The Words for Wellbeing Organisation

Crossing Thresholds

Our planned residential workshop, due to be held at Whatton Lodge, Gullane, East Lothian, 18–20 September 2020, has been postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We hope to be able to reschedule it in spring 2021. Further updates will be published here over the coming months.

Details of the course as we had planned to run it are below; again, any updates to this will be published here as soon as they become available.

If you have any queries, please email

27 April 2020


A Lapidus Scotland Residential Workshop
for Facilitators and Organisers
of Reading, Writing and Storytelling for Wellbeing


That’s the way writing often starts, a disaster or a catastrophe of some sort, as happened to me . . . whatever it may be that has upset  me, then I can write and it relieves the feeling of distress.
William Carlos Williams

I can shake off everything if I write.  My sorrows disappear.  My courage is reborn.
Anne Frank, 5 April 1944


Are you interested in developing your skill as a words for wellbeing facilitator or organiser?

This weekend residential will provide you with an opportunity to deepen your understanding of how reading, writing and storytelling can be used effectively to improve wellbeing. We will look at both the content and process of facilitation and which tools to use when. We will consider how to approach setting up and managing a words for wellbeing programme that is safe and suited to purpose. While the focus will be on the use of reading, writing and storytelling for wellbeing, we will also look at how the visual arts, music and movement can be used. What we cover will be chosen by the participants based on what they most need as facilitators.  Here are some topics covered on previous workshops:

  • How facilitators run their groups
  • Containment of difficult or emotional material
  • Crossing the threshold from content to process
  • Building a repertoire of literary resources
  • Responses to personal disclosure
  • Ethical issues related to boundaries
  • Meeting challenging behaviours
  • Group Dynamics
  • Clarity about purpose and what is allowed
  • Co-leadership and consultation with colleagues
  • Giving feedback to oneself and to co-leaders
  • Moving groups to deeper considerations
  • Balancing diverse needs of individual members
  • Responding to offensive comments or prejudice
  • Developing a new group in collaboration with other staff
  • Diversity in its many variations (age, race, country of origin, spiritual, sexual  orientation etc.

The weekend will be a rich mixture of experiential and reflective processes. We will explore crossing thresholds from participant to facilitator and back, with demonstrations by the two very experienced course leaders, Valerie Gillies and Larry Butler, plus opportunities for practice, feedback, discussion and the sharing of resources. By the end of the two days, you will have gained skills and confidence as a facilitator and an understanding of your individual strengths. As an organiser, you will feel better equipped to set up and manage a words for wellbeing programme and to support those delivering it.


Who is this for?

The workshop is for people who have:

  • attended a previous Lapidus Scotland Introductory facilitation workshop/residential; or
  • have experience of leading reading and writing for wellbeing groups; or
  • have a diploma that includes attention to facilitation of groups; and
  • people who organise and support words for wellbeing or would like to do so.



The residential will take place in Whatton Lodge in East Lothian. With stunning views over Gullane Bay towards the Firth of Firth, it is the earliest of a group of three houses in Hill Road built in the Arts and Crafts style. We will have sole use of the Lodge which comprises several twin bedrooms, a large sitting room, library/TV, lounge, dining room that seats 32 and also a large fully equipped kitchen, laundry, toilets, bath and shower rooms. It has extensive gardens facing the sea with a private gate to the beach. The Lodge is wheelchair friendly with an electric stair lift to upper floor bedrooms. In addition to the Lodge, we also have an adjoining cottage for our use which has four twin bedrooms.

All our meals will be prepared for us by our resident cook. Expect lots of delicious home-cooked fare.


Getting to Whatton Lodge, Hill Road, Gullane, East Lothian EH31 2BE

  • By public transport: there are buses from Edinburgh to Gullane or you can get the train to North Berwick (33 minutes) and then a taxi or bus.
  • By car: the journey is about 45 minutes from Edinburgh.

Lapidus Scotland can organise car sharing and taxis if needed.


What previous participants have said

This is our third Lapidus Scotland residential workshop at Whatton Lodge. Here are some comments from previous participants:

‘A wonderful creative experience’ ‘Really welcoming’

‘A great weekend for recharging, sharing ideas and benefiting from the wealth of experience of our three facilitators’

‘Great meeting people with shared interest’

‘Helped build my confidence when working in a group’

‘Very stimulating’ ‘Learnt a lot’

‘House is lovely and exactly the right venue for this experience’

‘Food great, accommodation great, view and location priceless!’

‘Thank you for all the wisdom and discussion’


Cost: £240 / £216 Lapidus members 10% discount (Early Bird rates)

or £260 (Full price) £234 Lapidus 10% discount Payment can be made in instalments.  

20 places only available.


Lapidus Scotland works to explore and expand knowledge and understanding of the value of writing, reading and storytelling for wellbeing, delivering workshops, readings and facilitator training. We are linked with Lapidus International, a network of individuals and organisations promoting creative words for health and wellbeing.


Course Leaders

Valerie Gillies is a poet and non-fiction writer, the author of eight books. She was the Edinburgh Makar, poet laureate to the city, from 2005 to 2008. Recently, she was an Associate of Harvard University. Valerie received a Creative Scotland Award to make a journey to the healing wells and springs of Scotland and Ireland, to write The Spring Teller (Luath, 2009). She is the facilitator of courses in creative writing, journaling and life story at Maggie’s Centre, Edinburgh. Her book – The Cream of the Well: New and Selected Poems – appeared from Luath Press in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Saltire Award.

Larry Butler is a poet, editor, researcher convenor for Lapidus Scotland, teaches tai-chi for health, leads expressive writing, journaling, and life story at Maggie Cancer Care Centre; publications include Butterfly Bones (Two Ravens), Han Shan Everywhere, Arts on Prescription (Greater Glasgow Health Board). He leads writing retreats and edits pamphlets for PlaySpace Publications. His latest book There Are Others, is still in the making! And recently he became a grandfather and a knitter.

Penny Stone is a songleader, community musician, songwriter, singer and activist. She runs various community singing groups in Edinburgh as well as using music with patients and staff at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. She teaches music and song from all over the world as well as using songwriting to help enable people to find their own voices and voice their own experiences. Penny specialises in using music with vulnerable groups and to support mental and physical health. Penny has worked with groups of singers from diverse cultural backgrounds, helping to support people to share songs from their own traditions, and helping to find the ‘middle ground’ where our different tunings meet. She is currently running regular groups for people living with Dementia, living with Parkinson’s, a Women’s Choir and an Open Community Singing Group.

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