Principles for One-on-One Sessions

We are working with some of the most distressed young people in our community, and we are helping them to heal through creative writing. This web site explains some of the techniques we use, but to help you apply the techniques most constructively, we'd like to provide the context of our core principles. These core principles inform the techniques we use:

  • Our first principle as an organization is to always act in the best interests of the young people that we meet. In our relationships with youth, we are professional, safe, and mature.

  • Our second principle is reflected in the way we accept self-expression, especially through listening. We show respect for young people, and also agencies and others with whom we work.

  • Our third principle is that, just as we are going into prisons, shelters, and hospitals to reach the most distressed youth in the community, we are always focused on the subset of our authors who are the most traumatized individuals at each site, those with the greatest difficulty expressing themselves. Among our authors there will be people who are so upset that they have a hard time talking; who are cautious, fearful, or paranoid; who are limited in their cognitive or language skills; or who are overwhelmed by their confusion, anger, or neediness. Many of our authors have had horrible life experiences, and they are having difficulty coping. But our program is giving them an opportunity to be heard.

  • Our fourth principle is to give distressed young people the opportunity to express themselves in a way that is personal, relevant, and therapeutic. We are always moving toward personal writing.

  • Our fifth principle is to provide an expressive opportunity without being intrusive. We allow young people to express themselves at their own comfort level, whether or not their process leads to personal writing.

  • Our sixth principle is to emphasize the poetic form and to help youth create complete poems in every session. Poems can be simple, but they also can include deep feeling, emotional complexity, and variety. In addition, a poem can be insightful, inspira­tion­al, language savvy, and very intelligent. The brevity of the poetic form is a great asset in the limited time we have to work with most of our authors.

  • Our seventh principle is to provide as much support, and as little support, as necessary to allow the youth to be creative. Youth are allowed and encouraged to be creative in an independent, original way.

  • Our eighth principle is to give youth control over their creative work. Creative choices are the young people's decisions , including the choice of whether or not to be published.