapist, and master certified mentor will invite participants into a place of mystery. They will travel imaginatively into their personal stories of demandingly difficult new situations, sensitively using creative play and word arts techniques, bringing lightness of spirit and humor into even the most confounding of experiences. As workshop travelers, they will deepen self-knowledge, improve access to skills already developed, and create metaphorical maps using the poetry and training materials in the wayfarers' documents provided for them for practice and application. They will interact in large group formation as well as in dyads and small peer groups for learning and applying principles of action poetry therapy, and leave for the full conference and home, their backpacks well-stocked with materials to use in developmental and clinical work. (75% Peer Experience, 25% Didactic) Educational Setting (2.5 peer hours).                                             

Peggy Osna Heller, PhD, LCSW-C, PTR, social worker, clinical poetry therapist and master certified mentor, served as president of the National Association for Poetry Therapy, the NAPT Foundation, and the National Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy. She was staff biblio/poetry therapist at Psychiatric Institute, Mt. Vernon and Dominion hospitals, has taught poetry therapy in universities and as co-director with Kenneth Gorelick, MD of the Wordsworth Center for Growth and Healing. Peggy is author of professional journal articles and coauthor of chapters in Life Guidance Through Literature and The Healing Fountain. She co-edited with Carol Thayer Cox Portrait of the Artist as Poet. Her poetry therapy memoir, Word Arts Collage was published by Pudding House in 2009. She founded the Last Friday Play Reading Club, the Over the Speed Limit Memoir- Writing Group, and the Second Sunday of the Odd Month Community Poetry Gathering. A member of Potomac Village Community, she tutors fellow elders in computer skills. Peggy practices psychotherapy and poetry therapy in Potomac, Md.

1:00-4:00 pm Pre-Conference Session III: Life Lessons from Mermaids, Monsters, and Immortals

How does ugly, abandoned Hephaistos find his way home? Parsifal and the Grail, the Departure of Buddha, and the myth of Narcissus, and Jekyll and Hyde all have something to do with disconnection and lack of belonging. Similarly, in fairytales, The Little Mermaid, Rapunzel, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and Jack and the Beanstalk all suffer deeply from separation and lack of community. An exciting body of literature has sprung up in the past two decades with alternate modern tales and messages to tilt these tales on their heads: victims can be victors, gods can be powerless, and mere mortals can authentically be themselves and stand in their own power. These rich life lessons from monsters, mermaids, and immortals are wells of wisdom for therapy and growth. Writing prompts will help participants to zero in on their own personal challenges. An anthology of relevant literature will be distributed. (75% Peer Experience, 25% Didactic) Educational Setting  (3 peer hours).

Sherry Reiter, Phd, LCSW,PTR-M/S is a poet, clinical social worker, and creative arts therapist. She is Director of The Creative Righting Center, mentoring poetry therapists nationally and internationally. Dr. Reiter is an Associate Professor of Speech and Psychology at Touro College and teaches Poetry and Drama Therapy at Hofstra University. In 2010, she was voted Teacher of the Year for Touro College & University. She is the creator of Poets-Behind-Bars. Dr. Reiter is editor and co-author of Writing Away the Demons: Stories of Creative Coping Through Transformative Writing and Twice Chai: A Jewish Road to Recovery. She is recipient of numerous awards for her pioneering work in the field of poetry therapy. Dr. Reiter is past President of The National Association for Poetry Therapy and The International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy and is currently a NAPT Board Member.

4:15-5:45 pm  Film: In Their Shoes: Unheard Stories of Re-entry & Recovery 

Discussion facilitated by Cheryl Buchanan, Founder & Executive Director Writers Without Margins, with Karen “Ren” vanMeenen, Ph.D., MA, CAPF

Meet four men whose lives intersect in a prison reentry and addiction recovery expressive writing program. Learn, from their own words, what led them to commit their crimes, and witness their ongoing stories during the most critical year determining their freedom and survival. This film was created to amplify the disempowered and generally vilified populations in the drug crises – the easiest targets caught in the most difficult cycles. Our hopes were to not only inspire policy change and sentencing reform, but to promote public education regarding drug use and overdose prevention. Get to know the real people- surprisingly relatable, sometimes terrifying, and too often heartbreaking- who live silently behind today’s headlines in these untold stories. A discussion will follow facilitated by Cheryl Buchanan, Founder and Executive Director of Writing Without Margins with Karen (Ren) vanMeenen, Ph.D, MA, CAPF.

Cheryl Buchanan is an attorney who learned the power of storytelling and silence-breaking when she worked for a decade on over 500 cases of childhood sexual abuse in Los Angeles. She has taught in a wide range of university and college classrooms, from law school to undergraduate Communication Studies and Creative Writing, as well as written for a variety of audiences from college texts to network television. She earned her MFA at Emerson College. Cheryl has been the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize, the Boston Mayor’s Poetry Prize and the Naugatuck River Review Narrative Poetry Award as well as nominated for a 2016 Pushcart Prize and twice for Best New Poets. She was the recipient of the 2018 National Association for Poetry Therapy’s Social Justice Award and serves as Editor of Writers Without Margins: A Journal of Poetry and Prose. 

Karen ("ren") vanMeenen, Ph.D, MA, CAPF  is a Lecturer in the English Department at Rochester Institute of Technology. She has served as Editor of Afterimage, the international journal of media arts and cultural criticism, for more than twenty years and has edited and/or copyedited several anthologies and books of poetry, as well as written for several journals and gallery catalogs. She is the longtime Editor of NAPT’s The Museletter and has served on the NAPT Executive Board for over twenty years.

7:30-7:45 pm  Meet the NAPT Board

This is an opportunity to meet the current NAPT Board and find out about happenings in our organization and in our field. We look forward to meeting all our members and new friends and hope that you decide to become more of an active part of NAPT by joining as a member if you have not already done so. We encourage attendees to have more communication with our board members and to join one of the various committees.

7:45-8:30 pm  Welcome and Mix and Mingle: Catherine Tanguis, MA, NBCT, CAPF & Barbara Kreisberg, MS, CPT

During this warm up activity, we will be using poetry to help attendees meet and get to know one another, serving as an introduction to the conference to follow during the next few days.

8:45-9:45 pm  Opening Event Zorina Exie Frey, MFA, with Patti (Spady) Ross, MS, & Kari Martindale, MA                                        EC Poetry & Prose: Peace – Poetry – Truth

Zorina Exie Frey is an educator, publishing content writer, and spoken word poet. She is the 2023 Pushcart Prize winner for her poem, “Pee is for Prejudice,” and her writings are featured in Shondaland, Chicken Soup for the Soul: I’m Speaking Now, and swamp pink. She is a Palm Beach Poetry Festival Langston Hughes Fellow and Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Voices of Color Fellow. Her screenplay, Harley Quinn Origin, received an honorable mention at the Birmingham Film Festival in the United Kingdom. She was also a semi-finalist for the reality TV pilot America's Next Great Author. Zorina has presented her work at the National Council of Black Studies, The Maryland Writers’ Association, and South Florida Writers Association. She has an MFA in Creative Writing, double-majoring in Poetry and Creative Non-Fiction, a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and a certificate in Web Design from Indiana University South Bend, and a certificate in Literary Publishing from Emerson College.

More at: Instagram, X, and Facebook - @zorinaexie

Patti (Spady) Ross graduated from The Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts and The American University. She also holds a M.S. from Keller Graduate School of Management. After a brief career in the Arts and freelance work with the Washington Times and the Rural America newspapers. Patti settled on a career in the corporate dot com arena gaining President's Club recognition with multiple entities. Having traveled abroad and throughout the United States she chose to raise her two daughters in Columbia MD. Thirty years later she is sharing her voice as local spoken word artist - "little pi". Her debut chapbook: St. Paul Street Provocations was published in July 2021 by Yellow Arrow Publishing of Baltimore, Maryland. Patti also hosts EC Poetry and Prose Open Mic at the Baltimore County Arts Guild’s Catonsville Maryland location. She is the founder of the online series First Fridays under the organizational umbrella of Maryland Writers Association of which she is a former board member. She also actively supports several Baltimore youth nonprofits as both board member and advisor. A lifelong advocate for the disenfranchised and homeless, Patti writes poems about the racially marginalized as well as society’s traumatization of the human spirit. Her poems are published in the Pen In Hand Journal, PoetryXHunger website, and Oyster River Pages: Composite Dreams Issue, Writing the Land: Foodways and Social Justice Anthology (2022) as well as other online Zines.

Kari Martindale is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and spoken word artist who has been published in a number of literary journals and anthologies.  She sits on the Board of Maryland Writers’ Association and is co-editor of their literary journal, Pen-in-Hand. She has served on literary judging panels for Maryland State Arts Council, Poetry Out Loud, and slam competitions, and she teaches classes and workshops for Armed Services Arts Partnership and other nonprofit organizations. She has been featured in ekphrastic poetry events across Maryland.  Kari has visited all 50 States and nearly 40 countries. She has an M.A. in Linguistics, is on the management team of EC Poetry & Prose, and values kindness over niceness and justice over peace. 

Friday, April 12th  See Conference Schedule 

Conference Workshops & Events

7:45-8:45 am Registration

8:00-8:45 am Breakfast

7:00-8:00 am MORNING TRIPLE WORKSHOP: Experience a Poetry Therapy Group (First Session)

For the newcomer or dedicated trainee, experience poetry therapy in action along with Nancy Scherlong, LCSW, PTR, CJT, M/S, & Elaine Brooks, RN-BC, MA, PTR, M/S! Join us each day for this interactive and didactic workshop that spans over three days (Fri, Sat and Sun). Experience the beginning, middle and end of a real poetry peer group. Integrate your conference experience, meet new colleagues, and write new material in a supportive community. Participants will be divided into two small groups. You must be available to attend all three days. (75% Experiential, 25% Didactic)  (4.5 peer hours).                                        

Nancy S. Scherlong, LCSW, SEP, PTR/CJT, CM, is a licensed clinical social worker in the states of CT and NY, trauma-informed wellness coach, registered poetry and journal therapist and certified mentor. She is currently President of the International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy. She has been part of the NAPT community for over 30 years and is a life-long learner, writer and lover of words! She has a multi-modal creative arts coaching and psychotherapy practice where she specializes in trauma and nervous system regulation as well as maintains active training cohorts in both journal and poetry therapy. Nancy is on the core faculty of the Therapeutic Writing Institute (TWI), a global on-line learning platform for journal/poetry facilitators and therapists. She also serves as lead faculty for Adelphi University's postgraduate certificate program in the Applied Expressive Arts in Counseling as well as on the faculty of Columbia University and Kint Institute.

Elaine Brooks RN-BC, M.A., CAPF, CM is a board certified integrative nurse coach, certified applied poetry facilitator, certified mentor and certified transition writing specialist. She is on the faculty of the Therapeutic Writing Institute. She has a coaching and therapeutic writing practice in Florida, having recently relocated from CT. She was on the board of the International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy for many years, most recently serving as co-president.

9:00-9:15 am Welcome & Overview – Nicholas Mazza, Ph.D., PTR, NAPT President 

9:15-10:00 am Keynote Speaker – Nancy S. Scherlong, LCSW, SEP, PTR/CJT, CM   There is No Number Smaller Than Two: Building and Sustaining Intentional and Inclusive Communities through Poetry, Writing, and Action

Nancy S. Scherlong, LCSW, SEP, PTR/CJT, CM, is a licensed clinical social worker in the states of CT and NY, trauma-informed wellness coach, registered poetry and journal therapist and certified mentor. She is currently President of the International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy. She has been part of the NAPT community for over 30 years and is a life-long learner, writer and lover of words! She has a multi-modal creative arts coaching and psychotherapy practice where she specializes in trauma and nervous system regulation as well as maintains active training cohorts in both journal and poetry therapy. Nancy is on the core faculty of the Therapeutic Writing Institute (TWI), a global on-line learning platform for journal/poetry facilitators and therapists. She also serves as lead faculty for Adelphi University's postgraduate certificate program in the Applied Expressive Arts in Counseling as well as on the faculty of Columbia University and Kint Institute.

10:30-12:00 Noon Workshop Series A

A-1 “Let’s WOW” – Write Our Words: A Revolutionary Approach for Normative and Neurodiverse Children and Teens Channah Magori, BOT, MA, MFA, OTR, CAPF

Children and teens are no strangers to loneliness, self-consciousness, low self-esteem, and word poverty. This is true for normative children, as well as those with special needs. One of the myths about children on the autistic spectrum is that they cannot feel empathy. This myth only deepens the isolation and loneliness of children on the spectrum. Join Channah Magori, CAPF, an American Israeli, who has begun a revolutionary approach, where children model empathy and become the teachers of their peers through their own vulnerability. This method is applicable to the neurodiverse as well as the normative student. Participants will walk away learning to unpack and help process the emotional needs of their students, being able to implement biblio/poetry techniques and enhance facilitation skills, and learning to transform students into teachers. (75% Experiential, 25% Didactic) Educational Setting (1.5 peer hours).

Channah Magori, BOT, MA, MFA, OTR, CAPF is a poet, writer, editor, translator, pediatric occupational therapist and creative arts therapist. She is a dual Israeli and US citizen living in Jerusalem Israel for 50 years. She is the NAPT Israeli regional representative. She has been employed by the Israel Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, working extensively with children and teens, both normative and special needs for 17 years. Her students include those with Emotional Dysregulation, Learning Disabilities, ADD/ADHD, Genetic Disorders, C.P., Down Syndrome, Autism and At-Risk-Youth. She guides them to “Write Our Words, for self-expression, self-awareness, transformation and empowerment. Her students have proudly published their books of poetry which have been gifted to the Mayor of Jerusalem, The Honorable Moshe Lyon. Her published works of poetry and prose have been published in: Interlitq, Poetica Journal, Minamamakim Journal, The Canadian Jewish Press, B’nai Brit Magazine, Voices, Poetica, Words in Progress and her 2nd Generation Holocaust poetry has been anthologized in Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust.

A2 Individuation: Poetry as a Path to Enlightenment Jon Sayers

In this 'big picture' workshop, we'll look at the way poems can act as signposts on a lifelong journey towards self-realization and higher consciousness. Following Emerson's needle and William Stafford's thread, our pens will weave their way towards Cavafy's Ithaka and we will learn how, with conscious intention, all the micro-insights and glimpses of self-awareness we gain from individual poems can lead us to a higher level of consciousness. Jung claimed that individuation - the backbone of his model of the psyche - expands the scope and perception of our consciousness, dispersing so much darkness that 'the personality becomes permeated with light.' Along the way, we'll encounter poems representing the persona, the shadow, and the Self. I hope participants will leave the workshop with a reinvigorated sense of inner direction, and perhaps the sense of a roadmap and long-term destination for their life and work. (70% Experiential/ 30% Didactic) Spirituality.

Jon Sayers is a poet, transformative life coach and journal facilitator based in London. His poems have been published in leading UK magazines, he has served as chair and co-editor of the leading UK poetry magazine, Magma, vice chair of The Poetry Society, and is currently a trustee of the Winchester Poetry Festival, for whom he has interviewed poets including Christopher Reid, Jo Shapcott, Annie Freud and Paul Muldoon. His play, A World Full of Weeping, a supernatural thriller whose plot revolves around a poem by WB Yeats, was twice broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and was a Radio Times Pick of the Week. As a journal facilitator, using a biblio/poetry therapy model, Jon has worked with a variety of populations, from older teens transitioning out of the care system, older women care givers and church communities to newly qualified life coaches, members of the British Guild of Travel Writers, and inmates of His Majesty's Pentonville prison.  Jon draws on a wide range of psychological models in his coaching and facilitation work, with a particular interest in the ideas of Carl Jung. He is the UK representative for NAPT.

A3  Advice-Poetry' and Trauma Healing: Therapeutic Use of Somali Indigenous Oral Verses in the Context of Protracted Exile – Ana Ljubinkovic, Ph.D.

This workshop, led by Dr. Ana Ljubinkovic, explores the therapeutic use of indigenous poetry-making in coping with the hardships of extended exile. Using the work of contemporary Somali oral poets in the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya as a study case, the workshop will unfold over two sections. The first, didactic section will introduce the unique and central role that poetry-making has occupied within traditional Somali culture, before presenting an analysis of contemporary oral verses created by Dadaab refugee poets in light of psychological theories on trauma healing. The second, interactive section will engage participants in an analysis of three therapeutic poems created by Somali refugee poets in Dadaab, and will proceed with an experiential session of therapeutic writing where participants will experiment with composing a traditional form of Somali therapeutic oral verse known as talo iyo waano or ‘advice poetry’. (50% Experiential/50% Didactic) Clinical Health Care Setting/Social Justice  

Dr. Ana Ljubinkovic is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at California State University, Stanislaus, and an external academic examiner for the MA in Refugee Care at the University of Essex, UK. Her research interests focus on trauma, collective violence, refugeehood, and the role of poetry in promoting psychological healing. Ana has previously taught at MA programs in Human Rights (UK), MA in Refugee Care (UK) and MA in Peace Education (Italy). As a consultant to the United Nations and other organizations in Africa and the Middle East, she worked in the area of psychosocial and mental health support for refugee populations with a focus on promoting traditional forms of art within the processes of trauma healing. Her work has been published in the Journal of Poetry Therapy and includes the articles "Healing dimensions of Somali poetry in response to military humanitarian intervention" and "Therapeutic role of Somali humor in digesting military humanitarian intervention." Her forthcoming book chapter "Bards of Dadaab: Oral poetry and psychological healing among Somali refugees in Kenya," explores the therapeutic role of Somali oral verse in coping with protracted exile.  


A4 Poetry at Work: A Modest Proposal for Organizational Intervention– Julie Benesh, PhD & Jasmine Green, PhD

Poetry has much to offer not only individuals, but groups and systems, particularly as workplace mental wellness has recently dipped to historic lows. But given poetry’s fraught relationship with more rigid paradigms of knowledge and expression, should poetry advocates even bother to cast its subtle gems before such bastions of the bottom-line? This workshop introduces some means of helping organizations and their workforces benefit from poetry, in its various guises, as well as for accessing and developing participants’ own work-oriented wisdom in poems of their own and others making. Participants will be able to articulate the potential uses of poetry in workplace wellness, consider how poetry, might contribute to workplace stress management, conflict resolution and innovation, and identify potential organizational entry points and strategies for access. (70% Experiential,30% Didactic) Educational Setting.

Julie Benesh, PhD, is a frequent conference presenter and has conducted writing and other experiential workshops for International Leadership Association (ILA), Organization Development Network (ODN), and Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). An organization development executive in an academic medical center for many years, Dr. Benesh is currently chair of the business psychology programs online at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology where she is a full professor of organizational leadership. Julie also teaches creative writing at the Newberry Library in Chicago. Her poetry chapbook ABOUT TIME was published in 2022 by Cathexis Northwest Press, and Major Jackson called her poetry “superb in wit and whimsy.” Her debut full-length poetry collection, INITIAL CONDITIONS is forthcoming from Saddle Road Press. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Warren Wilson College and a PhD in human and organizational systems from Fielding Graduate University.

Jasmine Green, PhD, is a writer, speaker, poet, consultant and owner of Sepreh Consulting at With over a decade of experience in collegiate athletic administration, she holds a doctor of philosophy degree in Organizational Leadership. She has authored three poetry collections: Unedited Volume I, Unedited Volume II, and Unedited Volume III. Her deep and purposeful rhymes are explosive as she connects the readers with her words. The intention of the Unedited series was to describe an array of unedited expressions of her thoughts following the competition of her doctorate degree. The topics range from self-love to intentional creation to the psychology of the human mind to personal liberation. Believing that poetry is a universal language and a healing elixir, her goal is to help others tap into their poetic expression.

A5   Sleep and Poetry Therapy – Alison Johnson, RN, MBA, DNP, PTR

We sing lullabies and set routines for babies to help them sleep, but what about adults? And what is a lullaby but a sung poem? Trouble sleeping is a remarkably common problem throughout life. Some people find it hard to get to sleep, others to stay asleep, and for some they experience both. This session will briefly review sleep conditions and general information about the importance of sleep.The majority of the session will present a variety of poems, prompts and poetic rituals to help calm the overactive brain and allow sleep. Participants will explore sleep routines that include the development of rhythm, mantras, visualizations and poetry to induce sleep and manage nightmares. (75% Experiential, 25% Didactic) Clinical/Health Care Setting (1.5 peer hours).

Alison Johnson, MBA, DNP, PTR is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and a Registered Poetry Therapist. She most recently worked for Healthcare for the Homeless in Hennepin County, Minneapolis Minnesota where she provided medication management and poetry therapy to persons experiencing homelessness. She surveys managed behavioral health organizations, health plans and organizations seeking certification in health equity for the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). She is currently working with Haramaya University in Ethiopia on mental health awareness and nursing education.

12:00-1:00 pm Luncheon 

1:00-1:45 pm Certification & Awards Event – International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy

All are invited to attend this ceremony of recognition and presentation of Credentials to PTRs, CPTs or CAPFs who have successfully completed their training, and Endorsements of those who have completed Certification as Journal Facilitators or Therapists through the Center for Journal Therapy. Meet current mentor/supervisors and current trainees and congratulate your peers.

2:00-2:45 pm IFPBF Credentialing Information Workshop: Your Life Could Be Poetry

Alison Johnson, DNP, PTR, IFBPT Credentials Chair and Harriet Kohen, LICSW, CPT, IFBPT Secretary 

Is the idea of poetry therapy training a thread that is “gently, / invisibly, silently / pulling” at you? If so, join this open discussion of credentialing opportunities in biblio/poetry therapy. Training in biblio/poetry therapy provides more than letters after your name; IFBPT approved training will inspire you, enhance skills, and build confidence while ensuring best practices for your profession. Come away knowing what to expect and how to take your next step!

3:00-4:30 pm Workshop Series B

B1  Poetry, Place, and Loss: A Writing Workshop – Danielle Beazer Dubrasky, MA Ph.D.

The term “drift migration” refers to a phenomenon in which a flock of birds is blown of course into new terrain. This workshop explores the effects of being “blown off course” in terms of place The loss of place can have a profound impact on emotional wellbeing. What does it mean to feel connected to a place? How does that connection create belonging? How do images of a place we carry, as preservation, help to reconcile loss? This workshop will explore how to preserve a sense of place through the poetry therapy modes—the receptive, expressive, and symbolic—and how that preservation can help to reconcile loss. The presenter will also share a few poems from her book Drift Migration, a collection that explores relationships, loss, trauma, and a sense of place from the lush green of the south to the stark red rock of the southwest. (50% Experiential/50% Didactic) Educational Setting

Danielle Beazer Dubrasky is the author of Drift Migration from Ashland Poetry Press, a letterpress book Invisible Shores, and the chapbook Ruin and Light. Her essay, “Juliet,” won the 2020 Mississippi Review Nonfiction Prize. Danielle has won awards through the Utah Arts Council and been a Fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Several journals have published her poems, including Chiron Review, Ninth Letter, South Dakota Review, and Sugar House Review. She has also co-authored a curriculum for poetry therapy in groups published by the Journal of Poetry Therapy. A professor of English and Creative Writing at Southern Utah University, Danielle directs the Grace A. Tanner Center for Human Values.

B2  The Healing Power of Poetry Exchange While Incarcerated: Disrupting theIsolating Geography of Mass Incarceration by Meeting On the Same Page – Julia Mascioli, MFA, Deputy Director, Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop, Antoine Coleman, Poetry Ambassador, & Sofia Dean, Program Assistant

Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop builds community to foster personal development and systems change for justice-involved youth and adults through the literary arts and trauma healing. This session will focus on the healing power of poetry exchange in fostering a sense of community and belonging in the face of dislocation and isolation brought on by incarceration. Participants will hear from a formerly incarcerated Poet Ambassador who will share how the exchange of poetry brought him a sense of belonging. Participants will read and respond to poetry by incarcerated writers and be invited to write their own poetry, for a mutual exchange. With permission, participants’ poetry generated during the session will be shared with incarcerated writers following the conference, giving the incarcerated writers the opportunity to not only receive written feedback on their creative writing, but to provide feedback as well, sharing how they connected with the written pieces. (80% Experiential/20% Didactic) Social Justice.

Julia Mascioli is the deputy director of the Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop. She oversees all programming for Free Minds members incarcerated in the District of Columbia Jail, juvenile detention facility, and federal prisons across the country. She is a co-editor of the anthology When You Hear Me (You Hear Us): Voices on Youth Incarceration, and her short fiction has been published in several literary magazines, including the Bellevue Literary Review, Witness, and Bellingham Review.

Antoine Coleman was born and raised in Washington, DC. At 21 years old, he was sentenced to 66 years to life in prison. Because of a DC law called the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act, his sentence was reduced, and after serving nearly 22 years, he was released from prison in 2023. He currently works in an art gallery as an assistant curator and resident artist. He also works with Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop as one of their Poet Ambassadors, speaking to the community about his experiences and sharing his poetry as well as poetry by incarcerated Free Minds members.

Sofia Dean is a program assistant at Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop, supporting a range of programming within the Prison Book Club, a correspondence-based literary arts program with members incarcerated in prisons across the country. She also co-facilitates a weekly meeting where volunteers write letters to Free Minds members who are incarcerated. She has conducted qualitative and quantitative research examining the intersections of health, housing, and mass incarceration as a research assistant at American University. Her poetry has been published in American University’s Literary Magazine and campus media publications.

B3  These Black Kids: Culturally Responsive Poetry and The Lived Experience of African American Adolescent Girls – Jennifer Nicole Bacon, Ph.D.

This workshop highlights the lived experience of African American adolescent girls writing culturally responsive poetry to explore their self-defined identities in an after-school program. Culturally responsive poetry is the unearthing of African American adolescents’ self-definition through a process of naming (to call forth their own names and multiple identities). It involves poetry writing as both individual and collective efforts by and for African American adolescent girls, as a bold and passionate declaration of self-identity. The process of creating culturally responsive poetry for African American adolescent girls becomes a deeply meaningful recognition and expression of multiple identities that include race, gender, age, class, and location. Moreover, embedded in the fabric of culturally responsive poetry is the voice of resistance. The voices of resistance and identity that are revealed in culturally responsive poetry are connected theoretically throughout Black feminism, multiracial feminism, and intersectionality. The result is a form of writing that calls for the merger of scholarship with creative and poetic expression.(80% Experiential/20% Didactic) Educational. Setting, Social Justice.

Dr. Jennifer Bacon is Core Doctoral Faculty in Human Development at Fielding Graduate University. She has over two decades of experience in the field of education and earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland, College Park and her MEd in Special Education from the University of Virginia. In addition to her in-depth experience in education, she is an interfaith minister trained in the use of poetry therapy, spiritual guidance, and yoga. Deeply committed to addressing issues of racial and gender equity and writing for social justice and transformation, she participates in a number of professional associations, mentoring organizations, and research work. Dr. Bacon created the course, A Sacred Activism: Social Justice as Spiritual Practice which is available to the public. She has authored numerous articles and book chapters including, “Writing in Solidarity: The Lived Experience of African American Adolescent Girls Writing Poetry,” “Using Culturally and Inclusive Poetry Groups with Diverse Teens,” “Academic Mothering: Black Women Mentors in Higher Education,” and “Examining Teachers’ Beliefs About African American Male Students in a Low-Performing High School in an African American School District. She is the author of Sisters in the Dissertation House: A Dissertation Narrative, which addresses doctoral completion by women of color in underrepresented fields. Her children’s book titled, I Am an Antiracist Superhero! was released by Bala Kids in September of 2023. 

Dr. Bacon’s book, These Black Kids: Culturally Responsive Poetry and The Lived Experience of African American Adolescent Girls debuted with University Professors Press in October of 2023. 

B4  Poetic [In]sights: Utilizing the Creative Arts Therapies for LGBTQ+ People – Mari Alschuler, Ph.D., LISW-S, PTR-CM, MPTP & Deborah Eve Grayson, Ph.D., LMHC, PTR

During this experiential workshop, attendees will be treated to a variety of poems, song lyrics and writing prompts and creative therapy tools such as soundtrack, photopoetics, postcard to a future self, and SoulCollageTM. These activities are suitable for various age groups with a special focus on providing poetry and creative art therapies for LGBTQ+ people. Participants will develop insight into how they can best help their clients express their most authentic selves. (75% Experiential/25% Didactic) Social Justice (1.5 peer hours).

Mari Alschuler, Ph.D., LISW-S, PTR/CM is a professor of social work at Youngstown State University (Ohio), and is a clinical supervisor, poetry therapist and psychotherapist in private practice, and a poet and fiction writer. Mari has presented workshops internationally and published articles on poetry therapy. She specializes in mindfulness approaches to therapy and in working with members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Deborah Grayson, Ph.D., LMHC, PTR is an adjunct professor of psychology at Lynn University (Florida). Deborah is a psychotherapist, clinical sexologist, poetry therapist, and creative arts specialist in private practice for over 45 years. Deborah specializes in working with transgender and gender-nonconforming youth and adults and is a published author and photographer.

B5. Personal Poetry as Catalyst for Positive Change: Embracing Your Advocate Identity Through Poetry, Symbol, and Story – Cynthia Holloway Kelvin, PsyD, RDT/BCT, CPT

This workshop invites participants to explore the potential of their own writing to inspire positive change in self and others. By utilizing the creative mediums of poetry, symbolism, and storytelling, this workshop empowers participants to embrace their advocate identity. Experiential writing and embodiment exercises with partners and small groups will provide the opportunity for participants to write within and for community. Participants will leave having Ignited poems for social change that can inspire communities both local and beyond.(80% Experiential/20% Didactic) Social Justice (1.5 peer hours).

Cynthia Holloway Kelvin, PsyD., RDT/BCT, CPT, is a licensed clinical psychologist with specialized training in drama and poetry therapy. Drawing upon her background in acting, she incorporates creative and performance techniques into her work as a psychologist, offering a holistic approach to therapy. In addition, Cynthia conducts poetry and creative performance workshops, emphasizing the use of creativity to facilitate self-discovery and advocacy for a better world. To explore Cynthia's work further, visit

4:30-6:00 pm Mentor/Supervisor Round Table Discussion

6:00-7:45 pm Dinner – Hotel Restaurant or Dinner on your own

8:00-9:30 pm Open Mic Poetry Sign-Up & Reading  Emceed by Jenna Robinson, MA, LMFT  

We welcome any poems, short stories, songs and any other spoken word entries of no more than 2 minutes total length to read at this open poetry reading. Here is your chance to share your own writing and creativity with our group! 

Saturday, April 13th   See Conference Schedule 

Conference Workshops & Events

7:00-8:00 am Morning Triple Workshop: Experience a Poetry Therapy Group (Second Session – 2 Groups)

For the newcomer or dedicated trainee, experience poetry therapy in action along with Nancy Scherlong, LCSW, PTR, CJT, M/S, & Elaine Brooks, RN-BC, MA, PTR, M/S! Join us each day for this interactive and didactic workshop that spans over three days (Fri, Sat and Sun). Experience the beginning, middle and end of a real poetry peer group. Integrate your conference experience, meet new colleagues, and write new material in a supportive community. Participants will be divided into two small groups. You must be available to attend all three days. (75% Experiential, 25% Didactic)  (4.5 peer hours).

7:30-8:30 am Registration 

8:00-9:00 am Breakfast 

9:00-10:30 am Workshop Series C

C1  That’s Ridiculous! The Value of Integrating Joy, Play, and Silliness into Therapeutic Uses of Poetry – Jenna Robinson, MA, LMFT & Ashley S. Schaaf, MA, APCC

When was the last time you laughed until you felt the salt of your tears running down your cheeks? Do you remember a moment when you could feel joy tingling on your skin? This workshop explores the connections between freedom, empowerment, joy, and play as well as the ways poetry can be used to cultivate these experiences. This session investigates the ability of poetry-based play to support identity development and self-creation. Participants will be invited to engage in several experiential exercises designed to foster silliness and playfulness. This session will also include a didactic presentation, which offers an overview of the integration of poetry therapy into the foundations of liberation psychology and play therapy. A variety of preexisting poems will be provided and discussed. Writing and sharing time will also be incorporated. This workshop is focused on individual and group work with adults, but the material can be adapted to a variety of populations and settings.(70% Experiential/30% Didactic) Clinical /Health Care Setting.

Jenna Robinson (she/her), MA, LMFT, is a QWOC expressive arts therapist and performance poet located in the Bay Area. Jenna is a steadfast advocate for empowering people at the margins to author their stories of resistance and resilience using written and oral traditions. She has been performing and teaching spoken word workshops to youth and adults since 2011. She is a two-time grand slam champion of Hawaii Slam and placed second in the nation at the 2015 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, CA. She received her M.A. in Expressive Arts Therapy from the California Institute for Integral Studies (CIIS), where she developed an approach melding narrative therapy, expressive arts and spoken word poetry. Jenna has piloted and facilitated trauma-informed writing workshops with individuals, youth, and families throughout the Bay Area and Hawai'i, including survivors of intimate partner violence and system engaged youth. She currently runs an intergenerational therapeutic writing program for youth, families and intergenerational community groups through Bay Area Creative. She is a professor in the Expressive Arts Therapy department at CIIS and at the Wright Institute. Jenna is currently training as a Poetry Therapist under the supervision of Dr. Sherry Reiter. 

Ashley Schaaf (she/her), MA, APCC is an expressive arts (EXA) therapist in San Francisco, CA. Passionate about prison abolition and  to amplifying the voices of those who have historically been silenced, Ashley has conducted poetry workshops in Michigan correctional facilities to share the power of language and its potential to act as a catalyst for connection, increased understanding, empathy, and awareness of the magic of living. Ashley is a recent graduate of the EXA program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), where she completed a practicum internship at a community mental health organization in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. Also a poet and writer, she completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a concentration in Creative Writing, at Central Michigan University. As a therapist, she is influenced by EXA, psychodynamic, Buddhist, and liberation psychologies. Ashley is drawn to working with folks at the intersections of incarceration, homelessness, and severe mental illness. Ashley is now an adjunct professor in the Master’s in Counseling Psychology program at CIIS. She is currently training as a Poetry Therapist under the supervision of Barbara Bethea.

C2   Şəfalı Şeir - A Fulbright Project Exploring The Healing Poetry of Azerbaijan – Elnur “El” Gajiev, PsyD

The purpose of this workshop is to illuminate the therapeutic power that Azerbaijani Poetry & Literature holds for facilitating holistic health, healing, and well-being. Poetry has long held an esteemed role and function in this particular region of the world, serving individuals, families, and communities for thousands of years. As a Fulbright Scholar, Dr. El spent a year identifying and expounding the inherently therapeutic elements of Azerbaijani Poetry, which, in turn, informed the design and implementation of therapeutic programming for individuals and communities in a manner that is concurrently culturally relevant and reverent. In this workshop, Dr. El will share the unique attributes of Azerbaijani poetry and invite attendees to engage in various formats of poetic appreciation, expression, and exploration through a mixture of didactic, experiential, and multimedia exercises. (60% Experiential/40% Didactic) Clinical/Health Care Setting, Educational Setting.

Dr. Elnur "El" Gajiev is a psychologist, educator, and poet, who focuses on merging creative, wellness practices with evidence-based approaches to expand access, appeal, and awe for individuals, organizations, and communities. He has taught at various institutions, domestically and internationally, has served on the boards of notable psychological associations, and has recently completed a year-long Fulbright Fellowship delving into the intersection of the expressive arts and holistic health practices. He also loves poetry, a lot, and is excited to share his passion and his purpose with you. You may learn more about him and his work at

C3   The Symbol of Circles – Laura Santner, LCSW, PTR-CM

The workshop will be literally using a rope in addition to yarn and will be actively engaging in a variety of circle activities. The group will begin with some didactic about the symbolism of circles and then proceed to a warm up exercise of everyone holding the circle and introducing themselves. We will be reading several poems using the circle as a symbol and will be writing and reflecting. Participants will be making their own circles of their life to take home with them in addition to making a group circle to be put on display at the conference. Participants will be working together to feel that sense of community and support while exploring their life and understanding where they fit in the world. Participants will be provided a packet of poetry in addition to a packet on Raccoon circle activities. (75% Experiential/25% Didactic) Clinical/Health Care Setting(1.5 peer hours).

Laura Santner is a Licensed Clinical Social worker who graduated from New York University in 2006. She is also a Registered Poetry Therapist and a Certified Mentor in Poetry Therapy. Laura Santner has a published article in the Journal of Social Psychology and one published chapbook available on Amazon. She is also a co-author of a chapter in the textbook Creative Arts-Based Group Therapy with Adolescents. Theory and Practice. Laura Santner has been a clinical therapist and supervisor for New York State for 16 years and opened up a private practice in 2019. She has presented on poetry therapy at her work place to staff, psychology externs, social work interns, and undergraduate volunteers in addition to past Poetry Therapy conferences, retreats, and local colleges. She currently serves as Vice President on the board of the National Association of Poetry therapy.

C4  Contributing to the Professional Literature: A Place to Write. Always the Write Time – Nicholas Mazza, Ph.D., PTR

Writing and publishing for the professional literature is the focus of this workshop. Participants will develop an understanding of the publication process. Specific methods to advance the writing process will be presented and discussed. Participants will gain knowledge about the range of articles (e.g., case study, empirical, ethnographies, and theoretical) and guidelines for format, documentation, and writing style. New directions for qualitative and empirical research relating to poetry therapy will be discussed. Professional and personal writing will be considered within the context of the RES practice model. R (Receptive)- Responding to poems and narratives that generate participant writing. E(Expressive)-Specific writing techniques including the cluster poem and prompts. S (Symbolic)-Creating metaphors and rituals. The entire process from creating the manuscript to revising, submitting, and dealing with publisher response will be addressed. (75% Experiential/25% Didactic) Clinical/Health Care Setting, Educational Setting, Social Justice, Spirituality (1.5 peer hours).

Nicholas Mazza, Ph.D. Professor and Dean Emeritus at the Florida State University, College of Social Work, Tallahassee, FL. Dr. Mazza holds Florida licenses in psychology, clinical social work, and marriage and family therapy. He has been involved in the practice, research, and teaching of poetry therapy for over 50 years. He currently serves as President of NAPT. Dr. Mazza is the author of Poetry Therapy: Theory and Practice, 3rd Edition (2022); and Editor of a 4-volume series, Expressive Therapies (published by Routledge). He is also the founding (1987) and current editor of the Journal of Poetry Therapy: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Practice, Theory, Research, and Education. He is the current president and board member of the National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT). In 1997, Dr. Mazza received the “Pioneer Award” from NAPT.

C5  Playful Poetry: Combining Expressive Writing and Play Therapy for Children with Trauma – Jennifer Taylor, LCSW-C, RPT-S

During this 90-minute workshop, participants will learn the basic theoretical foundations of both play therapy and therapeutic writing of poetry and their applications in clinical practice with children and their families. Using this theoretical framework, participants will explore how to structure and create therapeutic play therapy interventions using expressive writing. Applications will be provided for play-based writing interventions for use in virtually any type of play therapy treatment plan. (60% Experiential/40% Didactic) Clinical/Heath Care Setting.

Jennifer Taylor is an LCSW-C and RPT-S with nearly 20 years experience in the field of social work. She is Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, an EMDR Approved Consultant, and a certified Journal to the Self Instructor. She is an adjunct instructor at the University of Memphis. Jennifer graduated from the University of West Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work in 1999. She graduated from the Florida State University with a Master's Degree in Clinical Social Work in 2005. Jennifer is licensed as a Clinical Social Worker in Maryland and Florida. She has written three published chapters in play therapy books on topics like cooperative games, group play therapy supervision and nature-based family play therapy interventions.

10:40-10:55 am Honorary Awards Presentation 

11:00-11:45 am Keynote Poet – Cornelius Eady

Poet/Playwright/Songwriter and Cave Canem Co-Founder Cornelius Eady was born in Rochester, New York and is Professor of English, and the John C. Hodges Chair of Excellence in Poetry at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, a position last held by US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. He is the author of several poetry collections, including Victims of the Latest Dance Craze, winner of the 1985 Lamont Prize; The Gathering of My Name, nominated for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; Brutal Imagination, and Hardheaded Weather. He wrote the libretto to Diedra Murray’s opera "Running Man," which was short listed for the Pulitzer Prize in Theatre, and his verse play "Brutal Imagination" won the Oppenheimer Prize for the best first play from an American Playwright in 2001. His awards include Fellowships from the NEA, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Music is a central theme of Eady’s work, along with family and the challenges unique to the African-American experience. He is a recipient of the 2023 Pegasus Award for Service in Poetry.

12:15-1:15 pm Luncheon

1:30-2:45 pm Collaborative Bibliotherapeutic Resilience Research – Stanley Nile, PhD, & Steffani Fletcher, MEd

Non-profits often have limited resources for conducting and disseminating research on the impact of their educational programming. This workshop describes how research can promote collaboration, validate programming, and engage college students in therapeutic poetry experiences.  The University of North Florida, and Tampa University co-authored a research study with Hope at Hand, Inc., a non-profit that provides poetry interventions to advance resilience in underserved youth. A quasi-experimental study will be conducted to determine if a bibliotherapy intervention results in a significant difference in scores on the Resilience Scale for Adults with undergraduate college students. The analysis will focus on outcomes of programming utilizing poetry with themes of resilience to help individuals make sense of their lives.  Preliminary results suggest bibliotherapy improves resilience in undergraduates and that organizations that collaborate, perform well, and show results that measure progress better serve clients. (20% Experiential/80% Didactic) Educational Setting, Social Justice,

Dr. Nile Stanley is an Associate Professor of Literacy Education at the University of North Florida, He has 36 years of experience as a reading specialist, poetry educator, artist in residence, and visiting scholar of narrative psychology in China, Germany, and Vietnam. He has published research in the Journal of Poetry Therapy, Reading Psychology, and Language Magazine. Dr. Stanley is a founding board member of Hope at Hand, Inc., a non-profit center that provides art and poetry interventions for underserved youth. He is an editorial board member of the JPT and a past editor of the Florida Reading Journal.

Steffani Fletcher is the Executive Director of Hope at Hand, a nonprofit organization that provides therapeutic poetry lessons for youth She has 23 years of teaching and administrative experience with Duval County Public Schools. Steffani holds degrees in Elementary Education and Educational Leadership. She has also earned national certifications from the American Montessori Society and the International Federation of Biblio/Poetry Therapy and is a member of the Leadership Jacksonville Class of 2015. Mrs. Fletcher founded Hope at Hand in 2009 and has created poetry programming for 22 social service/education venues in Jacksonville, FL and Tallahassee, FL. She blends her vast knowledge of educational best practices, poetry, and therapeutic techniques to create programming that has made a significant impact on at-risk youth.

3:00-4:30 pm Workshop Series D

D1  Exploring Racism Through the Lens of Poetry – Diane Kaufman, MD & Melissa Chen, Fourth Year Medical Student

Structural racism is a systemic issue that leads to inequality and disparity in healthcare diagnosis, treatment, and outcome for racial and ethnic minorities. Combating structural racism in healthcare systems begins with our developing awareness of implicit bias and prejudice; however, great resistance and defensiveness can be encountered when attempting to see and acknowledge the persistence of racism both in ourselves and others. The structure of poetry such as its use of metaphor, imagery, symbolism, and rhythmic language uniquely enables us to safely tap into the deeper realm of the unconscious helping us to better address these resistances. This workshop aims to explore structural racism by reflecting upon the writings and associated experiences of racial and ethnic minorities. By engaging in writing exercises and sharing personal experiences and feelings that have either inhibited or inspired empathy, we become more self-aware and motivated to become agents for positive change.(70% Experiential/30% Didactic) Clinical/Health Care Setting, Social Justice.

Diane Kaufman, MD is a poet, artist, child psychiatrist, humanism in medicine awardee, and founder-director of the Hold On Campaign for Suicide Prevention LLC. Dr. Kaufman worked 28 years at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (Newark, now Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences) where she was Medical Director of Preschool Services and the Crisis Intervention Mobile Outreach Program. Dr. Kaufman initiated Poetry in Medicine Day and was guiding leader of Creative Arts Healthcare. She received grants in child abuse prevention and arts & healing projects. Her story, Bird That Wants to Fly, inspired an opera, and is narrated by actor, Danny Glover. She is the author of 15 Poems to Healing & Recovery, Missing Mommy, and Three Objects Spoke to Me. The co-creative songs inspired by her poetry on behalf of suicide prevention, Don’t Give Up, Lift You Up, Hold On, and Holding The Heart When It Breaks have all won international awards. Retired from Mind Matters, PC as of June 30, 2023, Dr. Kaufman is delighted to mentor Melissa Chen, a 4th year medical student at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, on Arts in Psychiatry whereby expressive arts are integrated into patient care.

Melissa Chen is a long-lost poet, budding artist, and dedicated medical student with a passion for mental health and community engagement. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Erie, PA. Melissa has contributed to her community through her volunteer work with the children of domestic violence survivors, providing a nurturing space where young minds can heal through play and artistic expression. Melissa is intrigued by the potential of expressive arts in the field of psychiatry and healthcare, recognizing their profound ability to aid in the processing of traumatic experiences.

D2  Building Bridges Into the Fog: The Steadying Power of Poetry Therapy – Wendi R. Kaplan, LCSW, CPT-M/S & Lauren Mazow Boyle, Ph.D.

This workshop explores the uses of poetry therapy to help create cohesive and supportive communities in uncertain, even chaotic conditions. Wendi and Lauren share the story of a virtual writing workshop offered across an ocean, with young women in a Bangladeshi university, most of whom were refugees from impoverished, restrictive, and war-torn countries. They will illustrate the principles and techniques for managing disorganization and uncertainty, and for creating community that provides steadiness amid upheaval. This workshop shows and tells the story of how the alchemy of poetry and metaphor can help transform chaos and confusion into something unexpectedly beautiful and vibrant.  (75% Experiential/25% Didactic) Social Justice (1.5 peer hours).

Wendi R. Kaplan, LCSW, CPT-M/S is a psychotherapist who specializes in relational, integrative, and biblio/poetry therapies. She has a private practice in Alexandria, Virginia and provides consultation to mental health providers, physicians, and other professionals. As a poetry therapist and mentor/supervisor she also teaches the theory and process of biblio/poetry therapy and word arts. Wendi is a poet and writer and creates poetry events in all kinds of places! Wendi has been meditating since 1974 and incorporates meditative and mindful practices into all her work.

Lauren Mazow Boyle, Ph.D., CPT is a clinical psychologist and Certified Poetry Therapist with a private practice in Potomac, Maryland. She also leads poetry and writing groups through Arts for the Aging and through the Things They Carry project of the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis. Alongside her psychodynamic practice, her poetry therapy work has helped her discover how poetry can help connect us to ourselves, to each other, and to our own creative capacities. She has an A.B. degree in English from Princeton University, and M.A.. in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the George Washington University.

D3 Harmonizing Words and Body: A Somatic Poetry Journey – Paul White, Ph.D., LMFT

Join Dr. Paul White, a somatic psychotherapist and expert in holistic mental health, for a unique and immersive experience at the National Association of Poetry Therapy Conference. In "Harmonizing Words and Body: A Somatic Poetry Journey," participants will embark on a transformative 90-minute exploration of the profound connections between poetry, somatic practices, and hypnosis. Through gentle Qigong movements, somatic poetry exercises, and hypnotherapy, attendees will learn to channel their physical sensations and emotions into powerful poetic expressions. This experiential workshop fosters self-awareness, mindfulness, and relaxation while encouraging creative insights. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of the mind-body connection, personalized poetry reflecting their inner journey, and practical tools for incorporating somatic practices into their therapeutic work. This workshop offers a holistic approach to healing and self-expression. It is a must-attend event for poetry therapists, mental health professionals, and anyone seeking to explore the healing power of words and movement. (40% Experiential/60% Didactic) Clinical/Health Care Setting.

Dr. Paul White is a distinguished somatic psychotherapist, poet, and leading authority in holistic mental health. With over a decade of experience in the field, Dr. White has dedicated his career to exploring the intersection of mind, body, and creative expression. As a licensed somatic psychotherapist and advocate for holistic wellness, Dr. White specializes in using somatic therapy, Qigong, and clinical hypnosis to facilitate profound healing experiences. His work has empowered countless individuals to connect with their inner wisdom, navigate trauma, and foster self-awareness. Dr. White holds a Ph.D. in Mind-Body Medicine and Integrative Mental Health, combining his passion for psychology, poetry, and somatic practices to create innovative therapeutic approaches. He has presented at community-based and clinical workshops, sharing his expertise on the healing potential of the mind-body connection and the transformative power of poetry. Dr. White invites participants to explore the profound links between movement, words, and healing in his engaging and experiential workshops. His sessions inspire personal growth, self-expression, and holistic well-being, emphasizing the healing practices of mind-body medicine and poetry therapy.

D4 Extended Metaphor as New Pathway – Michele Parker Randall, MA, MFA

What can be done to help people write around a trauma or write about a difficulty they do not or cannot name on the page? Sometimes, the metaphorical strategy of describing one thing in the terms, or vocabulary, of another thing opens new pathways for understanding and discussion. For example, writing about a vine covering a brick wall feels easier than writing about an event that covers the memory of a person or place. In this workshop, participants will look at examples of extended metaphors, discuss how the metaphors are working, then try their hand at the technique to find a new way of discussing or picturing a trauma. Participants will leave with a renewed understanding of metaphors in general, a handful of examples and exercises as reference, and one or two of their own created during the workshop. Question and Answer to follow. (60% Experiential/40% Didactic) Clinical/Health Care Setting.

Michele Parker Randall, MA, MFA, Guardian ad Litem for Mental Health, is the author of Museum of Everyday Life (Kelsay Books 2015) and A Future Unmappable, chapbook (Finishing Line Press 2021). Her poetry can be found in Nimrod International Journal, Open Minds Quarterly, Perspective Project UK, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. Primarily a poet, her work focuses on the lives of the neurodivergent and their primary caregivers/family members, life in Florida, and observations of human behavior. She is a Sullivan Visiting Lecturer at Stetson University.

D5  Healing Community: Poetry as a Force for Collective Transformation & Wellness – Purvi Shah, MA, Sunu P. Chandy, MFA, Poet and Civil Rights Attorney, Vidhu Aggarwal, Ph.D.

Poetry can make bearable the daily traumas of living, as well as give grounding to navigate profound crises. Because of social oppressions and marginalization, poetry is particularly crucial for furthering voice, belonging, justice, and healing for communities of color and LGBTQ+ communities. As poets from these identities, the presenters engage art to heal themselves and their communities while fostering collective wellness and transformation. The presenters will share strategies for how to engage poetry to build community, document struggles, and enable futurist world-building to move toward collective well-being. Through sharing poetry, providing concrete examples of how to further community wellness and transformation, and leading a generative poetry session, this session will enable participants to name and trust their experiences, challenge microaggressions and structural inequity, gain wellness strategies, and stay hopeful to continue to be forces for healing and justice. Together we further an art that moves us toward liberation. (60% Experiential/40% Didactic) Social Justice.

Purvi Shah seeds healing & transformation through anti-violence advocacy and creating art. Her book, Miracle Marks (Northwestern University Press, 2019), investigates gender violence, racial inequity, and conundrums of the sacred. Her prize-winning debut, Terrain Tracks (New Rivers Press, 2006), plumbs migration and belonging. Purvi won a SONY South Asian Social Service Excellence Award for her leadership fighting violence against women and has led creative expression workshops with survivors. During the 10th anniversary of 9/11, with Kundiman, she directed Together We Are New York, a community-based poetry project amplifying Asian American voices. With Anjali Deshmukh, she creates interactive public art like Missed Fortunes, a community healing archive which documented pandemic rituals through poetry & visual art prints. Purvi relishes sparkly eyeshadow, raucous laughter, and seeking justice.

Sunu P. Chandy (she/her) is a social justice activist including through her work as a poet and a civil rights attorney. She is the daughter of immigrants from Kerala, India, and lives in Washington, DC with her family. Sunu’s collection of poems, My Dear Comrades, was selected for the 2021 Terry J. Cox Prize, and published by Regal House in 2023. Sunu’s work can also be found in publications including Asian American Literary Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Poets on Adoption, Split this Rock’s online social justice database, The Quarry, and in anthologies including The Penguin Book of Indian Poets, The Long Devotion: Poets Writing Motherhood and This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation. Sunu has served in various roles within public interest law for over 20 years including as the legal director for the National Women’s Law Center for six years until August 2023 where she led litigation related projects. She also provided guidance on policy work in the areas of Workplace Justice and LGBTQ rights.


Vidhu Aggarwal’s poetry and multimedia practices engage with world-building, video, and graphic media. She is author of the collection Daughter Isotope (Operating System, 2021), the chapbook Avatara (Portable Press, 2018), and The Trouble with Humpadori (The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, 2016). Her work often touches on the intersection of identity and technology and the ongoing evolution of these concepts in modern society. She is the founding editor of the multi-media journal SPECS, worked with the John Sims Project on “The 13 Flag Funerals” in Florida, and with artist Bishakh Som on “Lady Humpadori,” a poetry/comic book collaboration. She is on the executive board of Thinking Its Presences: Race, Advocacy, Solidarity in the Arts and a Kundiman Fellow. Her poems are in the Boston Review top 25 of 2016 and her book of poems The Trouble with Humpadori (2016) received the Editor's Choice Prize from The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective. Her work has appeared in INK BRICK, The Missing Slate, Chicago Quarterly Review and Black Warrior Review.

5:00-5:15 pm Closing Remarks – Nicholas Mazza, Ph.D., PTR, NAPT President 

5:15-6:00 pm. Closing Event: Jody Wager, MS, BC-DMT                                                                                                                    The Dance of Belonging: A Movement Closing

Please join us for the final 45 minutes of the conference, where we will come together as a community in movement. Imagine how nice it will feel to be on our feet and moving freely; connecting with others while reflecting on the days we shared. Through guided warm-ups and movement structures, Jody Wager, our guest dance therapist, will skillfully and creatively help us to integrate our experiences one last time. We will have the opportunity to build a dance together, using words and phrases that we gleaned from our workshops and that have landed in our bodies. Together we will bring our poetry to life, in a new form ... an embodied form ... in support of Solidarity, Community, and Belonging.

Jody Wager, MS, BC-DMT has been a practicing dance/movement therapist since 1980. She is the director of the Expressive Therapy Department at Dominion Hospital in Falls Church, VA, where she has been providing dance/movement therapy services since 1995. She also maintains a private practice in massage therapy and body psychotherapy. She enjoys teaching workshops about dance/movement therapy and embodied psychotherapy throughout the country and around the world. She is the Past President of the American Dance Therapy Association and the Immediate Past Chair of the National Coalition for Creative Arts Therapy Associations (NCCATA). When not at work, you can find Jody on the dance floor … dancing is her passion!

6:00 pm Dinner on your own

Sunday, April 14th   See Conference Schedule 

Post-Conference Workshops & Events

8:00-9:00 am Breakfast 

9:00-11:30 am Morning Triple Workshop: Experience a Poetry Therapy Group (Third Session – 2 Groups) 

For the newcomer or dedicated trainee, experience poetry therapy in action along with Nancy Scherlong, LCSW, PTR, CJT, M/S, & Elaine Brooks, RN-BC, MA, PTR, M/S! Join us each day for this interactive and didactic workshop that spans over three days (Fri, Sat and Sun). Experience the beginning, middle and end of a real poetry peer group. Integrate your conference experience, meet new colleagues, and write new material in a supportive community. Participants will be divided into two small groups. You must be available to attend all three days. (75% Experiential, 25% Didactic)  (4.5 peer hours).

12:00-1:00 pm Lunch on your own

"NAPT" The National Association for Poetry Therapy

is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization 

19001 S Richfield Ave, #20

Green Valley, AZ 85614

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