Typical Responses

Use of these and similar stories to illustrate points of interpretation have been very effective. In particular, the last one has had a lasting effect in the groups in which I have used it. Any time someone says, "I missed that" or "I don't understand" the other group members easily remind him or her of the story, the patient laughs, asks for a repetition, and listens very carefully.

The Group Therapist ,4.s Storyteller 9


These techniques of suggesting an interpretation through a story are quite easy to apply. If a therapist cannot find such illustrations in his or her own experience, it would be perfectly appropriate to adopt any of mine by adding the words, "I have heard of a person who..."

In relation to contraindications, when using any reference to actual patients, one must be careful that information is so vague or disguised that no one's confidentiality is ever compromised. It, too, is to be understood that whenever a therapist relates a story that it requires very delicate handling since the recipient of the story, whether an individual or the group as a whole, can easily perceive it as "blaming the victim." This can be avoided, if the necessary environment of safety and collegiality has been established.


Arendt, H. (1968). Men in Dark Times. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. Crawford, R., Brown, B, & Crawford, P. (2004). Storytelling in Therapy. Cheltenham, UK: Nelson Thomes, Ltd. Jones, E. (1957). Sigmund Freud: Life and Work. London: Hogarth Press. Maslow. A. H. (1968). Toward a Psychology of Being (Second edition.). Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand.

Sullivan, H.S. (1968). The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry. New York: Norton.

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