What This Book Offers

Just as artists need two prime ingredients if their work is to have an impact, so the metaphor practitioner also needs those same ingredients: skill and art. Skill for the painter is knowledge and use of the laws of perspective, color, and tone. For the teller of metaphors, it is in the principles of constructing a therapeutic tale that will engage the child, facilitate the child's identification with the problem, and have the child joining in a search for the solution.

Art goes beyond the skilled application of principles. It is what makes a painting stand out from the crowd, or gives a story its personal, relevant impact for an individual listener. The art is in crafting the tale specifically for the child and the child's needs, and communicating it in a way that offers both involvement and meaning.

In this book, I want to cover as comprehensively as possible both the skills and the art that will enable and empower you to work confidently and effectively with healing stories for your child and adolescent students or clients. I want to answer questions I often hear in the workshops I run on metaphors, like "How do you come up with story ideas?" "How do I engage a child in listening?" "Where do you find the materials or sources to create appropriate stories?" "How do I tell a healing story effectively?" Fortunately, there are practical, learnable steps for answering these questions, and my aim is to offer them as clearly as I can in the following chapters which will show you how to tell stories effectively, how to make them metaphoric, and where to find sources for therapeutic tales. There are guidelines for communicating stories and using the storyteller's voice so as to most effectively engage the client and commence the journey of healing. The book gently guides the reader through these pragmatic processes, and on to methods for creating metaphoric stories from your own experiences and other sources.

If you want to work with stories, I recommend you start collecting them right away. Look for them in bookshops, videos, or the computer games children play. Keep a note ofthe meaningful, significant, and humorous interactions you have with a child that may benefit another child. I love to collect stories, for they have long intrigued me with their powerful, yet subtle ability to teach and heal. Look for cultural and children's stories when you travel, scan the bookshelves of friends with children, and look at what children are writing themselves. Listening to the many tragic and triumphant tales children relate to you in your office can teach you about children's strengths, resilience, and capacity for coping. Humbly, we can learn from these youthful experiences of life if we take the time to listen to the creative and imaginative tales of our clients or other children. Often they have known none of the restrictions and structures imposed by adults on what should be told (and what should not) or how it should be told. If you have the opportunity to sit with storytellers, join a storytellers' guild, or attend a storytellers' congress, you will be able to observe their art and absorb their message. Stories with salient metaphor content can be discovered in anthologies, folktales, children's books, and in the jokes or tales that circulate on your e-mail. As with any kind of collecting, there is an acquired skill and art to learning which to discard and which to adopt and nurture for their intrinsic merit—a process that I encourage you to follow, not only with the stories you read here but with any you encounter in the future.

For experienced therapists, this volume will hopefully introduce a variety of new story ideas on which to construct meaningful therapeutic metaphors. It will provide techniques for honing skills, enhancing communication, and making the effectiveness ofwhat we do more empowering and more enjoyable.

For novice metaphor therapists, who are just discovering the potency of therapeutic metaphors, this book offers step-by-step procedures, case examples, and a rich source of therapeutic stories that will enable you to apply them immediately in your work no matter what your theoretical back ground. As well as learning about the methods of applying metaphors, you will be able to cultivate competence in the art of therapeutic communication, processes of change, and the rewards of facilitating outcome.

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