About Sharon

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

(photo by Chad Thompson)
(photo by Chad Thompson)

About Sharon

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 FathersThe 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, and the Cancer Knowledge Network.  As a former Senior Partner of Amherst Writers & Artists, she was featured on the DVD, Writing Alone and With Others with Pat Schneider.  Most recently, one of her essays appeared in the anthology, The Wondrous Child, edited by Lindy Hough, 2012.  Sharon contributes a bi-monthly column on writing and healing to the Cancer Knowledge Network and is  the author of a weekly blog, www.writingthroughcancer.com or www.whenwordsheal.org,  featuring reflective essays and writing prompts for anyone wishing to write from debilitating illness, difficult life chapters, pain or trauma.

Sharon’s been leading writing workshops for cancer survivors for over fifteen 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 initiated two writing series at  Scripps Green, and UCSD Moores Cancer Centers, which she continues to lead 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, she was part of the faculty for the CURE Today Forums for cancer patients and often speaks at health conferences and cancer centers across the country, most recently at the 2013 “Living Well with Cancer” program at the Omega Institute, Rhinebeck NY.

In addition to her 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 has also designed and led a number of writing workshops for Jewish Family Services, San Diego..

She began leading  “The Writers’ Workshop at Stanford Medical School,” in 2005, which she continues and was summer session faculty at  the Pacific School of Religion from 2002 – 2015,  where she taught Writing as a Healing Ministry for clergy and helping professionals,  Since 2007, Sharon is also an instructor, teaching creative nonfiction and transformative writing for the  UCLA extension Writers’ Program.

She studied creative and transformative writing through the University of Washington, Humber School for Writers and Goddard College and earned her doctoral degree in educational psychology from the University of Toronto.