Where Do I Get the Ideas for Healing Stories

In this chapter my aim is to explain the processes I use to develop story ideas in therapy. Participants in metaphor workshops often ask, "Where do you get your imagination for therapeutic stories?" as though you have to be a highly imaginative or creative person to use healing stories. I tend to think in terms of developing or building a story rather than of creating one. Creating, for me, conjures the conception that a tale somehow appeared, magically, out of the blue, in my marvelously imaginative mind. Generally, that is not the case. I do not see myself as a particularly imaginative person, and I do not think a high level of imagination is necessary to be an effective metaphor therapist. I am, however, constantly on the lookout for stories. Like a collector of any object, I collect storybooks as I travel, look for ideas in client cases, read what children are reading, observe the learning experiences of the children in my own life, and ask myself as I do, "How might this be shaped into a healing story for one of the children I am working with at the moment?"

To illustrate how I have developed the stories in this book, I will revisit a number of the tales, seeking to explain where I found the source of the story, how I built the idea into a metaphor, and the processes by which I constructed the healing story. This chapter thus describes how to develop metaphors from a variety of sources such as the evidenced-based literature, the cases you encounter in your day-to-day work, the ideas you find in a storybook, the heroes in the lives of your young clients, the fertility of your own imagination, or everyday life experiences.

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