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Experiential-Existential Creative Writing Workgroups – Chris Cleave & Stella Duffy – June 19 & July 3 – 10 am – 2 pm BST

June 19, 2022 @ 10:00 am - 2:00 pm


Experiential-Existential Creative Writing Workgroups

Presented by Chris Cleave & Stella Duffy


Who are the workgroup facilitators?

Stella Duffy and Chris Cleave are third-year doctoral students at NSPC, with a combined 60 years of writing practice and an understanding of process as the core of that work.


Chris Cleave’s novels celebrate people’s resilience, humour, and capacity for healing. He is the author of four award-winners including the New York Times #1 bestseller, Little Bee. He teaches writing at the Arvon Foundation and mentors privately. His forthcoming novel, Minotaur, explores ambiguity and reconciliation in mother-daughter relationships. His doctoral research is in the experiences that people seek in order to heal themselves outside of formal therapy.


Stella Duffy is an award-winning writer of 17 novels, over 70 short stories and 14 plays. She has taught writing for the Arvon Foundation, Goldsmiths University and Sotheby’s Institute among many others. She worked in devised and physical theatre for many decades and is a yoga teacher, running monthly yoga for writing workshops. Her doctoral research is in the embodied experience of postmenopause.



Why are we offering these twin workgroups? Because you asked for something more! Following Stella and Chris’s enjoyable and well-attended writing workgroup at the last SEA Conference, we learned that there is an appetite for a stronger dose of this inspiring and welcoming process that invites therapists of all approaches to connect with themselves and with existential themes through phenomenological and creative writing. So here it is: two lively and dynamic 4-hour groups, separated by a fortnight for personal reflection.

Who’s it for? It’s for therapists, researchers, their friends and anyone else who might be interested – feel free to share this invitation. You don’t need to ‘be existential’ or to have any writing experience. As experienced novelists and writing tutors, and trainee existential therapists, we suggest creative approaches and attunements that work with the individuals and the group on the day, while you bring your life understanding and your (perhaps much more extensive) experience of connecting with clients.

What will I get out of it? New creative connections with yourself and others. The result of holding this atypical space for this unusual crowd is a unique group energy, in which we’ve discovered that new meanings and possibilities are uncovered for participants. You might take away a new idea for a writing project, or a deepening of something you’re already working on. Or you might feel interested to try phenomenological therapeutic writing. Or… something else entirely. Groups are unpredictable. People surprise themselves.

What happens in the workgroups? Stella and Chris’ workgroups are all different but they have three unvarying principles:

  • Process before product. This isn’t ever about producing a fancy piece of written work – you can do that on your own time. This is about play, in the freest and deepest sense. Through playful experiment you are invited to notice & channel the existential energies that inform your personal creative process. You won’t be asked to share any writing you produce in our workgroups, unless you want to share as part of exploring your process.
  • Experience before erudition. Scholarship – although such an important pillar of philosophically-reflective practice – isn’t the focus here. In this space we’re about experiencing the existential aspects of our creative practice, through practical exercises and discussion.
  • Inclusion before everything. Our workgroups are founded on the observation that connection IS creativity. Every aspect of you that you and the group might include in the creative process is welcome and valued: your religion, culture, gender identification, ethnicity, and sexuality; your anger, your humour, your darkness and your love. We ask that you bring your whole self, disclose what you feel safe disclosing, and treat others in the group in a way that helps them be safe.

Do I need to attend both workgroups? These two workgroups are designed as a pair, so participation in both won’t feel repetitive. You are also welcome to participate only in the first workgroup, but please don’t participate only in the second. The second workgroup will be specifically structured around the requests of the group as expressed in the first.


This event will take place on Zoom. A link will be sent prior to the date.

SEA members enjoy a 25% discount at checkout.

A Certificate of Attendance will be emailed to participants.

If you think you have a new and interesting topic to share with us and would like to be our next speaker please don’t hesitate to contact our events organiser on events@existentialanalysis.org.uk.


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June 19, 2022
10:00 am - 2:00 pm
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