What a pleasure to officially assume the presidency at the 38th NAPT conference, Poetry Therapy in a Changing World: Pathways to Growth, Healing, and Social Justice. The theme of our conference reflects the diversity of NAPT and our commitment to “making a difference” for our members, friends of NAPT, and all those whom we serve. The excitement, experience, and wisdom generated from the conference speak to the power of the poetic and our limitless possibilities. The story of poetry therapy and NAPT is a shared one. I look forward to continuing my work with the NAPT board, our members, and all others interested in poetry therapy. I still recall my first APT (changed to NAPT in 1981) conference in 1972 when I met Jack Leedy, often referred to as “the father of poetry therapy.” Soon after, I met and worked with two other legendary leaders, Art Lerner and Arleen McCarty Hynes. They were all so welcoming, visionary, and family oriented. And through the years I was privileged to meet and serve with so many of our pioneering leaders including our past president and my dear friend, Geri Chavis. I hope to carry on from their strength and spirit as we write the next chapters of NAPT.
I welcome your input and involvement in advancing poetry therapy as one of the creative (expressive) arts therapies that extends to educational, artistic, and community practice. Poetry therapy is much more than just the focus on the genre of poetry; it is the use of language, symbol, and story in therapeutic, educational, growth, and community-building capacities. Poetry therapy has emerged as an independent field that is inclusive of bibliotherapy, narrative therapy, expressive writing, and journal therapy (all of which maintain their own independent fields of study and practice). Our interdisciplinary membership (e.g., therapists/health care professionals, educators, community workers, spiritual leaders, and poets/writers) is one of our strengths in promoting excellence. For those seeking credentialing as a poetry therapist, information is available through the International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy.
Through my many years with NAPT, I have valued the friendships, shared learning, and commitment to serving others in a way that is inclusive, respectful, and disciplined. This is an exciting time for the field of poetry therapy whether you look at it as a profession, method of practice, theoretical and/or philosophical orientation, or from some other professional framework. Ultimately our goal is to provide competent, ethical, accountable, and culturally sensitive poetry therapy services.
It is an honor and privilege to have been elected to lead the National Association for Poetry Therapy and to work with our growing membership. I look forward to my continued work with our executive board, those chairing or serving on committees, and the many individuals across the world who have been engaged in the study, teaching, and practice of poetry therapy. Sharing and developing our experiences, we will continue to expand our network and promote public awareness. This is the very best and most needed time to be involved in poetry therapy. I am looking forward to working alongside you.