Storytelling Therapy

Fall 2017 (Sept-Dec)



Notes from Trisha: 20 and 27 September


"Story and Storytelling in Storytelling Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy"


Pg. 5 "In play, one can express various aspects of one's personality, including aspects of which one might have previously been unaware. One way to play is to personify material -- pretending pots and pans, plants, animals, etc, have human-type consciousness, personalities, and language abilities."


This is my favorite aspect of fantasy, folk narratives and fairytales. I believe there is a lot of power in employing the “uncanny” (be it through puppetry, performing objects or telling), to temporarily displace attention/the issue/emotion that one is exploring.


I see value in the attributes of the tales that make them both real and unreal, the moment in which the stories test the limits of perceived reality through intermittent injections of the fantastic. The randomizing effect of talking trees, humans changing form or houses made of cake provokes a heightened level of anticipation. This randomizing is an important exercise in the conviction that, “the role of man [is] not only to be in the world, but to engage in relations with the world – that through acts of creation and re-creation, man makes cultural reality and thereby adds to the natural world, which he did not make,” (Freire, “Education” 41). It enables us to understand possibility as co-creators of a shared reality.


Pg. 6 "Both dreams (coming from one’s unconscious) and fairytales (coming from one’s culture and society) can heal, counterbalance, criticise, help one to work out compromises with, and complete, the conscious attitudes of one’s self, and of the dominant culture of one’s society."


In Folktales and Reality, Lutz Rohrich challenges that folktales and fairytales are not archetypal or based in ideation – contrary to the approach of Freudian Psychoanyalysis Bruno Bettelheim or a Jungian approach of comparing these tales to dreams. Much like Eric's defense of Indian mythology as reality in our first class, Rohrich suggests “that some of the most fantastic elements of folktales may have the strongest links to history. He [treats] folktales as believed reality, as a mirror of the real world, and as a reflection of the social milieu of their tellers.” Taking this theory in hand, are these stories more relevant or useful than using stories from our own time period, milieu or popular culture? Is the dominant culture highlighted or broken down by using obsolete mores and culture practices to confront them?


Pg. 6 "Clients speaking to and as characters who exist in their imaginations is often associated with Moreno and the therapeutic practice he founded, Psychodrama. Later this method was incorporated into Gestalt Therapy, where it was called the Empty Chair technique. However, also from the 1910s, Carl Jung was practicing a version of this method, which he called Active Imagination, especially with patients in mental hospitals in Switzerland."


I'd like to learn more about this.


Pg. 8 "Lahad proposes that the story a client creates demonstrates the way the client habitually perceives and reacts to the world, and that this kind of communication by metaphor is useful in psychotherapy.


He assumes that by composing a projected story based on the structure of fairytales and myth, a client would communicate the way his/her self sees itself. He claims that Marie-Louise von Franz, the interpreter of fairytales from a Jungian perspective, has found that these six elements are always represented in fairytales (von Franz, 1987) (Lahad, No date)."


I'd like to learn more about this.


"Fairytale Therapy: A Type of Storytelling Therapy"


Pg 8. “The workshop participants were invited to choose to play characters and objects of the story -- as they occurred at various stages in the story. Participants had time and materials to make costumes, masks, and props to represent their chosen characters at the various stages. The participants were invited to sit in a large circle -- in chronological order of when their character or object would appear in the story. As we went around the circle starting at the beginning of the story, we were invited not to act out the story, but rather to have our characters or objects (in particular stages of the story) address characters or objects in other particular stages of the story.”


Great forum method. I'd like more clarification on the format of addressing the characters or object vs. acting it out.






Notes from Trisha:  11 October



"Becoming oneself -- a goal in Carl Jung's conception of therapy" by Eric Miller, May 2016


pg 1. "These playful art activities could include creating, shaping, constructing, building, composing, and otherwise arranging material drawn from one's memory and imagination."


Gianni Rodari believed that play needed to extend beyond the individual to be truly transformative. According to Rodari, seeing language and story as set and fixed by absolute rules is detrimental to the intellectual growth of children. What benefits children most, he believed, is empowerment in a communal context, not the individualism so common in the United States. […] Rodari emphasized the social context of learning to share and be considerate of others. Just as he believed that two highly unlikely words could always be linked and become fruitful, he felt that different types of children could come together and use their imaginations together to grasp and solve their personal and social problems. Through dialectical process of composition-decomposition-recomposition of words, Rodari demonstrated that children can confront essential personal and political problems in their everyday lives. (Rodari, Gianni. The Grammar of Fantasy. Page xx)


Pg 1. "A good way for one to explore aspects of one's unconscious is to produce images and voices, and thereby cause aspects of one's soul to surface. Then one could observe, interact with, incorporate, and utilize these hidden aspects of one's personality."


Are these hidden aspects similar to tapping into 'genetic memory'?


Some psychologists, most famously Carl Jung, have theorized that we're born with the memories and experiences of our ancestors imprinted on our DNA. We're not necessarily unlocking them, but it's possible that our most basic survival instincts might stem from some long ago trauma experienced by a dead relative. (Accessed 2 Oct 17 at


pg 2. "One can compensate for limited consciousness by accessing the subterranean riches, the buried treasures, in one's unconscious. One's consciousness may be enlivened by one's unconscious. This may lead to feeling renewed, revitalised, and revivified; to feeling alive; and to enjoying being alive. These are important goals in life."


What is limited consciousness? What is an example of “buried treasures?” When is it evident that someone has accessed their subconscious?


Pg 2. "One may be afraid to descend into one's unconscious, fearing unsolvable chaos, confusion, conflict, fury, pain, and madness."


How does one know when they're are dealing with their unconscious or entering into unknown territory? If they are experiencing limited consciousness, have they experienced their own unconscious desires enough to be scared of them?


Pg 3. “In much of Indian culture, story -- especially in the form of epics -- has remained in the realm of adult culture. This imaginative "story" aspect of experience is more accessible in India than in the West.”


This is fascinating to me. That perhaps the Western world views imagination (innovation, wonder, etc.) as childish... or unproductive.