• Live In-Person Europe Retreat in Malta •

Internal Family Systems & Memoir Writing

An In-Person Healing Writing Retreat on the Beautiful Maltese Island of Gozo - November 4th - 8th, 2024 With Dr. Lissa Rankin

Dear Friend,

Have you ever wondered what might happen to the quality and depth of your healing and your writing if you got out of your comfort zone, journeyed on an overseas pilgrimage to a beautiful island, splurged on gifting yourself a healing retreat, and surrounded yourself with natural and architectural beauty, in addition to open-hearted writers who are also working on their writing for therapeutic, creative, or professional purposes?
Have you ever thought of writing your memoir as part of your therapeutic healing process or doing your own trauma healing as part of writing a better memoir? Then we have good news. You're officially invited to join memoir author and IFS teacher Dr. Lissa Rankin, MD for this rare transformational live in-person five day writing workshop in Malta.

  • Do you feel called to tell your trauma-to-transformation story, but you’re concerned about the safety to your own psyche of revisiting painful memories that might make for a riveting memoir but might also cause backlash if those multi-sensory memories are not retrieved in a trauma-informed way?
  • Do you feel like you have a story buried deep inside that you need to get out of your body and onto the page? 
  • Are you interested in integrating Internal Family Systems (IFS) and therapeutic memoir writing as part of your own healing and creative process?

Kick off your creativity and deepen your healing journey and join memoir writer and IFS-informed physician Lissa Rankin, MD for IFS & Memoir Writing!

“If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. 

Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves.

Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone." - Alan Watts

Dr. Lissa Rankin

New York Times bestselling author, doctor, researcher, and teacher.

By all means, write! But let’s prepare you to write safely about your memoir-making material. Not only does creativity require safe, brave spaces in loving community to coax our shy muses out of hiding. It also requires a guided therapeutic process in order for us to be able to safely dive into memories we may have long exiled because they’re just too painful to revisit without backlash.

When something crushing happens, we can either get pummeled by our traumas or we can connect to our true Self inside and muster up the courage to transform those experiences into beautiful, soul-touching art. All of our traumas are memoir-making material, and it's incredibly healing when we can alchemize our pain into gold. 

Writing and sharing our stories while allowing the emotions that accompany them to flow through us in a safe, sacred space is a key part of the healing process. To write exquisite memoirs, we have to revisit the past emotionally. But doing so can be very frightening for some of our parts that have buried our pain, locked up our wounded parts, and tried to throw away the key.
The good news is that, with Internal Family Systems riding shotgun with our memoir writing experience, we can go even deeper and do so in a safer fashion, making sure we get permission from the parts of us that are afraid to get in touch with most wounded parts of us, even in our writing. We also benefit from having masterful facilitation to help us reunite our wise adult Self with those hurt parts during every stage of the writing process. That way, we wind up with a Self-led memoir, not a messy parts fest.

Often, when we tell our painful stories in our own families or with others who have abused us, we're met with blame, shame, defensiveness, denial, gaslighting, delusion, attack, magical thinking, or spiritual bypassing, rather than the unconditional acceptance, love, and validation of Self- and others holding Self energy- that really helps us heal.

IFS & Memoir Writing offers just the opposite, inviting an experience of memory reconsidation and healing. If we write our memoir stories and have our heart-breaking and heart-opening stories witnessed, attuned to, mirrored, validated, co-regulated and even celebrated in safe brave spaces with other memoir writers, healing happens. Not only can we create beautiful writing that helps us rewrite our trauma stories into stories of repair, resilience, and courage; we also get to help others with the stories we write, making meaning out of what happened to us and even turning our stories into service.

You don’t have to intend to publish your memoir material or ever let anyone else read it in order to benefit from doing IFS parts work via writing. And while this workshop is an experiential practice and not an official training, if you’re a therapist, physician, life coach, or other helping professional, the processes we’ll be practicing in this workshop may wind up being clinically useful for those you serve, especially if you’re already using IFS in your practice.

"Everyone has a story to tell and telling it is important. Sharing 'this is who I am, these are the things that shaped me, this is where I am now' allows a kind of magic and healing to happen." - Nancy Slonim Aronie, author of Memoir As Medicine

The Location

Ta' Ċenċ Cliffs
St. George's Basilica
The Saltpans of Xwejni
Victoria Town

Our Malta retreat is being held on the Island of Gozo in a luxurious boutique style family run hotel. The Mediterranean island of Gozo is one of 21 beautiful Maltese islands that make up the Maltese Archipelago and enjoys beautiful weather and scenery for most of the year - 300 days of the year to be precise. The Hotel is a short taxi drive from Victoria which is a small town with amenities restaurants and bars so you will have plenty to explore. 

The hotel offers spacious en-suite double rooms with air conditioning. It also offers several wonderful outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a sauna, steam room and a Day Spa to relax and unwind further during the rest periods.

The retreat location is also within walking distance of the Ta' Ċenċ Cliffs, which is a 20 ha linear strip of coastline on the southern coast of the island of Gozo. From here you can enjoy spectacular sunsets and mark the end of another amazing day on Gozo Island.

Malta International Airport, also referred to as Valletta is served by most major airlines. The Hotel can arrange pick up and drop off.

Who Is This For?

  • Do you sense that telling your personal story of trauma to transformation via memoir writing could be the next phase in your healing journey?
  • Do you have "parts" that still want to be heard and witnessed, not only by you, but by other loving, compassionate beings in a safe, brave writing container? 
  • ​Do you sense that your "hell and back" story could help others who are still suffering and feel called to share your story as part of your soul's calling to serve others?

If so, this "memoir as medicine" workshop may be just what the doctor ordered.

What To Expect

We'll be using Internal Family Systems (IFS) as the healing foundation of our memoir writing experience, allowing different parts to tell their stories (with "protector permission," of course), while we witness the stories our parts might tell from a Self-led sacred space.

This retreat will incorporate trauma-supportive practices like:

  • Ritual
  • Singing 
  • ​Movement
  • ​Making Art
  • ​Group Energy Healing, and of course
  • ​Writing

None of us would ever wish for heart-wrenching traumatic experiences so we'd have material for writing kick-ass memoirs. But if you've survived something challenging, your story can not only be healing to write for your own therapeutic purposes, it can also help heal others who are struggling in similar ways.

The Workshop Program*

* Session content subject to adjustment.

Session One
Monday, Nov 4th. 2024
Polarization & Permission
Before we get started, we’ll be working with the parts that want you to write your story- and the parts that don’t. Way too often, people inclined towards memoir writing go straight to writing about their core wounds without following the #1 rule of IFS- always get protector permission before going to your most wounded parts. 

We’ll work with the polarizations in your system and engage with protectors that might interfere with your ability to write a Self-led memoir, as well as creating more safety for the writing process so you don’t suffer the backlash that can interfere with your healing journey or wind up being retraumatizing. 

We cannot love our protectors enough, especially the reactive protectors that can sabotage the creative process, which other parts might not like. So your protectors will love being given the pen so they can tell their own stories first!
Session Two
Tuesday, Nov 5th. 2024
Connecting Parts To Self
Once we have gotten to know the polarizations in our system related to telling or not telling our stories, we focus on connecting Self to our parts. Many memoir writers start by blending with parts and writing from that blended place. 

Maybe you’d be tempted to write from vengeful parts that want to hurt someone or vain parts scared to look bad to others by revealing our own reactive parts or parts hesitant to tell the truth for fear of retribution. The best memoirs are written by Self speaking on behalf of our parts, or at least Self acknowledging when a piece of writing is intentionally blended for creative license and emotional impact.
Sometimes our parts have little connection or little trust in Self, so the writing prompts in this session are aimed at building a daily writing practice to rebuild trust between parts and Self via writing. 
Session Three
Wednesday, Nov 6th. 2024
Witnessing & Mirroring Our Protectors
With protector permission and a deeper connection to Self, we begin the witnessing process. Facilitated with guided IFS inner work, we begin with witnessing how hard our protectors have worked to try to keep us safe and prevent us from getting overwhelmed by the feelings, sensations, and painful thoughts of our most hurt parts. 

We give them a chance to tell their own stories, while we appreciate them for all they’ve done to help us survive.

As we delve further into this process, we create a safe space for our
protective parts to emerge and share their stories. These are the parts that
carry our deepest desire to protect and are often misunderstood and
disconnected from the Self. By gently and compassionately listening to
these protective parts, we start to understand the full narrative of our inner reactive world. This understanding allows us to acknowledge, gain access
and heal the pain they carry.
Session Four
Thursday, Nov 7th. 2024
Holding Sacred Space For Our Most Tender Parts
Having earned the trust of our protectors, we invite some of the more fragile, wounded parts to begin their writing journey, now that it’s safer to do so. Wounded parts (exiles) love being able to not only write what they went through as part of the witnessing phase of the unburdening process. 

They also love writing the “redo.” While the redo is technically fiction, in our psyches, the wounded parts can’t tell the difference, and this therapeutically helps memory reconsolidation and neural pathway rewriting and neuroplasticity. 

You might even weave your “redo’s” into a final memoir manuscript as the happy endings some of our parts never got.
Session Five
Thursday, February 8th. 2024
Mapping Your Parts Through The Hero’s/Heroine’s Journey
Memoirs can be tricky to structure, but having a map of your own parts as they relate to the hero’s or heroine’s journey can give you a place to start when it comes to creating the plot of your story.
We’ll discuss other possible memoir structures as well, to help you map out your own arc from trauma to transformation, helping your parts make meaning of the experience, finding your personal holy grail, and bringing it back to those who might benefit from the ordeal you so courageously survived. 

In addition to exploring the hero's journey, we'll delve into the art of thematic structuring, where your memoir can be organized around central themes or lessons rather than chronological events.
Session Six
Thursday, February 22nd. 2024
IFS Memoir Writing As An Ongoing Creative & Therapeutic Process
Now it’s time to braid it all together, integrating the therapeutic aspects of IFS and memoir writing with the creative process and possibly making your story public. Here we integrate unburdened parts back into the systems and help protective parts let go of the jobs they were forced to carry. Not everyone who uses IFS and writing therapeutically will have purpose-driven or ambitious parts that want to expose your story and your parts to public scrutiny- and that’s perfectly okay. 

But some of us have parts that feel motivated to validate others going through similar struggles and help them heal by making our stories public. Some of us also have justice-seeking parts that won’t get justice any other way, but might seek justice through public accountability. 


All Participants will receive unlimited online access to the following resources:
# 1 Memoir as Medicine Companion Workbook
Writing a memoir can be a powerful and transformative experience. It allows us to process and make sense of our own experiences, and can provide us with a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. It can also be a cathartic and healing process, helping us to work through difficult emotions and experiences.

This workbook is organized into a series of exercises and prompts that will guide you through the process. Each exercise is designed to help you dig deeper and explore the stories and experiences that are most meaningful to you.
Pre-Recorded Video
#2 What Serves The Reader?
Jennifer Yvette Brown
Writer and former executive editor at Sounds True
Pre-Recorded Video
#3 The Literary Agent's Perspective.
Michele Martin
Literary agent at MDM Management
Pre-Recorded Video
# 4 Memoir As Medicine Q&A
Lissa Rankin & Nancy Aronie
60 minutes of Q&A to questions from a workshop of aspiring memoir writers and publishers with Nancy Aronie and Lissa Rankin.

About Lissa Rankin, M.D.

Lissa knows personally how transformational that kind of safety can be for the creative process. 

Lissa had never written a book when she first took Nancy's Writing From The Heart workshop at Esalen in 2007, right after her father died, she had a baby, and she quit her job as a doctor in the wake of her Perfect Storm (aka memoir-making material.)

After that workshop, her first memoir flew out of her. Nancy and the community of other memoir writers opened up her writing voice, and although that first book didn't get published (Lissa had no "platform" at the time), she's published seven books since then, including two memoirs.

Owning, writing, and transforming your own story from pain into magnificence is worth doing purely for medicinal purposes, regardless of whether anybody else ever reads your writing. But some trauma survivors feel passionate about sharing the lessons they've learned from their memoir-making material and have a bee in their bonnets about helping others who are still in hell when they've been to hell and made it back with holy grails of wisdom. >>>
While you certainly don't have to publish your memoir in order to receive the healing benefits of writing it, sometimes holding your story in a book in your hands helps you get it out of your body and into something beautiful that can help others, even if you self publish it.
Lissa Rankin, MD believes that writing and healing can be intimately related and teaches writing workshops infused with trauma healing and spiritual healing, both in person and virtually. Lissa agrees with Nancy Aronie that trauma is memoir-making material, and we can alchemize our pain into the most beautiful story-telling when we feel safe for the muse to come out to play, in a community of other writers who also feel safe and can help us hold our story while we rewrite it as art. 

Lissa has been writing since kindergarten and was offered her first book deal when she was 12, which she turned down, since they were her private stories. She was a creative writing major at Duke University and wrote her first fiction book as her thesis on African American women's literature while in college. Throughout her medical training while becoming an OB/GYN, she wrote stories inspired by her patients and used writing to heal the moral injury she felt while working within a corrupt medical system. 

When she quit her job as a doctor in 2007, she finally succumbed to her lifelong desire to be a career writer. Her first book Broken, a memoir about her journey through the wounded health care system, never got published because she didn't have an audience. So at the urging of her literary agent, in 2009, Lissa began blogging and publishing The Daily Flame, a daily email love letter from your "Inner Pilot Light" (Self) to your wounded parts, based on the healing model Internal Family Systems (IFS), a trauma healing spiritual path which Lissa incorporates into all the healing and writing workshops she facilitates.

Because her blog and Daily Flame emails quickly garnered a large readership, she was able to publish her first book in 2010 and has been blessed to have her last 7 books published. 
Her third book, the New York Times bestseller Mind Over Medicine, has sold over 300,000 copies in 28 languages. 

In addition to putting in her 100,000 hours and writing every day, in 2012, Lissa founded the Whole Health Medicine Institute, where she and a team of luminary faculty train physicians and other health care providers about “Whole Health” and the “6 Steps to Healing Yourself.” Lissa has starred in two National Public Television specials, her TEDx talks have been viewed over 5 million times, and she leads workshops, both online and at retreat centers like Esalen, 1440, Omega, and Kripalu. 

Her latest health equity project is non-profit work committed to democratizing trauma healing and spiritual healing while eliminating the public health epidemic of loneliness, bringing Internal Family Systems and other healing modalities out of its current status as a luxury good to anyone who needs it and is open to it, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, or gender identity. 

Lissa lives bicoastally, half time in the San Francisco Bay Area with her daughter Mira, who is also a writer, and her puppy Gaia, who would tell great stories if only she knew how- and half time in Cape Cod with her partner Jeffrey Rediger, author of CURED, who is currently working on his own memoir-writing therapeutic journey.

"I really needed and enjoyed the excuse to write regularly and in a community of like-minded, loving, badass people. And it is so medicinal to me to continually be exposed to the unique and beautiful way Lissa articulates a nuanced perspective on how to heal, at the personal as well as societal level, melding wisdom about the connections between mind, body, and spirit without spiritual bypassing and abandoning social and eco-justice principles." - Kaeley

© 2024 Lissa Rankin INC ·  All Rights Reserved




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