Who I am

valerie whiffen

I began my career as a researcher and university professor. I embraced academia. For 20 years, I taught courses in clinical psychology, and supervised the clinical training of students. My research interests were in the areas of depression, childhood sexual abuse, and marital distress. I published more than 50 research papers, chapters in edited books, and books on these topics.

Then I had a canary-in-the-coalmine moment that led me to change my life. I published A Secret Sadness, which uses research and case studies from my practice to help women understand why they become depressed and what they can do about it. At the same time, I opened a private practice in West Vancouver with my colleague Dr. Janny Thompson. For eight years we helped individuals and couples who struggled with depression, trauma and relationship difficulties.

Life snuck up on me again. My father died and I decided to take early retirement so I could travel and explore other parts of who I am.

I’ve always been a writer. Even as a kid, stories popped unbidden into my head. As an academic, my strength was writing. You can’t keep a writer down, especially in retirement when there is so much more time. I started with a travel blog that I posted for the amusement of my friends and family. Their enthusiastic responses encouraged me to try other topics. Now I have both fiction and non-fiction projects on the go.

Writing is a form of mindfulness for me. I write to sort through my thoughts and achieve clarity. I write to find the humour in difficult situations. I write to rise above the fray and the emotions of the moment to see what’s really important in life. But mostly I write – to paraphrase an acquaintance obsessed with fishing -- because the voices in my head tell me to.

Copyright © 2018 Valerie Whiffen | www.whiffen.ca