A light skinned woman with red curly hair speaks while two other people listen

32nd Annual Creative Writing Workshop for Social Workers

July 14-17, 2023 


About the Workshop

The University of Iowa is known nationally as "The Writing University," and our institution boasts a rich tradition of great writing and an early and enduring commitment to the creative arts. Iowa’s tradition of writing has been guided by the principle that, though writing is a solitary practice, it’s one significantly enriched by interaction with other writers. There has also been a growing focus in recent years on how writing and language are critical in so many other professions and pursuits beyond the purely literary. It's fitting, then, that we continue to offer an annual opportunity for social workers and other helping professionals to gather in a workshop space for an intensive experience to work on their writing craft and learn how it can be leveraged, both in practice and in reflective self-care. 

This workshop will be conducted in person. Some assignments will be completed on your own time and some will be done during class sessions with the instructor and fellow participants.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Improve creative writing skill in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essays, blogs etc.
  • Understand how writing can be used as a professional tool in human services work as counselors, educators, advocates, researchers, and practitioners.

The Process

The seminar will meet in person in Iowa City over the course of 4 days. Each day includes assignments completed on your own time and interaction in real time with the instructor and fellow participants. Activities include a mixture of presentations from guest authors, writing instruction and practice, and peer critiques of participants’ work. Several hours are reserved for one-on-one coaching sessions with the lead instructor. Participants may be beginners or experienced--and sometimes even published--writers. Most participants have not previously attended a writing workshop, or even thought of themselves as writers. Diversity of experience, and an active interest and curiosity about the possibilities inherent in creative writing, are the essential ingredients for a fresh and exciting workshop experience.

Cost & CEUs

$525 / 24 CEU hours — Participants who complete the workshop are eligible to enroll in future sessions of our Master Class in Creative Writing for Social Workers.

Ellen Szabo, lead writing instructor

About the Presenter

Ellen Szabo, M.Ed., is the primary writing instructor for the course. She is the founder of Szabo Creative Consulting, promoting the use of creative writing for personal investigation, enrichment and social change. She earned her B.A. from Harvard College, with a concentration in English and American Literature, and her M.Ed. from Columbia University Teacher’s College, in Counseling Psychology. She writes and teaches with focus on how innovation and creativity can illuminate, inspire and advocate compassionate transformation. Guest speakers will share experiences with projects related to creative writing for social change, journaling for personal growth, and/or the written word as a tool for enhancing social justice.


Creative Writing Master Class for Social Workers

July 18-19, 2023 


About the Master Class

Master Class will build upon the principles and instruction from the four-day Creative Writing for Social Work seminar. This workshop illuminates and explores various techniques for discovering and amplifying the spirit and purpose of each participant’s writing, with emphasis on how creative expression can facilitate personal transformation.

The focus is on exploration, experimentation, and discovery of each person’s unique writing voice. In a supportive, stimulating atmosphere, participants build upon their creative writing skills with additional instruction, writing prompts, and facilitated discussion of their work.

This workshop will be conducted in an in-person format. Some assignments will be completed on your own time and some will be done during live class sessions with the instructor and fellow participants.

Prerequisite: Completion of the four-day Creative Writing for Social Work workshop


Cost & CEUs

$525 / 12 CEU hours