RSS Feed

About Val Walker


The Art of Comforting (Penguin/Random House, 2010)

Since the age of 16, as my dance teacher’s assistant, encouraging children to leap higher and reach wider, I knew I was destined to inspire others. My calling has led me to nurture fellow nurturers—teachers, counselors, healthcare providers and caregivers.

I hold a Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University, with specialized study in grief, loss and disability. Previously, as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, I guided Veterans Affairs clients with service-related disabilities in their transitions from military to civilian life. I facilitated bereavement support groups at the Massey Cancer Center, Medical College of Virginia, and also served there as an interviewer/researcher in a national study of grief and depression. With Jewish Vocational Service in Minnesota, I designed and launched a community-based rehabilitation program which was accredited by CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities). Later, I trained hospice volunteers and staff as a bereavement consultant in Maine, Virginia and Massachusetts.

Before I was a rehabilitation counselor, I majored in the arts with a B.F.A. degree in Theater from Virginia Commonwealth University. I specialized in teaching drama and dance for children with disabilities and at-risk youth. I taught for SPARC, School of Performing Arts in the Richmond Community for seven years in Virginia, and also worked with the Craigmillar Festival Society in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Author, The Art of Comforting: What to Say and Do for People in Distress (Penguin/ Random House, October, 2010). Published also in Chinese and Spanish editions.

Nautilus Book Award Gold Medalist, 2011, Grief and Loss Category

The Art of Comforting is listed as recommended reading by the Boston Public Health Commission’s Resource and Recovery Guide for the Boston Marathon Bombing. The Art of Comforting is also used as a training guide at hospices, seminaries and colleges, including York University School of Nursing in Toronto, Canada, and Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School in Richmond, VA.

My articles, Q&As and book excerpts have appeared in Good Housekeeping, TIME, Whole Living Magazine, AARP Bulletin, USA Weekend Magazine, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and others. In Maine, I was a contributor to the Employment Times/JobWave on a series about comforting loved ones through job loss, and was a columnist for the Maine Women’s Journal.

  • Dana-Farber Blum Resource Center, Boston
  • Hospice of the Good Shepherd (Good Shepherd Community Care), Newton, Massachusetts
  • Osher Lifelong Learning Center at UMass Boston
  • Arlington Community Education
  • Newton Community Education
  • Medical College of Virginia, School of Allied Health Professions, Richmond, Virginia
  • New Seminary, New York, NY
  • American Rehabilitation Counseling Association, Virginia Chapter
  • Lifelong Learning Institute, affiliated with Virginia Commonwealth University
  • NASW, Virginia Chapter
  • Virginia Association of Hospices and Palliative Care
  • Maine Medical Center
  • Cancer Community Center, S. Portland, Maine
  • Department of Health and Human Services, State of Maine
  • University of Southern Maine, Continuing Education, Maine
  • Redington-Fairview General Hospital, Skowhegan, Maine

Author, Narrator & Producer, The Even Keel Program, a self-help relaxation tool. Even Keel clients include:

  • Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota—Even Keel relaxation training programs were used on their Video-on-Demand broadcast system for patients throughout their hospitals
  • Portland Adult Education, Maine
  • Virginia Housing Development Authority



“For five years, Val Walker’s presentations have drawn large groups interested in learning the vital skills of comforting. Family and professional caregivers have enjoyed her warm, compassionate and practical approach.” —Michele Johns, Executive Director, Cancer Community Center, South Portland, Maine

“When Val Walker taught our students training to be chaplains for several years, they gained a greater understanding of how to provide comfort and care. I would recommend Val as an inspirational speaker for anyone who wishes to be a comforting presence for others and also wishes to find ways to comfort themselves.” —The Reverend Dr. Robert Morse, Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor, Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (Retired)

“Val is a warmly engaging speaker who allows us to address the unique issues of loss, grieving and ultimately the comfort so needed by those in distress. With her heartfelt compassion and knowledge, she gives us the language and behaviors to help comfort others and ourselves. I have learned so much from her presentations.” —Marie Worley, MS, CRC, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and Sponsoring Member Virginia Rehabilitation Counseling Association


M.S. Rehabilitation Counseling, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. Specialized training in life transitions and loss

Human Rights Advocate, Certification with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Developmental Disabilities (2017)

M.H.R.T/C. Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician, State of Maine.

Mandt System, Portland Maine
Communication Skills, Conflict Resolution, Trauma Informed Services

C.R.C. Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, 1993-98.

Certified Rehabilitation Provider, Board of Professional Counselors, Commonwealth of Virginia, 1993-96.

B.F.A. Applied Theatre, minor in Dance, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. Including 2 years in Scotland and England teaching speech and drama to people with disabilities (Worked as Youth Drama Specialist at the Craigmillar Festival Society)

Val Walker, MS