ABOUT VAL

I deeply believe we can break through the barriers that isolate us by building community, friendships, and a sense of belonging. With classes, groups, and writing, I share the practical wisdom I’ve learned from resourceful people who rebuilt support networks after isolating ordeals in their lives.

 

Val is a contributing blogger for Psychology Today and the author of The Art of Comforting (Penguin/Random House, 2010) which won the Nautilus Book Award. With a Master of Science degree in rehabilitation counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University, she has explored the practice of comforting others since facilitating her first support group in 1993 for people living with cancer. Reaching isolated and disadvantaged communities for twenty-four years, she has organized and led support groups, outreach initiatives, and training programs for people living with serious illness, disability, grief, and trauma.

Val’s new book, 400 Friends and No One to Call: Breaking Through Isolation and Building Community, was released in March, 2020. On this topic, she provides groups and classes on how to build community networks and fellowships, and teaches a course called “Staying Connected and Building Community”–especially relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has discovered that millennials and boomers alike want to learn how to strengthen their networks for meaningful conversation, purposeful activities, and expanding their sense of belonging despite social distancing.

Val’s articles, interviews, and contributions have appeared in publications such as Time Magazine, AARP, Caregiver Space, Parade, Hello Giggles, Healthy Aging Magazine, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, Coping with Cancer, Babyboomer.com, Boston Globe Magazine, Chicago Tribune, McClean’s (Canada), Sweety High and others.

Blogging on the topic of breaking out of isolation, she also contributes to Social Pro Now and the Boston-based Health Story Collaborative, founded by Annie Brewster, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Val is represented by Peter Rubie of FinePrint Literary Management.

 

 

I love to sit by my window and think.

SPEAKING VENUES IN GREATER BOSTON:

  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Blum Resource Center, Boston
  • Hospice of the Good Shepherd (Good Shepherd Community Care), Newton, MA
  • Osher Lifelong Learning Center at UMass, Boston
  • Thrive Support and Advocacy, Marlborough, MA
  • Massachusetts Council on Aging, Center at the Heights, Needham, MA
  • Brookline Adult and Community Education
  • Arlington Community Education
  • Lexington Community Education
  • Bookends Book Store, Winchester, MA
  • Newton Community Education
  • Newton Free Library

SPEAKING VENUES, East Coast US:

  • Circle of Scholars, Edward King House, Newport, Rhode Island
  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Rhode Island
  • Medical College of Virginia, School of Allied Health Professions, Richmond, Virginia
  • New Seminary, New York, NY
  • American Rehabilitation Counseling Association, Virginia Chapter
  • Lifelong Learning Institute, affiliated with Virginia Commonwealth University, Midlothian, VA
  • Virginia Association of Hospices and Palliative Care
  • Maine Medical Center, Clinical Pastoral Education, In-Service Training
  • University of Southern Maine, Department of Continuing Education
  • Portland Adult Education, Portland, Maine
  • Cancer Community Center, S. Portland, Maine
  • Camden Public Library, Camden, Maine
  • Warren Public Library, New Jersey
  • Department of Health and Human Services, State of Maine
  • University of Southern Maine, Continuing Education, Maine
  • Redington-Fairview General Hospital, Skowhegan, Maine

Testimonials

 

“Val is not only a talented presenter. She is valuable because she cares about bettering people’s lives. It is her passion and it comes through in her writing, research, and presentations.”—Aicha Kelley, Assistant Director of Programming and Transportation, Needham Council on Aging, Needham, MA

“Val Walker engages her audiences through a unique vulnerability of sharing her personal experience to create authentic human connection. As a speaker, she invites learning and discussion while offering her audiences strategic and implementable steps towards breaking through barriers and opening to healing change.”—Jennifer Sax, Director of Communications, Good Shepherd Community Care, Newton, MA

“Val Walker’s presentation here at the Newport Circle of Scholars was a great contribution to to our senior members. Her message hit right on the center of what they care and worry about the most.” ––Ben Riggs, President, Newport Circle of Scholars, Newport, RI

“At the Health Story Collaborative, we’re thrilled to have Val Walker’s knowledge and guidance for breaking through isolation.”
–Annie Brewster, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School, Founder of the Health Story Collaborative and Co-founder of The Opioid Project.

“Val has been lifting people up with her compassionate presence and open-hearted honesty for decades. She is creative and present with people in distress, connecting to their strengths to find their inner resources that we all possess. A poised and exceptional speaker, she is inclusive, knowledgeable and kind—just like her books.”-–Pamela R. Blunt, MSW, LCSW, Psychotherapist, Owner, Therapeutic Solutions

“Val Walker can turn a mandatory staff training into a lively and enlightening discussion for employees. She encourages participation by creating a welcoming setting for thoughtful and honest conversations. She is always well-prepared and reliable as a presenter for our groups.”—Sharon Santello, Health Educator, Marlborough, MA

“With her perfect blend of education, knowledge, and experience—combined with a marvelous way with words—Val is a warm and engaging presenter and a wonderful writer.”-–Amy Handy, Artist and Freelance Book Editor

“When Val Walker taught our students training to be chaplains for several years, they gained a greater understanding of how to provide comfort and care. I would recommend Val as an inspirational speaker for anyone who wishes to be a comforting presence for others and also wishes to find ways to comfort themselves.” —The Reverend Dr. Robert Morse, Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor, Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (Retired)

“Val is a warmly engaging speaker who allows us to address the unique issues of loss, grieving and ultimately the comfort so needed by those in distress. With her heartfelt compassion and knowledge, she gives us the language and behaviors to help comfort others and ourselves. I have learned so much from her presentations.” —Marie Worley, MS, CRC, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and Sponsoring Member Virginia Rehabilitation Counseling Association

Education

  • Master of Science, Rehabilitation Counseling, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. Specialized training in life transitions and loss
  • Human Rights Advocate and Trainer, Certification with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (2017)
  • M.H.R.T/C. Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician Certification, State of Maine
  • Mandt System, Portland Maine, Communication Skills, Conflict Resolution, Trauma Informed Services
  • C.R.C. Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, 1993-98
  • Certified Rehabilitation Provider, Board of Professional Counselors, Commonwealth of Virginia, 1993-96
  • B.F.A. Applied Theatre, minor in Dance, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. Training included two years in Scotland and England teaching speech and drama to people with disabilities (Worked as Youth Drama Specialist at the Craigmillar Festival Society)