Section: News

Writing Group Sponsored by Queen of the Valley Medical Center Allows for Personal Expression as a Means of Healing


Napa, California – As one of her assignments for Queen of the Valley Medical Center’s writing class last year, psychologist Marguerite Small, Ph.D., wrote a prose poem called, "The Invitation" that encourages others to share their deep feelings about physical and emotional trials as a way to heal. It reads in part: "I want to know your pain. You and I can connect on that deep level."

Although primarily a reflection on Dr. Small’s chosen profession of psychology, the poem also aptly describes the purpose of The Queen’s writing class: providing a place and means for people facing significant life challenges to communicate and connect with others. Says Dr. Small of her experiences in the class, "I was amazed at how open people were, how very real and sincere they were in their writing. They quickly received a lot of wonderful warmth and support in return."

Class facilitator Julie Penning, M.A., a social worker at The Queen’s Care Network, emphasizes that while the class is not intended as a form of therapy, the ability to write and share thoughts about adversity is "therapeutic." The focus is on fresh, "first writing" in response to prompts, which helps class members write spontaneously, sometimes about difficult topics. Participants are expected to regularly attend meetings, and encouraged to share their writing and responses.

Dr. Small plans to participate in the next session of the class, which begins in January, and looks forward to again exploring her own, and others’, life experiences. Another excerpt from her poem, "The Invitation," summarizes the value of the process. "Let’s not be victims. Work through it and, trust me; when you come out on the other side, you will be a deeper, richer, more human, human being. I’ve been there. I know. Now I’m thankful for all that happened because I understand and I have grown in compassion and caring."

Another six-week session of the class starts Thursday, January 15 and will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on consecutive Thursdays at 3448 Villa Lane Suite 102, Napa.  The group is open to all who are interested. Priority will be given to those connected in some way with Queen of the Valley and others facing significant health or life challenges. For more information, please call Julie Penning, MA at 707-251-2020 or e-mail her at

About Queen of the Valley Medical Center

Queen of the Valley Medical Center is a 191-bed, acute-care facility founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange. The Queen is the largest health care facility and one of the largest employers in Napa County. Services provided include: a Regional Heart Center, a Regional Orthopedic Center, a Regional Cancer Center approved with commendations by the American College of Surgeons, a Women’s Center, maternity and infant care, inpatient and outpatient minimally invasive surgery, occupational health, imaging center and full-service emergency department, among many other specialty services. More information about Queen of the Valley Medical Center can be found at

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