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
Dr. Sharon Bray is best known for her 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 her experience with early stage cancer and subsequent heart failure several years ago, she has specialized in leading therapeutic writing groups for cancer patients, survivors and many others. Two of her 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.
She wrote and published her first book, a children’s book, as s a young mother in Nova Scotia. In 2007, together with Pat Fobair, LCSW, she co-edited an anthology of cancer patients’ writing, Learning to Live Again, published by the Stanford School of Medicine. Her 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. A former Senior Partner of Amherst Writers & Artists, she was featured on the DVD, Writing Alone and With Others, together with Pat Schneider, AWA founder.
Sharon has designed and led expresssive writing workshops for nearly sixteen years, creating and leading the first “Writing Through Cancer” series at Breast Cancer Connections in Palo Alto from 2001 – 2006 and at Stanford Cancer Center from 2004 – 2013. After relocating to San Diego in 2006, Sharon began leading expressive writing programs at Scripps Green and UCSD Moores Cancer Centers, which she continues at the current time.
She has enjoyed 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. For three consecutive years, Sharon was also a faculty member for the national CURE Today Forums for cancer patients and a frequent speaker at health conferences and cancer centers, including the Society for Arts in Healthcare (2005) and the 2013 “Living Well with Cancer” program at the Omega Institute, Rhinebeck NY.
In addition to workshops for cancer survivors, the bereaved and at-risk teens, Sharon previously taught memoir and creative writing classes for the Palo Alto Adult School and DeAnza Community College in Cupertino, California. In San Diego, she also designed and led a number of writing workshops over a four year period for Jewish Family Services, San Diego.
In 2005, Sharon was invited to lead “The Writers’ Workshop at Stanford Medical School,” which she continues. She was also a regular summer session faculty member at the Pacific School of Religion from 2002 – 2015, teaching Writing as a Healing Ministry for clergy and helping professionals, Since 2007, she has been a faculty member for UCLA extension Writers’ Program, teaching transformative writing and creative nonfiction.
Sharon currently contributes a bi-monthly column on writing and healing for the Cancer Knowledge Network (www.cancerckn.com) and authors a weekly blog, www.writingthroughcancer.com or www.whenwordsheal.org, intended for anyone wanting to write out of the experience of debilitating illness, difficult life events, pain or suffering.
She studied creative and transformative writing through the University of Washington, Humber School for Writers and Goddard College after earning her doctoral degree in educational psychology from the University of Toronto. She currently lives in San Diego, CA with her husband, John, a psychologist.