“Val Walker is not just a compelling writer – she offers her readers empathy and gentle guidance through relatable challenges we all encounter at some point in our lives. Her writing style is accessible yet beautifully descriptive, and her comforting tone encourages those who are suffering or struggling." --Kelli Daniel, Publicity Director, Dart Frogg Communications, LLC

Painting with permission from Robert Selkowitz


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 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 “Words 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 friendships, fellowships, 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 work has been featured and quoted in the New York Times, and her 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, Chicago Tribune, McClean’s, Sweety High and others. (Read more here on media appearances.)

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 FinePrint Literary Management.


Val Walker, MS   Photo: Barbara Olson

"Her voice is comforting, and some sections read like a memoir; her candid revelation of her own struggles reaffirms for the reader that a comforter does not always have to be strong.”
—Publishers Weekly (The Art of Comforting)

“With clarity, compassion and wisdom, Walker teaches the art and the craft of comforting others and ourselves. In today’s distressed and frenetic world, she does us all a great favor."—Mary Pipher, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of Reviving Ophelia, The Shelter of Each Other, Women Rowing North

"...rehabilitation counselor Walker discusses the nature of comforting and illustrates how to restore this most important skill... Her message comes not only from experience, but from others in the grief/trauma counseling field."--- Library Journal (The Art of Comforting)



  • 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



Photo: Veronica Handy

“We’re thrilled to have Val’s knowledge and guidance for how to break through social isolation and build community.”–Annie Brewster, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and practicing Internist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Founder, The Health Story Collaborative

“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, Director of Programming and Transportation at Needham Aging Services. 

“Her talk was timely, and I do believe everyone walked away with something to remember.” —Dr. Megan E. Gibbons, Director, Center for Global Connections, Regis College, MA

“Thanks again for providing such a warm and enlightening presentation. There was a lot of information packed into an hour and you may have changed people’s lives.”–Karen Vermut, Coordinator of Adult Services, Queens Public Library, NY

“An inspiring program–I think the participants got a lot out of it and feel less alone in their worries and struggles. You did a wonderful job connecting with people.”–Ilana Seidman, Program Coordinator, Newton Senior Center, MA

“Her classes have been well-attended with very enthusiastic participants.”–Christine Chirokas, Program Manager, Acton Council on Aging, MA

“I’ve heard from our volunteers about how wonderful and valuable your book, The Art of Comforting, and your class you presented were for us.”–Kristin Sutherland, Executive Director, Pine Tree Hospice, Maine

“Val gave us a great presentation and I have received many thanks for from our participants who found it helpful. She is very authentic and allows people to speak their truths as well.”–Robyn Houston-Bean, Founder, The Sun Will Rise Foundation, and Grief Support Facilitator, SADOD (Support After a Death from Overdose)

“Val Walker’s presentation here at the Newport Circle of Scholars was a great contribution 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, RI

“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, Book Editor, Artist

“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 (Former) Executive Director, Cancer Community Center (now Dempsey Center), Maine

“When Val 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. Rober 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 and grieving, so needed by those in distress. With her heartfelt compassion and knowledge, she gives us the language to comfort others. I have learned so much from her presentations.”–Marie Worley, MS, CRC, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and Sponsoring Member, Virginia Rehabilitation Counseling Association, VA


  • 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 as Youth Drama Specialist at the Craigmillar Festival Society.