This article provides an overview of the field of poetry therapy by focussing on its origin in ancient civilizations, its earlier uses – which emphasise the therapeutic value of poetry – and the establishment of the worldwide National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT). Definitions of the term poetry therapy are provided, and the difference between bibliotherapy and poetry therapy is explained with reference to the bibliotherapy model of Hynes and Hynes-Berry (1986). The functions and
uses of poetry therapy are also indicated, with references for further research. The guidelines used by therapists in choosing usable texts, which is a determining factor in the success of poetry therapy, are set out. Finally, a list
is provided of a few recent projects, institutions and individuals in South Africa who contribute to community development by using writing as therapy.