Words that heal: Clemson’s bibliotherapy program featured in Wednesday Suter seminar

Windsor Westbrook Sherrill, associate vice president for health research at Clemson University and chief science officer at Greenville Health System, presents the next Suter Science Seminar Wednesday afternoon on the bibliotherapy program at Clemson University. The lecture, which begins at 4 p.m. in Suter Science Center, Room 106, is free and open to the public.

Sherrill is also professor of public health sciences at Clemson. She attended Wake Forest University with Professor Marti Eads, who teaches in the language and literature department at Eastern Mennonite University. The classmates studied abroad in London, England, as well.

The Clemson University Bibliotherapy program has roots in a centuries-old practice of using literature to promote healing. The program is a combination of the once popular hospital library, bibliotherapy, and effective communication strategies. The lecture will provide an overview of the  research-based training program, which enables pre-professional health students to improve communication skills using a compendium of readings shared with patients to promote health, comfort, hope and well-being. Preliminary results of the program indicate that positive communication between patients and providers can impact patient well-being and health outcomes. Bibliotherapy acknowledges the healing nature of literature, combining verbal communication with a “live performance” of reading.

Sherrill’s research spans diverse disciplines, including medical and health management education, health finance and policy, and the evaluation of health services for underserved groups. She has been a leader in Clemson’s Creative Inquiry initiative, a program that provided a foundation for the development of the Clemson Bibliotherapy program. Sherrill earned her undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University, master degrees in health and business administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a doctorate in health policy from Brandeis University.

The next seminar is 4 p.m., Wednesday, March 27. James Galloway, professor of environmental sciences at the University of  Virginia will speak on the topic of Nitrogen Out of the Bottle: The Challenge of Managing the Genie

The seminars are free and open to the public, and made possible by the sponsorship of the Daniel B. Suter Endowment in Biology and the co-sponsorship of supporting programs.