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December 2, 2009

Telling a new story - Pacific Quest: Wilderness Therapy for Teens & Young Adults

In her book Letters to a Young Therapist, Mary Pipher shares volumes of insight into the process of therapy.  Toward the end of the book Pipher points to the importance of helping clients develop a “new story.”  She says “We therapists are primarily storytellers.  Most clients need stories that allow them to view the world in more optimistic ways” (p. 150).  Although therapists are much more than simple storytellers, this idea shows the value of creating an optimistic narrative.  When people can look past their weaknesses and see their strengths they have the opportunity to define themselves and their story in a new way.

Storytelling proves its value in the rites of passage ceremony.  Many PQ students embark on a three day vision quest where they fast alone in the wilderness.  Upon their return, students present their solo story to the story council.  This is a profound forum where students identify the inner strengths that they tapped into to complete their solos.  It is an opportunity for the students to share their “new story” and the intentions that they are carrying into their lives.  In many ways, individuals mirroring the solo stories reflect the optimistic aspects of the story, aiding the students in their definition of the experience.

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