Training & Workshops

29 Years of Service and Counting

Pongo has surveyed 1,780 of our youth authors and been the subject of multiple academic studies, all of which indicate the significant therapeutic benefits of our method. Based on this extensive evidence of success, Pongo has established a program to train individuals and organizations on the Pongo Method, our evidence-based trauma-informed technique for poetry mentorship.

Pongo has conducted 85 trainings locally and nationally on our methodology. As a result, 96 therapeutic poetry programs based on our model and supporting people who have experienced trauma, have been established in locations including: Seattle, San Diego, New Orleans, San Salvador (El Salvador), Krakow (Poland), Cape Town (South Africa), and Shimane (Japan). We offer trainings in different formats but all attendees will leave Pongo trainings with the following:

  • An in-depth understanding of the approach, methodology, and outcomes of Pongo’s successful poetry mentorship programs
  • A new appreciation for the power of writing in healing, especially with traumatized populations and those who have difficulty expressing themselves
  • An understanding of the complementary and integrative roles for writing and shared expression with evidence-based, treatment modalities
  • Familiarity with Pongo’s methodology through hands-on practice
  • An understanding of how poetry equips youth with increased emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and a healthy coping mechanism for dealing with future challenges
  • Practical skills and further resources for facilitating a poetry program in their respective fields

All training participants are highly encouraged to buy our textbook, Writing With At-Risk Youth: The Pongo Teen Writing Method.  Written by Pongo’s Founder, Richard Gold, the book is an essential field guide to running your own therapeutic poetry project.

Flagship Trainings

Pongo conducts bi-annual trainings on the Pongo Methodology. Our trainings are designed to help anyone start a poetry project based on our trauma-informed model. In addition, the training can be used to help counselors and teachers incorporate Pongo methods into their ongoing work with both individuals and groups. Each participant receives two hours of complimentary consultation from Pongo staff following their training.

During Pongo trainings, skilled and experienced Pongo Poetry Mentors discuss our approach and demonstrate techniques using poetry to help youth understand and express their important issues and feelings. This is exciting and rewarding work!

Our spring and fall trainings typically take place in May and October respectively. Each training is five hours in length, and led by Ashley Skartvedt, our Co-Executive Director, Programs. Trainings are co-led with an experienced Pongo writing mentor and/or licensed clinician.

Schedule a Training

In addition to our flagship spring and fall trainings, Pongo schedules trainings on a rolling basis to share our methodology with organizations and other groups interested in adopting our trauma-informed approach. Pongo has an extensive history of training professionals in a variety of fields, including the following:

  • Students and faculty in schools of social work, medicine, creative writing, psychology, and education
  • Therapists and teachers working in agencies and schools serving vulnerable youth and others
  • Students, therapists, artists, and teachers interested in starting writing programs in youth detention centers, shelters, schools, and hospitals
  • Staff in institutions, such as detention centers and hospitals, who are interested in expanding their trauma-informed programming

Each training can be customized to meet your specific needs, but the objectives and outcomes remain consistent with our flagship trainings. We want to help you start a successful trauma-informed writing project using our proven methodology!

For more information contact

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