Equipping Story Groups
Reinventing the wheel. By far, recreating the proverbial "wheel" is my biggest pet-peeve. Clearly, my love of story-therapy and my years of experience in adult learning and curriculum development have collided.
My heart sank each time I left the training I received in Seattle. But, not for the same reason as many of my peers. My heart sank because, after a taste of sweet, authentic community, I was heading to my weekly story group back home in Chicago at The Art of Living. Most of my peers left scrambling looking for others who were like-minded, seeking to figure out how to facilitate story groups in their communities.
This is where Story Worker can help. If you are a therapist, lay leader or pastor seeking to lead a story group, I'd love to come alongside you with resources and tools from others also involved in this work.
Sharing a Story From Your Past
Writing and then reading a story from our past is the most powerful way to healing - and stir a lot of chaos in your soul. I first experienced this in the context of a group with a trained therapist at the helm. What I discovered by reading a story myself and listening to stories of others is that a shift takes place in how I'd looked in the rear view mirror of my life.
Through advanced trainings at The Allender Center in Seattle, as well as participation in my own group with therapist, Cyndi Mesmer, I learned much occurs beind the scenes in the context of these groups. If you are a therapist, lay leader or pastor seeking to lead a story group, I'd love to come alongside you with resources and tools from others also involved in this work.
Consider This Sample Story
My focus narrowed and my knees grew weak. No softball season? I felt nausea and stumbled to my bike, peddling home in a fog. No one was home. I went to my room and tore the calendar off the door and shredded it to pieces. I picked up my bat, the new one I had waited to use for this season, and smashed the frame, leaving splintered plastic everywhere and a dent in the wooden door. I then went to my dresser, and with one violent sweep, shattered my MVP trophy along with the picture of my Dad and other mementos I had proudly displayed.
I wonder now what was shattered inside me that day. I don’t have clear memories of that summer but I recall a drastic change starting 7th grade. I quietly went to school, did my work, and no longer cared what my teachers or friends thought of me.
This snippet from one of my own stories has much to say about the anguish of my hope and how I handle it even today. There is power in allowing others to observe and comment when reading a story from our past. We carry these stories and live and move with them.
I've now facilitated small groups in this process and coached others to get their groups started. There is a unique bond that occurs when we know each other's stories that compares with little else between people.
Are you interested in advancing the work you do or joining a band of others in this work?
If so, let's talk.
More About The Allender Theory of Story
Core to The Allender Theory is the belief that the journey of healing invites us to move from a place of cursing (contempt, shame, ambivalence) to one of blessing (compassion, goodness, delight). This occurs through telling our stories with truth and integrity as we grieve our wounds and offer blessing to the parts of us still bound to the cursed story. As we share our story with trusted others who are able to name both our deep woundedness and our deep goodness, we grow a deeper capacity to know and live into our calling and engage in life-giving relationships with God and others.