Do Not Expect That a Single Story Will Be the Sole Answer

While it may be that a single, well-crafted story will help a child change a significant problem, reach a long-desired conclusion, or find a more appropriate direction in which to be heading, therapy generally is a process. The case ofJessica, our elective mute in Chapter 1, reminded me of the power a single story may hold . . . yet it was not the complete answer. Jessica began to speak with me (one person) in my consulting room (one place), but for therapy to be effective it was important this skill be generalized to her real-life circumstances. She needed to communicate with her teacher, to speak up in class, and to talk with peers if she was going to build the educational and relationship skills necessary for her appropriate maturation. Her therapy involved further metaphors and behavioral strategies to help shape this process. Generalization of her progress involved cooperative efforts between her teacher and therapist as well as therapeutic exercises for Jessica to do in class.

In other words, the metaphor that seemed to provide significant change was an adjunctive part of a comprehensive therapeutic plan. The single story itself, apart from the permission that Jessica saw in it to change her behavior in the particular situation of my office, was not the total answer to her problem. It did, however, recognize the difficulties she was having and offer an element of hope, and it was a facilitative part of the total therapeutic program.

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