Why I Love Storying
What most people may not know about me is that I have loved stories all of my life; not just my own, but so many other people’s as well. I recall being infatuated with fairy-tales and soap-operas as a child. I spent hours in front of the television, watching characters developing themes across the life of the show. I remember being able to capture these plots; but at the same time, the curiosity about what else was there to the stories I was witnessing unfold. I was recently advised to read literature to help me develop more artistic ways of constructing inquiry for the purpose of rich story development in therapy.
Most if not all children are extremely curious, that’s how they make meaning of the world around them. In my case, my curiosity never went away. As I got older people always told me to “mind my own business,” and I couldn’t. I was genuinely interested in the why, where, how, when about everyone’s life. I was constantly expected to change this “personality trait” of mine; and I just never understood why it was so wrong to want to have a rich description of people’s stories.
I think I was about 10 when I bought a notebook and started writing stories. I wrote stories about fictional characters. I remember running out of space because of how detailed these stories were. I remember feeling like there was always more… Now I understand that I didn’t want to tell incomplete stories about these characters; although fictional, they deserved a complete description of their experience. I became fascinated with my characters’ plots and themes. So here’s the thing, I never knew how this storytelling appreciation would come in handy as a therapist until I learned about Narrative Therapy.
My current work has helped me reconnect with one of the most significant experiences in my journey. Therapy has also allowed me to embrace this curiosity about stories that everyone often complained about. And I keep embracing stories, now with a very important purpose and a strong commitment to help.
HOW CAN STORIES HELP YOU?
If you could tell all the stories about you; those from the past, those happening simultaneously as you read this, and the possible stories for your future–what do you think could happen? The answer is really easy, you wouldn’t miss a thing, your story would be complete. Sadly, this is close to impossible. At the same time, it is worth the try. The more we try to tell all our stories or perhaps reposition ourselves to tell one story from a different angle helps in strengthening who we are. In this process, we attempt to acknowledge all of what we are, opening ourselves to new discoveries, reconnecting with forsaken values, and becoming more self-aware. The most important gift that comes from storying is the infinite possibilities for what you want your future to be.
A WORD ON NARRATIVE THERAPISTS
I take this very seriously. Becoming a Narrative practitioner is not easy; it is one of the most difficult things I have worked on, which I am still working on and developing. It takes many years of discovery and a lot of practice. Not only does it take a long time to truly understand Narrative ideas, but it takes a lot of effort to apply these ideas to clinical practice. The art of Narrative inquiry doesn’t come any easy. A skilled Narrative therapist is an artist, and I really mean that, as storying is extremely skilled and quite difficult to do. Other Narrative therapists know exactly what I mean. Not only that, but we also march to the beat of our own drums in a field that only celebrates one-size fits all, and only tolerates us.
This is an approach that not just everyone can do. It takes so much practice and dedication. I am not saying that I am better than others or smarter by any means, and I understand that it may come across this way. I am still learning, I will always be learning. Becoming a Narrative therapist has taken me a lot of time, effort, money, and commitment. I have a strong desire to pass on the legacy of storying to others and I am committed to do it well, and I can only achieve that by training, and training hard.
If you are interested in consulting a Narrative therapist, make sure the therapist is not just calling themselves that. Make sure they are trained and know how to practice the art of Narrative therapy and storying. It takes more than choosing a niche.
I will end this story by acknowledging that I think any other mental health professional who is passionate about whatever approach they use and who has made the commitment to strengthen their skills through training, is worth checking out. Not only do I admire them, but I would trust their work wholeheartedly.