The Story Within: Myth and Fairy Tale in Therapy: This book is for therapists, artists, seekers, of all mediums, offering a unique and creative process for transformation.
- Step-by-step guide through a creative arts therapies approach
- Specific guidelines how to integrate into a clinical, community, or personal setting
- Clinical vignettes of how The Story Within was used with diverse populations
- The author’s own personal journey
- Writings from those who have gone through the process
This book is an introduction to an arts-based therapeutic approach called The Story Within. The goal is to use myths, fairy tales, and creativity, to uncover and work with hidden and inaccessible aspects of ourselves. It is meant to be a practical resource and guide for clinicians, therapists, creative arts therapists, and community workers. I have designed the book to be both a step-by-step guide to the process that you, the reader, can follow at your own pace, and also a more didactic framework for you to understand the theory and practical application.
Myths, fairy tales, and ancient stories from around the world speak of a quest: a journey fraught with obstacles, demons, and monsters. From Persephone to the Ugly Duckling, the themes and challenges within these stories still speak to us today. As we go through our lives we face our own profound challenges and obstacles and seek an effective way to work with them.
How do we access what remains unconscious and hidden?
How can we find a safe way to approach the parts of ourselves that keep us caught in destructive patterns?
How do we help those we work with discover their inherent creativity and life force?
The power of myth and fairy tales is that they give form to archetypal and personal fears and longings. Often these are too frightening to confront directly but we can identify with the protagonist in the story as they face demons and obstacles on their journey.
I began developing this approach as a creative arts therapist working in hospital settings and in private practice with children, adolescents, and adults, dealing with diverse psychological and physical issues. For over twenty years as a professor and former Chair of the Creative Arts Therapies Department at Concordia University, Montreal, I taught The Story Within to graduate students. Most recently I have expanded to working internationally with communities around the issue of suicide, mental illness, interfaith and cross-cultural dialogue, and trauma. I also created a documentary film that works as a companion to this book www.yehuditsilverman.com
However, in truth the process began way before then when I was lost at sea and some strange presence came through me… Perhaps that was a beginning and the process evolved by itself, growing inside of me as I moved through my life… What I do know is that it never started as a concept, a theory, an idea, but rather found its way organically as a way to reach others and at the same time to reach inside myself…
Unlike many other therapeutic frameworks, this approach integrates all the arts so that personal learning and meaning making comes through the senses and the perceptions rather than just cognitively. Using all the creative mediums allows for a different type of knowledge to emerge, one that is visceral and long lasting.
The Story Within process involves an in-depth relationship with a self-selected myth or fairy tale, that evokes a personal sense of relevance, although not understood. The identification of the story, the character in it, and the dramatic moment that is felt to be the most significant, all involve a personal quest. Without being required to understand or make the character/life connection, we enjoy creating masks, art – work, costumes, dramatic scenes, music, and movement, as we identify with our character. This “not knowing” and trust in the journey itself allows the depth work to be done and allows the internal story, the one that is hidden, buried, and hardest to access, to be gradually revealed, often for the first time.
Everyone is creative. There is an innate calling to respond to the world through some sort of creative medium. Sadly, this creative impulse is often stifled, or worse, actively discouraged in childhood. Creative Arts Therapies is a field that recognizes the inherent value of the arts as necessary for health and wellbeing. As a registered dance and drama therapist, and as an artist working with documentary film, mask making, dance, and music, I have seen the power of the arts to transform individuals and communities. As someone who has always worked with stories, I found that combining the power of the creative process with the potent and ancient content of myth and fairy tale has proven an effective way to access and work with the hidden stories that often unconsciously control our lives.
The Story Within is an arts-based approach and is appropriate and beneficial to anyone even if you have not explored any creative mediums since childhood. The structure of the process provides an opportunity to rediscover your creativity, explore diverse mediums, and express inner feelings through non-verbal avenues. It does not require an expertise or even familiarity with any or all mediums. All that is necessary is a willingness to connect with an inherent part of yourself that wants to explore, to discover, to be open, and to play.
In each chapter I include a brief clinical vignette of how this aspect of the process was used in my clinical work (with no breach of client confidentiality). And as I was writing the book, I went through the steps and stages of The Story Within and share part of my personal process. Words on a page are not the same thing as meeting face to face, and although I will not be physically present with you, the reader, perhaps sharing some of my own, more personal writings can make us more connected.
To create, to enter the Story Within process, all of us must be willing to fully commit ourselves to the unknown. We don’t know where we are going or where we will end up. All we know is that there is a path and there are those who have gone before, fought similar demons, and found hidden treasures. Somewhere hidden in the depths of each story lies a treasure waiting to be discovered. There is not one treasure but many, a different treasure for each of us who dares to dig deep enough. I wish you a wonderful, transformative adventure…