Reflective Writing

Our stories connect us to each other and to ourselves. One way of sharing our stories is through writing. There are different reasons to write:

  • Self-expression
  • Self-reflection
  • Personal growth
  • Sharing with others, for example, our families, friends, even our doctors
  • Healing

When we experience a difficult or traumatic illness or medical event, writing is one way to understand and perhaps come to terms with what has happened. Research shows that writing about traumatic events can be emotionally and sometimes even physically healing. Entrusting our stories to others and receiving their stories in return helps us to feel less alone and can be uplifting and inspiring.

Workshop goals

In this workshop, we will practice writing about significant illness events in our lives using different writing modalities such as:

  • Letters
  • Poetry
  • Photograph writing (who you were “before” and who you are now)
  • Point-of-view writing (writing from the perspective of a loved one, friend, or healthcare provider)
  • First-person narratives.

We will then share and discuss this writing in dyads; and, as people feel comfortable, with the larger group. No previous writing experience is required. This will be a no pressure, enjoyable, and valuable experience.

About the instructor

Johana Shapiro, Ph.D, is professor of family medicine and founder and director of the Program in Medical Humanities & Arts, UC Irvine School of Medicine. She is the recipient of many teaching awards and an elected member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. Shapiro has expertise in patient-centered communication skills, reflection processes, and narrative medicine.

She is widely published in the field of medical humanities, and is poetry co-editor for the e-magazine Pulse and the journal Families, Systems, and Health; as well as an assistant editor for Family Medicine with special responsibility for narrative essays. She regularly uses reflective writing in medical student and resident teaching; and has presented workshops on reflective writing to family physicians, cancer survivors and primary care patients.

Registration and materials

Registration Fee: $5

All supplies and light refreshments are provided.

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