“And as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name.” Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 5 Scene 1
This 12-week experiential, hands on and interactive course will focus on the intentional (and occasional spontaneous) use of poetry, symbolism, story, and creative writing as tools for psychedelic assisted therapy and psychedelic integration. Specific attention will be given to the use of the poetic (language, symbol and story) in individual, group and community practice. The course will follow an arc which includes the major pillars (body-mind-spirit-relationships and nature) and pitfalls (spiritual bypassing, shadow work, crisis of trust and of exclusion) which therapists and their clients may encounter during the integration process.
In an age where therapists of all disciplines are encouraged to be “Scientist Practitioners,” this course calls us to be “Poet Practitioners” and in the words of Nicholas Mazza, creator of poetry therapy, “… be able to hear and engage the soul whispers of clients in non literal, metaphoric forms.” Contemporary psychedelic research and theory heralds a new horizon of inquiry bringing a new level of interest to the quest for healing that pushes the edges of current treatment thinking and practice. Poetry slips under the wire of conventional psychotherapy practice, inspiring the ineffable into words. This opens a vista of possibilities for deep learning for the therapist and the client. The convergence of clinical and literary perspectives are explored with suggested weekly readings. Special guest poets will join this learning journey. All participants will be invited to write, to listen, and to explore moments of awe, inspiration and joy through their experience of poetry, symbol and story.
Poetry at its best calls forth our deep being. It dares us to break free from the safe strategies of the cautious mind; it calls to us, like the wild geese, as Mary Oliver would say, from an open sky.
“Poetry is a magical art, and always has been — a making of language spells designed to open our eyes, open our doors and welcome us into a bigger world, one of possibilities we may never have dared to dream of…This is why poetry can be dangerous as well as necessary. Because we may never be the same again after reading a poem that happens to speak to our own life directly. I know that when I meet my own life in a great poem, I feel opened, clarified, confirmed somehow what I sensed was true but had no words for. Anything that can do this is surely necessary for the fullness of a human life….Artists and poets are the raw nerve ends of humanity. By themselves they can do little to save humanity. Without them there would be little worth saving.” (“Why poetry is necessary” by Roger Housdon)
The participant becomes the clinician. All participants will be expected to lead guided practices, read poems aloud and work together in small groups. Learn. Practice. Lead. In addition to reading and discussion, participants will be encouraged and compassionately supported to use their direct experience and inspiration from class. Students will be encouraged to apply the classroom learning with either a small group or individual client outside of the classroom. Presentations, discussion and learning are core aspects of the program. There are a fair amount of home assignments to enrich the learning experience. Participants will learn and practice the Fluence safe and compassionate feedback model (FFM) to celebrate risk, vulnerability and the beginner’s mind. Advancing the interface between the sciences and the humanities is a dance of joy!
A limited number of Diversity Fund scholarships are available, please complete this application, in addition to the course application.
- List the common motivations for which patients seek Psychedelic Integration Therapy.
- Describe the RES (receptive; expressive; symbolic) model of poetry therapy and its application to integration therapy.
- Identify poems and lyrics that relate directly to the process of integrating N.O.S.C. (non-ordinary states of consciousness).
- Identify the role poetry, symbols and story have in integration therapy.
- List the essential components for providing poetry therapy as a clinician, (pacing, facilitating, using one’s voice, body and silence to cultivate awareness and insights).
- Demonstrate the foundations of the integration process and discuss the common challenges made by clinicians.
- Explain the therapeutic capacities of language arts, individually and as an adjunct to traditional therapies.
- Explain shifts in language, meaning, and self-concept that may accompany experiences with use of psychedelics.
- Articulate how poetry, symbols and story can support the integration of N.O.S.C. by supporting the meaning making of the experience.
- Demonstrate the use of non-drug self-transformation efforts (ie. meditation, creative writing, journaling, etc.) as part of Psychedelic Integration Therapy.
- Design interventions for diverse populations, including LGBTQ people, to support therapeutic processes.
- Discuss the role poetry, symbols and story and lyrics have in promoting gender sensitive practices and social justice.
- Identify the role poetry and creativity can have in working with healing trauma.
Continuing Education Credit
The poetry for integration course that I took with Fluence was life changing. I and my practice will never be the same. Based on what I learned from this class, I was able to immediately apply the practices and use the poems in my work with very intellectual and anxiety-driven men. The week that we finished the class, I hosted a retreat and the use of poetry and art was transformative for helping the men open their hearts and express creative gifts! Please take this course if you are on the fence.