Ebooks   ➡  Nonfiction  ➡  Healing

Writing for Wellness in Community Settings: How to Facilitate a Writing for Wel


Writing for Wellness

in Community Settings


How to Facilitate a

Writing for Wellness Class



Sandy Gonzales

Kathy Vayder



A Leader’s Guide for Groups Using

Writing for Wellness: A Prescription for Healing

By Julie Davey

© Copyright 2017, Idyll Arbor, Inc. All rights reserved under International and Pan American Copyright Conventions. This book and any information in it may be reproduced for use in Writing for Wellness classes. For other purposes, no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transcribed, in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise — without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Cover: Thomas M. Blaschko

Writing for Wellness book cover: Vincent Williams


ISBN: 978-1-61158-060-0


Shakespir Edition License Notes

Thank you for downloading this free ebook. You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the book remains in its complete original form. If you enjoyed this book, please return to Shakespir.com to discover other works by this author. Thank you for your support.


Contact information:



Beginnings of Writing for Wellness

About The Book



What Happens in Class

Where to Begin

Basic Considerations

Running a Class

Step-by-Step Procedures




Appendix A — Class Syllabus

Appendix B — Class Syllabus





For more information


Many people struggling with serious illness or emotional trauma feel broken-hearted, confused, frustrated, angry, unforgiving, alone. They need a way to express what they are experiencing as they try to make sense of a loss of health, financial worries, relationship problems, or sometimes a combination of such crises. Many are looking for a kindred community, hoping to find someone who can understand their pain as they work through their situation.

Often the necessary help can be found in support groups and counseling sessions with trained professionals. Writing for Wellness classes using the book Writing for Wellness: A Prescription for Healing can provide a natural extension of the care received in those settings.

“People who write about traumatic experiences make fewer doctor visits and lead happier lives.” The research behind this statement is credible and compelling. In their excellent book, Expressive Writing: Words that Heal (Idyll Arbor, 2014), authors James W. Pennebaker and John F. Evans cite well-documented studies which clearly demonstrate that expressive writing can positively affect one’s overall well-being.

For example, across four writing studies performed in 1986, participants who engaged in expressive writing about past traumas made 43% less doctor visits than those who wrote about superficial topics as part of the study. In the thirty years since, nearly 300 more studies have confirmed the notion that writing about traumas can significantly promote an individual's ability to deal with that trauma.

By providing some guidance on how and what to write, and a safe environment in which to write, Writing for Wellness classes help participants improve their physical, mental, and spiritual health. Class members are instructed in writing techniques which will help them to relieve grief, forgive hurts, and address frustrations and anger.

This easy-to-follow guide is designed to assist outreach group facilitators, health service leaders, teachers, ministers, patient educators, and other volunteers to establish and teach Writing for Wellness classes.

Beginnings of Writing for Wellness

Classes in Writing for Wellness have been offered since 2001 at City of Hope National Cancer Center in Duarte, California. Julie Davey, the designer and instructor of the class, is a two-time cancer survivor and retired college writing professor at Fullerton College. Julie developed the classes to benefit cancer patients, their caregivers, family members, and the medical staff at City of Hope. She wanted to help them deal with and heal from grief and other psychological issues that arise from cancer, other catastrophic illnesses, and personal tragedies.

Hundreds of participants have attended these classes, and with Julie’s guidance have used directed-writing lessons to help express what they are going through. Participants report that they feel better after attending classes and completing writing assignments. Writing helps them heal.

In 2008, Kathy Vayder, a volunteer in the Care Giving Ministry, met with Julie Davey to create a class for a Christian church setting by adding a spiritual theme to the course. The course has been taught at Cornerstone Fellowship in Livermore, California, since March 2009. Classes are also being held at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier, California, Wellness Center in Phoenix, Arizona, and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.

The success of these courses led to the creation of this text: a simple guide to help leaders set up Writing for Wellness classes in a variety of settings, from a general audience at a local community center to a specific population at a health care facility.

About the Book

Over the years, Julie collected poems, essays, humorous stories, letters, and slice-of-life articles written by her students. She saved them, feeling they were too inspirational, too funny, too compelling, and too well-written to be discarded. Using these writings to teach other participants how to express themselves was very helpful, even for those who claimed to be “non-writers.” Julie organized the students’ writings and prepared a manuscript which included her own cancer story, writings from more than 60 class participants, and class lessons she felt were especially effective in helping her students. The result is a 340-page book, Writing for Wellness: A Prescription for Healing.

The book was written for anyone dealing with cancer, other serious health conditions, or any physical or emotional loss — whether the concerns were for themselves, relatives, or friends. However, Julie believes that the book is even more valuable when it is used in a group setting where experiences, insights, and feelings can be shared. Julie’s dream is to have classes like hers taught in medical centers, hospitals, health care facilities, community centers, public libraries, churches, and synagogues everywhere.

Her book is available for purchase online at IdyllArbor.com, Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com. It can also be ordered through bookstores and downloaded at www.Shakespir.com. All author’s profits from the book go to City of Hope for cancer research and patient education.


Society is challenged today to provide care for its members with personal or family health issues. Many organizations have programs which provide help for those with ongoing illnesses or families recovering from grief. Writing for Wellness classes create an environment to address many of these needs. People come to a writing class because deep down they need to express their feelings as a means to find their way through their current struggles.

Participants in Writing for Wellness classes often say they never liked writing before. However, with the help of the lessons, samples from previous participants, and prompts, they find an ease in writing. They begin to share their stories, thus fostering the sense of community, a vital element in the wellness process. Writing together creates a unique healing experience.

What Happens in the Classes?

Writing for Wellness classes can be adjusted to fit many different settings and group dynamics. Most of them will follow the general format described here:

First, everyone is welcomed and then asked to briefly introduce themselves. The leader of the class then describes the topic for the session and offers readings from the Writing for Wellness book. Each chapter contains “Healing Words,” examples of writings completed by those in other Writing for Wellness classes. These can be used to begin group discussions.

After the readings, the leader reiterates the writing topic for the session and gives some introductory sentences to help even the reluctant writer get started. Members of the class are given some time to write. After most of the writing is finished, members are asked if anyone wants to share what they have written. No one is required to share, but there are usually plenty of volunteers. To close the meeting, an appropriate quote may be offered.

The number of sessions in a class varies greatly with the setting. Some places offer only four or five sessions per class. Others, such as the City of Hope where Julie has taught, have classes offered continuously. This booklet suggests a class of 12 sessions. The Writing for Wellness book provides a wealth of material that can be used in a flexible manner to fit any particular schedule.

Where to Begin

Creating a Writing for Wellness class is fairly easy. Most of what you need to know is contained in this booklet and the book Writing for Wellness. Julie Davey and the staff at Idyll Arbor are happy to answer any questions you may have in setting up or running the classes. Contact information is shown on the back of the title page.

Here are some steps to take in setting up a class:


1. Talk with your organization about the purpose of classes. You want to be sure Writing for Wellness fits with their mission, and you want to know who may potentially be served by these classes.

2. Engage a facilitator and one or two additional volunteers.

3. Secure a facility that is available at a convenient time.

4. Possibly locate a sponsor.

5. Advertise the class.

6. Set up a procedure for interested students to sign up (email, sign-up sheet, etc.


You may need to write up a formal proposal for approval by your organization. Feel free to copy or adapt material from this booklet if that helps. You are not required to follow any set plan in providing classes. The format set forth in this booklet has been used successfully, but each situation is unique and variations are perfectly acceptable.

Several decisions must be made before the first session. They include who to invite to join the class, how many sessions to have, how long each session will be and how that time will be used, and whether or not to include refreshments. After you have determined your parameters, it is time to let potential participants know about the class.

You may want to open the class only to individuals dealing with illnesses, or you may wish to include their families, friends, and caregivers. You may want to establish different classes for different problems (e.g., loss of parent or spouse or child, divorce, physical issues, or emotional issues). You may want to limit each person to one series of sessions or you may want to invite people for as many classes as they feel they need. Julie’s philosophy is to include everyone for as long as they want to come — as long as they are not disturbing the class process. As always, consider what will work best for your situation.

As discussed previously, you choose the number of sessions you want to have per class. Each group has its own needs and constraints. The general consensus is to have at least four or five sessions so the participants can really get into the spirit of the writing. This may not be enough time for significant healing, however.

On the other hand, facilitators may be reluctant to commit to more sessions because of the time obligation. We believe the twelve-session class presented here is reasonable. Participants may be invited back to future classes to assist the instructor and perhaps prepare themselves to lead future classes.

We’ve also talked a bit about what happens in a class. Make sure you have prepared your lesson, certainly for the first session and possibly for all of the sessions. See Appendix A and Appendix B at the end of this booklet for help with that.

Julie always supplies food at the classes she teaches. You can read her reasons for providing food in Writing for Wellness. Food is not a requirement. If you are not restricted by your location or budget, we recommend you provide some sort of refreshments. You may even have a few participants willing to take turns bringing something.

Basic Considerations

The goal of the class is to bring physical, mental, and spiritual healing to its members. Here are some basic considerations that will enhance the effectiveness of your class:

Letting people know about the class

  • Posters in appropriate locations

  • Online notification to potential participants

  • Advertisement in a local publication (newspaper, facility periodical)

Required supplies

* Writing for Wellness Book — Single copy price $18. A case of books (36) is available for $10.80 per book, a 40% discount. Your organization may wish to purchase the books to resell to participants or loan to them for the duration of the class.

  • Name Tags

  • Notepads

  • Pens

  • Refreshments (optional, but always welcome)

  • Clipboards or magazines, if tables or desks are not available


Conversation-style seating, where everyone can see one another, works better than auditorium-style. Classrooms work well if you can arrange the desks into a circle or square. Depending on the size of your group, a conference room with everyone around a large table is a good idea, too. If possible, arrange seating so participants can have a writing surface. If not possible, provide clipboards or magazines to be used on their laps.

Running a Class

When it is time to open the doors and invite the participants in, you need to be ready to make their experience as positive as possible. Here are some things you can do to make the class a success:

Before the first class

Prior to the first session, contact each person who has signed up, welcoming them to the class. Ask them to bring paper and pen or a laptop or tablet computer. Tell them how to obtain a copy of Writing for Wellness. Provide details about class location and a reminder of the date and time of the first meeting.

Be welcoming

It is important that people feel welcome and relaxed. The group instructor should briefly introduce himself/herself at the beginning, giving the participants relevant information that will inspire confidence about the course. For example, if the teacher has experience in the writing field, those qualifications should be explained. The instructor should share any experiences they have in common with the group’s focus (e.g., cancer survivor, professional caregiver, bereft family member). If the instructor has attended a Writing for Wellness class, that experience should also be shared.

Class policies

Explain that in the interests of personal privacy, “what happens in class, stays in class.” This of course means that anything spoken or written in class should be considered confidential. Participants should not repeat outside of class anyone’s personal information which might be revealed in class. Keep in mind that trust is earned, so it may take a while for some participants to feel they can open up and share.

Also emphasize that it is not the purpose of the class to share one’s medical history or give advice to one another. The class will concentrate solely on how writing can help participants express what they are going through and thereby promote their healing.

Make it clear that no one will be required to share anything they write. People usually open up as they become more comfortable with the group, but each person knows their own comfort level. Just because a person never chooses to share does not mean healing isn’t taking place.

Writings may also be posted to the Writing for Wellness website, extending the circle of sharing. If you feel inclined to do this, be sure the writer has reviewed and approved what you intend to post.

Have an agenda and stick to it

Go over the agenda; explain that you will be closely following it. This will make it easier to interrupt anyone who gets long-winded, “Thank you, we need to move along now.” From the start, do not allow any one person dominate the class. Be sure everyone who wishes to speak has a chance to do so.

If a class is advertised as being one hour or an hour-and-a-half in length, be sure to end at the appointed time. Some participants may want to stay and chat after class, so try to make that time available, too. Writing and sharing is an emotional experience, and people may need a few moments before they are ready to go out in public again. The following is a sample agenda:

1. Refreshments

2. Opening welcome

3. Introductions (state limit of one minute per person)

4. Explanation of session topic

5. Reading of examples from book and ensuing discussion

6. Writing time (at least 20 minutes)

7. Sharing time (at least 20 minutes)

8. Close with a quote which fits the theme for the week


During the first class, encourage the participants to briefly tell how they found out about the class and what they would like to get from it (take mental notes of their responses for future reference). Consider whether to have a brief introduction every week as a check-in so each can let the others know how they are doing.

Examples from the first chapter of Writing for Wellness can help open a dialogue for that first class. Read one aloud and then ask, “Does anyone want to share a reaction to that piece of writing?” Wait a moment for participants to answer. Often it takes time for people to build confidence to speak in front of strangers.

Say “Thank You”

Thank the first person who raises their hand, even before they say anything aloud. You may even have a small basket of “treats” or “prizes” to offer that brave soul. By doing this, you are sending the message that talking aloud is rewarded and participants need not be afraid to do it. Reassure everyone that you won’t be calling on anyone. Participation is voluntary, not mandatory.

Don’t forget to say “thank you” to the second person who raises their hand, and to every person after that, too.

Breaking down the barriers

Always keep in mind that participants who come to writing class to help themselves heal from traumatic events, illnesses, or grief are suffering. Encourage them and praise them when they read their writings aloud. Never correct the writing or suggest a better title. Red pens are not used; spelling and grammar are never corrected. In this class, it’s far more important to write from the depths of the soul. Do not allow others to be critical either. This writing is for healing, not publication.

People often feel they have no talent for writing. Assure the participants that everyone has a story to tell and that the goal is not perfection. Most people want to be perceived as happy or fine or coping beautifully, not hurting or upset or grieving or angry. Ask everyone to be honest in their writings. Also advise them, “You don’t need to let others read your work, especially those at home, until you feel the time is right to share.”

Continually accentuate the positive. Many participants will need such reassurances even after several class meetings.

Using Writing for Wellness

Each participant should obtain a copy of the book, Writing for Wellness: A Prescription for Healing to use in class and to take home to read “assignments” for the next class.

Using the book in class is an easy and effective way to provide structure since it is designed as a guide. Participants can read selections in class and complete other readings at home. The instructor can use the "It's Your Turn" lessons for designated in-class writing times. Following the text, students can complete the lessons they begin in class -.

Books can be purchased at a discount by either the sponsoring organization or by the person leading the class, and then resold to the students. Non-profit organizations, or other groups whose policy does not permit them to charge for services, may want to purchase a set of books to be used by class participants and then returned at the end of the course. Contact Idyll Arbor for details on ordering books.

If cost is not an issue, individuals may wish to purchase their own copies to keep. The books are sold online at www.idyllarbor.com or at www.amazon.com, as well.

Step-by-Step Procedures

What follows is a simple step-by-step plan for a class session. Feel free to adapt it to suit your purposes.

1. Have hot or cold beverages and snacks or desserts available as people arrive. Greet each person as they enter. Create a relaxed and supportive atmosphere, realizing that coming to class may in itself be an achievement for some people.

2. Take care of introductions and check-ins.

  • In session one, describe your own background and why you are teaching the class. Allow everyone else to introduce themselves.

  • In later sessions, offer a chance for people to share a brief summary of what has happened since the last meeting.

3. Prepare for the lesson.

  • In session one, distribute a class syllabus (see Appendices). Then introduce the book, Writing for Wellness, by summarizing it yourself or by reading selections from the introduction aloud. Perhaps have participants look over the Table of Contents. Answer any questions anyone may have about the book or the class.

  • In later sessions, use this time for participants to read what they have written about the topic from the previous class. Ask how they felt about their writing: Did it help them in any way? Was it difficult? Have they found themselves wanting to write more?

4. Set the stage for this week’s topic. Read parts of the “Healing Words” examples and any other writings you choose, or share your own experience, if you feel it is appropriate.

5. Distribute writing materials (pens, paper, etc.) to anyone who doesn’t have them.

6. Initiate some low-key, impromptu discussion by having students read with you this week’s “It’s Your Turn” writing prompt. This is a good time to remind the class that you won’t call on anyone unless they volunteer.

7. Allow 20 minutes to write about the prompt. Ask everyone to be quiet, since many people cannot concentrate on writing if others are talking. Write your own response to the prompt.

8. After about 18 minutes, announce that time is almost up. This gives everyone a chance to finish up a thought or make notes about something they may want to write more about later.

9. Ask if anyone would like to share what they have written. If there is complete silence, break the ice by reading what you wrote. Tell how writing about it made you feel. When someone volunteers to read, provide a small reward for their courage. Ask the others what they liked best about the writing that was shared, with the reminder that there will be no criticism. The objective is getting one’s feelings out and onto paper, not creating literary masterpieces.

10. Point out that they may continue to write about the day’s topic at home and then share it at the next session, or simply ponder at home what they wrote in class. No homework is ever assigned. It’s enough to simply come to class and write.

11. Close with an appropriate inspirational quote and a smile. Don Wilson, a cancer survivor who leads a Writing for Wellness group in Maryland, usually includes hugs all around.


The following pages outline how to schedule a 12-session class. This allows for a full course to be taught once per quarter, with a week break between. (See Appendix A for a syllabus with the topics divided among twelve weeks.) The topics in each session are taken directly from the book Writing for Wellness (page numbers are cited).

You may wish to allow participants to write on whichever topic they choose, or you may pick a topic for everyone to write about. Julie has found all of the topics in the book to be helpful.

Perhaps a 12-session course is too long for your purposes. To create a 10-week course, simply condense the topics. (See Appendix B for a syllabus with the topics divided among ten weeks.)

Of course, you are welcome to design a course that fits your schedule and the needs of your group. These are merely suggestions to make facilitating a class as easy as possible for you.

Session One

Read Chapters 1-2 (pages 5-23) and select a writing assignment from the topics below:

Class Is in Session

On a piece of paper or at your computer, describe your experience with a life-threatening disease, a major loss, or a tragedy. You may have been a patient, a spouse, a friend, a family member, or a caregiver. Write about how you felt during the crisis or about how you feel now. Include as many details as you can.

Personal Experience

Write a letter to someone with whom you need to share your feelings. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar (you can fix those things later, if you wish); just get started with whatever comes to your mind. Later, if you feel it’s appropriate, send or deliver the letter.

If the person you’ve written to has already passed away, you may want to read your letter aloud as if you are talking to them. Then, save it in a special place and read it from time to time when you think of them.

Session Two

Read Chapters 3–4 (pages 24-42) and select a writing assignment from the topics below:

Violet’s Story

Write about words you have received from someone. Explain the person’s relationship to you and describe what you learned from them. Tell how their words or actions changed the direction of your life or significantly helped you.

Healing and Feeling

Explain how you found out about an illness or tragedy in your life. Use the exact words you heard, as best as you can remember them. Describe your emotions. What went through your mind? Recall as many details as you can.

Session Three

Read Chapters 5–6 (pages 45-68) and select a writing assignment from the topics below:

Thank You

Write to someone who deserves your thanks. A thank-you note is usually short, to the point, and fairly easy to do. Be as specific as you can to make the note personal. Go beyond saying, “I don’t know what I would have done without you.” Explain why. For example, “Having you take care of the kids has meant everything to me because I can concentrate on getting well, knowing they are in your capable hands.”

Love Letters

Write a letter to someone missing in your life. Write about the good times you shared and describe why you miss them today. What humor do you remember sharing with them? What difficulty did they help you through? When do you miss them most — holidays, quiet times, sports events, hearing music you both loved?

Session Four

Read Chapters 7-9 (pages 69-104) and select a writing assignment from the topics below:

Private Anguish

Are you faking a strong front by putting on a happy face for those around you? Are your own fears keeping you from helping a friend or family member with their illness, tragedy, or loss? How do you really feel about what you are going through? Does anyone know? Are you able to talk about your feelings with anyone? Expressing fears and frustration can be a step toward healing. Writing may help chase some of the demons from your mind and body.

Changing Priorities

Write about how your priorities have changed since you or your loved one experienced illness or tragedy. How did you feel before? What did you consider to be problems then? What are your problems today? Are you able to relate to your friends and family members in the ways you used to, or has this changed?

Expelling Anger

Whether you are the cancer patient, the caregiver, the spouse, the friend, or the medical staff member, you have a unique perspective on anger and what it does to you. Some anger is not directly related to tragedy, yet without expelling it, true healing cannot take place.

For healing to begin, you must get rid of the anger and resentment in your life. Writing about it is one place to start. Write the first words that come to mind. Don’t hold back. Let out the anger by writing down your feelings and details of what caused it. Remember that you don’t have to show what you wrote to anybody.

Session Five

Read Chapters 10-11 (pages 105-120) and select a writing assignment from the topics below:

Forgiveness as Healing

Think about someone who has hurt you, whether they did so intentionally or unwittingly. Write about who you would like to forgive. It could be a family member, a colleague at work, someone from your childhood or school days, anyone in your life today, or even yourself.

Unfinished Business

Is there some person or event from your past that still makes you angry or sad today? Do you have unfinished business with a relative, a co-worker, a neighbor? As you write, be conscious of your feelings and include them. In writing to heal, feelings as well as facts must come out in order to be identified and dealt with.

Session Six

Read Chapters 12-13 (pages 121-143) and select a writing assignment from the topics below:

Bravest Hearts

Who are your role models? Think about why you value them and what they have done to inspire you, to motivate you to fight on. Write as specifically as you can, giving details about the “who, what, when, where, and why” of your admiration for them.

Heroes and Helpers

Who has been a hero or helper for you? A friend? A spouse? A doctor or nurse? A pastor? Think about how you felt in the midst of your sorrows or fears. Write about who hugged you, listened without judgment, and reassured you that they would be there for you. Include as many feelings from that time as you can remember.

Session Seven

Read Chapters 14-16 (pages 147-190) and select a writing assignment from the topics below:

Gifts and Blessings

What has having a life-threatening disease or experiencing a loss brought you or taught you? What is the greatest gift you have received? What is the greatest gift you have given?

Choosing Happiness

We can view our loss or illness as depressingly hopeless and live each day accordingly, or we can choose hope and happiness. Write about a time in your life when you were faced with such a choice. Perhaps you are feeling this right now. How are you dealing with it? Have your choices changed as a result of this loss or illness?

Laughter as Medicine

Recall a humorous experience, your own or someone else’s. If you like to tell old stories, write about one of them. Let the recollection bring a smile to your face and warm your heart.

Session Eight

Read Chapters 17-19 (pages 191-227) and select a writing assignment from the topics below:

Mind-Mending Journeys

Close your eyes and let your mind drift to the most peaceful moment it can recall. Then open your eyes and describe what you saw, heard, tasted, smelled, and felt while you were there. Write about why you think your mind chose that particular memory.

Recapturing Joy

Let your mind help you escape the negatives. Write about happiness you once felt. Write in detail, describing what took place and giving attention to your five senses. See if you can find peace by mentally returning to a place that made you feel wonderful. Take a deep breath and remember a time in your life when everything was peaceful. Write about it as being here and now.

Smiling through the Tears

Remembering the humorous times may not speed up our healing, yet may make things less depressing. Can you think of the funniest thing that ever happened while in the hospital or doctor’s office?

Session Nine

Read Chapters 20-21 (pages 228-250) and select a writing assignment from the topics below:

Capturing Nature’s Power

Write about somewhere you have found comfort for your soul. Did you walk in a park, or hike to a lake, or simply watch the sunrise or sunset from your home? Describe the sights and sounds. What does being in nature do for you?

Lessons Learned

What lessons have you learned thus far in your life? Make a list of five to ten. Explain in a few words how you learned these lessons.

Session Ten

Read Chapters 22-23 (pages 251-274) and select a writing assignment from the topics below:

Your Story/Your Legacy

Writing your own life’s story, the story of a favorite family member, or that of an important person in your life is a momentous accomplishment. It will inspire you and will provide insight for future generations.

Happy Days Are Near Again

After almost any crisis in life, there will be those who see it in a positive light while others view it darkly and never fully recover from its effects. There will always be those who will learn from it and strive to light the way for others. Which do you want? Write about where you want to see yourself six months from now, a year from now. How will you be different?

Session Eleven

Read Chapters 24–25 (pages 277-294) and select a writing assignment from the topics below:

Family Matters

Focus on a family member and write about him or her. Create a picture of the person with your words, then tell a story about them. Describe how writing about the person felt to you.

Your Unspoken Dreams

Make a list of your personal goals. Select one of the goals and write about how it would feel to accomplish it. What could you do to make it happen?

Session Twelve

Read Chapters 26–27 (pages 295-315) and select a writing assignment from the topics below:

Rediscovering You

Who have you become? Have you discovered new aspects of your personality? Write a brief “life script” describing the life you hope to live from here on. Who will remain in the cast? Will it be a drama, a comedy, or an inspirational story? You can control many of the outcomes.

Giving Back

Think about how you have been helped by someone and how they made you feel. Have you helped others by volunteering your time? Visualize yourself helping others and write about how that might feel.

Appendix A — Class Syllabus

The following is an example of a twelve-week class syllabus you might hand out to participants so they have a clear idea about what to expect during the Writing for Wellness course. It’s a good idea to provide the date for each class. The page numbers are where you will find the “It’s Your Turn” writing prompts in Writing for Wellness.


Class 1 ( date ) Getting Started

Class Is in Session, p. 15

Personal Experience, p. 22


Class 2 ( date ) Getting Started

Violet’s Story, p. 32

Healing and Feeling, p. 42


Class 3 ( date ) Reaching Out, Reaching In

Thank You, p. 58

Love Letters, p. 68


Class 4 ( date ) Reaching Out, Reaching In

Private Anguish, p. 82

Changing Priorities, p. 90

Expelling Anger, p. 103


Class 5 ( date ) Reaching Out, Reaching In

Forgiveness as Healing, p. 110

Unfinished Business, p. 119

Class 6 ( date ) Reaching Out, Reaching In

Bravest Hearts, p. 134

Hero and Helpers, p. 143


Class 7 ( date ) Getting on With Your Life

Gifts and Blessings, p. 167

Choosing Happiness, p. 178

Laughter as Medicine, p. 190


Class 8 ( date ) Getting on With Your Life

Mind-Mending Journeys, p. 199

Recapturing Joy, p. 209

Smiling through the Tears, p. 226


Class 9 ( date ) Getting on With Your Life

Capturing Nature’s Power, p. 239

Lessons Learned, p. 250


Class 10 ( date ) Getting on With Your Life

Your Story/Your Legacy, p. 262

Happy Days Are Near Again, p. 274


Class 11 ( date ) Compassionate Outcomes

Family Matters, p. 287

Your Unspoken Dreams, p. 294


Class 12 ( date ) Compassionate Outcomes

Rediscovering You, p. 300

Giving Back, p. 315

Appendix B — Class Syllabus

The following is an example of a ten-week class syllabus you might hand out to participants so they have a clear idea about what to expect during the Writing for Wellness course. It’s a good idea to provide the date for each class. The page numbers are where you will find the “It’s Your Turn” writing prompts in Writing for Wellness.


Class 1 ( date ) Getting Started

Class Is in Session, p. 15

Personal Experience, p. 22


Class 2 ( date ) Getting Started

Violet’s Story, p. 32

Healing and Feeling, p. 42


Class 3 ( date ) Reaching Out, Reaching In

Thank You, p. 58

Love Letters, p. 68

Private Anguish, p. 82


Class 4 ( date ) Reaching Out, Reaching In

Changing Priorities, p. 90

Expelling Anger, p. 103

Forgiveness as Healing, p, 110


Class 5 ( date ) Reaching Out, Reaching In

Unfinished Business, p. 119

Bravest Hearts, p. 134

Hero and Helpers, p. 143


Class 6 ( date ) Getting on With Your Life

Gifts and Blessings, p. 167

Choosing Happiness, p. 178

Laughter as Medicine, p. 190


Class 7 ( date ) Getting on With Your Life

Mind-Mending Journeys, p. 199

Recapturing Joy, p. 209

Smiling through the Tears, p. 226

Capturing Nature’s Power, p. 239


Class 8 ( date ) Getting on With Your Life

Lessons Learned, p, 250

Your Story/Your Legacy, p, 262

Happy Days Are Near Again, p. 274


Class 9 ( date ) Compassionate Outcomes

Family Matters, p. 287

Your Unspoken Dreams, p. 294


Class 10 ( date ) Compassionate Outcomes

Rediscovering You, p. 300

Giving Back, p. 315


It is important to keep improving the Writing for Wellness experience. Who has better input than the people who have just completed the class? The survey on the next two pages is a sample of questions you might want to ask your participants.

Your goal is to find out what worked and what didn’t, which things should be kept and which might be modified or eliminated. Written responses provide a realistic view of what went well and what could use improvement. Distribute the survey near the end of the last session and ask the participants to submit their evaluations before they leave class.

We at Idyll Arbor continually strive to improve our products and service, as well. Any suggestions you wish to pass along about this text or the Writing for Wellness program can be sent to Idyll Arbor at the address on the back of the title page.

Class Survey

Please take a moment to provide feedback on your experience in the Writing for Wellness program. When you’re finished, please drop the survey off at the front of the class.

Which part(s) of the class did you find most helpful?

 Book/materials

 Writing time

 Sharing time

 Other (please specify)

How would you rate the use of the book Writing for Wellness[*?*]

 Very helpful

 Helpful

 Neutral

 Unnecessary

I would prefer more class time spent on …

 Writing

 Sharing and discussion

 Reading assignments from book

 Other (please specify)

I would like less class time spent on …

 Writing

 Sharing and discussion

 Reading assignments from book

 Other (please specify)

Do you feel this class helped you?

 Yes

 Somewhat

 No

Why or why not?

Was this setting comfortable for you?

 Yes

 Somewhat

 No

Why or why not?

How would you rate the facilitator? (check all that apply)

 Friendly and helpful

 Knew the material

 Did a good job of encouraging me to write

 Other comments:

Was the meeting day and time convenient?

 Yes

 No

What might have been better?

Would you like the course to be a different length?

 Shorter

 Fine as is

 Longer


Additional Comments:


Unbelievable, incredible, therapeutic, healing, safe, emotional.

Ella Mae Kurashige RN, BSN, MSN,

and class participant

Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, WA



Writing for Wellness is a valuable healing tool for people who are grieving the death of a loved one. What an incredible gift to be able to get one’s feelings of grief out and down on paper and then to be heard by a safe, small group of people. Many from our Grief Care group are greatly benefiting from this Writing for Wellness class. Broken hearts are being restored.

Gayle Jonas

Grief Care

Cornerstone Fellowship, Livermore, CA



Thank you for the wonderful, tender, touching, and very useful book you sent! You’ve done the world a great service by sharing these stories plus the technique of healing through writing. My best to you.

Hanoch McCarty, Ed. D.

Co-Author of Chicken Soup for the Soul

For more information

Idyll Arbor and Julie Davey are committed to helping you develop and run a successful Writing for Wellness program. We offer insight, suggestions, and further writings on our website:


Be sure to check out the video of Julie Davey talking about Writing for Wellness, also found on the website.

If you have questions about starting a program or want some insight into how to make your program more successful, please feel free to contact us:

Idyll Arbor

39129 264th Ave SE

Enumclaw, WA 98022


[email protected]


Julie Davey

[email protected]

Writing for Wellness in Community Settings: How to Facilitate a Writing for Wel

This easy-to-follow guide is designed to assist community services professionals, teachers, and other volunteers as they establish and lead Writing for Wellness classes in community settings. Writing for Wellness classes provide community, caring, and sharing for people with emotional and physical health issues, their loved ones, and their caretakers. Participants in the classes learn writing techniques to help them relieve grief, learn to forgive, address anger and frustrations, and examine their spiritual lives. Participants focus on specific themes. Anger, frustration, and fear are expressed in prose and poetry. There will also be laughter, healing tears, and new understandings about life. The class leader will need to have a copy of the Writing for Wellness book. Each topic in that book provides Healing Words from more than 60 participants who were in Julie Davey’s original classes. These are followed by prompts so members of the group can express their own feelings in the It’s Your Turn section. Suggestions for leading a series of classes give program support so that volunteers unfamiliar with Writing for Wellness will succeed from their first class.

  • ISBN: 9781611580600
  • Author: Issues Press
  • Published: 2017-03-30 13:05:11
  • Words: 6902
Writing for Wellness in Community Settings:  How to Facilitate a Writing for Wel Writing for Wellness in Community Settings:  How to Facilitate a Writing for Wel