Several weeks ago I discussed some of the benefits of storytelling for kids in therapy in a post titled Once Upon a Time: How Storytelling Can Help Children in Therapy. In that post I provided this infographic to summarize the various benefits storytelling can offer clients.
Because of its many benefits, storytelling often plays an important role in the therapy process. Narrative therapy, for example, is one popular therapeutic framework based entirely on the concept of storytelling. The approach helps clients to share their stories, and then helps them to re-story their lives in a more positive and helpful way. Problems are externalized, assets are highlighted, and clients are able to make changes that are more in line with their new story. You can read more about narrative therapy Narrative Therapy Centre website.
Children also benefit from narrative approaches. A child struggling with temper tantrums might feel threatened to talk about her anger directly, but be able to share a story about the anger monster that sneaks up on her at times. Anxiety, stress, depression, and behavioural problems can all be externalized in this way. As a result, an anxious child can see himself as really brave. An aggressive child is really peaceful. From a narrative perspective, children are not their negative feelings and behaviours; rather these things are experiences that happen to them. Storytelling enables children to explore their own strengths in dealing with their problems. They can be encouraged to use these strengths to fight off the anger monster or the worry dragon. In doing so find a new story and new confidence that they can take with them.
Here is one story resource that you can use in your counselling sessions, as homework between visits, or that parents can do with their children. The resource is a create-your-own-storybook activity called “Do You Know a Superhero?”.
The concept of the superhero can be highly effective in empowering kids to overcome their challenges. What kid would not love to have some kind of superpower? Perhaps they would like to fly like Supergirl, climb buildings like Spiderman, or have super-human strength like the hulk. This resource will open up a conversation about the “superpowers” each child does have and will leave them feeling stronger
How to Use this Resource:
For the first few pages, children draw pictures to go along with the pre-writeen text. The story talks about how superheroes are different and then presents examples of normal kids who have “superpowers” like handling anxiety, facing bullies, or staying focused. Then children have the opportunity to come up with their own superhero name and powers, write their own stories, and draw themselves in action. This storybook is intended to empower children and help build their self-esteem by helping them re-story their experiences.
Children can be encouraged to explore what strengths or “superpowers” they needed to cope with their parents divorce, their anger, depression, anxiety, etc. In doing so, children will learn to switch from a problem saturated story to one in which they actually have the strengths and resources needed to deal with the problems they face.