The Wright Perspective

End of Life & Chronic Illness Counselling

Softening illness suffering for individuals, couples and families is the aspiration of my professional life.


Is this illness experience (chronic, end-of-life) of yourself or a loved one causing unbearable suffering?


Are you trying to be brave and courageous during this illness journey but inside you are in great despair and suffering? Perhaps you are afraid to express your suffering so as not to burden your loved ones. Or perhaps you worry you will be seen as weak and complaining if you discuss your illness suffering.


Are you wondering how you will bear the suffering and grief if your loved one’s passing?

You Are Not Alone In This Struggle

What enhances or decreases illness suffering? Every person has particular illness beliefs about the cause of illness, the diagnosis, the preferred treatment or healing, the prognosis, and the role of family members. Your illness beliefs have more to do with how you respond and how much you may or may not suffer than anything else.

Deep suffering often occurs when one is experiencing serious illness and loss; the forced exclusion from everyday life; the strain of trying to endure; acute or chronic pain and conflict, anguish, or interference with love in relationships when illness or loss emerges

Illness suffering often leads into the spiritual domain as the big questions of life are often questioned or confronted. For example, you might wonder why this illness has happened to you? You have not been a bad person and wonder why your family must suffer? Or how can you support your loved one when you are angry or sad about their chosen poor health practices?

Illness is never experienced in isolation but always interconnected with relationships. Illness is a family affair. Every significant person in your life experiences the illness; no one family member or loved one “has” cancer, chronic pain, or a coronary. From the onset of symptoms, through diagnosis and treatment, other family members are influenced by the illness. Therefore, it’s important to acknowledge and discuss the impact on all family members, not only the person with the illness diagnosis. This is all part of moving towards illness healing.

Chronic Illness

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Hospice & After Death

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How I Can Help

You will benefit from my 45 years of clinical practice working with individuals, couples, and families experiencing chronic & life-threatening illness; end-of-life, grief, and loss. I have heard hundreds of stories of illness suffering and have been deeply touched as a clinician, a nurse educator, and as a woman.

It is the aspiration of my professional life to assist in softening illness suffering of individuals, couples, and families who entrust me with their illness stories. My efforts have been honored and recognized with several awards, two honorary doctorates (University of Montreal and Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden). Most recently, July, 2022, I received the great honor of receiving the Order of Canada.

In addition to my own clinical research, I have learned firsthand from my clinical practice how illness can change and disrupt lives and relationships. My goal for treatment is to soften the suffering of those in my care and promote their own illness healing, courage, and resources.

As you tell your illness story, I will provide a safe and non-judgmental space for you and/or your loved ones to express grief, sadness, anger and perhaps even the positives that may have emerged from this illness experience. During our therapeutic conversations, we will collaboratively work together to promote illness healing that will enable you to move forward in your life and in your relationships with less suffering and anguish.

The primary emotion for health and healing is love. But often when illness arises, there is often interference with love in relationships as family members may have different illness beliefs of how to best treat and heal from an illness. These differences can result in conflict, distancing or withdrawing from one another. Differing illness beliefs can trigger illness suffering. However, in our work together, we will manage and ease possible conflict or lack of closeness by exploring and challenging those illness beliefs so that healing may begin.

To understand more about my particular clinical approaches, please refer to my books, particularly Illness Beliefs: The Heart of Healing in Families and Individuals (2021) and Suffering & Spirituality: The Path to Illness Healing (2017).

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My Journey: to travel nationally and internationally contributing my knowledge about how to assist and heal families who are suffering with illness. In turn, I want to learn from other cultures about their marriage, family, health, and spiritual rituals and practices to help families heal from illness and pass on this knowledge. My goal is to visit 100 countries.

I believe that having being raised in a three generation home with a grandmother who suffered terribly with rheumatoid arthritis was my baptism to understanding the influence of chronic illness, and particularly chronic pain on our family. It also enabled me to learn as a young child about empathy and compassion for my grandmother as an illness sufferer. My grandmother was the center of our family but her chronic pain ruled all of us.

Perhaps from these childhood experiences, it is no surprise that I entered the health care profession of nursing. I graduated first with an RN, Calgary General Hospital, Calgary, Canada Afterward, I worked on a psychiatric ward in a general hospital and enjoyed this aspect of nursing tremendously. After a year, I returned to university to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. Afterwards, I enjoyed my first teaching experience at my alma mater, the Calgary General Hospital.

But after just one year of teaching, decided to pursue a Masters degree where I could focus my interests on Mental Health-Psychiatric Nursing. Since there was no Masters Degrees in Nursing in Canada at that time (that is really dating myself), I headed to the United States for graduate studies. I thought it would be a lovely experience to be warm while obtaining a Masters degree so I chose the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii. This was my first experience at meeting people from many different countries and being a minority. It was a magnificent life experience on so many levels. My years of studying and working in Hawaii became a template for my love of learning about other cultures and traveling.

It was during my Masters studies that I was first introduced to marriage and family therapy. This provided a dramatic shift in my thinking and understanding about human problems and suffering. I now focused on the interaction and reciprocity between family dynamics and illness and engaged in relational practice. After 5 years in Hawaii, I yearned to learn more about families and illness, so embarked on doctoral studies at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA. My specialization was marriage and family therapy within the Child Development/Family Relationships Department.


After 7 years of living, studying, and working in the United States, I wanted return to my home and native land of Canada. I first joined the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, University of Calgary and taught young medical students about families and illness. I also had the wonderful opportunity to work in the Family Therapy Program, University of Calgary supervising students/therapists and consulting with families. After 4 years, I was recruited to the Faculty of Nursing to assist with establishing a Masters degree in Nursing. This opened the door for me to now combine my family therapy background with my original discipline of nursing.

While at the Faculty of Nursing, I established the Family Nursing Unit and was the Director for 20 years (1982-2002). It was a research and education unit that provided assistance to families suffering with serious illness. Over those 20 years, I was privileged to have worked with my colleagues Drs Wendy Watson, Dr Janice Bell, and Dr Nancy Moules as we strived to learn more about advanced practice in Family Systems Nursing (FSN). I also had the privilege of teaching and providing supervision to Masters/Doctoral students who were specializing in FSN.

In 2002, I embarked on a very different journey. After a very rewarding academic career, I retired from the University of Calgary after 27 years and began to accept invitations to lecture and conduct workshops in various countries about families and illness beliefs, and suffering, spirituality, and illness. It has been a remarkable 8 years. The life lessons, both professionally and personally have been transforming and enlightening.

I have co-developed the Illness Beliefs Model, the Calgary Family Assessment and Intervention Models, and I developed the Trinity Model.

Over the past 34 years, I’ve been very privileged to receive many requests to speak and have given over 300 presentations and workshops at national and international chronic illness, family health, family nursing, family therapy, oncology, palliative care, and spirituality and health conferences, universities, and hospitals.

In 2009, I completed my seventh and eight books Beliefs and Illness: A Model for Healing; and Nurses and Families: A Guide to Family Assessment and Intervention 5th Ed.

Presently, I serve on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Family Nursing; and Advisory Editor of the journals Families, Systems and Health, Member of the Canadian Nurses Association, and Approved Supervisor, Fellow, and Clinical Member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

In 2002, I was bestowed a Professor Emeritus of Nursing, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I also received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Montreal, May 2008.

Dr Wright was awarded Honorary Doctorates from the University of Montreal, Canada, 2008 and Linnaeus University, Sweden, 2012.

When not traveling the world about 6 months a year, I reside in Calgary, Canada. It is a very good life.

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