Promoting understanding – Understanding and misunderstanding
The story “Good Morning Everyone!” can be used to encourage the listener to adopt a creative approach to gossip. It demonstrates how a victim of gossip can take proactive steps against the “rumour mill” by spreading counter-rumours.
Gossip, rumour, self-confidence
I: Destabilisation through counter-rumours (example, positive model)
There was once a priest who lived in a small village far
out in the countryside in Bavaria. He was a young and good-looking priest who
lived alone, which made him a figure of enormous interest for the other villagers.
One morning he got up, opened his window, hung out two sets of bedlinen to air
– as was the custom in that land – and drank his coffee in peace. Good morning
everyone! Now he had plenty of material for his next sermon…
Promoting understanding – Understanding and misunderstanding
The story “Without Words” offers examples of how body language can be interpreted. It can be used as therapeutic homework to provide young people with autism with a new way of interpreting other people’s behaviour, and to occupy highly gifted young people with observation tasks as a distraction from provocative or depressive behaviour.
While I was driving home I approached a zebra
crossing. A pedestrian was walking along the pavement, still a little way
before the crossing. I stopped. It is possible to tell whether someone is going
to cross the road several metres before they stop or look around, because they
make a small turning motion with their body or head which foreshadows the
There are situations
in which it can be useful to observe these minimal movements which anticipate actual
movements. When the person leading a committee meeting or seminar asks for a
volunteer, for example, a long pause often sets in while everyone waits to see
if someone else is enthusiastic enough to volunteer first. And yet the
individual who finally volunteers after lots of encouragement is always the one
who moved immediately after the request was made – by leaning forwards slightly,
by opening his or her mouth briefly, by uncrossing his or her legs, by sighing
or by any other movement which might serve as a non-verbal introduction to a
spoken contribution. If I want to circumvent this tedious process, I address a
direct question to the person who moved first after I asked for a volunteer,
enquiring whether he or she would like to take on the task. Experience shows
that the answer is always yes.
What we perceive is determined more by our biology and biography than by objective facts, and the feedback effects from both our sensory perceptions and our interpretations largely drown out what is allegedly real about the world.
She asked her mother, “Mum, mum, mum, what is real, real, real?”
“What do you mean, what is real, real, real?”
“I mean without this echo, echo, echo.”
“Which echo, echo, echo?
Right here and now is real, real, real.”
“I see, see, see.”
And then she understood, understood, understood.
(From: Stefan Hammel: Handbook of Therapeutic Storytelling. Sories and Metaphors in Psychotherapy, Child and Family Therapy, Medical Treatment, Coaching and Supervision, Routledge 2019)
« Terminé! » , cria l’œuf quand il fut pondu. « Maintenant terminé! » , cria le tétard quand il fut sortie de l’œuf. « Maintenant je suis au complet! », cria la créature quand elle eut deux pattes. « Je suis enfin au complet de la tête aux pieds! » , cria l’être, quand il eut quatre pattes et une longue queue. « Qui sait ce qui va désormais encore se produire… » , dit la grenouille quand elle fut terminée.
All thought systems – and therefore all human ways of interpreting the world – have been devised by humans. We often get the world we think up and believe in; at a personal level, this means that we become what we believe in and what we think, hope and fear.
This rule has far-reaching implications in terms of both
our health and our psychological, material, financial and social conditions. We
can of course share our individual worlds with others by communicating them
verbally and non-verbally, and to a certain extent turn our environment into
what we believe it to be. All reality is created on the basis of a communicated
and therefore shared world.
Mohammed created a world. Freud created a world. Tolkien created a world. McKinsey created a world. The Aldi owners created a world. Bill Gates created a world. Can I too create a world?
A German sales company uses the advertising slogan, “Every week a new world”. New worlds are indeed created every week. Most of them are not very original; they swim in the wake of the established worlds and do not gain any traction.
What kind of a world have you created? A philosophical
world? A spiritual world? A commercial world? A mathematical world? A social
world? An aesthetic world? A material world? A communicative world? A world of
fun? An ethical world?
You might be thinking to yourself, “But I haven’t
created any world at all!” I don’t believe that for a second. As soon as you
look at something – anything – and inadvertently think something new, you start
to create a world.
(From: Stefan Hammel: Handbook of Therapeutic Storytelling. Sories and
Metaphors in Psychotherapy, Child and Family Therapy, Medical Treatment,
Coaching and Supervision, Routledge 2019)
Un jour, le loup de mer reҫu la visite du loup de terre. Les deux se connaissaient déjà depuis l’école des loups. Le loup de mer avait parcouru le monde et vécut beaucoup d’aventures et il rentra chez lui riche de trésors et d’expériences. Le loup de terre était resté chez soi dans sa tannière. Il rencontra une louve de terre et eut des louveteaux de terre. Et maintenant, il a beaucoup de petits-louveteaux et des arrière-petits-louveteaux, et tous sont devenus de vrais, bons loups de terre.
«Parfois j’aimerais refaire ma vie», dit le loup de terre au loup de mer. «C’est la même chose pour moi», dit ce dernier. «Je ferais beaucoup de choses différemment», dit le loup de terre. «Oui, moi aussi», répondit le loup de mer. «Je naviguerais les océans», rêva le loup de terre. «Je me marierais», soupira le loup de mer. «Je vivrais des aventures», expliqua le loup de terre. «J’aurais des louveteaux», dit le loup de mer. «Je serais un loup de mer riche. J’aurais vécu des expériences périlleuses et magnifiques, dont je pourrais raconter les histoires», dit le loup de terre avec enthousiasme. «Moi, j’aurais des petits-enfants et des arrière-petits-enfants qui m’aimeraient et qui s’occuperaient de moi quand je serais vieux et malade», assura le loup de mer.
«Et ce serait moi qui serait maintenant assis avec toi dans cette tannière
de loup de mer», continua le loup de terre, « …et moi avec toi… »,
rajouta le loup de mer. Le loup de terre hocha la tête : «Et puis
maintenant tu me dirais : “Parfois, j’aimerais bien refaire ma vie” et
moi, je répondrais : “Oui, c’est la même chose pour moi.”»
A number of researchers wanted to find out why salmon die after spawning, so they fished a number of specimens out of the river, fitted them with radio transmitters and placed them back into the sea. And what do you think happened? The animals stayed alive.
The story “Renewed Life” makes it clear that life plans and goals play a vital role in an individual’s happiness, health and life expectancy.
(Stefan Hammel, Handbook of Therapeutic Storytelling. Stories and Metaphors in Psychotherapy, Child and Family Therapy, Medical Treatment, Coaching and Supervision. Routledge 2019)
“My aim in life is to leave as much healing and joy in my wake as possible,” I said to a friend. “That’s a lofty goal,” he said. “I’m happy if I can avoid causing too much harm.”
The story “My Aim in Life” calls into question the absoluteness of existing life goals, and encourages the listener to formulate his or her own values.The story “Renewed Life” makes it clear that life plans and goals play a vital role in an individual’s happiness, health and life expectancy.
When I visited the Pisa Baptistry close to the city’s cathedral, I thought to myself, ‘They’ve turned it into a temple to commerce!’ It raised my hackles to pay to enter a church and then find myself surrounded by hundreds of frantic tourists rushing around and taking photographs of everything. Many kept checking their watches, because a singer was paid to perform every hour in order to demonstrate the building’s wonderful acoustics. Should a church not be a place of prayer and devotion? After climbing up to the gallery, I thought, ‘Surely no one will object if I turn this temple to Mammon back into a house of God.’ It took me a while to screw up the courage, but finally I sang the opening line of a psalm loudly and clearly into the open space, ‘Laudate omnes gentes, laudate dominum.’ The acoustics really were superb. Everything went quiet in the church, and although everyone looked around to find out who was singing, the echoes made it difficult for them to locate me. The security staff searching frantically for the perpetrator also found had a hard task on their hands, but by the end of the verse one had spotted me. He waited for me to start singing again in order to catch me red-handed, since it would otherwise have been easy for me to deny my act of sacrilege. I looked around the building in a daze. “Thank you,” said a woman standing next to me. “That was wonderful.” I too felt better after having sung the psalm. When the last echo had faded away, I left the house of God, giving a sly grin to the security guard who was still watching me.
story “Sacrilege” illustrates that standing up for your values represents a
value in itself. In cases where these values are opposed to the interests of
others, it is often necessary to find a balance between defending your ideals
in public and taking a less conspicuous approach. The story can also be used to
encourage clients not to hide their light under a bushel and to present a
self-confident image during interactions with others.
On October 15th to 18th, 2020, the 3rd International Festival of Therapeutic Storytelling will be held in Otterberg / Germany. The festival is organized by the Institute of Hypno-Systemic Consultation in Kaiserslautern (Stefan Hammel) and the Milton-Erickson-Institute Luxembourg (Marie-Jeanne Bremer). Congress languages will be German, English and French. For further information in English or French click on the folder shown below:
The festival is designed for people working in consulting, educational, medical or psychosocial professions. There will be guests from Algeria, Austria, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, USA and other countries. We will have an open stage for participants presenting their own short lectures or stories.
Fee: 460 €. Early booking prices : Until end of… July 2019: 350 €… November 2019: 390 €… March 2020: 430 € / June 20: 340 €. While early birds can save a lot, the cancellation fee (for cancellations till 4 weeks before the festival) is only 25 €.
For registration or further information please use the contact form, write to stefan.hammel @ hsb-westpfalz.de or contact the Institute of Hypno-Systemic Consultation via 0049-631-3702093.
Presenters and topics on the Festival
The festival is designed for people working in consulting, educational, medical or psychosocial professions. There will be guests from Algeria, Austria, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Scotland, Switzerland, the USA and other countries. We will also have an open stage for participants presenting their own short lectures or stories. As far as scheduled, these will be the main speakers and topics:
Aceval, Charles Naceur (DZ)
Audeguy, Karine (F)
Bartl, Reinhold (A)
Bremer, Marie-Jeanne (L)
Eberle, Thomas (D)
Fretland, Ragnhild (N)
Guilloux, Christine (F)
Hammel, Stefan (D)
Hürzeler, Adrian (CH)
Lindheim, Maren (N)
Long, Kathleen (GB)
Lamprecht, Katharina (D)
Neumeyer, Annalisa (D)
Niedermann, Martin (CH)
Schneider, Peter (D)
Spitzbarth, Alexandra (D)
Sugarman, Lawrence (USA)
Vlamynck Astrid (D)
Weinspach, Claudia (D)
Wilk, Daniel (D)
Wessel, Sonja (D)
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