Dr. Sheila K. Collins is a writer, keynote speaker, improvisational artist, and performer. Her award-winning book, Warrior Mother: Fierce Love, Unbearable Loss and the Rituals that Heal tells of her journeys with two of her three adult children and her best friend through their life-threatening illnesses and deaths. Using her background as a social work professor, therapist, and performance artist, Dr. Collins demonstrates in her presentations and workshops how art-based tools have helped her and can help others get through life’s toughest challenges.
In the past ten years, informed by her experiences as a professor of social work, a therapist, and a founding director of a behavioral health care clinic, Sheila has returned to the roots of her first profession as dancer and theatre performer. Building on her experiences as a dancer in a regional ballet company, several seasons of summer stock, appearances in nightclub productions, an award-winning film, and as a member of the road company of a Broadway show, she currently directs the Wing & A Prayer Pittsburgh Players, an InterPlay-based improvisational performance troupe. The mission of the group is to assist arts and human service organizations in achieving their noble purposes. Sheila wrote about the power of play, dance, and the expressive arts in her book, Stillpoint: The Dance of Selfcaring, Selfhealing, a playbook for people who do caring work. She travels nationally and internationally assisting individuals and organizations to tell their stories in transforming ways. Her blog Dancing With Everything is at sheilakcollins.com.
Dr. Collins has a bachelor of philosophy from Monteith College, Wayne State University in Detroit, a masters in Social Work from the Wayne State University School of Social Work in Detroit and a PhD in Adult and Continuing Education from University of Nebraska, Lincoln NE.
Her long career in the social work field has included teaching social work at the University of Nebraska, Texas Christian University in Fort Worth Texas, and the University of Texas at Arlington. She founded and directed the Center for Co-Equal Education at the University of Nebraska to assist school districts across the state in implementing Title 9. She co-founded and directed the Women and Work Research and Resource Center at the University of Texas at Arlington, inspired by research from her dissertation, The Career Development of Women Administrators in Social Work, Nursing and Education. After leaving the university, Dr. Collins co-founded and directed with her husband, the largest out-patient behavioral health care clinic in North Texas. Iatreia Institute for the Healing Arts.