Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Arts Are Good For Your Health

Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing

We welcome this Report published in July 2017 which sets out research, evidence gathering and discussions with health care professionals, patients, artists, MPs and policy makers. Produced by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing it follows two years of inquiry.

The Report finds: "arts-based aproaches can help people to stay well, recover faster, manage long term conditions and experience a better quality of life." It also shows how arts interventions can save money and help staff in their work.

It recommends the National Institiute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) includes the use of the arts in healthcare in its guidance where evidence justifies it and hopes that:
  • New collaborations will be formed across conventional boundaries.
  • The thinking and practice of people working in health and social care will be influenced. 
  • A new culture will grow that supports the government in the process of change towards the creation of a society which is both healthy and "health creating." 

Finally the Report calls for "all those who believe in the value of the arts for health and wellbeing to speak up." 

It goes on to say "We will work with all who believe, as we do, that the arts offer an essential opportunity for the improvement of health and wellbeing."  

To contact the APPG and lend your support to the arts in health, email Alexandra Coutler on:

This post was first published in a slightly different form on Christine's blog at WordWell Writing Workshops

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Time to Write

Would you like time and space to write?

Time To Write workshops from 10.30 a.m. - 1.30 p.m. Saturdays: 30 September, 28 October, 25 November 2017 in Brighton.  

Cost:  £60 for 3 workshops, £40 for 2 (if booked together), and £25 for one. 

What you'll get from Time to Write: 
  • time to write in a held space
  • inspirations for writing if you want them 
  • the opportunity to write alongside others
  • space to share
  • feedback if you wish  

Writing can feel lonely at times as well as easy to put off or difficult to start! These low cost sessions offer a held space intended to get you in the writing flow whether you're a beginner writer or someone who already writes. 

Time to Write workshops are a space where you can write alongside others on your work in progress or use the inspirations we bring to get writing. There'll be opportunities to share your writing and ask for specific feedback if you wish.

These workshops are for you if: 
  • you'd like inspiration to get your writing flowing 
  • you need designated time to write on your own project
  • you're new to writing
  • you enjoy writing in the company of others  
  • you'd like to share your writing 
Venue: 300 Restaurant, 300 Ditchling Road, Brighton BN1 6JG 

Friday, 23 June 2017

Writing in Nature

It was a bright and sunny day - just right for our writing in nature workshop at the Garden House on Saturday, 10th June.

The Garden House is a secret garden tucked away behind houses in Warleigh Road, Brighton. It's run by Bridget and Deborah who host a variety of workshops there. And a really special place as you'll see from the photos.

The writing prompts we used were inspired by a visit to the North Wales forest last year for a weekend of writing facilitated by Jill Teague. It was part of Jill's Treading Softly: walking and writing in the natural environment programme. 

Writing 1: Find a space in the garden and write about what you see looking out and around into the distance. Go with the flow of your writing.

Writing 2: Find something you're drawn to. Focus in on it. Write about what you find

Writing 3: Re-read your writing and underline the words and phrases that stand out to you. Use them to create a shorter piece of writing or poem. 

We found these prompts worked really well. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

A Fox Crossed My Path
We were delighted to welcome Monica Suswin for the afternoon on Saturday 29th April 2017 to hold her powerful and thought-provoking workshop on the sensitive subject of her own depressive illness.

Monica described the process that led to an owning and integration of her Ill Self alongside her Well Self. She shared extracts from her new mini book A Fox Crossed My Path - creative therapeutic writing on a depressive illness along with writing exercises, followed by the opportunity for discussion and questions.

Monica explained how an encounter with a real fox many years ago and reading the poem The Thought Fox by Ted Hughes led to the fox becoming a metaphor for her illness.

Workshop participants were invited to think of a metaphor (a symbol/something very real and concrete) to represent the abstractness of illness, mental or physical, and to free write on this image. By giving things a personality and getting to know them better we can form a relationship with them. In this way something internal like illness may begin to become externalised. 

For Monica the technique of making lists has enabled her to make meaning from the chaotic impact of her illnesses. She asked everyone to write down a list of six things about either their own or someone else’s illness or a traumatic event in their lives. This led to some deep sharing.
The afternoon ended with Monica sharing her poem ‘Comforting Myself. She asked participants to write a sentence or two about what comforts them.

Fox illustrations c. Olivia Haughton
The mini book A Fox Crossed My Path is useful for practitioners in the helping professions by illuminating how Writing for Wellbeing may be a resource for those they work with.

For anyone who has suffered a depressive illness and is in the stages of recovery, the different ways of writing shown in A Fox Crossed My Path might be good to try, perhaps with the support of a practitioner in the healing arts. Each chapter ends with writing exercises based on different styles and approaches to creative and therapeutic writing. 

Monica says, “A Fox Crossed My Path is about mental illness: my own intermittent episodes of serious depression over a period of forty years. More than that, it is about how I have written in so many different ways about this illness over a long period of time. This mini-book shows how creative and therapeutic writing has helped me come to terms with what has happened to me.”

You can purchase a copy of A Fox Crossed My Path by Monica Suswin for £10 direct from her at (including postage and packing).

More about Monica:
Monica blogs at:
Her website is at:

Monica has a background in humanistic psychotherapy, has worked as a BBC researcher and radio producer (Woman’s Hour) and gained an MA in Creative Writing (Sussex University 2002). Currently Monica is writing a series of mini-books on creative therapeutic writing (independently published) and has contributed to the Writing for Therapy and Personal Development Series (Jessica Kingsley Publishers).

Monica offers workshops on the healing power of writing; supervision or mentoring, as well as sessions on all aspects of writing.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Writing Together

Our second Animal Magic workshop took place on April 8th in Brighton. 

It was an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday morning - writing together in the upstairs room of the old Hop and Vine restaurant (now named 300). We were happy to welcome Tag, a doe eyed lurcher-collie cross pictured below who behaved beautifully - until lunch when his hunger overwhelmed him and he helped himself to some of Diane's pizza! 

We took inspiration from poems by Ted Hughes (The Horses), Mary Oliver (The Swan) and John Drinkwater (Deer) and wrote from Native American animal medicine cards to describe the sensory aspects and qualities of the animal we'd chosen. We went on to write from the animal's perspective or to imagine an encounter with it. 

During the two hours we shared writing about a porcupine, a whale, a bear, badgers, foxes, a snake and a butterfly.  

We look forward to holding more opportunities to write together.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Caterpillar and the Butterfly

Our Metamorphosis and Change workshop in January with Alison Clayburn chimed well with new year motivations to 'turn over a new leaf.'

Instead of resolutions to be better, it was a practical and illuminating insight into where we see ourselves now, our hopes and dreams. 

Alison encouraged self expression through drawing and writing using the metaphor of the caterpillar - pupa - butterfly.

Afterwards participants said they felt "energised," "revitalised," "more confident to be free in my writing," "more open to being creative," "good to express myself," "more positive".

We highly recommend Alison and her wonderful workshop. Alison facilitates regular writing workshops in Rotherhithe: find out more at Creative Writing in Rotherhithe.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Exploring Resilience: Workshop with Ted Bowman

On Saturday, 24th September 2016, we held our well attended ‘Exploring Resilience Workshop’ facilitated by the inspirational Ted Bowman, a leading family and grief educator from the States

Wwere delighted to welcome Ted to the Friends Centre here in Brighton as part of his annual UK tour during which he worked with Lapidus: The Writing for Wellbeing Organisation and Cruse Bereavement Care. 

During the day Ted shared stories, poems and literary resources with the intention of promoting resiliency for participants and the people they work with. 

Poems included ‘The Guest House’ by Rumi, ‘The Peace of Wild Things’ by Wendell Berry, 'Blue Heron' by Deborah Keenan, and 'For the New Year, 1981' by Denise Levertov.

Ted asked the question ‘How do we bring our better selves rather than our depleted selves?’ when working therapeutically with others. 

He talked about joy and grief and the moments of intersection between them, citing a quote from 'Caring: A Feminist Approach to Ethics and Moral Education' by Nell Noddings. "... even in the deepest grief, filled with guilt and sorrow and regret and despair, I may still see and feel joy there-in-the-world, trembling at my fingertips. Turning from a graveside or leaving the hospital after holding a dying hand, joy may burst through like a rainbow over tears."  

Through writing experiences and discussion, participants were able to share and extend their resources for doing therapeutic work. Ted encouraged us to follow the metaphor when working with clients. He believes that metaphors can be even more personal and meaningful than straightforward words. When we follow the metaphor by asking certain questions we can move someone to a different place.

‘To invite people to tell their stories is one of the greatest compliments we can give another human being.’ Ted Bowman

More about Ted Bowman