• Exciting training events all over Scotland!

    Words Work Well Training in Bibliotherapy

    Lapidus Scotland invites you to Bibliotherapy Trainings Scotland-Wide during June 2016. Participants will learn about leading therapeutic creative reading and writing sessions for individuals and groups in various settings. Training will also refer to Lapidus’ website http://wordsworkwellscotland.co.uk/ – a bibliotherapy toolkit for facilitators.

    Poems, images and conversation in creative communication with people who have dementia
    Facilitator Paula Jennings. 2- 5pm, 6th June, Conference Room, Central Library, The Wellgate, Dundee DD1 1DB. With input from library staff on the Dementia Library. click here to book

    An Introduction to Bibliotherapy for Writers and Storytellers
    Facilitators Larry Butler and Valerie Gillies. 10am – 4pm, 8th June, Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SR.
    click here to book

    Choosing Reading Material and Facilitating an Expressive Writing Group
    Facilitators Jayne Wilding and Maureen Sangster. 2pm – 5.30pm, 13th June, Kirkcaldy Galleries, Abbotshall Road, Kirkcaldy, KY1 1YG. Click here to book

    Treasures in the Chest & Lifelines
    Facilitators Mandy Haggith and Margot Henderson. 10 – 2pm, 18th June, The Spectrum Centre, 1 Margaret Street, Inverness IV1 1LS.  click here to book

    How Reading Informs Writing
    Facilitator Helen Lamb. 1.30 – 4pm, 20th June, The Glasgow Women’s Library, 23 Landressy Street, Glasgow G40 1B.
    Click here to book

    Strengthening Facilitators’ Skills
    Facilitator Liz Niven. 1.30 – 4pm, 23rd June at University of Glasgow, Rutherford McCowan Building,
    Room R127, Crichton Campus, Dumfries DG1 4ZL. Includes informal time for questions and networking.
    Click here to book

    This development opportunity in creative facilitation is for those that work in health and social care settings, mental health centres, prisons, libraries, in education and community arts. It will also appeal to storytellers, writers and those promoting staff well- being in workplaces.  All are welcome, those experienced in facilitation and those new to the experience.
    Cost £25 for day long training: £10 for half a day plus Eventbrite booking fee.


    Lapidus is supported by Awards for All Scotland, Creative Scotland and Scottish Book Trust’s Live Literature Fund
  • Words Work Well Toolkit

    The Words Work Well bibliotherapy toolkit for practitioners is much improved and ready for use! Enjoy!Please add comments and if you notice gaps, we are looking to continue adding more examples of good practice!

    Includes a video of Ted Bowman introducing stories and creative bibliotherapy.

  • Storycoaching with Dr Michael Williams

    JpegI am currently training one-to-one with Michael Williams, a storycoach. The aim is to become a narrative leader. I have found the process to be stretching, energizing and fruitful. Michael is a great communicator and his dialogue always probes, to draw me out of myself, but always in a kindly way that nourishes me as I change.


    I feel bigger on the inside thanks to the sessions we have enjoyed together. I can see myself communicating better, more strongly, more empathically and with more courage.Thanks Michael for your gifts!Find out more…


    I recommend his weekly newsletter– it is full of inspiring stories!

    I met Michael some years ago at a Lapidus event when he led a workshop in transformational storytelling. I wrote about about that earlier this year.See more…

  • Wee Read at the Hope cafe today Wednesday 22nd July 2015

    At The Hope Cafe today, we wrote postcards to say things we wanted to say but had been unable to.This proved to be a good way of unloading stuff,  getting things off our chest. As Ted Bowman says, “If it’s unmentionable, it’s unmanageable”.


    weeread logo1

    Another writing prompt was: ‘my favourite childhood place..’ after reading Larry Butlers’  poem ‘Safe places I knew as a Child’ which starts:

    “Sitting on the toilet reading comics
    the door locked – Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse,
    Goofy, Superman, Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd,
    I could sit for hours with a pile of comics

    up a pine tree swaying that the top
    looking out across the neighbourhood
    I could climb trees all day, slide down branches
    and build a tree house with my friend Donny …”

    Later, we listened to some howling with Allen Ginsberg:

    “…yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,
    whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the Synagogue cast on the pavement,
    who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall, …”
    -an extract from Allen Ginsberg’s Howl,
    more here :

    If you want to try writing something,write a postcard to someone, anyone, or a rant or a howl or a list!Whatever you write is right!

    We explored our depths with a prompt called ‘Diving In’  – into expressive writing. We used a set of words that have more than one meaning, like: ‘bear, cleave, there, desert, sewer, skirt, run …’ This produced some very interesting pieces of writing!And a lot of laughter!

    Here’s some of the piece I wrote :

    Child of the Universe

    I cleave like a limpet, a clampet, onto the cliffs,

    I’ve survived the biggest storms- not  let go my hands,

    I can now see over the horizon.

    I can become a lighthouse, a lifeboat

    – I can become anything I want to be.

    Wildness and wild places are where I’ll be,

    they’re hame, they’re where ah need tae be.

    I’ll write of the howl, I’ll write of the wolf

    sit and look at the moon,

    or that lovely new heart on Pluto.

    I cleave to tenets, truths, revelations,

    honesty, beauty,

    kindness, generosity, love,

    hope, faith.

    Allowing all the water of the seas to roll over me,

    wash away all my troubles relieving the weight on my back


    just sit

    with what is…

    C. Cather

  • Storycoach Michael Williams

    Are you thinking about writing your life story again, or rewriting something traumatic that still affects your behaviour?There are various ways to do that.

    Later this year I will do some rewriting on the mental health stigma that happened to me and other people.

    I was reminded of a session by Michael Williams, where he led transformative storytelling  at a Lapidus event in Glasgow. He is a great talent and a gift to us all. He used the ancient Greek chorus technique. This means that you tell a group about your traumatic event, then they choose a sentence of your own words and repeat it back to you. I told about a traumatic event in my life- causing a fire in a friend’s house where me and my two kids were staying. This had been about twenty years before, and since then,  I had always felt  guilt, blame and shame. My story that I constantly repeated in my head was :

    ‘I could have killed my children’.

    At the transformative storytelling group, the people who spoke my words back to me then went further and told me what a positive thing I had done. That I was a hero, I saved them, I got them out.

    I broke down and wept.

    The story became:

    ‘I saved my children from the fire.’

    and this literally changed the story I had told myself  and do tell myself.

    The relief and the spaciousness that opened up inside of me is strange and amazing.

    I would love to work with Michael again, to share his talents for others’ benefit.

    Have a look at his website !




  • What is bibliotherapy?

    Some people have different views but my understanding is that the word and concept of bibliotherapy is like an umbrella concept– that covers a range of meanings. In psychology it is used for cognitive behavioural therapy using self-help books and discussion with a therapist. The Latin roots of biblio- book or text- and therapy – well, therapy, are quite broad.

    Many librarians in health and public libraries are adding to the existing service of self-help or books on prescription services, by giving book chats or reading group services, like Wee read offers.

    In my research I learned the various models of bibliotherapy from Debbie Hicks, I took her idea of creative bibliotherapy and ran with it. Reading from imaginative literature, fiction and poetry are the basis. I write as well as read and that makes it all the better, I think.Research in this area continues apace, here is a link to work at Oxford Brookes University

    Librarians are very keen on creative bibliotherapy, and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals has done a lot to support it. Here, in a blog by Julie Walker of Kirklees libraries, a common use of the term bibliotherapy is explained, using fiction and poetry for wellbeing or therapeutic purposes. here description of this group work with public libraries is very informative and she recommends using a  toolkit- so the Lapidus and NHS Education Words Work Well bibliotherapy toolkit is definitely a useful resource.

    The Network is a group for library and other workers aiming to tackle social exclusion. Creative bibliotherapy in groups is one way of doing this- inviting folk in to a wee read, for a chat about whatever poems or stories are appropriate that day. I have been known to say, I can do bibliotherapy with a bus ticket! Well, there’s a story there about a journey, link to memories of others’ journeys- there’s a book chat for you!






  • BBC creative bibliotherapy – read yourself happy!


    Hephzibah Anderson, whose moniker I envy,  is the bibliotherapist who now has a BBC column.  She will give you a book on prescription recommendation if you  are in need of some textual healing so go on then, ask!

    Hephzibah quotes research by University of Sussex  to try and measure:

    ..”that reading is a more efficacious stress reliever than listening to music, going for a walk or sitting down with a nice cup of tea… “After just six minutes with a book – any book – their subjects found stress was reduced by up to 68 per cent. With the right book, that really could be time well spent.” Well, I don’t know if you can clinically measure the enjoyment someone gets from a book as opposed to a cup of tea, but might just catch that research with my next coffee.

    Hephzibah says, “That’s why we’re launching our very own bibliotherapy column. Send us an email to tell us what ails and what irks you, be it broken resolutions or a broken heart, whether you’re feeling lost in life or stuck in your career. I’ll recommend you some books old and new, mostly though not exclusively fiction, that are sure to speak to your predicament, offering insights and encouragement as well as a little escapism. And at the very least, you’ll discover some great new titles. To quote the sign in Mr Mifflin’s bookshop, “Malnutrition of the reading faculty is a serious thing. Let us prescribe for you”.



  • Writing for mental health podcast SMHAFF Conference 2015


    Exciting podcast  from March 2015, Glasgow CCA, it’s well worth a listen (1 hour).

    With various speakers, including John McCormack of the Scottish Recovery Network, Gail Porter and Duglas T. Stewart of the BMX Bandits.

    On 26 March 2015 the Mental Health Foundation staged The Dust of Everyday Life, a conference at the CCA in Glasgow designed to ask challenging questions about the relationship between mental health and the arts. The findings will help to shape future editions of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, as we prepare for our tenth programme in 2016.

    The Dust of Everyday Life consisted of a series of panel discussions touching on film, TV, theatre, photography, and writing, as well as stigma, social justice and raising awareness.

    This is a recording of our session on writing, which asked the question: from memoirs to creative fiction, what role can writing play in overcoming mental health issues?

    The panel consisted of Gail Porter (writer, TV presenter and health campaigner), Duglas T Stewart(singer-songwriter, BMX Bandits), Michael Rowe (associate professor, department of psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine)and John McCormack (Scottish Recovery Network)

    Looking at firstly the act of writing and what does it change?

    Gail reads from her book about being sectioned, in a funny and irreverent way.But she also makes you aware of how she felt at that critical time:

    “Once upon a time my head hurt a lot. So  … I was sectioned…

    …There was fear, there was fear, shame,…

    oh and did I mention, fear?”

    Then Duglas : “Sometimes the scream comes out as  a song…”

    John shared that when you write when you’re very anxious, …”it creates a narrative and you can capture it rather than leave it whirring round and round…”.  I relate to the whirring mind. I agree with John, that writing slows me down a bit, creates a space to reflect.The panel was chaired by Mark Brown (editor of 1 in 4 magazine) and he prompts the panel with interesting questions, and adds his own thoughts:

    “Writing is magical, turning something inside you into gold…”

    Later, Mark asks them the second question: “What is the value of writing of tackling writing ABOUT mental health..people with experience of bad stuff, ..getting it out into the public?”   John refers us to the Write To Recovery website,  and reminds us how beneficial writing about the bad stuff IS.As Ted Bowman would say, if it’s unmentionable, it’s unmanageable. I agree with this. Deffo.

    The focus on  positive words about the value of  not being alone were two talking points that I liked hearing from this podcast. I remember that feeling, on the phone to the Samaritans, you suddenly realise there’s loads a people like me.And it helps a lot.




  • Words Work Well


    Lapidus Scotland and NHS Education for Scotland make Words Work Well!

    13th March 2015- the launch of our new bibliotherapy toolkit marks the progress made by this network of librarians, bibliotherapists, writers, storytellers and readers over the past few years. The toolkit was launched as a pilot online toolkit – it will keep growing as practitioners add new creative writing prompts, as readers add new sessions on poetry or fiction. It has contributions from people who lead groups in activities across Scotland.

    Sir Kenneth Calman wrote the foreword for us and each contribution has a distinct flavour.

    Humans tell stories;

    humans listen to the stories of others;

    one story whether heard or read often prompts another story;


    Stories, such as the stories of prisoners in Stewart Ennis’ writing group in a maximum security prison wing.

    “I teach prisoners of all ages from 20 to 60 years old. Some are coming to the end of a lengthy sentence, while others have only just begun to come to terms with a sentence of 30 years or more, and of an age where it is highly unlikely they will leave prison alive.”