A warm welcome to my storytelling blog

Thank you for looking at my blog.
Stories can please, thrill, delight, enchant, challenge, distract, tease, disappoint, anger, charm, patronize, disgust, beguile......
But I personaly believe thay can do no harm.
I would be delighted if you were to leave feed back.

25 May 2010


Thank goodness, the above title did not transform it's self into a foreign, though storytelling looking text!
I went to Aderyn which is a rehabilitation centre for forensic psychiatric patients.
I started with 'The King & The Corps' Which is a long, long, long, long, long, long delightful, enchanting, seductive, dark but light, I-want-to-tell-more-but-can't-in-one-sitting, kind of story.
There was only two patients there but both of them were completely present in the story and talked and discussed the dilemmas at the end of the stories. Passive observers of the stories they were not. When I said the monk came to the King every day for ten years one of the listeners spontaneously told me how many days that would be. Good, I'm glad I was told but I did not retain that information, nor is my arithmetic that good. You do the sums, how many days are there in 10 years? Remember the leap years!!
Anyway. I enjoyed telling and sharing storytelling time.
They asked me back, in fact for next week!
We'll see.

15 May 2010

नातिओंल नुर्स्सेस डे

The above title says : 'National Nurses Day' but for some reason the computer changed it into a language I don't recognise. Anyway I will continue and have an argument with the lap-top later.
At the hospital I work in, to celebrate good old Florence Nightingales Birthday on the 12th May, an internal nurses conference was held. I gave a presentation about the storytelling work I have been doing. I ended the presentation by reading something I rather like from the philosopher Henry D. Thoreau (1817 - 1862)
'.....I see this art every time I walk into an environment where a nurse is busy 'creating' the day for an other person. They busy using the light, space, sound words, movement and touch to deliver the message of care. And like true artists they are willing, indeed they see it as essential, to share their performance with others.
It is something to be able to paint a picture, or to carve a statue and so make a few objects beautiful. But it is far more glorious to carve and paint the atmosphere in which we work to affect the quality of the day.....'

I think that storytelling helps me a great deal to create a space for patients where they in turn can be creative and think about things in a different way.

The feed back from the presentation was good. In fact the very next day I had a 'phone call inviting me to go to a rehabilitation unit to start a storytelling club and to do a presentation at a conference for rehabilitation some time later this year.
At the conference the head of nursing from Partnerships in Care gave a talk and shared with us how we face a time of 'slash and burn' as the economic situation continues to be poor. Mental Health is the 'Cinderella' of the health agenda and that is where the first financial cut are made. As nurses we were told to keep our eye on the horizon and spot a band waggon in the distance and get on it. The band wagon I spot is storytelling, and I'm already on it. I think PiC are being wise by joining and supporting me in that. There support does continue as they have just this week agreed to give me finical support to attend the 'Storytelling for Health' symposium in Glasgow next month, which I am looking forward to a great deal.

20 Apr 2010

Horatio in Prague

I have just returned from the 2nd international psychiatric nurses congress which was held in the beautiful city of Prague. Despite the volcano Eyjafjallojokull shrugging her shoulders and causing travel chaos, I did return only 24 hours later that expected, but that is an other story of adventure and a happy ending!

Horatio is an association which started as a network for psychiatric/mental health nurses in 2005. It was officially established as an association in April 2006. It has two aims:
  • To advocate for the interest of the members by providing in-put into the decision making process on issues relevant to psychiatric/mental health nursing in Europe
  • Aims to promote the development of psychiatric/mental health nursing practice, education, management and research.

I presented a workshop there on storytelling and the possible applications it can have in a mental health setting. 22 people attended the workshop. I explained a bit about who I am. I explained what I mean by storytelling, the work I have done at Llanarth Court Hospital in the past two years and what results I have experienced on the wards and patient feed back. I also had a bit of time to tell a short story. The hour I had seemed very short. There were lots of relevant questions from the participants. The immediate feed back was positive. I would have liked to have done more activities with the group and enabled them to experience more of the fun of a storytelling club, but there just was not enough time.

I hope I have planted a seed for some of my nursing colleagues. If you are one of the people that took part in the workshop and you liked what you heard, tell others. If you liked the story I told, its not mine to keep so tell it to your patients and pass it on. That is what storytelling is about. Please leave feed back too if you attended the workshop. Thank you.

11 Apr 2010

It been a while

I've missed filling in the blog the last while just because I have been busy doing other things, all to do with storytelling of course!
I've just got back from the hospital and thought I'd sit down and catch up strait away. Since the last time I blogged I've done four clubs on the wards, and impromptu storytelling on the ward I work on day to day. I have started taking objects into the wards, such as a fan, some silk roses one red one white, some un-carded wool, a rough old root from a tree that looks like a lot of different creatures, depending on how you look at it. A Russian doll, a piece of colourful fabric. The idea is to create a story or just explore where the objects came from? Who's where they? Are they magical? are they quite ordinary? The seem to spice up the imagination and create a sense of fun.
I've also been working on a hand-out for the workshop I'll be doing next Saturday at the International Psychiatric nurses Congress in Prague. Needless to say I have also been quite preoccupied with preparing the actual workshop too. I am looking forward to it with mixed feelings of worry and exhilaration. In the next week or two the article I wrote will be published in the 'Quality Network In Forensic Mental Health Newsletter'. Watch this blog to get the link.
Sadly I could not make the Newent Storytelling club due to work commitments but did go to the Wolverhampton club run by Peter Chand. It was very vibrant and good to be able to tell a story to so many listeners, and listen to so many stories. If anybody is wondering whether its worth going to Wolverhampton for the storytelling club, I'd say its well worth it.

26 Feb 2010

Art Therapist

I spent the afternoon today telling stories and having some story telling fun with the Welsh Art Therapist. They had had a business meeting in the morning, and seemed to have worked hard, ready to sit back and listen to stories. At first I thought I would not have enough to tell and that it would all get a bit tedious, but on the contrary, they were all good listeners and asked questions and we had some good conversations about the stories. The stories they told about the object that they took out of the basket were very good. If you are a storyteller and Art Therapists ask you to tell them some stories, just say yes. I had a lovely time.

21 Feb 2010

Working towards Prague

Last night a group of people gathered together to do me a great favor. They let me run through what I might do at the workshop I'll be running at the International Psychiatric Nurses Conference in Prague, this April. I'm so pleased I had that opportunity because basically it was rubbish and it showed me clearly what I need to do to get the workshop together. The feed back was brilliant and has helped me see clearly what I need to work on. Lots of work to do but I'm looking forward to it. A big thank you to those 7 of you who gave you time so generously.

12 Feb 2010

A third ward

I was asked to go and run a storytelling group on a third ward in the hospital. It was during what is called 'Patient protected time'. It is a male ward. I felt it would be a challenge to engage them so went in with my 'rain stick' which attracted some attention. The timing was bad because as I arrive a patient was behaving particularly badly and needed to be escorted to the intensive care suite. The group that gathered in the side room to listen to a story was a group of four. Not bad at all. One asked if he could draw whilst listening. Great idea! He just happened to be drawing a unicorn, how fitting. I felt I needed to engage them quickly with something that was definitely NOT for children, so I started with 'The King and The Corpse' These stories are being used by clinical psychologist Steve Killick in Cardiff NHS adolescents units. They are very powerful stories and have riddles at the end, with no right or wrong answer. There was a very lively and interesting discussion afterwards. The patients asked if I would come back again next week. I left it with them to discuss the options with there ward manager.

After the group, I offered to go and tell a story to the patient that had been taken to the intensive care suite. This was generally seen as a good idea by the ward staff. I suddenly went blank and was really struggling to think of a story to tell. (Just trust the Story I said to my self) The one that came to mind was a Mexican story about La Bruha, who out smarted a judge and escaped from her prison cell with the use of magic. It is a short story which I think was all that was needed. The patient listened and seemed to relax a bit.
I returned to the nurses office and the Consultant happened to be there. Conversationally he asked me what story I told. He looked a little worried when I told him and asked if nobody had told me that that particular patient had absconded only a few weeks before? Oh heck I thought, out of all the stories I had to tell, one of escaping a prison cell! I worried about it on the way home, but then came to the conclusion that telling a story about La Bruha escaping with the use of magic, was unlikely to encourage a second abscondtion. For me the story is more about the kindness of La Bruha and Judges fear of something he did not understand so there for he wanted to get rid of La Bruha. It seems to be more about discrimination that abscondtion. At the end of the day it's just a story!