Since February, Saskatoon writer Kristine Scarrow has been relishing her new role as writer-in residence as part of the Healing Arts Program at St. Paul’s Hospital.
An author of two young adult novels and a long-time writer and editor, it was Scarrow’s background in the human services field that led her to meld her love of writing with helping others. In 2009, she decided to explore how the act of writing can heal at a deeper level, and this research led her to get certified as a journal facilitator at the Centre for Journal Therapy in Colorado.
Saskatoon writer Kristine Scarrow is the writer-in residence at St. Paul's Hospital.
“I was intrigued with how writing can be a lifeline of sorts during difficult times. That’s certainly been my own experience, but I was witnessing the power of this in my community workshops,” Scarrow notes. “The connection between writing and healing has been well researched, and as such, there are now many established writer-in-residence programs in other hospitals. Research has revealed numerous therapeutic benefits of writing programs, including significant marked mental and physical health improvements among participants.”
Scarrow says it’s thrilling that the Healing Arts Program has been able to expand into this area, thanks to the Mission Office and funding from the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation.
“It’s been a true privilege to do this work and I feel honoured to be able to connect with patients, families, caregivers and staff about something I’m passionate about and believe in strongly,” she says.
Scarrow has been able to connect with people through referrals and by introducing herself as she walks around the hospital.
“During bedside visits, I can read to patients; we can write letters, work on stories, poems and memoirs – basically any writing project someone may have in mind. I have writing supplies and journals on hand. All that’s needed is an open mind and a willing heart,” she says.
In expressing themselves creatively, patients take their focus off of pain and illness.
“There can be a real intimidation to write,” Scarrow notes. “I teach others to let go of their inner editor and just let words fall on the page. It can be a tremendous release, and the results are very empowering.”
Scarrow’s upcoming workshops include writing sessions on compassion fatigue and a four-week long “Journal to the Self” -- a world-renowned course that teaches 18 journaling techniques. Scarrow is the first and only certified instructor of this course in Saskatchewan.
“It’s an amazing course and a great starting point for those who are interested in writing and journaling but aren’t sure how to begin,” she says.
Connecting the local writing community with the hospital is also something Scarrow would like to do.
“I’d like to introduce local authors and offer literary events within the hospital featuring some of the amazing talent we have in Saskatchewan.”
Kristine Scarrow is available in-hospital on Tuesdays and can be reached at 306-655-5873 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.