“Stories….We all got one”
“Stories….We all got one”
L.T. Force, Ph.D.
It came to me this week - I began to think about: “The Power of Stories”. For a living - part of my professional career as a Therapist - I listen to the stories of others. Clients come to my practice to share their stories. I tell them, when I first meet them, at the beginning of the first session (what I term the "Landscape Session): " I am not your hero….I can’t fix you….because you’re not broken….because we all have stuff”. I also tell them: the best Therapist you can find is one you forget - because the goal is that you find yourself embedded in the rhythm of your life”. I truly believe these two statements - and my Practice Orientation based on a: “short-term
'here and now’ solution focused approach reflects these points. Why?
Because we all have stories of concern and hope.... and we learn from them....and we learn from each other....as we travel through life,... and everything passes.
What is it that people typically want when they engage in therapy? Typically, they want: "to stop doing something they are doing or start doing something they are not doing”. The other thing I share with my clients is: “this place here - the relationship we are developing is one of the few and rare places on earth where you can be assured that what you share here is confidential.... and stays between the two of us. The only time: "the 'confidentiality-shield' is broken or pierced is if you share with me that you are going to harm yourself or harm someone else. At that point based upon our guiding principles of our Code of Ethics - I will need to alert and notify someone”.
In all of my 30+ years of Practice that has only happened twice - when I was informed by a person that they were seriously contemplating and planning out their end-of-life…. their demise”. In one case, I reached out to my Supervisor….in the other case - I immediately called 911 and the local Mobile Health Crisis Team arrived - where the person was escorted from my office to the Emergency Room (ER) of the local Medical Center for an evaluation and was committed to the Psychiatric Unit for follow-up and treatment. In hindsight, I would do it again.
Therapy can be: "a sacred moment - the person shares their life story and try’s to make sense of what is working and what is not working- they address their aspirations, their accomplishments, their pitfalls and their regrets". Years ago, I was involved in a study addressing: "Midlife Regret" titled: "Regret: The Cruelest Emotion". About 350 people (ages 45-60 years of age) were surveyed. The interesting dynamic that surfaced was: "people perceived regret as magical". The majority of people in the study felt: “if they hadn’t done something they did or did do something they hadn’t done - it would have worked out better”. But in fact, in reality, we really don’t know that would have been the outcome.
So stories….yes, we all have a story - and life stories are important. Even beyond the parameters of therapy - as a society - we are beginning to recognize and value the importance of stories. In fact, in medicine - a new discipline has re-surfaced called: Narrative Medicine.
Now defined as:
Narrative medicine a medical approach that utilizes people's narratives in clinical practice, research, and education as a way to promote healing. It aims to address the relational and psychological dimensions that occur in tandem with physical illness, with an attempt to deal with the individual stories of patients. In doing this, narrative medicine aims not only to validate the experience of the patient, but also to encourage creativity and self-reflection in the physician. (Wikipedia)
In a nutshell, what does the approach of Narrative medicine emphasize - listening to the stories of the person….listening to the stories of the patients - as a tool and resource to help with the recovery and healing process.
We also see writings in the Business and Corporate World emphasizing the importance of stories.- Corporate Stories.
Corporate storytelling is about presenting your brand identity and values to a wider public with the help of narrative techniques. It's a communication strategy that aims at engaging your audience by luring spectators (or readers) to an imaginative universe that delivers information through stories. (Alessandra Martelli: https://alessandramartelli.com)
So, as you can see - even beyond the arena of the therapeutic process - there is a rediscovery of the importance and value found in the exchange of stories. That’s good. Because with all the distractions produced by: "the absorption of technology" - the art of listening and engaging with one another - an ancient practice - is being renewed. One last thing - remember - your story - your life story does matter, it’s important to you and it’s important for others - as found in the message of the above picture....lessons learned. Now the question is: "Will we see with clarity and appreciation the value of our own story....the lessons we can learn from ourselves....and the lessons we can learn from each other. Now the question is: “will you act like it does?”
More stories to follow….they always do....