Coaching and Consultation



Mary specializes in using the power of story to transform lives.  Based on a successful career of working with clients grappling with family of origin, relationship, illness, career or transition issues, she guides you in the process of reflective writing to help you work toward healing.  

Telling our stories provides a semblance of control over that which we cannot control – the past.  The imperative to tell, to make sense of our lives and create meaning is the impetus behind every narrative, for the act of writing is and always will be a struggle against silence.


Links to a few of Mary’s publications:



“Mary has a rare combination of solid background, clinical wisdom, skillful application, and most importantly, a compassionate understanding of others that is sure to make any instructional or therapeutic experience with her a valuable one.  A writer and artist herself, she has an intuitive sense of what “works” in various situations–something that training itself can’t impart.  In short, as a long time teacher of medical humanities, I can’t recommend her enough.”

David H. Flood, PhD
Professor of Humanities
Drexel University, Philadelphia 

My introduction to reflective writing with Mary Shannon has been a wonderful, nurturing gift.  The work has provided me with a valuable venue for opening doors into the terrain of expanding insight and self-understanding.  With Mary as witness to my work and posing further questions for inquiry, my reflective writing practice has become an extremely valuable part of my ongoing personal journey.  Thank you, Mary!

Nancy Wernecke


Mary also uses art with clients who don’t feel comfortable with writing, allowing them to express feelings and thoughts through color, shape, form and texture.

An early example of an art therapy program Mary developed for adult cancer patients at UC Davis Cancer Center was featured on television, and is shown here on youtube:

Clinical Consultation


Narrative medicine answers the call from both patients and providers for a more humane medical care system.

Through narrative training, health care providers will improve not only their effectiveness of care but also their job satisfaction by enhancing the capacity for attention, reflection, representation and affiliation with patients and colleagues alike.

“Mary Shannon has a tremendous amount to offer to the health care community from her background as an artist, writer, and clinical social worker. Her work in the Master of Science in Narrative Medicine Program at Columbia reflected the multiple dimensions of her insight and skill, and her work since graduation attests to her capacity to join with others to change the face of health care.”

Rita Charon, MD, PhD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine
Columbia University

The following program components provide health professionals with in-house education in a timely, sequential format.  Click the link below to select which option best suits your needs.

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I. Workshops for Clinical and Administrative Staff

Narrative Medicine workshops that address the practical application of this new and exciting field within the demands and time constraints of the clinical context. These can be a series of half-day workshops, a day-long workshop, or, modeled after the Program in Narrative Medicine workshops at Columbia, they can be an intensive 2-3 day workshop.

II. Multi-disciplinary Close Reading and Reflective Writing Workshops

These workshops will occur on a regular basis (e.g., once per month) and can include patients, family members, physicians, social workers, nurses, and other interested staff.  They provide a unique opportunity for patients and providers to read, discuss, write, and share their experiences.  Through guided reading and reflective writing exercises, participants will gain cross-disciplinary insights, tools and techniques leading to increased professional growth and satisfaction, as well as the opportunity to process their own experiences with illness and care-giving.

III. Close Reading and Reflective Writing Seminars

These ongoing groups are composed of interested clinical staff, residents, program directors and other professional staff, and meet regularly in a seminar format to develop and practice close reading and reflective writing skills in relation to self and other in the clinical encounter.  Burnout, compassion fatigue and other issues of concern are explored through reflective writing as well as specific literary texts.

IV. Resident Rounds

Meeting with medical residents on a weekly basis, the general practice of narrative medicine as it relates to their current patients is explored, with a focus on the bioethics of patient care.

V. Staff Support for Ancillary or Technical Staff

This component provides technical and/or ancillary staff the education and support needed to develop a narrative based competency that will enrich and fortify their respective fields.

VI. Program/Curriculum Development and Professional Instruction

Institutions interested in developing a narrative medicine program benefit from consultation and collaboration on program content, methodology, implementation and evaluation.  Professional instruction is also available to nursing and medical students in a small group/seminar format.  The same is true for health care professionals who are interested in broadening and deepening their scope of clinical practice with proven tools and techniques of the field.

VII. Patient Programs and Services

Custom-designed programs for patients that provide instruction, encouragement and support using the proven techniques of art and reflective writing as adjunctive treatment tools for self-care. Patients learn not only how to navigate their stories of illness, but more importantly, how to work toward the integration of these stories into the rest of their lives. The result is integration of the illness experience – not fragmentation, which can lead to poor recovery and relapse. Patients suffering from chronic disease have received lasting benefits from these programs.

“Mary, I cannot express how pleased I am by the outcome of this elective for our medical students.  Thank you again for your fine contribution to Einstein’s medical education program.”

Albert S. Kuperman, PhD
Senior Advisor, Office of the Dean
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Bronx, New York

“I was struck by the power of what you accomplished with your medical students.  Your  idea of adding the visual component proved to be a very valuable dimension to Narrative Medicine….You have done a great job!!!!!”

Pat Stanley, MBA, MA
Clinical Coordinator/Adjunct Lecturer
Masters Program in Narrative Medicine
Columbia University