Metaphors Built On Heroes

Many contemporary, fictional characters from books and film contain excellent material for use in therapy, as their stories often parallel the movement from problem through solution-seeking actions to outcome. When you find that a child has a particular interest in a character like Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, or Ramona Beasley, you may use these characters in your stories to engage the child in the therapeutic experience. If a child has just watched the video of Spider-Man (or you have recommended it as a therapeutic exercise as described in Chap. 3), here is an opportunity to use the character to weave a story about overcoming a disability, developing your skills, and helping others. Ifa child has just seen The Hulk, here is a character who has problems of uncontrolled anger, finds ways to resolve them, and ends up using his energy gainfully. If your client has been reading the latest Harry Potter book or seen the film, you have the option to metaphorically explore how to face unexpected challenges, resolve difficult problems, and promote goodness. It may help to engage the kid in the story itself, with questions like, "Ifyou were the Hulk and experiencing such uncontrollable rage, what do you think would help you feel calmer? Let's make up a story about it," or, "If you were Harry Potter and facing the only thing you ever feared, what do you think you could do and who might help you?"

I have chosen not to use any such contemporary, fictional characters in the stories of Part Two, first, because they are constantly changing with the release of the next new book or film, and second, because of the copyright issue. To publish stories based on copyrighted characters could be inviting trouble. To tell a therapeutic story woven around a heroic character for a child in the privacy of the consulting room is not so problematic. The magic/wizard theme popularized by Harry Potter can be incorporated into your stories without copyrighted characters. In Story 39, "Putting Yourself in Someone Else's Place," Michelle is given a witch's suit and spell book for her birthday, which she uses to put herself in the place of her older sisters. This story builds on a hero-popularized theme without using that particular hero character.

Other hero stories can be based on a child's favorite sports idol, movie actor, or pop star. Story 82, "Managing Pain," uses the listener's favorite sports hero. In addition, it is possible to create your own hero-type characters. To illustrate how this can be done, I have produced some characters of my own. There is Wally the Wacky Wizard in Story 74, Clary the clown in Story 48, Grandpa and the Four Bears in Stories 2 and 51, and the cross-generational favorite in my own family, Fred Mouse (Stories 1, 37, 40, 44, and 69).

Linden (2003) claims there are archetypal figures that represent the array ofhuman emotions and that the use of such characters instantly accesses the associated emotions. For example, kings and queens are representative of leadership and power, witches and wizards of magic, spies and soldiers of fighting, sports heroes of competition and success, and angels and devils of good and evil. An understanding of this can benefit the therapist's choice of a story hero, or appreciate the choice of hero selected by a child.

"We can identify these figures," says Linden, "by learning what the child's favorite storybook, TV, and movie characters are, or by watching to see what the child chooses for a dress up costume" (2003a, p. 246).

0 0

Post a comment