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'Roving' and recovery in storytelling for mental health: reclaiming the city, resingularising ourselves

Heinemeyer, Catherine ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6300-5544 (2019) 'Roving' and recovery in storytelling for mental health: reclaiming the city, resingularising ourselves. Storytelling, Self, Society: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Storytelling Studies, 14 (2).

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Storytelling is a multi-faceted activity, but the aspects of it most commonly associated with mental health are the therapeutic potential of the stories told, and the unique interpersonal connections which can be created during a storytelling encounter. These two aspects, encapsulated in the image of a storytelling circle, resonate with two of the characteristics of the CHIME model of mental health recovery, “Meaning” and “Connection” (Leamy et al 2011). In the Storytelling class I ran for adults who use mental health services, I saw abundant evidence of the role of the intimate storytelling circle to build a learning community of mutual support, tolerance, and understanding.
However, in Spring 2018, practical necessities led us out of the “safe space” (Boost Rom 1998) of the classroom and into multiple collaborations and interactions in the city, and revealed the recovery potential of an equally integral characteristic of the storytelling craft, namely its roving side. This role, for which Walter Benjamin (1973) coined the term “sailor storyteller”, encompasses the often risky and adventurous physical and social journeys storytellers undertake to discover, research, and experiment with new material. Researching and reinterpreting forgotten stories in the city’s archives, retelling and recording them in public spaces, cross-cultural exchanges and professional recording studios, enabled us in small but significant ways to reclaim the narratives of our tourist city, and “resingularise” our own identities (Guattari 1995).
A focus on roving resonates with critical psychological perspectives on recovery, resisting an overemphasis on the unwell individual, and reasserting the primacy of challenging social exclusion, and aiming for a shared creative process enabling the “mutual recovery” (Crawford et al 2013) of all involved as participants or collaborators. It also suggests a future direction for research into the recovery potential of other dimensions of the storyteller’s role which are less frequently explored within health settings, for example activist, entertainer or trickster.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: An accompanying audio file is available of a poem cited in the article at https://www.artsinhealth.wales/
Status: Published
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF636 Applied psychology
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA790 Mental health
School/Department: School of the Arts
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/3756

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