Susan Lynn Reynolds,
BSc. Psych., Masters Candidate
My journey into the therapeutic realm began with writing. I am a published novelist and an award-winning writer of poetry and creative non-fiction as well. I have been writing all my life. My first novel was published in 1992 and won the Canadian Library Association’s YA Novel of the Year award.
When it came time to write my next book, I panicked. I froze. I got a monumental case of writer’s block. Just exactly how had I managed to write that first book again?
That’s when I began studying the craft of novel writing. I read everything I could get my hands on. I took courses. I went to New Mexico and studied with Natalie Goldberg (of Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind) three times. Over the next few years I also studied with Barbara Turner Vessalago (Freefall Writing), Anne Michaels (Fugitive Pieces), Orm Mitchell (W.O. and Mitchell), and Robert J. Ray and Jack Remick (of The Weekend Novelist books).
Through experiencing the workshops with Natalie Goldberg, I realized that I needed to find community—my tribe—to write with. And so, fifteen years ago, I began passing on what I had learned. In 2002 I took the AWA Certification to lead writing workshops with Pat Schneider (The Writer as an Artist and Writing Alone and With Others) and Patricia Lee Lewis, and I’ve never looked back.
I already had a really clear idea of how important writing was in my life: journalling kept me grounded, helped me process my thoughts and feelings, and let me murmur things on the page I was uncomfortable telling anyone else. Journalling let me be myself. And writing fiction let me tell the truth.
Through leading writing workshops I also began to witness how profoundly healing it could be for others to write their truths – even if that writing took the form of fiction. I changed my life so I could go back to university to study Psychology with a particular focus on the therapeutic use of journaling and memoir (my thesis on that topic received the Canadian Psychological Association’s Award of Academic Excellence in 2006).
I began teaching writing to women who were incarcerated in the Lindsay Superjail in Ontario on a volunteer basis, and in 2007 I earned the June Callwood Award for Outstanding Volunteerism for that program. I also began doing my counselling practicum in the jail under the supervision of the psychologist there and the head of Social Work.
I expanded my writing studies and began adding other therapeutic modalities to my toolbox. I studied in the Progoff Intensive Journal Workshop method. I engaged in a series of courses in Narrative Therapy. In my studies in Psychology I took courses on sleep and on dreaming and dream interpretation. I undertook training in Hakomi Therapy.
Currently I am working on my Masters at the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies at Trent University, doing an interdisciplinary degree. The topic of my thesis is an institutional ethnography of the female units at the Central East Correctional Centre; I am looking particularly at the issue of gender responsivity there.
I am enthralled by the work I do. I consider it a grave privilege to be witness to people claiming their stories, acknowledging their own lives, dreams, regrets and desires, and to see the healing and integration that comes about through people exploring the labyrinths of their lives by following that unwinding line of ink.
I facilitate writing groups for many not-for-profit and social service agencies. As I said earlier, writing can be very healing. Writing together can also be a terrific team building tool among staff, and a forming technique in group work.
If you are looking for a writing facilitator for your organization, please contact me and we can talk about how I can help you.
If you are looking for more of the creative writing than the therapeutic, expressive writing, please visit Inkslingers.ca – home of my more general creative writing courses.
My recent literary work has appeared in lichen literary magazine and my short story “Gargoyles in Montmartre” was accepted for the British anthology series Erotic Travel Tales. My novel Strandia won the Canadian Library Association’s national award for Young Adult Novel of the Year. I am a three time winner of the Timothy Findley Creative Writing Award for my poetry and short stories, and a winner of the Writer’s Community of Durham Region’s 24 Hour Online Contest and the WCDR’s Summer SLAM from July 2010.
My first poetry chapbook skinned—was launched in January 2008 and I am working on my third novel.