This section provides a selection of links to training requirements and certification bodies for BT. We believe that in order for librarians to practice BT responsibly and competently, they need to get additional education and training. There are various ways of going about it, although specialized training in BT is not widely accessible in either Canada or the US. Choosing an appropriate training path, librarians have to ask a number of questions to make an informed decision:
- Is this training/course offered by a university or another institution whose programs meet educational and training standards established by the corresponding credentialing or certification bodies?
- What types of BT will this training allow them to be engaged with? What are the limitations? Are there any training alternatives considering their personal and professional goals and interests?
- What is the cost and time commitment required? It would be useful to remember that, just like any other training in ‘therapy’, training in BT will necessitate hands-on practice: an internship or another type of fieldwork. Are field placements available locally? Will librarians have to commute? Will they have to be away from home for a certain period of time to complete the program?
Below we review a limited number of available training options. Some websites are cross-linked, e.g., the IFBPT website links to the NAPT website and vice-versa. Please investigate additional training and credentialing options available in your geographic area. Please keep in mind that some programs and courses in Arts Therapy, Expressive Arts Therapy, or Play Therapy may include BT or poetry therapy training or both; however, some may be focused on other art forms or types of therapy and not have the BT option. Check if there are any institutes in your area that offer such programs.
International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy
International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy (IFBPT) is probably where librarians interested in bibliotherapy have to start. As its website indicates, “IFBPT is the only global independent credentialing organization for the profession of Biblio/Poetry Therapy.” One of the website sections is dedicated specifically to obtaining credentials. It includes the “Summary of Training Requirements” and describes in detail the various categories of biblio-/poetry therapists and practitioners. Librarians without additional degrees in psychology or other helping occupations and cognate disciplines should pay attention to the CAPF category: Certified Applied Poetry Facilitator. According to IFBPT:
[CAPF] brings to training a unique background, blending love and knowledge of literature and writing with an understanding of basic psychology and group
dynamics. Although the CAPF’s training is geared to working with healthy
populations, the CAPF must be able to recognize the difference between
“normalcy” and pathology, and must be able to determine when a distressed
individual needs to be referred to a mental health professional. The CAPF is
trained to facilitate groups and work with individuals in developmental
settings such as schools, libraries, recreational facilities, and similar
growth and development oriented organizations. The CAPF may also work
in a mental health setting under the supervision of a qualified mental health
The website also contains links to the downloadable Training Guide (fee-based), addresses and contact information of mentors involved with the program, and additional educational resources.▲
For additional training and credentialing options as a Poetry Therapy Practitioner (PTP), please refer to the website of the International Academy for Poetry Therapy (IAPT) (Training). Librarians have to check with the Academy whether or not they can be credentialed.▲
The National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT), USA
Spanning three decades in history and uniting professionals from multiple fields—from psychotherapists to nurses to pastors to poets—this Association is concerned with “many settings where people deal with personal and communal pain and the search for growth.” While librarians will no doubt find the whole site useful, the most valuable page is Educational Resources, which lists Courses & Programs. Fortunately, most links provided on this page do not overlap with those on the IFBPT website.▲
The Creative “Righting” Center: Poetry for Healing & Growth: Poetry Therapy Training
The Center is facilitated by “Sherry Reiter, PhD, […] a creative arts therapist and licensed clinical social worker. She is a Poetry Therapist/ Mentor-Supervisor (PTR/MS) as designated by the National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT) and Registered Drama Therapist/Board Certified Trainer (RDT/BCT) as designated by the National Association for Drama Therapy (NADT).” The Center offers a variety of training options. Of particular relevance to librarians is the fact that “[p]ersons interested in certification will need to complete 440 hours of work with developmental populations for the CAPF (Certified Applied Poetry Facilitator) designation” (see under “Training Options”).▲
The Institute for Poetic Medicine
Albeit not a credentialing agency, led by the Certified Poetry Therapist, poet, writer, and lecturer John Fox, this institute offers interesting workshops and courses for librarians who seek to deepen their knowledge of poetry therapy.▲
The Therapeutic Writing Institute (TWI)
The Therapeutic Writing Institute (TWI) “is the professional training division of the Center for Journal Therapy, Inc.” and “was created by Kathleen (Kay) Adams in 2007 as a comprehensive, turn-key distance-learning training institute for facilitators of therapeutic writing.” The founder Kay Adams “is an author, psychotherapist, registered poetry/journal therapist (PTR) and master mentor/supervisor (MM/S).” Of particular relevance to librarians is the “Credentials Training” section which also addresses CAPFs.▲
International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA)
Founded in 1994, this association connects professionals from multiple fields around the concept and practice of art and expressive therapy. The website states that “only those trained in expressive arts therapy can call their work expressive arts therapy.” The Educational Resources section may be of interest to librarians seeking relevant training.▲
SELECTED UNIVERSITY DEGREE OPTIONS
We would like to note that while librarians may be interested in selected courses from these programs, some degrees are more suitable for individuals who wish to become therapists or counselors. Also, not all of the programs offer specialized courses in poetry therapy or BT and focus more on other art forms and expressive therapy. However, we know that many librarians love to learn and possess more than one graduate degree, and we hope that the following links will be informative. Several programs have also been linked to the NAPT & IFBPT websites.
- Transformative Language Arts Concentration at Goddard College
- Master of Arts (MA) in Expressive Arts Therapy with a Specialization in Mental Health Counseling at Lesley University
- Course of Study for the Expressive Arts Therapy Program at California Institute of Integral Studies
- The MA in Reading in Practice at the University of Liverpool. For related multidisciplinary research, please review the activities of the Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society
- Peterson’s online directory lists additional programs of possible interest in the US
- The Art Therapy Blog lists additional programs of possible interest in Canada
- The “Educational Resources” section of the IEATA website has an extensive list of programs in multi-modal Expressive Arts therapy Around the world.▲
- Pehrsson, D., McMillen, P. S. (2010). A National survey of bibliotherapy preparation and practices of professional counselors. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 5(4), 412-425. (See also, Bibliotherapy Educational Project under “BT Projects” & McMillen’s articles under “Research Articles on BT“)▲