"For a long time, I wanted to combine my degrees in psychology and creative writing/poetry together due to the catharsis feeling I got when I wrote poems, but I never knew such a field existed. I was so pleasantly surprised when my former professor pointed me in the direction of NAPT. Soon after I first started the credentialing process, I attended Kay Adams's Journal Conference 2016 as a part of the training. Many who practice poetry therapy were in attendance. It did not take me long to feel as though I had found my tribe, my place of belonging, a feeling I never experienced before. The feeling kept getting deeper as I attended NAPT conferences year after year; I even developed one of the best friendships that I have ever had. So, for me, the credentialing process not only added to my life professionally but also touched and changed me personally. I am honored to be a part of a field that is as unique as those who practice it. I found my professional purpose. Facilitating poetry therapy workshops and sessions warms my heart and nourishes my soul, and the work truly shines a guiding light on those who participate in it." – Jennifer Graham, MFA, CAPF, Certified JTTS ® Instructor
"I came from Venezuela in 1993. I was a journalist who did not speak English at the time I moved to the US. As an immigrant, I have to create a home from scratch, in fact, I have created many homes throughout my life. In my suitcase I brought the Spanish passion.
"In my early explorations in North Carolina, and before the GPS era, I longed for a compass to guide my steps to my destinations. And I dreamt of a GPS to guide me in translating this new world, in tracking my identity and soul in space as they traveled to and through a new culture. I feared getting lost in every sense. Lost when speaking a new language, lost in who I was and who I wanted to be, lost in what is and what was. Lost in what to trade and what to treasure. One thing, I knew gave me a sense of stability was reading and writing, especially writing poetry and fiction. I always found home in the sound of words, even in the sounds I could not pronounce, and the sounds I mispronounced. During my journey, I became a mother, a teacher, a teaching artist, a storyteller and a writer.
"The last 23 years of my life, I have worked as a Bilingual Program Specialist for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina. I work with many diverse and at-risk communities providing life- long learning experiences to families. As a program librarian, I have experienced and witnessed a disconnection between literacy and emotional health. When working with marginalized communities and trying to apply creative strategies to bridge health and educational gaps, I encountered “emotional blocks” that limit the window of opportunity we wanted to open for everyone. Disruptive family dynamics, social and emotional conflicts were impossible for me to ignore when delivery programs as an outreach librarian.
"Poetry Therapy was the best tool I found to bridge the gap between education, literacy and emotional development. In 2013, I was in an ALA (American Library Association) conference giving a presentation about my work as a Bilingual Specialist and the positive impact of using expressive writing and a self -care book club experience for marginalized communities. After my presentation, a professor said: “Oh, you are doing Bibliotherapy .” I thought she was kidding me, but I love the term and was surprised that something like that existed. I did my research on how to become a certified Poetry Therapy Facilitator and in 2014, I began my certification with the National Federation of Poetry Therapy. I was blessed to have a bilingual supervisor, Dr. Marianela Medrano, today President of NAPT. Many of the groups and programs I lead are in Spanish, so Marianela was the perfect fit for me. She transformed me, taught me how to be real, how to provide emotional support to my groups, how to use bilingual strategies and resources. She led me with respect and great knowledge. Since then, I have had the opportunity to work in group and individual settings in hospitals, jails, mental health centers, Latino community agencies, schools, churches among other agencies. I can truly say that poetry therapy is an effective and honest way to practice real inclusion and to bring social justice to all.
"Thanks to the CAPF program, classes, peer group experience, annual conferences, supervision and readings, I have learned and applied strategies that gather the disparate fragments of our own story and create a new narrative for ourself. I am very happy to say that what I have learned as a CAPF is life changing for me and for other immigrants who discover home and healing in the power of words." – Irania Patterson, MA, CAPF www.iraniapatterson.com, Therapeutic Writing And Expressive Arts