Guidelines/Goals for One-on-One Sessions

What do we expect out of our one-on-one sessions with youth? Among our principles, we are not emotionally intrusive, and we give the youth creative freedom and control. This might suggest that any creative product would fulfill the Pongo mission. In a sense this is true, in that our general support of youth writing is almost always valuable for them (except in the rare instances when youth are writing on certain destructive themes or for destructive effect). The Pongo program will always do good by producing youth writing.

On the other hand, we have a program that, when it’s implemented properly, allows traumatized youth to write about things that have been hard for them to talk about, topics of great emotional significance. Pongo’s work has healing power. We want to make sure that we are allowing that healing to happen.

An important goal to keep in mind is that the progress of a mentor’s work over time, in an individual session with a teen or with a group teens, should (1) help the most needy individuals and (2) move toward the personal and the poetic. Here are some guidelines, based on Pongo’s work in juvenile detention, that will allow you to evaluate whether or not your Pongo work with teens is reaching its potential:

  • About 100% of the time, your authors should enjoy the creative process and feel encouraged.
  • About 35% of the time, your author should be someone who has never written a poem before.
  • About 85% of the time, your authors should be writing on personal themes.
  • About 30% of the time, your authors should be writing about events they have had a hard time talking about previously.
  • About 10% of the time, your authors may describe very dramatic and emotional moments.
  • About 15% of the time, your authors may write about feelings that seem personal but that are fairly superficial, such as writing about hating detention or writing about boyfriends.
  • About 10% of the time, your authors may be stuck or bored or limited in their creative output.
  • About 2% of the time, your authors may be in crisis, seem unstable or self-destructive, and they should be referred to a mental health professional.
  • About 90% of the time, your authors should write two or more creative pieces in a 45 minute session.
  • About 100% of the time, at least one of your author’s creative pieces should be a poem.
  • About 20% of the time, your authors may write independently.
  • About 10% of the time, your authors may write something that is stunning for its originality.