MARCH 18-19, 2016 in BOSTON, MA


  • Introduction to theory, methods, tools, and applications of narrative practice 

  • Participants will study with professionals from diverse fields, disciplines, and backgrounds, and will receive practical training that can be incorporated into their lives and careers

  • The tools and methods of narrative practice improve communication, breaks down silos and builds teams, and provide a means for improved well-being

  • Continuing education credit for physicians and social workers

  • Workshop tuition can be applied to the low residency certificate program

$650 tuition includes breakfast, lunch and snacks 
($500 for MMS and NASW members)
($250 for students)

Workshop Location: 89 South Street, Boston, MA 02111











March 18, 2016

8:30a - 9:00a  Registration and Breakfast

9:00a - 9:30a  Welcome and Overview

9:30a - 11:00a  (RM) Seminar: Narrative Turn (Maura Spiegel, Ph.D)

11:15a - 12:15p  (RM) Exercise: Close Reading (Faculty)

12:15p - 1:15p  Lunch

1:15p - 3:15p  Writing Workshop 1 (Vivian Heller, Ph.D)

3:30p - 5:00p  Seminar: Cartoons and Representation (Benjamin Schwartz, M.D.)

5:00p - 6:00p  Reception


March 19, 2016

9:00a - 9:30a  Breakfast

9:30a - 11:00a  (RM) Seminar: Narrative Ethics (Craig Irvine, Ph.D)

11:15a - 12:15p  (RM) Exercise: Narrative Ethics (Faculty)

12:15p - 1:15p  Lunch

1:15p - 3:15p  Writing Workshop 2 (Vivian Heller, Ph.D)

3:30p - 5:00p  (RM) Seminar: Trauma Studies (Jack Saul, Ph.D)

5:00p - 5:30p  Wrap-Up

Schedule subject to change


Vivian Heller, Ph.D - Author and Educator, Bard College
[Joyce, Decadence, and Emancipation; The City Beneath Us]


Craig Irvine, Ph.D - Philosopher and Educator, Columbia University

[The Other Side of Silence: Levinas, Medicine, and Literature]


Jack Saul, Ph.D - Director, International Trauma Studies Program
[Collective Trauma, Collective Healing: Promoting Community Resilience in the Aftermath of Disaster]


Benjamin Schwartz, M.D. - Staff Cartoonist, New Yorker Magazine
[Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons]


Maura Spiegel, Ph.D - Literature and Film Scholar, Columbia University
[Co-founder of the Program in Narrative Medicine]


What is a Story
Context | Complexity | Creativity

What Stories Can Do
Social Analysis and Activism | Conflict Resolution | Eliciting Stories from the Margins
Narrative Ethics | Promote Engagement | De-Stigmatization | Active Listening | Self Care

What I Can Do with Stories
Human Rights | Individual and Collective Trauma Work | Disability Studies | Social Work
Law | Chaplaincy | Creative Representation | Narrative Medicine | Research



The team behind the Center is at the forefront of developing methods to understand, research, and teach narrative and creativity. At the core of these methods is the practice of creativity and use of the imagination; the study and creation of literary work, film, theater, graphic novels, and other arts are fundamental threads in all of the tools we have developed, and the application of creativity is common throughout our methods.


Close Reading 

The act of reading something carefully--whether a poem, novel, short story, memoir or a painting, sonata, play--and attending to all aspects of its dimensionality (form, voice, temporality, diction, movement, space, etc.) teaches us to pay closer attention to all aspects of our world, and reveals the ways that attentive looking and listening can engage the complexity of human expression. 

Reflective and Creative Writing 
This is writing with an eye toward discovery of new meanings and new forms; writing as a tool for expansion of the mind and spirit, and discovery of un-covered aspects of self and connections to colleagues. We will provide training through the discussion of writing in the language of text and constructive criticism. 

Critical Theory
Narrative is our primary device for making sense of social action. "The Narrative Turn" in critical thinking takes as its starting point the fact that individuals, institutions, nations and cultures construct their identities by locating themselves within plotted stories. What's more, drawing forth and attending to stories that have no place among the repertoire of "legitimate" narratives--those of the vulnerable or silenced--require narrative skill.


Narrative Intervention
In a situation where people are struggling due to perceived ownership of certain deeply held beliefs or concepts related to work environments, the use of narrative, stories that no one "owns," can allow new elements to be seen and persons to re-connect and loosen their grip on whatever issues are affecting them.


This program is designed for physicians, health care professionals, and educators who are interested in developing effective communication strategies that can improve clinical practice, health care teams, and reflective habits. This group includes doctors, nurses, public health professionals, mental health professionals, social workers, chaplains, administrators, and scholars.


Learning Objectives
After participating in this activity, you should be able to:
1. Develop effective communication strategies with patients, families, clinical team members, and health care professionals. 
2. Develop attentive, ethical listening skills to foster empathy in physician-patient relationships.
3. Develop strategies for a narrative-based approach to fostering successful health care teams.
4. Demonstrate a capacity for the use of narrative practice as a means for personal enrichment and improved well-being.


AMA Credit Designation Statement:
The Massachusetts Medical Society designates this live activity for a maximum of 12.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.


Accreditation Statement:

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the Joint Providership of the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Center for Narrative Practice. The Massachusetts Medical Society is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

$500 for Mass Medical Society Members
$650 for Non-MMS Members


This program has been approved for 12 Social Work Continuing Education hours for relicensure, in accordance with 258 CMR. Collaborative of NASW and the Boston College and Simmons Schools of Social Work Authorization Number D71831.

$500 for NASW members


Friday, April 5:

(Venue for both workshops: Dittrick Museum)

1:00 – 1:45 pm:
Panel Discussion – "Center for Narrative Practice: Its Mission and Plans Going Forward" - Susan Stagno, M.D., Peter Knox, Ph.D, Craig Irvine, Ph.D


2:00 - 3:30 pm:
Workshop - "Selling Vitamins and Supplements with Scientific Evidence: A Public History Workshop" - Amanda Mahoney, Ph.D., curator of the Dittrick Medical Museum

Amanda Mahoney, PhD completed her doctorate at the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. Her dissertation examined the critical role of nurses at work in important clinical trials during the 1930s through 1960s. In the era before formal study protocols, nurses shouldered the responsibility of ensuring high-quality scientific data through their authority over the patient bedside. Nurses also drew on their extensive technological and social skills to implement experimental technologies such as feeding pumps in the understaffed hospitals of the mid-20th century. Dr. Mahoney has continued to explore the history of nurses and clinical technology in her postdoctoral fellowship.

3:45 – 5:15 pm:
Workshop – "Narrative Medicine"
Craig Irvine, Ph.D., Columbia University, Academic Director of the Master of Science in Narrative Medicine program

Craig Irvine is a founder and Academic Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University, and holds his Ph.D in Philosophy from Penn State University. For more than 15 years, he has been designing and teaching cultural competency, ethics, Narrative Medicine, and Humanities and Medicine curricula for residents, medical students, physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, dentists, and other health professionals. He has over 20 years of experience researching the history of philosophy, phenomenology, and narrative ethics, and over 25 years of experience teaching ethics, humanities, the history of philosophy, logic, and narrative medicine at the graduate, undergraduate, and preparatory school levels. He has published articles in the areas of ethics, residency education, and literature and medicine and has presented at numerous national and international conferences on these and other topics. Craig received his BA in Philosophy from Saint John’s University.

Saturday, April 6:

9:00 – 10:30 am:
Workshop - "The Narrative of Music" (Venue: W. O. Walker Auditorium)
Eleanor Davidson, M.D., Dept. of Bioethics, CWRU and Anna J Rathbun, DMA; accompanied by Richard Nelson, Emeritus Professor of Music Theory at the Cleveland Institute of Music

Eleanor (Nell) Davidson “grew up” in the preparatory department at Eastman School of Music.  She went on to major in music at Wellesley College but then introduced new thematic material by entering medical school at University of Michigan.  Trained as an internist and nephrologist, she later “de-differentiated” into a primary care physician, seeing patients and running the health service for Case Western Reserve University. After additional training at the Cleveland Psychoanalytic Association and the Institute of the Philadelphia Association for Psychoanalysis,  Dr Davidson focused on the care of students who presented with anxiety and depression in the general clinic.  She was part of the pioneering group of seven schools (including CWRU, NYU, Princeton, Cornell) that established the safety and effectiveness of screening students for depression in primary care.


She stepped down as Director of the Health Service in 2017 and entered the CWRU Bioethics Masters Degree program where she discovered Narrative Medicine, studying with Dr Susan Stagno.  She has returned to studying voice and singing in two local choruses as well as Berkshire Choral International.

Anna J. Rathbun, soprano, has performed in operas and concert works such as Mahler's Fourth Symphony, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, and the Cleveland premiers of Robert Beaser's The Heavenly Feast and David del Tredici’s In Memory of a Summer Day. Ms. Rathbun holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, as well as an Artist Diploma and a Master's degree in vocal performance. In 2010, she received Honorable Mention in the Heida Hermanns International Competition, and in 2006, she won first place in the Leopoldskron vocal competition in Salzburg, Austria. Her voice can be heard in collaboration with Richard King (Former Principal Horn, The Cleveland Orchestra) and Orli Shaham in the album Chamber Music for Horn, distributed by Albany Records. Ms. Rathbun served as a member of the voice faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music from 2008 to 2012.


In addition to her music degrees, Ms. Rathbun holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Harvard University. Before embarking on her musical adventures, Ms. Rathbun worked in the investment field, and after nine years in music, she returned to the investment world with the heart to help non-profit institutions achieve financial sustainability.

Richard Nelson, Emeritus Professor of Music Theory at the Cleveland Institute of Music, served as Professor and Head of that department from 1996-2018.  In addition, Dr Nelson has an active career as a church musician, serving as assistant organist at St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights and also as director of its choirs for young people.


Dr Nelson received his BM and MM from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and his PhD in music theory from Eastman School of Music.  He studied harmony and solfege with Nadia Boulanger at the Conservatoire Americaine in Fontainbleau.  A specialist in eighteenth-century music, Dr Nelson is active as a theorist, accompanist, organist and harpsichordist.

10:45 – 12:15 pm:
Workshop – “Seeing the Invisible”  (Venue: Cleveland Museum of Art)
Cyra Levenson, Deputy Director and Head of Public and Academic Engagement, Cleveland Museum of Art

Cyra Levenson, Deputy Director and Head of Public and Academic Engagement at the Cleveland Museum of Art, oversees the interpretation of the collection, ensuring that the museum’s programs foster active, meaningful engagement with art and the surrounding community. Appointed in 2016, she most recently served as Curator of Education and Academic Outreach at the Yale Center for British Art and as Director of the Yale - Smithsonian partnership. Ms. Levenson holds a Master’s degree in Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and brings more than two decades of museum and art education experience to the position. She previously held positions at the Rubin Museum of Art, The Heritage School in East Harlem, and the Seattle Art Museum. She is a lecturer in American Studies at Yale University. Her research interests include creativity and cognition, visual literacy and object based teaching. Publications include, “Seeing, Connecting, Writing: Developing Creativity and Narrative Writing in Children” in Handbook of Writing, “Re-presenting Slavery: Underserved Questions in Museum Collections” in Studies in Art Education and “Haptic Blackness: The Double Life of an 18th-century Bust” in British Art Studies.

Join us for the debut of Center for Narrative Practice in its new location at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.


- The Power of Narrative workshop is open to all CWRU faculty, students, as well as the general public. 

- There is no workshop fee, and all events are free to attend. 

- All attendees must register below to reserve a seat (seating is limited).

- Brief bios for workshop presenters are shown below

The Power of Narrative
April 5 & 6, 2019

Case Western Reserve University