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Telling the Story as an Epic Tale

Often when I am counseling, it is hard for me to get in with a client before he or she gets tripped up1 by the old material2 and stops being able to take the old hurt seriously enough to really be on his or her own side. 

One thing that has worked has been to have the client tell the little person’s3 story as an epic tale, like the tales in every culture that survive through the ages—tales of huge endeavor, difficult journeys, love and betrayal; of hard times people didn’t think they could survive. As the client follows the heroic arc of the tale, it interrupts how he or she was treated dismissively when trying to get a hand4 with the feelings in the past. The epic quality helps the client make the hurt big enough to explain the enormous feelings of devastation that can otherwise seem out of place or wrong, which allows him or her to discharge more fully. 

Tim5 is trying to get us to discharge our miserable childhoods so that our present is not contaminated with tragedy. We have habits of thinking that “it wasn’t that bad,” but the giveaway6 is the way that we treat ourselves and each other in the present and the gloomy, flat outlook we carry around. 

If I can be with a client in his or her huge tale, there is no room for dramatizing the hurts in the present or for dismissing them as not that bad.

Christine Marnane
Kew, Victoria, Australia
Reprinted from the newsletter of the Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, RC Community 


1 “Tripped up” means confused, redirected.
2 “Material” means distress.
3 The “little person” is the client when he or she was very young.
4 “A hand” means some help.
5 Tim Jackins
6 “The giveaway” means what reveals that as untrue.


Last modified: 2020-07-01 08:50:08+00