Conference Programme Sunday

Sunday 30th July 2017

10.00am to 10.30am – Registration

10.30am to 11.00am – Guest Speaker: Charmaine Pollard

11.10am to 12:30pm – Choice of:

Research Strand Sunday 1: Well words: An autoethnographic and heuristic study exploring language inspired by the well archetype and the impact of CWTP at the Chalice Well.

This session explores the impact of the well archetype on CWTP. Diving in to more deeply connect to internal identity and exploring relationship with ‘other’ and spirit of place, thereby reuniting the nature within with the nature without. An experiential workshop is included, with an accessible element outdoors, weather dependent.

Presenter: Dawn McHale is a writer who has been a therapist since 1996 for all ages, a professional storyteller since 2002, and a practitioner of CWTP for 10 years facilitating groups for bereaved people, carers, in mental health settings, in Further Education, in partnership with the National Trust, and for Lapidus.

Writing with People affected by Trauma Strand Sunday 1: The paper isn’t judging

It started with a question:

‘How do survivors of rape and sexual abuse experience a brief, structured therapeutic writing group in a third sector setting?’

With a small grant and a lot of goodwill would be another way of describing the start. Although there is a widely acknowledged, international research base for the use of writing for therapeutic purposes and as a means of reducing the difficulty of disclosing emotionally stressful or traumatic experiences, there is very little on writing groups for survivors of abuse, even within domestic violence, for example (Western, 2013). Practical applications of the ‘Pennebaker paradigm’ are appearing in diverse disciplines (Field & McCloskey, 2015) and this group was based on similar research findings, plus person-centred principles for group work (Rogers, 2000).


Jeannie Wright is gradually moving out of working as a practitioner, teacher and researcher in universities. She is still, however, immersed in and fascinated by the use of creative writing for therapeutic practice. The next thing she writes will hopefully be without references.  

Dr. Ravi K. Thiara, Director and Principal Research Fellow, Centre for the Study of Safety and Well-being (SWELL), University of Warwick, has an outstanding national and international reputation in the field of violence against women and children, ethnicity, and disability spanning the last three decades. She has conducted extensive research at national and international level, and has an expertise in gendered violence and black and minority ethnic communities. Exploring and theorising the intersection of major social divisions is central to her work. 

Writing in Groups Strand Sunday 1: Memory and metaphor – group work with bereaved adults

Bereavement writing groups do not necessarily write about death, but when they do, how can you manage the feelings that arise, including your own? This session offers guidance for working with bereaved adults, using memories and metaphor, and reflecting on how awareness of bereavement support skills can help the facilitator.

Presenter: Jane Moss is the author of Writing in Bereavement, A Creative Handbook (JKP 2012). She has run writing groups and training sessions for hospices and Cruse UK.  Jane co-hosts The Writing Retreat; residential writing weeks in south and west Cornwall, and runs writing groups in Cornwall, where she lives.

Good Practice and Evaluation Strand Sunday 1: From Writing to Research – Lessons learned from poetry, the community and academia

In 2013, Christina Thatcher lost her father to a drug overdose. Losing him led her to write a poetry collection, facilitate ‘Death Writing’ workshops, and dedicate her PhD to studying how creative writing can impact those bereaved by addiction. This presentation and workshop will explore the lessons learned from these varied experiences.

Presenter: Christina Thatcher is PhD student and postgraduate tutor at Cardiff University where she studies how creative writing can impact the lives of people bereaved by addiction. Her poetry and short stories have featured  in The London Magazine, Planet Magazine, Acumen, among others. Her first collection, More than you were, was shortlisted in Bare Fiction’s 2015 Debut Poetry Collection Competition. To learn more, visit her blog: or follow her on Twitter @writetoempower.

12.30pm to 1.30pm – Lunch and Performance Poet Frank Thomas.

Frank Thomas is a performer and spoken word artist who uses his art form to address a range of subjects, from political pieces, to comedy, giving a voice to those who need it (and of course he wouldn’t be a poet without doing a bit of that old lovey dovey stuff as well). He started writing as he finished university and began performing shortly after. Since then has had the opportunity to perform across the UK including as a support artist for Hollie McNish and Polarbear. Frank has made his own theatre and used his work to engage with several charities. He also ran and hosted National Theatre Wales Team’s open mic night called Word4Word.

1.30pm to 3.00pm – Choice of:

Research Strand Sunday 2: Poetry Therapy and the Therapeutic Effects of Metaphor for People Diagnosed with Psychosis

The context of this presentation is our work with people diagnosed with psychosis and drug addicts relatives. We also present a project where poetry therapy was integrated with cognitive group psychotherapy. After the theoretical part, we will give a poetry therapy workshop where the participants can experience the therapeutic power of poetry in practice.


Karoliina Maanmieli is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Jyväskylä. She currently studies mental hospital memories and does part-time research for a related European Social Fund project. She has built a career in mental health care and worked as a poetry therapist for 15 years.

More than an upcoming career in kindergarten, to Elisa Auvinen studies in Early Childhood education appeared theoretically inspiring: she wanted to understand risks in development. During her education in Finnish language and literature, she started to question how creative writing could help raising subjective awareness and thus, maybe, improve well-being.

Writing with People affected by Trauma Strand Sunday 2: Voice & Witness: Rethinking creative writing pedagogy for mental health.

Creative writing interventions for mental health are on the upsurge. As of 2015, depression is the leading chronic condition in Europe. I propose a refined approach to ‘expressive writing’ that draws upon creative writing techniques of voice and notions of bearing witness (Jensen, 2014; Forche, 1992). I suggest that a closer examination of writing pedagogy can prove fruitful for recovery from mental illness, and lead participants in creative writing exercises designed to assist with recovery.

Presenter: Dr Carolyn Jess-Cooke is an award-winning poet, novelist, editor, and academic, published in 23 languages around the world. As Lecturer in Creative Writing, she leads research in creative writing for mental illness. Her third novel, I KNOW MY NAME, is published in June 2017 by HarperCollins (UK) and Hachette (US), as well as in several other languages, and is being made into a TV drama.

Writing in Groups Strand Sunday 2: Ready or not, one day I shall die – and so will you!

The more I talk and write about death, the more alive I feel. Do you?  The older I get, the more I want to write.  As I near the end of my life, I want to look back and see my ageing as a Great Adventure. The older I get, the more people I know die.  What will help your writing to flower as you get older?

Presenter: Larry Butler was born in USA , been living in Glasgow since 1981;  he teaches tai-chi in healthcare settings and leads expressive writing groups at the Maggie Cancer Care Centre;  publications include Butterfly Bones (Two Ravens), and Han Shan Everywhere (Survivors’ Press). His research has included “Better Health for Men” for the Health Education Board for Scotland, and Arts on Prescription for the Greater Glasgow Health Board. Larry edits pamphlets for PlaySpace Publications to raise money for charities such as Friends of the Earth and Freedom from Torture –

Good Practice and Evaluation Strand Sunday 2: Roots and Branches of Good Practice – Into the Woods

This interactive presentation will focus on the individual practitioner and how he or she brings their own personae and value systems into their practice.  Through short writing exercises, participants will be encouraged to reflect on their experience of themselves and their aspirations in relation to CWTP.

Presenter: Victoria Field is a writer and poetry therapist, a Member of the British Psychological Society, a qualified Mentor-Supervisor for the International Federation for Biblio-Poetry Therapy and an International Fellow at Canterbury Christ Church England Centre for Practice Development.

3.00pm to 3.30pm – Break

3.30pm to 5.00pm – Choice of:

Research Strand Sunday 3: Non-Sense? Play, Pointlessness, Pens and Points in Research and Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes.

‘Play’ is a concept with substantial history in therapeutic and arts endeavours. How can research help us to understand and document creative processes that are improvistory, open, questioning, non-hierarchical and non-goal-orientated in CWTP? Is it possible to honour these qualities in form as well as content?


Kate Pawsey is a writer and founder of Writing Time, a service for groups and individuals to explore the world – both inner and outer – through creative writing. In her MSc dissertation (Metanoia Institute) she explored creative writing for therapeutic purposes (CWTP) as an arena for adults to connect to the creative energy and freedom of play.

Fiona Hamilton’s poetry includes Bite Sized (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2014) which she and others developed further for different audiences through movement, games, drawing, dance, spoken word and theatre performance. Fiona is MSc Tutor and Research Adviser in Creative Writing for Therapeuic Purposes with Metanoia Institute, and Tutor with Poetry School London and Orchard Foundation.


Writing with People affected by Trauma Strand Sunday 3: The benefits of therapeutic journaling in the treatment of PTSD and chronic pain

Studies show that 80% of people diagnosed with PTSD have chronic pain and a significant number of people with chronic pain had adverse childhood experiences.  Using the evidence base and some writing strategies, Georgie will demonstrate the curative effects of therapeutic journaling when used by people with chronic pain.

Presenter: Georgie Oldfield is a leading physiotherapist and UK Specialist in a pioneering approach to chronic pain recovery.   Georgie published her book, ‘Chronic Pain: your key to recovery’ in 2014 and through her company, SIRPA, she trains health professionals in SIRPA’s exciting approach and is also a clinician and a speaker.

Writing in Groups Strand Sunday 3: Meet your Muse

Muses are not just for artists. Meet Your Muse is a quirky, fun workshop to get your creative juices flowing. It will teach you to look at your Muse in a personal way. Whatever your style – serious, quirky, or downright whacky – here you will discover a muse that is your counterpart.

Presenter: Dolly Garland is a published fiction and non-fiction author. She is the founder of Kaizen Journaling and the author of three books: 365 Days of JournalingJournaling to Self-Awareness in 30 Days, and A Journal of Letters: 30 Days of Explosive Creativity. Find her at or on Twitter @kaizenjournal

Good Practice and Evaluation Strand Sunday 3: Creative Writing: is it time to challenge the distinction between writing well and writing to get well?

There is an increased interest in the therapeutic benefits of writing, but perceived tension remains between writing well and writing for well-being. This panel will be discussing how both disciplines can learn from each other.

Presenters: Lily Dunn is a published author, mentor and teacher. She is in her second year of a Creative Writing PhD at Birkbeck, concerned with questions around creative writing and mental health. She teaches creative writing to a group of people recovering from addiction to drugs and alcohol, supported by St Mungo’s in Hackney. She also runs a small teaching venture called London Lit Lab, and lead approximately eight creative writing courses a year.

Also on the panel: Claire Williamson, Barbara Bloomfield and Clare Scott.

5.00pm to 5.30pm – Plenary