Posted in expressive arts, Fairy Tales, Therapeutic Story

Constructing A therapeutic Story – The Ugly Duckling Example

Lots of children‘s stories can be used as therapeutic stories. They have the elements that is required for a story to be therapeutic. The ugly duckling ticks all the boxes.  See how it fulfills the criteria below:
image•Metaphorical Conflict                                           Birth of  funny looking duckling.
•Unconscious processes and potentials         Mother defends him, cites positive qualities, gets a first look at swans.
•Parallel learning situations                                 Learning to swim, take care of himself and fly.
•Metaphorical crisis                                                Attack in the marsh, cold winter in the pond
•New identification                                                  Beholds beautiful new image in the water.
•Celebration                                                                The old swans are in awe of him
Now construct your own therapeutic story! Use the boxes below.

Constructing a Therapeutic Story – Checklist

Identify the emotional problem or issue
Set a therapeutic objective – what would you like to change?  


Think of a strategy to achieve the change

Base the story on a metaphorical conflict in terms that the child can relate to – a character, a place, a plot – grappling with the same emotional problem as the child.

What similar stories or real life experiences could be used?



Start constructing the story by thinking out the ending in outline and then list the main stages on how to get there.  (Start establishing a similar situation, crisis, bridge to change, change, positive journey, positive outcome, celebration)situation


Write the start – set the scene  


Develop the plot by showing the main character using similar methods to deal with the problem as those used by the child – personify unconscious processes and potential
Reach a metaphorical crisis

Construct the shift, the change of direction, using parallel learning situations.  Use a bridge section to avoid moving too quickly


Show the journey from crisis to positive solution and a new sense of identification
End the story with a celebration and sense of community