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Anja Snellman

Born May 23, 1954, Helsinki

Bachelor of Arts 1977 (Finnish literature, English philology, applied psychology)
Studies in advanced Solution-Focused Therapy 2001–15, Helsinki Brief Therapy Institute
Master’s degree programme 2015–16 (Finnish Literature), thesis: Pentti Saarikoski and highly sensitive individuals

Author, journalist and therapist
Host of the HSTV talk show Arka paikka (‘A sensitive place’) 2014–
Active debater of social issues

Literary production

The J. H. Erkko Award (later the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize) for best debut novel 1981
Kiitos Kirjasta book award 1994
Lyytin päivän palkinto (award for the promotion of gender equality) 2000
Stadin Friidu (Helsinki cultural woman of the year) 2004
Pro Finlandia Medal of the Order of the Lion of Finland
Medal of the City of Helsinki 2008

Photo: Ulla-Maija Lähteenmäki
Written by Anja Snellman (Kaija Hartikainen ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Literature can work like good therapy

The most important thing is curiosity and the ability to listen. An author listens and enquires. A therapist listens and enquires. A Journalist enquires, listens and then questions.

In my life I have had the good fortune to carry out both Plan A, a life as a writer, and Plan B, my mission as a therapist. Moreover, in Finland writers can seldom support themselves by writing literature alone – I have also worked as a journalist since my student days, and have performed various media work both in print media and on the electronic side.

At the moment I am doing digital television talk show Arka paikka (‘A sensitive place’) for the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, where I can get to grips with rewarding topics and interesting people, many of whom are researchers, trail-blazers, and determined pioneers, in many ways wonderful and admirable people. I have again become interested in mastering a new area, in a new medium, digital production.

I believe in life-long, eternal passion, curiosity and learning. To always be ready, always in the middle of things. To be open to learning the new; in the last five years I have also become a student once more and returned to my almer mater, to literature and psychology.

Just now in my life there prevails a wonderfully oscillating synergy. I could describe it perhaps like this: Literature can have the same effect as good therapy. A good dialogical therapy process is a verbal art form.


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