An Evening in Pencil with Self-Help Author Luke Pemberton


U!Shine Vienna hosted its first self-help author, a wonderful gentleman by the name of Luke Pemberton, who gave a fascinating, emotional lecture on Toxic Shame by taking us through his collection of self-drawn, self-describing pictures.


Pemberton began drawing out his feelings as an adult when the effects of his childhood came crashing down on him. Married and the father of two kids, Pemberton struggled intensely with his own life balance, steady job, and worsening mental health condition. Eventually, he found a therapist with whom he clicked, and a creative outlet in which he could express his thoughts and feelings.

His drawings increased in number along with his descriptions of each emotion, memory, and visual concept relating to his painful background. So he gathered up his drawings and talent for writing, and put it together for a self-help book. Now four books later, Pemberton continues his passion for helping others through opening himself up and boldly sharing his story.

It was a no-brainer to connect with Pemberton, and we quickly saw from ticket registrations that others felt the same. After posting an ad for his debut event titled “Top 10 Things You Need to Recover from Emotional Trauma”, we filled up faster than we anticipated. We were stunned, and honestly, my heart broke a little once I realized that likely every one of us, in some way or another, have experienced emotional trauma in our lives. It’s a painful truth, but when we have people like Luke Pemberton in the world, we can regain hope.

People filled up The SocialWorkHUB’s infamously odd elevator and made their way to the HUB’s “Happiness” room for Pemberton’s lecture. It was a powerful one, to be sure. He had everyone hooked as he showed pictures and personal tips on how he climbed out of a pit of despair onto flat ground. During his presentation, I heard pencils rapidly jotting down whatever suggestion appeared on the screen. I saw people nod their heads in sad agreement as they reflected on their lives. I saw some wipe tears from their cheeks. It was clear Pemberton and his audience related to one another, and I believe he gave each and every person something on which to reflect.

Because Luke Pemberton’s story, though not identical, is similar to emotionally traumatic experiences many of us have had in life, we are thrilled to announce that he will return to give another talk, or more!, this year. He is truly such a kind, gentle soul, and we couldn’t be more honored to have him back.

If you are interested in connecting with Luke Pemberton, seeing his drawings, or reading his books, you can do so here.


About the Author

Holly Kooi is co-founder of U!Shine Vienna and lives in Vienna with her husband and two kids. She is a certified Character Mentor, and her heart is with the refugees and those on the fringes of society. She's passionate about loving people well, writing, mental health, and good coffee. To connect with Holly, visit her blog or follow her on Instagram.