Sharon … is an astonishing writer, facilitator, and innovator in the field of TLA (Transformative Language Arts). Her excellent books on writing through illness are superb and used by many of my students as well as myself in facilitating workshops for people living with cancer and other serious illness. Sharon is a true visionary, a marvelously moving and insightful writer, and a mentor-facilitator.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Poet Laureate of Kansas, Professor, Transformative Language Arts, Goddard College
Sharon is an extraordinary teacher whose gift is to create a setting where anyone, regardless of writing experience or talent, can feel comfortable in allowing his or her personal emotions to find expression in words. This is an unusual gift. Sharon … encourages writers to develop their personal voices… By encouraging them to write from their heartfelt experiences, Sharon helps these professionals to become better at what they do–deal with people in their day to day professional roles–because they are themselves more comfortable with feeling and expressing emotions.
—Participant, The Writers’ Workshop at Stanford Medical School
I’m probably best known for my innovative work with transformative writing, or writing as a way of healing, particularly for whose voices have been silenced by serious illness, pain, loss or trauma. Since my experience with early stage cancer and subsequent heart failure several years ago, I have specialized in leading therapeutic writing groups for cancer patients, survivors and many others. Two of my books, When Words Heal: Writing Through Cancer (North Atlantic/Frog Books, 2006) and A Healing Journey: Writing Together through Breast Cancer (Amherst Writers & Artists Press, 2004) document the healing power of writing.
I’ve written much of my life, published my first book with another co-author, as a young mother in Nova Scotia. In 2007, together with Pat Fobair, LCSW, I was the co-editor of an anthology of cancer patients’ writing, Learning to Live Again, published by the Stanford School of Medicine. My essays and articles have appeared in Moxie Magazine, Looking Back: Stories of our Mothers and Fathers, The Santa Clara Weekly, Survivors’ Review, The Art of Grandparenting, Coping with Cancer Magazine, Goddard’s Semester Magazine, The Listener & the Storyteller, The Transformative Language Arts Reader, Healing Journeys, The Wondrous Child, and the Cancer Knowledge Network, among others. As former Senior Partner of Amherst Writers & Artists, I was alo featured on the companion DVD to AWA founder, Pat Schneider’s Writing Alone and With Others.
I’ve designed and led expressive writing workshops for nearly 20 years, creating and leading the first “Writing Through Cancer” series at Bay Area Cancer Connections (formerly Community Breast Health Project) in Palo Alto from 2001 – 2006 and at Stanford Cancer Center from 2004 – 2013. I was also the workshop leader for Stanford Medical School’s “The Writers’ Workshop” series for faculty, alumni and students for twelve years. After relocating to San Diego in 2006, I initiated and led expressive writing programs at Scripps Green and UCSD Moores Cancer Centers from 2006 – 2017. Since returning to Canada in 2017, I have continued my writing workshops for those living with cancer together with Gilda’s Club of Greater Toronto. And in February of 2020), I led the “first-ever expressive writing workshop for heart patients” at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, Toronto. Some of my workshops continue to be offered via ZOOM during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I was privileged to also enjoy a unique collaboration with South Carolina artist, Heidi Darr-Hope, co-facilitating a number of expressive arts workshops or projects featuring the interplay between word and image, led in South Carolina and Mallorca, Spain. Heidi and I also partnered on a long distance project involving one of my cancer writing groups with one of her expressive art cancer groups–which was truly inspirational for us both. I was often a speaker at a variety of healthcare conferences and organizations, and for three consecutive years, thanks to Kathy LaTour, I was invited to be a a faculty member for the national CURE Today Forums for cancer patients and and the 2013 “Living Well with Cancer” program at the Omega Institute, Rhinebeck NY.
In addition to my writing workshops for cancer survivors, I also taught memoir and creative writing classes for the Palo Alto Adult School and DeAnza Community College in Cupertino, California, and while in San Diego, designed and led a number of writing workshops over a four year period for Jewish Family Services, San Diego. From 2002 – 2015, I taught a week-long intensive course,”Writing as a Healing Ministry,” for clergy and helping professionals, at Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, from 2002 – 2015, and from 2007 – 2017, I was also faculty member for UCLA extension Writers’ Program, teaching online courses in transformative writing and creative nonfiction.
An educator and former corporate executive, I earned my doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Toronto, and later, studied creative and transformative writing through the University of Washington, Humber School for Writers and Goddard College. The past twenty years of teaching creative writing and especially, leading writing groups for those writing out of illness, pain and hardship have been more inspiring than anything else I’ve done in my life and career.
Questions? Contact me at: email@example.com