Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

The psychological work incurred when someone is writing about a traumatic experience is daunting. As the writer reports the event, they are also processing what happened and why. In many cases, this “dear diary” confessional journaling leads to self-healing. There are, however, additional creative writing techniques that embody the qualities of a healing narrative, thereby transforming an individual’s trauma into personal art.


The “Words That Heal” virtual workshop combines generative creative writing with lecture, small group discussions, and playful visual art projects, providing attendees with opportunities to combine expressive arts with guided prompts to elicit personal art that can heal.  

'Words That Heal' is led by writer Catherine Berresheim, who earned her Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction from Spalding University School of Creative and Professional Writing. She is now a full time associate professor of English for Volunteer State Community College.


Together with Dr. Graham Reside (Assistant Professor, Vanderbilt University Divinity School) Catherine led a class called “Trauma and the Healing Power of Writing” with the Riverbend death row insiders.  Catherine's passion for writing as a way of healing is often a popular topic for professional development conferences in her field. Top among them includes her presentation entitled “Writing for Their Lives: Lesson Learned on Death Row” at the Conference on Writing and Well-Being at the University of Arizona, in January 2020.

Words That Heal will be offered 4 times, as follows:

  • Saturday, October 9 - ZOOM - 11 am - 2pm 

  • Spring 2022 - details TBD

  • Summer 2022 - details TBD

  • Fall 2022 - details TBD

To fully participate, you will need to have the following 'making' materials on hand before the event begins :

  • Five photographs of your childhood

  • Talisman [ie. anything whose presence exercises a powerful influence on human feelings or actions: charm, amulet, stone, ring, or another personally important object important to you that you are willing to show the group

  • Crayons or markers

  • Drawing paper

  • Plasticine, clay, or play dough (recipe supplied to make your own)