Transform Grief

Personal Guidebook to Grief Recovery

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This one is dedicated to kids, kids of all ages, all cultures, all religions, everywhere, especially to Tom and Ella, and one who is yet to be.


Acknowledgments, xv Introduction, xvii

What This Book Offers, xvii A Word or Two about Words, xix Oral versus Written Stories, xix The Structure of This Book, xx Story 1 A Story of the Story, xxiii


Why Tell Healing and Teaching Stories to Kids and Teens?, 3

A Brief History of Teaching Tales, 4

How Stories Inform, 5

How Stories Educate, 6

How Stories Teach Values, 7

How Stories Discipline, 8

How Stories Build Experience, 9

How Stories Facilitate Problem-Solving, 10

How Stories Change and Heal, 11 When Not to Speak in Stories, 13

Chapter 2 Guidelines for Effective Storytelling, 15

Ten Guidelines for Effective Storytelling, 16 Six Guidelines for the Storyteller's Voice, 25

Chapter 3 Tools and Techniques, 30

Books as a Source of Healing Stories: Bibliotherapy, 30 Drama as a Source of Healing Stories, 32

Videos or DVDs as a Source of Healing Stories: Videotherapy, 33

Puppets, Dolls, and Toys as Metaphor, 35

Play as Metaphor, 36

Humor as Metaphor, 38

Experiential Metaphors, 39

Child-Generated Metaphors, 41

Collaborative Tales, 42

To Discuss or Not to Discuss?, 43


Chapter 4 Enriching Learning, 47

Story 2 Kids Can Make a Difference: A Kid Story, 47

Story 3 Kids Can Make a Difference: A Teen Story, 49

Story 4 Feed What You Want to Grow, 50

Story 5 Look after Yourself, 52

Story 6 Come up Laughing, 53

Story 7 It's in the Way You Do It, 54

Story 8 Making the Most ofWhat You Are Given, 55

Story 9 Doing What You Can, 56

Story 10 Seeking Happiness, 58

Chapter 5 Caring for Yourself, 61

Story 11 Soaring to New Heights: A Kid Story, 62

Story 12 Soaring to New Heights: A Teen Story, 64

Story 13 Recognizing Your Abilities, 66

Story 14 Let Joe Do It, 68

Story 15 Discovering Your Specialness, 70

Story 16 The Importance ofAccepting Compliments, 72

Story 17 What You Give Is What You Get, 74

Story 18 Good, Not Perfect, 75

Story 19 Be Yourself, 76

Story 20 Increasing Self-Awareness, 78

Chapter 6 Changing Patterns of Behavior, 81

Story 21 Facing Fears: A Kid Story, 82

Story 22 Facing Fears: A Teen Story, 84

Story 23 See for Yourself, 86

Story 24 Learning to Think for Yourself, 88

Story 25 Build on What You Are Good At, 90

Story 26 Learning New Tricks, 92

Story 27 A Gesture That Changed a Whole Suburb, 95

Story 28 Making a Difference, 96

Story 29 Changing Patterns of Behavior, 97

Story 30 I'm Not Afraid Anymore, 99

Chapter 7 Managing Relationships, 102

Story 31 Caught in the Middle: A Kid Story, 103

Story 32 Caught in the Middle: A Teen Story, 104

Story 33 Making and Maintaining Friendships, 106

Story 34 The Four Faithful Friends, 107

Story 35 Negotiating a Solution, 108

Story 36 New Friends, 110

Story 37 Finding Tenderness, 112

Story 38 Going Inside, 114

Story 39 Putting Yourself in Someone Else's Place, 116

Story 40 Making and Keeping Friends, 118

Chapter 8 Managing Emotions, 121

Story 41 Heightening Pleasure: A Kid Story, 122

Story 42 Heightening Pleasure: A Teen Story, 123

Story 43 Having Fun, 125

Story 44 Cultivating Contentment, 127

Story 45 Nailing Down Anger, 129

Story 46 Helping with Humor, 131

Story 47 Flying off the Handle, 132

Story 48 Learning to Laugh, 133

Story 49 Change Your Posture, Change Your Feelings, 135

Story 50 Expressing Emotions Congruently, 136

Chapter 9 Creating Helpful Thoughts, 139

Story 51 Managing Grief: A Young Kid Story, 139

Story 52 Managing Grief: A Kid Story, 141

Story 53 An Act of Kindness, 142

Story 54 Things May Not Be What They Seem, 144

Story 55 Positive Reframing, 145

Story 56 Thoughts Determine Feelings, 146

Story 57 Finding Exceptions to Problems, 147

Story 58 Learning to Use What You Have, 149

Story 59 Learning to Discriminate, 150

Story 60 Awakening Confidence, 152 Chapter 10 Developing Life Skills, 155

Story 61 Facing a Moral Dilemma: A Kid Story, 156

Story 62 Facing a Moral Dilemma: A Teen Story, 157

Story 63 Learning about Rules, 159

Story 64 Sometimes Terrible Things Happen, 160

Story 65 Accepting What You Have, 162

Story 66 Taking Responsibility, 163

Story 67 Making Decisions, 165

Story 68 Taking a Different View, 167

Story 69 Overcoming Fear, 168

Story 70 The Secrets of Success, 170 Chapter 11 Building Problem-Solving Skills, 173

Story 71 Overcoming Adversity: A Kid Story, 174

Story 72 Overcoming Adversity: A Teen Story, 175

Story 73 Collaborative Problem-Solving, 177

Story 74 Thinking through a Problem, 178

Story 75 Solving a Problem, 180

Story 76 Acceptance, 182

Story 77 Learning to Share, 184

Story 78 Tending to the Neglected, 185

Story 79 Taking Control, 187

Story 80 Creating a Wish, 189 Chapter 12 Managing Life's Challenging Times, 193

Story 81 Blowing Away Pain: A Kid Story, 194

Story 82 Managing Pain: A Teen Story, 195

Story 83 Beating a Bully, 196

Story 84 I Am Only Nine, 198

Story 85 Coping with Illness, 199

Story 86 Finding Solutions, 201

Story 87 Facing Challenges, 203

Story 88 Getting Back on Your Feet, 204

Story 89 Facing Thoughts of Suicide, 206

Story 90 Learning to Care for Yourself, 208

Chapter 13 Kids' Own Healing Stories, 211

Story 91 The Ghost Who Learned to Scare, 212

Story 92 Girl, 213

Story 93 Days to Come, 214

Story 94 Mary-Jane's Story, 216

Story 95 Sally's Problem, 218

Story 96 My Life, 220

Story 97 My Life Story, 221

Story 98 Rock Your Way out of It, 222

Story 99 When There Is Nothing I Can Do, 223

Story 100 Lucy Mac's Story, 225

PART III CREATING YOUR OWN HEALING STORIES FOR KIDS, 227 Chapter 14 How Can I Use Metaphors Effectively?, 229

Potential Pathways for Effective Metaphor Therapy, 229 Potential Pitfalls in Effective Metaphor Therapy, 234

Chapter 15 Where Do I Get the Ideas for Healing Stories?, 240

Metaphors Built on a Basis of Evidence, 240 Metaphors Built on Heroes, 242 Metaphors Built on Imagination, 243 Metaphors Built on Therapeutic Strategies, 244 Metaphors Built on an Idea, 246 Metaphors Built on a Child's Own Story, 247 Metaphors Built on Humor, 249 Metaphors Built on Cross-Cultural Tales, 250 Metaphors Built on Client Cases, 251 Metaphors Built on Everyday Experiences, 252 Guidelines for Using Personal Life Stories, 253

Chapter 16 How Do I Plan and Present Healing Stories?, 255

The PRO-Approach, 255

Make an Outcome-Oriented Assessment, 256

Plan Your Metaphors, 258

Present Your Metaphors, 262

Stop, Look, and Listen, 264

Ground the Story in Reality, 264

Chapter 17 Teaching Parents to Use Healing Stories, 266

Stories for Parents and Parenting, 266 Some Values of Teaching Parents to Use Metaphors, 268 Steps for Teaching Parents Storytelling, 270 An Example of Effective Parental Storytelling, 271 Helping Parents Build Storytelling Skills, 274 . . . And the Story Continues, 275 Story 101 Will You Be My Teacher?, 277

Resources, References, and Other Sources of Metaphoric Stories, 279

Index, 295


No story is complete without its characters, and the stories behind this book are rich in many loved and valued characters who have contributed so generously to its evolution. In keeping with the spirit of this work, let me mention the children first. I am particularly appreciative of all the 2003 Year Seven students at Helena College, Western Australia, who wrote some wonderful, creative, expressive stories that had me feeling humble about my own efforts. I was unable to include them all and want to thank, especially, Emma Barley, Anthea Challis, Corin Eicke, Erin Kelley, Jonathon Matthews, Oliver Potts, Nathaniel Watts, and Stephanie Wood for so generously allowing their stories to be included in Chapter 13, and commented on in Chapter 15. For enthusiastically supporting the project I thank Helena College principal John Allen-Williams, MScEd, school psychologist Susan Boyett, BPsych, and Year Seven teacher Claire Scanlon, BEd.

The other kid stories came from the creative pens of Sam Green, son of very dear friends, and Pia Hill, student at John Curtin College of the Arts, Western Australia. For permission to reproduce Pia's story I thank principal Barrie Wells and English teacher Suzanne Covich, MCA. Much appreciated, too, were the story-collecting efforts of Victorian primary school teacher Pamela Wooding, BEd, even though none of the stories made their way into the text.

Julie Nayda has been with me on every book so far, keying in the words, sorting out my grammar, adding constructive comments, and, on this occasion, tossing in some helpful story ideas of her own. She is an invaluable asset to my work and my life and, on projects like this, it feels like we are a real team—workmates and friends.

It is never easy to hand your work over to peer reviewers and ask them to be brutally honest in their criticisms, yet what Stephanie Bennett, MClinPsych, Susan Boyett, BPsych, Eva Marjanovic, MAppPsych, and John Thompson BA(hons) have contributed in a supportive yet frank way has been invaluable. Discussions, contributions, and feedback have also come from Elaine Atkinson, MPsych,

Stephen Lankton, MSW, Rob McNeilly, MBBS, Julie Nayda, Tracey Weatherhilt, BPsych, Rick Whiteside, MSW, and Michael Yapko, PhD. Thank you, too, to Deborah Clifford for generously permitting the inclusion of her beautiful birthday story-poem in Chapter 17.

Once again I have really enjoyed working with my editor, Tracey Belmont, and thank her for the embryonic ideas about this book. Thanks to Diana Plattner, for her copyediting; Kevin Holm, for his efficient and friendly production editing; Cristina Wojdylo, and the rest of the team at John Wiley & Sons, Inc., I thank you for all your support, encouragement, efficiency, and attention to detail.

Children have and do enrich my life greatly—my own children, my grandchildren, the children I see as clients—for they are ready to offer an unconditional smile, accept you into their world, and share tales of their experience. When my children were young I thought it my responsibility as a father to teach them what they needed for life. With my grandchildren I am discovering I have a lot to learn from what they can teach me. As William Wordsworth said to his own five-year-old boy in "An Anecdote for Fathers:"

Could I but teach the hundredth part

Of what from thee I learn.


Tell me a story. How many times have you been asked to do this? Ifyou are a parent, teacher, grandparent, uncle, aunt, babysitter, child-care worker, or anyone who has contact with children in some way, I am sure you have not escaped this frequent childhood request. But have you ever wondered what kids want when they make the request? Are they just seeking entertainment? Are they wanting to journey into a world offantasy? Do they want the intimacy ofthe special relationship that exists between storyteller and listener? Do they seek to identify with a character that may model what they would like to be? Are they requesting examples of how they should behave, relate, or cope in life?

There is a general principle here: Kids love stories—for many reasons. Ifwe need proof, just listen to them asking, "Tell me a story, please." Look at the rows and rows of books of children's stories that fill our bookstores and libraries. Look at the stories that come to life in popular children's movies, or the tales of conflict, struggle, and victory that tend to be the theme of so many video games. Such is our hunger for stories that we never stop asking to hear them, even though the nature of the questions may change a little—"Can I get a new book?" or "Can we rent a DVD?" Given this desire to learn, to be informed, to acquire problem-solving skills through stories, the prime question addressed by this book is this: Ifwe are constantly sharing stories of learning, health, healing, and wellness with our young clients, how can we do that in a way that is most effective and helpful?

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