The Healing Power of Storytelling with Annie Brewster

When Harvard-trained physician Dr. Annie Brewster was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001, she realized firsthand that the medical system was failing her in one critical way: she didn’t feel seen or heard. Her doctors weren’t listening. This experience launched her onto a path to discover how exploring and sharing her healing journey, and becoming the author of her own story, taught her to integrate her traumatic health event into her new and evolving identity. Annie now uses applied storytelling techniques to help others strengthen connections and cultivate resilience to move forward amid uncertainty and fear.

In this conversation we discuss:

  • How we can heal by taking charge of our stories;
  • How is storytelling different from delusion or fooling ourselves;
  • The process of exploring and crafting our story and the ways it cultivates deeper connections, compassion and empathy for others;
  • Creating space to listen to other people’s stories;
  • A process for crafting stories that creates healing.

You can listen to our conversation wherever you stream podcasts (Apple, Spotify, iHeart Radio) or listen here:



Annie Brewster, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, a practicing physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, a writer, and a storyteller. She is also a patient, diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2001. She started recording patient narratives in 2010 and, integrating her personal experiences with the research supporting the health benefits of narrative. She founded Health Story Collaborative (HSC) in 2013. Brewster lives in Cambridge with her husband, four children, and two dogs. She prefers to be awake rather than asleep, and loves to hike, run in the woods, ski, and play ice hockey. You can learn more about Brewster and HSC at www.healthstorycollaborative.org and @HealthStoryCo. Her new book, co-authored with journalist Rachel Zimmerman, is The Healing Power of Storytelling: Using Personal Narrative to Navigate Illness, Trauma, and Loss.



Kristen Manieri is certified as both a habits coach and a mindfulness teacher. Her book, Better Daily Mindfulness Habits: Simple Changes with Lifelong Impact, was released summer 2021. She specializes in: stress reduction, energy management, mindset, resilience, habit formation, rest rituals, and self-care. As the host of the weekly 60 Mindful Minutes podcast, an Apple top 100 social science podcast, Kristen has interviewed over 160 authors and thought leaders about what it means to live a more conscious, connected, intentional and joyful life. Learn more at kristenmanieri.com/work-with-me.

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