History of the Federation

The National Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy was established in 1983. In cooperation with education and certification committee members of the National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT), they established requirements for training and credentials, created a guide for training, communicated with the other creative arts therapy organizations, and served as a clearinghouse for questions about professional standards.

Because a membership organization like NAPT cannot legally also be a credentialing body, in 2002, the National Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy (NFBPT) was empowered to take full responsibility for the credentialing function previously handled by the certification committee of NAPT. NFBPT thus became the only autonomous organization authorized to grant certification or registration in biblio/poetry therapy.

A Poetry Therapy Timeline

The arts are ancient and all originate from indigenous healing practices. Story is as old as time. Races, cultures, religions, and groups across the globe have identified with both spoken and written word as a means of recording history and expressing emotion as well as a mode of healing since the dawn of humankind.

4th Century BCE

In Egypt, words were written on papyrus and then dissolved in a solution so that they could be ingested and quickly take effect for healing purposes.

100 AD

Soranus, Roman physician, becomes the first poetry therapist in recorded history, prescribing tragedy for manic patients and comedy for depressed patients to balance mood. It is not surprising that the Greeks called Apollo the god of poetry as well as medicine, since medicine and the arts were historically entwined. Later, shamans and witch doctors chanted poetry for the well-being of the tribe or individual.


Pennsylvania Hospital becomes the first incorporated hospital in the US. Mentally ill patients are prescribed reading and writing treatments, and patient work is published in their newspaper, The Illuminator.


The term “bibliotherapy” is first used by Samuel Crothers.


Eli Greifer, poet, pharmacist, and lawyer, begins a campaign to show poetry’s healing power.


Romanian-born Jacob Moreno introduces group psychotherapy to The American Psychiatric Association. Moreno founds psychodrama, and uses the term “psychopoetry” to describe the use of selected literature in his work.


Eli Greifer facilitates a poetry therapy group at Cumberland Hospital with supervising psychiatrists Dr. Jack J. Leedy and Dr. Sam Spector.


Dr. Leedy joins Ann White, Gilbert Schloss, PhD, and Morris R. Morrison, PhD to draft first set of standards for credentialing in the field of poetry therapy.


Several training institutes spring up:

  • Arthur Lerner founds the Poetry Therapy Institute .
  • Arleen Hynes, as the librarian, establishes the Bibliotherapy Roundtable at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington D.C.
  • Morris Morrison founds the American Academy of Poetry Therapy in Austin, TX.
  • Jennifer Bosveld creates the Ohio Poetry Therapy Center and Library in Columbus.


Rosalie Brown is appointed as first Federal Bibliotherapist.


The National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT) is established as a non-profit organization.


Incorporation of the National Association for Biblio/Poetry Therapy


National Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy (formerly the NAPT Credentialing Committee) is established as totally independent of NAPT.


NFBPT becomes International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy (IFBPT).


Research proliferates and popular media publicize numerous uses of writing for personal development, creative enhancement, promotion of wellness and mindfulness, as well as more focused clinical applications for mental health and healing.