Rebecca Anderson and Laurie Phillips are available to speak to professional caregivers (such as therapists, doctors, nurses, grief counselors, social workers, art therapists, pastors, chaplains, funeral directors, and community leaders) at events such as national or regional conferences or similar gatherings. 

Healing Trauma Through Creative Storytelling is their topic —please see below for a full description and learning objectivesRebecca's and Laurie's message is focused on opening up the conversation about suicide and healing from grief. They have a hands-on art component that can be included in their presentation. 

Please contact Rebecca to schedule a presentation. 

Rebecca Anderson presenting at ADEC conference, April 2016


Laurie Phillips presenting at ADEC conference, April 2016
Rebecca Anderson reading daughter Pattie's epilogue at the Suicide Survivors' Club book launch, June 2016
Aidan Anderson presenting at the Suicide Survivors' Club book launch, June 2016
Will Anderson presenting at the Suicide Survivors' Club book launch, June 2016


Healing Trauma Through Creative Storytelling
Suicide Survivors’ Club: A Family’s Journey Through the Death of Their Loved One

Author Rebecca Anderson and artist/author Laurie Phillips talk about the healing journey into art and narrative they took together after the death by suicide of Rebecca’s husband, Don, in 2002 – a journey that resulted in five unique illustrated books, a series entitled Suicide Survivors’ Club: A Family’s Journey Through the Death of Their Loved One.

After Don’s death, Rebecca was determined to find a way through this devastating event, seeking various modalities of therapy and support for her family. In 2010, eight years after Don's death, she and her three children embarked on a collaborative healing journey with artist Laurie Phillips. Each family member had their own story to tell of how the suicide impacted their lives.

Artist Phillips explains an approach to personal storytelling she dubbed the Story Graph Portrait that combines redrawn clipart images and her original art with narrative snippets of first-person storytelling – making it easier for people suffering from trauma to access memories and share their feelings.

Each Anderson family member had their own story to tell of how the suicide impacted their lives. Laurie explains her approach translating Rebecca’s and the children’s shifting emotional states into powerful narrative fragments and colorful images within four individual books: Becky, Pattie, Aidan, and Will. A fifth book, Parenting the Suicide Survivors’ Club, is a memoir written by Rebecca Anderson and illustrated by Laurie Phillips. Rebecca’s lifelong passion for writing went dormant after her husband’s suicide but found her again through this project.

In the women’s presentation, colorful and poignant book spreads from each book are projected on the screen. Rebecca reads excerpts from her memoir, offering perspective as a mother, wife, and medical professional determined to put her broken family back together again. She provides the audience an overarching context and reflects on the stories of her three children and her process working with Laurie. 

Laurie and Rebecca’s interactions on the podium as this story of healing and creativity unfolds, demonstrates the power of their relationship as collaborators and trusted friends, as well as the power of visual narrative to help a family regain its balance after a tragedy.

Learning Objectives

  • Gain a new understanding of how art combined with narrative helps people affected by trauma and grief find healing. 
  • Allow meaningful conversations between health professionals and their patients/clients, or pastoral workers with their community members. 
  • Help family members feel safe and share their stories with each other and with their support network.
  • Make difficult subject matter approachable for the wider community so they can understand suicide and how to repair the social fabric in the aftermath of this devastating act.
Please contact Rebecca for information about scheduling a presentation. 

American Association of Suicidology (AAS)
National 50th Anniversary Conference
Hyatt Regency, Phoenix, AZ
April 27, 2017 

Magers & Quinn Booksellers 
Co-Host NAMI, Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN
January 26, 2017

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) MN
2016 conference

St. Paul RiverCentre
Nov. 5, 2016 

Book Launch 
The Marsh
Minnetonka, Minnesota
June 11, 2016

Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) national conference,
Minneapolis, MN
April 14, 2016

AFSP International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day
The Marsh
Minnetonka, Minnesota
Nov 21, 2015

Mayo Medical School
Rochester, MN
March 18, 2015

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day
Minnetonka, MN
November 22, 2014

Mayo Clinic Regional Arts in Healthcare Symposium
Rochester, MN
November 16, 2014

St. Catherine University
St. Paul, MN
February 27, 2014