Poetry as a Tool for Wellness

Peer Facilitator’s Manual & Training

Poetry and poem-making are compelling and effective tools in the journey toward wholeness. Poetry as a Tool for Wellness (PATFW) is based on 17 years of groundbreaking work integrating poetry and poem-making into mental health and wellness programs. These skills-based sessions offer participants a safe and creative circle in which to explore themes vital to wellbeing.

Poetry as a Tool for Wellness provides instruction at three donation levels: 1) training webinars with accompanying manual; 2) manual only as both printed and e-book; 3) manual only as e-book. Also, we offer a free training webinar ahead of the scheduled trainings to help you gauge your interest.

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Manual Includes:

Eight Weeks of Themed, Skills-Based Sessions
Quotes, Poems, Discussion Questions, & Activities
Suggested Scripts & Actions
Bonus Celebratory Poetry Reading
Additional Tools & Resources

Learn More/Purchase Manual

Facilitator Training Programs

Click on either of the 2022 offerings to register:
Saturdays, July 23-August 13
Saturdays, October 8-29

Register for a free introductory webinar to get an overview for the Manual and Training Program.


“I very much enjoyed Poetry as a Tool for Wellness.
The presentation structure worked very well for me. The detail on set-up and facilitation seemed well-conceived and validated by use over time. I hope to pilot its use with a group in time, when things settle down a bit...
or maybe in the midst of all of this.”

~ Barbara Harris
Palliative Care Chaplain 
Vancouver, WA 


“As a first time participant with Poetry as a Tool for Wellness, I was encouraged and supported by the facilitator training process. The poetry writing exercise on the first day of training came just as I had learned of the impending death of a very close friend. I experienced first-hand the healing power of this process and am eager to share this program with others.”

~ Barbara Jean-Kubik
Sister of Notre Dame de Namur
West Hartford, CT

"Completing the course meant that I now have the increased confidence and belief that I have what it takes to guide others to use poetic medicine as a way of looking after their own mental health as well as making time to nourish their own creative spirit. I also appreciate the ongoing, online support from John Fox, the IPM and peer facilitators. I am ever so thankful for this sense of belonging and connectedness that I have experienced with this community."

~ Francis Lee
Educator & Life Story Coach
Brisbane, Australia
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Poetry of Nature Letters
Facilitated by NanLeah, Geoff Oelsner Monthly Letters delivered through November
This Poetic Medicine journey of monthly letters (with access to past issues) is for all kinds of Nature Lovers: for those wishing to create or deepen their Nature practice and poetry writing; for those that are concerned about Earth’s chang- ing climate, and their place in it; for those who have the felt sense that things can be different; and for those who are ready to turn their hearts and minds to a new story.
Through stories, poems, writing prompts, and reflections on the theme of choice, we’ll weave a tangible, living record of our journey together.
Morning Branches
by Geoff Oelsner
If there’s an award for Most Eclectic Local Album of the Year and Possibly Even the Decade, it will surely go to Geoff Oelsner for his new release, “Morning Branches.”
There is the unadorned informality of Geoff Oelsner, LCSW’s Dream and the theatrical pandemonium of Mad Tom’s Song. And there are some genuine folk songs delivered in Geoff ’s engaging resonant baritone and liberally sprinkled with tasty acoustic instruments and harmony. Two of these songs, My Shady and Borderguards, I would put right up there with the best of Joan Baez or Peter, Paul & Mary.
More than those of most singer-songwriters, Geoff Oelsner’s lyrics read as poetry on the printed page…Oelsner, who once told me that he considers himself “a happy hand-puppet of the artistic process,” often gets song ideas, and even entire songs, from his dreams… Geoff Oelsner is especially attuned to this phenomenon and tries to honor it and be faithful to it when it occurs.
Emily Kaitz, Fayetteville Free Weekly
Ordinary Mystery
by Geoff Oelsner
Geoff Oelsner doesn’t spend too much time thinking about writing songs. Inspiration, he says, just hits him. He calls them “givens,” and he knows that a gift like that is to be used.
On the recording (Ordinary Mystery), he was backed by Kelly Mulhollan, Robin Rues, Andrew Sieff, and also his family, including his wife and two grown children who now make their careers as musicians.
Oelsner chatted with the us recently about the gifts of songs, the importance of recording with his family and his love of Native American cultures. Four songs on the album are dedicated to the country’s different native peoples, and proceeds from the recording will be donated to Native American charities.
Kevin Kinder, Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Finding What You Didn’t Lose: Expressing Your Truth and Creativity through Poem-Making
by John Fox
Transcending the traditional academic approach to poetry writing, Finding What You Didn’t Lose deals with craft but, more importantly, guides readers to explore their deepest feelings and express their own unique insights through the incomparable language of poetry.
Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making
by John Fox
Poetic Medicine is designed for readers wanting to tap their creative energy in order to make a difference in the world, including educators, therapists, parents and their children, writers, couples, and the infirm. As John Fox demonstrates, we all possess the ability to write. This gift enables us to access unlimited spiritual resources that restore our genuine voices and meaning in our lives, while healing and creatively satisfying us.
We Are the Future: Poems with a Voice for Peace
Edited by Merna Ann Hecht
This unique anthology brings readers into the personal, lived experiences of young people whose lives are challenged by leaving a homeland behind and negotiating relocation. At a time of uncertainty with a global pandemic and the very real threat to our planet from climate change, We Are the Future reminds us to stand strong with refugee and immigrant youth in their hopes, dreams and determination for a more humane, just, and peaceful world.
Geography of Loss
by Judith Prest
Geography of Loss explores grief and loss, whether through death or other experiences. It is a collection of poems detailing family history, lessons from loss and the resilience that come from surviving loss.
Write a Poem, Save Your Life
by Meredith Heller
With writing prompts, tools, encouragement, and moving student examples, Meredith Heller gently guides us in the art of using poetry to figure out who we are and what matters to us and to heal the deeper issues many of us face, such as depression, addiction, health and body image issues, low self-esteem, trauma, gender and sexual identity issues, and home and family problems. Along the way, we learn that writing poems helps us believe in ourselves, make positive life choices, and find direction, purpose, and meaning.