Friday, August 2, 2019 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM EDT
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CFS Ottawa 
310 Olmsted Street
Ottawa, ON K1L 7K3

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Lewis Mehl-Madrona 
Coyote Institute 

Ottawa Update on Therapeutic Storytelling 

Unexpectedly free this weekend and visiting Barbara's mother in Ottawa, we wanted to provide local people with our take on what matters for telling therapeutic stories to psychotherapy/counseling clients in ways that are most effective. We will consider new neuroscience on altered states of consciousness and practice getting better at storytelling.

Storytelling and Altered States of Consciousness

Storytelling and hypnosis are intertwined as ancient arts of telling good stories that change the perspective of the listener.  Hypnosis involves the induction of a state of receptivity to hearing the story. It involves creating a story that’s pleasing and plausible, and that leads to different conclusions about the world from the stories currently being utilized by the listener for how to live in the world.  We give examples of this process.  We stress the importance of listening as key to good hypnosis.

Encountering lived experience.

Once we deeply listen to people in order to be helpful to them, we become able to enter into their stories and move those stories along from within.  We can’t do this if we aren’t listening so as to understand the story.  Phenomenology means understanding the lived experience of the person with whom we are working.

Body-Centered Induction

During the induction we enter into the world of the patient.  We hear the clients’ stories and see their symbols and metaphors.  We experience the same awe as an underwater diver entering a brand, new world, like entering a kelp forest for the first time.  We trace the illness and discover the inner landscape of the body, constructing a shared story from which physiological change can occur.  Hypnosis gives us a means to reach those body processes that are generally inaccessible to conscious awareness.  It also allows access to the thoughts and feelings that are linked to the body through the sensorimotor cortex. We describe our methods of inducing states of mind-body receptivity

What are the elements of a really good story? 

What makes a really good story? What makes a story one that is healing?  It turns out that everyone can recognize a good story even if we can’t say why.  Does it come from our emotional response to the story, form our identification with the characters, from our recognition that the moral or message of the story applies to our lives?  We consider what’s available to answer these questions and then apply this knowledge to what makes a good story to inspire healing.

Creating Dialogue

Sometimes we need to create interactive stories.  We describe ways this can be done and discuss how telling stories changes memory.  We change the stories we tell to fit the audience who is listening.  Telling stories in a therapeutic setting allows the stories we tell to become more integrated and whole.  Creating interactive dialogue is a way to make that happen.

We will spend an afternoon reviewing and practicing these concepts:

1pm to 2pm: Introductions and The Art of Listening

2pm to 3pm: Body-centered inductions

3pm to 4pm: The art of telling therapeutic stories

4pm to 5pm: Creating interactive dialogue