UI School of Social Work hosts 21st summer seminar
Friday, May 18, 2012

The University of Iowa School of Social Work will host a creative writing seminar for helping professionals who want to use the written word for growth and healing. The course takes place July 13-16 in Room 256 of the Iowa Memorial Union.

Founded in 1991 by Tom Walz, emeritus professor in social work, the workshop is designed for people of all writing abilities who are interested in using creative writing as a professional tool. The four-day workshop includes lectures, writing time, and critique sessions in a supportive, noncompetitive environment. Sessions focus on creative writing techniques and the intersection of creative writing and human service practice.

“The creative writing skills that we learn can be shared with clients as tools for empowerment, giving a megaphone for self-expression to some of society’s most silenced members," says Mercedes Bern-Klug, associate professor of social work and coordinator of the seminar. “The process and product of creative expression can be very meaningful to helping professionals, providing a form of self-care and promoting personal growth.”

Some of the topics on using writing as a tool for change include: Shelter House writing project, Sackter House media writing by people with disabilities, spoken word poetry, journaling and stress reduction, and narrative approaches to individual and community change.

Ellen Szabo teaches the writing skills portion of the seminar. She earned a B.A. in English and American literature and languages at Harvard College and an M.Ed. in counseling psychology from Columbia University Teacher’s College. Szabo is interested in how narratives shape perception and can be used therapeutically and as tools for social action. She is a freelance writer and a published author of flash fiction, poetry, and personal narratives.

The UI School of Social Work, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is the only social work program in the country to offer a summer writing seminar specifically for social workers and other helping professionals. The seminar is scheduled to coincide with the Iowa City Book Festival so that participants can interact with writers and readers from across the country.

The cost of the workshop is $250 if paid by June 15 and $300 thereafter. Register via the School of Social Work website.