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University Hosts Conference To Examine Writing as a Practice for Wellness

September 19, 2008

Conference Contact:
Dr. John F. Evans
(678) 516-7076

Media Contact:
Mark Vanderhoek
(478) 301-4037

ATLANTA – Mercer University will host the second annual Wellness & Writing Connections Conference on its Atlanta campus Oct. 10-11. This year’s conference is built around the theme of writing as a practice for wellness. The event will feature presentations from a number of noted authors, including Margaret Edson, Pulitizer-Prize-winning author of “Wit,” and Luciano L’Abate, Ph.D., noted author of the “Handbook of Developmental Family Psychology and Psychopathology.”

The event is co-sponsored by Mercer and the University’s community counseling program of the College of Continuing and Professional Studies.

The conference will bring together health care providers from across specialties to explore the connection between overall health and expressive writing as a therapeutic practice. The two-day conference will have more than 30 distinct — yet interrelated— breakout sessions facilitated by 45 experts from across the country. The event is the largest national conference on the topic of wellness and writing.

“Writing about stressful situations is one of the easiest ways for people to take control of their problems and release negative effects of stress from their bodies and their lives,” said James Pennebaker, Ph.D., leading researcher in the field of writing and healing. “This conference sends a call out for health professionals to collaborate with educators and others who help people find ways to help themselves.

“Health professionals and educators alike have long stressed the importance of creativity to a person’s overall well-being,” Pennebaker said. “Research shows that the heart rate lowers and people are more equipped to fight off infections when they release their worries in writing. In addition to coping better with stressful situations, writing can have a positive impact on self-esteem and result in works that can help others overcome their own obstacles.”

Dr. L’Abate will be the keynote speaker at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 10. He is the author and co-author of more than 300 papers, chapters and book reviews in professional journals in addition to authoring/editing 43 books. His work has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Finnish, Spanish, French, Polish and German. Since his retirement in 1990, Dr. L’Abate has been professor emeritus of psychology at Georgia State University where he was previously a professor. Dr. L’Abate has spent the last several years involved full-time in writing and research.

Edson will give the keynote address at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 11, titled, “Why Write about Illness?” An American playwright, Edson won the Pulitizer Prize for drama with her play, “Wit,” first produced in 1995 at South Coast Repertory in California and later made into a movie, staring acclaimed British actress Emma Thompson in the lead role. “Wit” is about a John Donne scholar who is hospitalized for and dying of ovarian cancer. The play will also be screened at 3:15 p.m. on Friday, with a discussion following.

Conference breakout sessions present topics such as:

Dialogue and Its Healing Power
Writing for Wellness: A Prescription for Healing
Writing Freely, Writing Safely: Avoiding Re-traumatization in the Healing Writing Workshop
Writing as an Expression of Grief: A Faith-based Experiencing;
Writing the Unspeakable
A Narrative Exploration of Rehabilitation from Illness or Catastrophic Injury
Writing and Reading the Personal Story to Heal People and Build Community.
Metaphor in a Holistic Family Medicine Practice
Teaching Wellness: An Interdisciplinary, Holistic Approach
The Patient Voice Project: Writing through Change, Developing Resilience
Expressive Writing Workshop: The Healing Power of Writing
Tell It Slant: History, Memory and Imagination in the Healing Writing Workshop
Writing for Recovery: Working with Cancer Patients and Survivors
Secrets of the Zona Rosa: Writing Memoir as a Healing Story
Creative Writing As Reflective Practice for The Healthcare Professional  
Writing the Wrongs: Transformation & Transcendence through Memoir
The Medical Blogosphere and the Patient Experience: Writing for Health in Web 2.0
Voices of the Innocent: Personal Writing for Social Change
Writing and Poetry Therapy

Conference registration is $350 and includes buffet breakfast and lunch each day.  Mercer faculty and staff may register for $175. Registration for Mercer students is $125.

Visit the conference Web site at for conference schedule and information about discount flights and accommodations. 

For more information, or to register for the conference contact: Dr. John F. Evans – (678) 516-7076 or
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