Oral Versus Written Stories

While I have long been told stories by my parents and in turn told them to my children, grandchildren, and clients, both young and old, I have found that storytelling and story writing are two different processes. In fact, it feels strange to be communicating with you about storytelling in a written format. Once stories are written, in black and white, they tend to take on an immutable quality as though that is the way they always have been and always should be told. The reality is that stories are dynamic. They evolve, they change, and they adapt from teller to teller as well as from listener to listener. Hopefully, you will discover that you never tell a similar story idea exactly the same way twice, for the power of the story is often in its flexibility and adaptability to the needs of the listener and the listener's circumstances.

Therefore, I cannot guarantee the stories in this book are as I originally heard them or initially developed them. Nor can I guarantee that the way you read them is the way I told them to my last client, or will tell them to the next. May I suggest you see in the stories I have written their themes, ideas or meaning rather than the exact words with which they have been expressed in this format. Look for the therapeutic message in each story rather than trying to memorize or relate it to a child verbatim. These stories were not designed to be told and retold as an actor may faithfully memorize and reiterate the words ofa playwright. I hope you will allow the tales to evolve and, along with them, your own stories and storytelling skills. Stories emerge from within us, they communicate about our own experiences and, in turn, help define us as individuals. In stories it is possible for us, and our young clients, to find happiness and well-being, as well as the means for creating and maintaining positive emotional states.

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