"I deeply believe we can break through the barriers that isolate us by building community, friendships, and a sense of belonging. With classes, groups, and writing, I share the wisdom I’ve learned from resourceful people who rebuilt support networks after isolating ordeals in their lives."--Val Walker


Val is a contributing blogger for Psychology Today and the author of The Art of Comforting: What to Say and Do for People in Distress (Penguin Random House, 2010) which won the Nautilus Book Award. Her latest book, 400 Friends and No One to Call: Breaking Through Isolation and Building Community, was released with Central Recovery Press in 2020.

With a Master of Science degree in rehabilitation counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University, Val has organized and led support groups, classes, and outreach programs for twenty-five years dedicated to people living with serious illness and disability. Now based in Boston, MA, she offers seniors at Council on Aging centers her highly interactive wordplay games and brain twisters called “Wordplay Galore,” sparking conversation, banter, and new friendships.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, she has provided groups and classes on how to break out of social isolation and build friendship, fellowship, and a sense of belonging. Her popular talks, “Reaching Out: Ten Ways to Build Community” and “Building Community Through Volunteering” continue to reach audiences nationwide.

Val’s interviews and contributions have appeared in publications such as Time, AARP, Caregiver Space, Parade, Hello Giggles, Healthy Aging Magazine, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, Coping with Cancer, Babyboomer.com, Boston Globe Magazine, Chicago Tribune, McClean’s, Sweety High and others.

Blogging on the topic of breaking out of isolation, she also contributes to Social Self and the Boston-based Health Story Collaborative, founded by Annie Brewster, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Val is represented by Peter Rubie of FinePrint Literary Management.

Photo by Veronica Handy




I love to sit by my window and think.



Photo by Barbara Olson


  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Blum Resource Center, Boston
  • Billerica Public Library
  • Newburyport Public Library
  • Hospice of the Good Shepherd (Good Shepherd Community Care), Newton, MA
  • Osher Lifelong Learning Center at UMass, Boston
  • Thrive Support and Advocacy, Marlborough, MA
  • Council on Aging, Center at the Heights, Needham, MA
  • Framingham Callahan Center (Council on Aging), MA
  • Acton Senior Center, MA
  • Brookline Adult and Community Education
  • Arlington Community Education
  • Lexington Community Education
  • Bookends Book Store, Winchester, MA
  • Newton Community Education
  • Newton Free Library


  • Circle of Scholars, Edward King House, Newport, Rhode Island
  • Queens Public Library, NY
  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Rhode Island
  • AARP North Carolina
  • 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, Midlothian, VA
  • Virginia Association of Hospices and Palliative Care
  • Maine Medical Center, Clinical Pastoral Education, In-Service Training
  • University of Southern Maine, Department of Continuing Education
  • Portland Adult Education, Portland, Maine
  • Cancer Community Center, S. Portland, Maine
  • Camden Public Library, Camden, Maine
  • Warren Public Library, New Jersey
  • Department of Health and Human Services, State of Maine
  • University of Southern Maine, Continuing Education, Maine
  • Redington-Fairview General Hospital, Skowhegan, Maine


“Val is not only a talented presenter. She is valuable because she cares about bettering people’s lives. It is her passion and it comes through in her writing, research, and presentations.”—Aicha Kelley, Assistant Director of Programming and Transportation, Needham Council on Aging, Needham, MA

“At the Health Story Collaborative, we’re thrilled to have Val’s knowledge and guidance for breaking through isolation.”—Annie Brewster, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School, Founder of the Health Story Collaborative and Co-founder of The Opioid Project

“A powerful presentation! I suspect Val had an impact on a lot of people in our audience as her presentation style is so authentic.”–Julie Norstrand, PhD, MSW, MSc, Adjunct Professor, Regis College, and Founder, Help My Aging Parents

“Val Walker engages her audiences through a unique vulnerability of sharing her personal experience to create authentic human connection. As a speaker, she invites learning and discussion while offering her audiences strategic and implementable steps towards breaking through barriers and opening to healing change.”—Jennifer Sax, Director of Communications, Good Shepherd Community Care, Newton, MA

“Val Walker’s presentation here at the Newport Circle of Scholars was a great contribution to to our senior members. Her message hit right on the center of what they care and worry about the most.” ––Ben Riggs, President, Newport Circle of Scholars, Newport, RI

“Val has been lifting people up with her compassionate presence and open-hearted honesty for decades. She is creative and present with people in distress, connecting to their strengths to find their inner resources that we all possess. A poised and exceptional speaker, she is inclusive, knowledgeable and kind—just like her books.”-–Pamela R. Blunt, MSW, LCSW, Psychotherapist, Owner, Therapeutic Solutions

“Val Walker can turn a mandatory staff training into a lively and enlightening discussion for employees. She encourages participation by creating a welcoming setting for thoughtful and honest conversations. She is always well-prepared and reliable as a presenter for our groups.”—Sharon Santello, Health Educator, Marlborough, MA

“With her perfect blend of education, knowledge, and experience—combined with a marvelous way with words—Val is a warm and engaging presenter and a wonderful writer.”-–Amy Handy, Artist and Freelance Book Editor

“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


  • Master of Science, Rehabilitation Counseling, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. Specialized training in life transitions and loss
  • Human Rights Advocate and Trainer, Certification with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (2017)
  • M.H.R.T/C. Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician Certification, 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. Training included two years in Scotland and England teaching speech and drama to people with disabilities (Worked as Youth Drama Specialist at the Craigmillar Festival Society)