The tradition of storytelling has a long and illustrious history dating back from cavemen drawing on rocks and stone walls to portray news, warnings or victories over obstacles all the way forward to video blogs and chat-rooms on the internet. Everyone has a story and most people enjoy telling and hearing them. Witness the number of times certain videos are accessed or articles are read to see the power of a story told well.
Storytelling also has a therapeutic effect when a person is relating an incident that happened to them or they witnessed. It gives the storyteller a chance to really look at the event and feel the emotions they were going through during the episode. The listeners can then interact with the storyteller by asking questions or making observations that perhaps the storyteller had not considered. This is especially helpful if the listener(s) is a trusted person who has no relation to the events of the story so may be objective in their questions and comments.
Warriors of ancient times were encouraged to share their view of the battle so that a wider account of the situation could be analyzed for future skirmishes. It also served as a way to decompress from the rage of war and allow the warrior to integrate back into the daily activities of the clan or tribe while acknowledging what they had gone through. With our acknowledging difficulties or trials we can then acquire the appropriate means to get through them, becoming better in the process.
One way in using storytelling as therapy is the client can relate the incident that seems to be blocking their progress telling it in a manner of their choosing. Then the practitioner or therapist can question them regarding the story to gain clarity as to the who, what, where, when and why of the details that can be remembered. Together they can explore the wider picture of the whole event which may sometimes delve into historical events or people to gain a broader scope of all the implications for the recent happening. Putting this all together can give the client a clearer picture as to why the event happened and how they can learn from it.
Another way of using storytelling in therapy is for the practitioner to relate a story either from a different tradition that has a similar circumstance to the client or use another client's story (while protecting privacy) that has similar elements to your present client. Then allow the client to observe the similar elements for themselves and how they may see their own outcome to their present circumstance differently. The practitioner can use well placed questions and gentle guidance to help the client see possibilities instead of obstacles.
The telling of stories has been a time honored tradition and when an entertaining narrative has been used in a therapy session it tends to stick in the mind much better than instructions given to follow. Stories capture our imagination and all things become possible. Next time you are stuck in your thinking or behavior, tell the story of how it came to be and weave your own tale to flesh out the details. It is then that you can create a happier ending.