Workshop Descriptions and Instructor Bios

Upcoming Workshop:

October 15, 2019 The Third Thing: How to talk about writing in community

Alexis Rehrmann

Elizabeth Lahti, MD

Learning how to speak about this third object, separate from both writer and reader, offers us a path beyond our own subjective response. These tools help us sit longer with a story. Practicing these ways of reading a story gives us the chance to develop a clinically (and creatively) useful curiosity. With practice, we also develop the ability to follow that curiosity through–to ask the uncomfortable question, to write the new idea, to shift to a new understanding, to open to a different point of view, or to follow that faint intuition, to go see.

In this session, we will learn and discuss a useful framework for responding to other people’s writing. We will read The Harvest, a short story by Amy Hempel, and then write to a related prompt.

No writing experience is necessary to join this session. We encourage any and all who are curious about the intersection of health, illness, and narrative to join the conversation. All are welcome.

Learn more about Alexis Rehrmann and Elizabeth Lahti at our Board Members page.

Past Workshops

Listen with Me: How Deep Listening Changes How We Care (June 18)
Alexis Rehrmann
Adam Hoverman, DO

Deep listening shifts the power and quality of our attention by opening the mind, heart, and will to what is said and unsaid. Built on active listening skills, deep listening can help transform a personal story into a healing event. This session will introduce deep listening tools with the goal of fostering meaningful, purposeful human relationships.

Adam Hoverman, DO MPH DTMH is a Family Medicine and Public Health Physician with Multnomah County Health Department, where he combines primary care and public health practice caring for Immigrant and Refugee populations. He started as a paramedic in rural Northern California, before entering medical school at A.T. Still University, in Kirksville, Missouri, motivated to study osteopathy by Dr. Still’s pithy phrase, “the objective of the physician is to find health; anyone can find disease.” Adam completed Family Medicine Residency at the University of Minnesota, and worked with the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic before completing a Diploma of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Most recently Adam has completed a second residency in Preventive Medicine at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, along with a Masters in Public Health in Health Management and Policy. His research, teaching, and writing focuses on health systems strengthening via Community-Based Participatory Research and Community Health Worker training for improving Maternal and Child Health and Indigenous Health, program evaluation for Global Health training programs, and the co-production, co-creation, and co-design of health and social care. He facilitates narrative medicine small groups for students and health care workers, and writes poetry in his spare time.

Alexis Rehrmann is writer, editor, and story teller whose work has appeared in publications including The New York Times and Portland Monthly Magazine. She studied theater directing at N.Y.U, and co-wrote a memoir of trauma and recovery (not her own). Currently, she’s co-writing a coming of age memoir about masculinity and identity (also not her own). She has completed stints in digital content marketing and communications strategy. You may’ve seen her perform 1. Dig at Interstitium, Portland’s inaugural narrative medicine storytelling event. She knows from experience that the power of listening can transform a story into something that heals.

Instructions and Lists: Narrative medicine in structure (May 21)
Elizabeth Lahti, MD

Creativity can often be found in everyday tasks like making lists or writing instructions. In this workshop participants will read and discuss a selection of creative texts that utilize highly structured formats, followed by prompt writing.

Dr. Elizabeth Lahti is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and the Director of Narrative Medicine at Oregon Health Science University. She teaches reflective practice and narrative medicine to interprofessional students, residents, and faculty with a particular interest in professional identity formation and resilience through story. She co-founded the Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative and is the current President of the Board of Directors. Dr. Lahti creates and facilitates narrative medicine workshops throughout the Pacific Northwest. Her poetry and short prose has been published in Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine.

Two Page Tuesday: NW Narrative Medicine Writers Share
Ellen Michaelson, MD (April 16)

Every month we write together. Many of us have projects in the outside world. Are you working on a novel? A collection of short stories or essays? A book of poems? Or perhaps your first attempt at anything that isn’t a Progress Note or a Clinical Assessment? How does your creative response provide resilience in your life as a medical professional, as a caregiver, as a patient? Why do we write? What feeds our writing? How do we persist? What gets in the way? Come with two pages of work for an opportunity to share and listen, and deepen our Community of Practice. Prepare to be inspired!

Dr. Ellen Michaelson is a physician and writer. She is the founder of HealthMax Primary Care, a Narrative Medicine practice in NW Portland. She was an NEH Fellow in Medical Humanities and has an MFA in Writing. She is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at OHSU and the current Vice President of the Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative. Her novel is currently short listed for the Mslexia Novella Competition and has been a finalist/semi-finalist for the Brighthorse Prize, the William Faulkner Society Writing Competition, the Eulida Prize, and the Tuscon Book Festival. Her essays and reviews have been published in Creative Nonfiction, Portland Monthly, and Literature in Medicine.

Free-form Narrative Medicine: A space and time for ideas, community, and collaboration
Group-Guided (February 19)

For February’s Community of Practice, we are doing something different. Instead of a facilitated workshop, we invite participants to bring something to share with the group. What you bring is up to you. It could be an unfinished piece you are writing, or a fully formed piece of writing that needs an audience. It could be an article on narrative medicine, medical humanities, graphic medicine, or the experience of illness. It could be an idea that is looking for a sounding board. It could be a suggestion for a future Community of Practice that you’d like to pitch. 

We will start the session with introductions, then move into a dynamic, spirited, inviting discussion where all participants are welcome to share what they brought. 

The session will end with encouragement, feedback (if so desired), a call to action, and plans to see ideas, writing, and collaborations come to fruition. 

Human/Nature: Lovely as a Tree
Alexis Rehrmann (January 15)

This workshop invites us to explore trees as a metaphor for wellness in ourselves and others. Stories of medicine unfold in a built environment filled with human-made tech, cutting-edge equipment and somewhere, something, beeping. What happens when we plant a tree in this space? We’ll write and find out.

Alexis Rehrmann is a writer and editor whose writing has appeared in publications including The New York Times and Portland Monthly Magazine. She has also studied theater directing at N.Y.U, co-wrote a memoir of trauma and recovery (not her own), and recently completed a stint in digital and social media content marketing. She’s incorporated elements of narrative medicine throughout much of that work. She has a longstanding fascination with large organizations and the complex cultural environments that we build within them.

From Burnout to WEll-Being: Transforming Empathy into Compassion (December 18)
Candice Kim

Empathy burns us out. It’s hard to keep feeling what other people feel when they’re experiencing pain, emotional or physical. In this workshop, we’ll practice evidence-based meditation and write narratives from different perspectives to transform empathy into compassion. Because unlike empathy, compassion keeps us whole, allowing us to keep giving.

Candice Kim, MS, is a third-year medical student at Stanford University School of Medicine. For the past four years, she has taught Stanford undergraduates how to write the story of their dreams, whether it be the narrative arc of their research project or their personal journey. She has organized creative writing workshops for medical students and has led a research project studying the effects of storytelling on improving well-being. She has presented her project at multiple conferences and most recently led a creative writing workshop for almost 100 participants at the 2018 Women in Medicine Conference. In addition to writing, Candice has a special place in her heart for live storytelling, having performed for the San Francisco-based series The Nocturnists at two sold-out shows. She helped start a live storytelling series called TALK Rx for her medical student peers and serves as a student coach, helping her classmates craft their personal story for the stage. She is involved with the Stanford Storytelling Project and is creating a podcast episode for their award-winning show State of the Human on the patient perspective of schizophrenia treatment. Her newest project is a graphic novel that she is collaboratively writing and drawing through the Stanford Graphic Novel Project.N

Drinking From Places: A Route to Health Through Creative Nonfiction and Place
Pamela Pierce (November 2018)


“Drink from Places” will invite participants to deeply think about the location that surrounds them and how that impacts health by writing brief creative nonfiction pieces inspired by an archival image of their choosing.

Pamela Pierce is a librarian at Oregon Health and Science University. She was previously the Digital Library Coordinator and Certified Archivist at the Theodore Roosevelt Center in Dickinson, ND. She is a creative nonfiction writer, with work published in RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage. She is a proud native Tucsonan, who also loves Portland deeply.

Creative Embodiment: A Tool for Art, Self- Care, and Resistance (October 2018)
Liz Asch Greenhill

Drawing on concepts from Chinese Medicine and acupuncture theory, we will explore how visualization is used for self-care. A creative shift in our self-perception can open us up to new awareness, creativity, and a felt sense of transformation. In this workshop, we will begin to explore generative language and imagery as therapeutic tools and we will learn techniques which can be practiced at home.

About Liz: Liz Asch Greenhill is an acupuncturist, visual artist, and writer. In each of these modalities of expression, she helps others explore embodied creativity to grow new awareness around pain both physical and emotional. Liz holds a BA from Vassar College, and MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Eastern Oregon University, and a Masters in Oriental Medicine from Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. She has been a practicing acupuncturist in Oregon since 2009 and also works as a consultant teaching individuals and groups ways of applying acupuncture theory to the creative process. Liz has taught embodied creatively classes at the Portland Underground Graduate School and forthcoming at Lidia Yuknavitch’s Corporeal Writing school. At her private practice, Night Sky Acupuncture + Ideaphoria (close-in on East Burnside), Liz paints and writes, curates magically transformative acupuncture experiences, and counsels artists on the phone. Learn more at or

Creation Myths as Metaphor for Mundane Magic (September 2018)
Katy Liljeholm

Creation myths are the human imagination’s response to the inexplicable. They weave together the mundane and the extraordinary into a new world. We’ll explore the structures and purposes of creation myths. Then write your own creation myth to explain your mysteries in this workshop.

About Katy: Katy Liljeholm is a theater director and writing teacher who transplanted to Portland from Ohio purely out of a sense of adventure. She’s worked as a director, stage manager and puppeteer at local theaters, including Tears of Joy, Teatro de Milagro, Profile Theater, Portland Actors’ Ensemble, New Century Players, Beaverton Civic Theater and others. She was Artistic Director of Well Arts from 2010- 2014, and taught playwriting workshops at the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Washington County, the Northwest Down Syndrome Association, Hollywood Senior Center, REACH CDC, Friendly House, Homewoods and other locations, presenting her work at conferences including the Society for Arts in Healthcare, Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and OHSU’s Health Aging Alliance. She currently provides oral history services for palliative care patients through Legacy Health Services, teaches family history and memoir writing classes at local community centers and is pursuing her Masters in Arts in Health at University of Florida. A stalwart believer in preserving and sharing stories, you can find her online at She is a pound mother of three and loves exploring the nooks and crannies of our community with her sons and hirsute, but never hipster, husband.August 21

Writing through Life Transitions
Aryn Bartley (August 2018)

In this workshop, participants will encounter a framework for thinking about life transitions, freewrite about one of their own life transitions, and read and discuss poetry by Mary Oliver. Sharing is optional.

About Aryn: Aryn Bartley teaches writing and literature at Lane Community College in Eugene, OR.

Listening and Story Sharing as Practices for Radical Self-Care (July 2018)
Niki Steckler

Radical self-care means tending and befriending ourselves as well as others. Our capacity to notice our own internal stories is fundamental to our capacity to listen empathetically and witness what is true for another person at a certain moment in time.  Participants will experience the restorative power of story sharing and generous listening during the workshop and will leave with a taste of how they might integrate listening and story practices into their daily lives and work.

About Niki: Niki Steckler, Ph.D., teaches and coaches academic leaders and healthcare professionals on how to increase their leadership capabilities in order to make a meaningful difference in health and healthcare. Her methods for teaching emotional intelligence and influence center around awareness of the stories we are telling ourselves (and others) and how greater awareness and choice about our narratives can help us reframe and broaden our understanding of what is happening around us and what it means. Dr. Steckler has won awards for her teaching excellence; she currently teaches graduate courses and professional development workshops on becoming an effective manager, influence and communication skills for leaders and increasing human sustainability in healthcare contexts. She is currently an Associate Professor of Management in the School of Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. She holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Harvard University.

The InterPlay of Narrative Medicine
Cassandra Sagan (June 2018)

InterPlay is an active, creative way to unlock the wisdom of the body. Using simple, incremental “forms” we’ll play with words, sounds, stillness, and easy movement to find new ways to unpack and express our stories. It’s possible to “have” your experience, even when you can’t articulate it.

About Cassandra: Cassandara Sagan is a poet and educator, ordained maggid (Jewish teacher/preacher/storyteller), artist and songwriter. She has been leading InterPlay in a variety of seetings since 2009. Cassandra is on the faculty of Reclaiming Judaism’s national Maggid-Educator training program where she teaches educators to use InterPlay in creating classroom cultures based in story, embodiment, and play. For more about InterPlay, go to

Fiction as a Route to Truth (May 2018)
Cara Olexa

When local writer and workshop facilitator Cara Olexa tried to piece together the story of her mother’s illness and death, she found the facts conflicted. But retelling the story as fiction revealed deeper truths. Explore how fiction can find the truth in the stories we need to tell.

About Cara: Cara Olexa earned an MFA in fiction from New Mexico State University. She has facilitated workshops for the Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative and for Write Around Portland, a nonprofit partnering with community organizations to provide free creative writing workshops to people who might not otherwise have access to them. She lives in Portland, Oregon, and is currently working on a book of narrative poetry.