I have often surprised my psychotherapy clients by the homework I give them.
People sometimes come to a therapist with the idea that simply talking about their issues and analyzing them intellectually will heal them. I am here to tell you that, yes, the insight gained this way is important, but it does NOT necessarily create the desired shifts in behavior or experience.
I will sometimes have my clients read or listen to certain fairy tales to help prepare them for needed change and healing. Consciousness researcher, Robert Ornstein, highly recommends fairy tales, parables and teaching stories as classic methods to strengthen holistic consciousness.
Fairy tales are not just for children.
For me, they are Strategy of the Spirit #7. Storytelling is part of all ancient wisdom traditions.
Fairy tales bypass automatic habitual patterns of thinking. They unconsciously embed alternative options for behavior and understanding. My clients find them enjoyable and often very powerful.
You can listen to this free podcast with Harvard Professor Maria Tatar: The Great Cauldron of Story: Why Fairy Tales are for Adults Again .
As I enter the last phase of my psychotherapy career, I want to share some of my "trade secrets" with a larger audience. Here are some fairy tale collections that my clients have found helpful .
A partial list to get you started: "Fairy Tales that Can Change Your Life":
- The Princess Who Stood on Her Own Two Feet
This short story should be read by anyone who struggles with the sense that they may be surrendering too much of themselves in order to maintain a relationship. It is also must reading for all our pre-teen and teenage daughters and sons! Print it out here: The Princess Who Stood on Her Own Two Feet
The following audio collections, all by famous Jungian analyst Clarissa Pinkola Estes, are powerful and healing:
You can easily listen to fairy tales on available audio CDs. (Check to see if your library has them.)
A collection of stories I assign to anyone desiring to “wake up” blocked creativity or a sense of “the possible” in their lives. Myths and stories about the creative cycle.
A collection of powerful stories for anyone who feels they did not have a perfect childhood. Helps identify the gifts such backgrounds can create in us.
A great collection of stories to listen to for women at mid-life who are preparing themselves for a “second harvest”.
I led a group of women through a series of SoulCollage® workshops based on this CD collection. Wow, did we have fun and the transformation and empowerment was powerful to behold. It would be so great to hear this in your twenties as well!
This uses the classic fairy tale to “Illuminate the nature of addictive and self-destructive lifestyles—and the way out.” "Torment and the recovery of the Soul."
“a wise tale about That Which Can Never Die” Stories that show how a life based on “faith and truth, even when twisted by fate, is never in vain.”
Myths and Stories about the Crossing Between Life and Death. “Traditional stories for the bedsides of the dying to comfort them and their loved ones.” A good listen for anyone living or working with the terminally ill, Hospice and Palliative Care workers, Chaplains, etc.
“The most Common Archetypal Motifs in Women’s Dreams: Investigates 17 dream patterns often found I the lives of women today.”
Dr. Estes explains “the miraculous power of story to sustain us during difficult times.”
What are your favorite stories? Do you have a resource you will share with us?
For a visual index of other Strategies of the Spirit posts, see here.
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