Three frequently asked questions about fairytale counseling
Updated: Dec 20, 2018
As with any new and unique method (sure feels strange to call a genre that has existed for thousands of years 'new'!), questions and perhaps even doubts occur. I would like to take this space to answer 3 frequently asked questions about the fairytale counseling methodology – and would also like to encourage you to send me any further questions you may have.
Question 1: "Will working with fairytales really make me feel better?"
Absolutely. Fairytale counseling definitely has positive effects on the participants' emotional life and sense of well-being. For one, fairytales always help you feel more connected. To the storyteller-counselor, to the community, to the past generations who also experienced that story. When discovering a fairytale, it’s impossible to feel lonely.
Moreover, fairytales reenergize you. They give you a new perspective on your own life. They help you see your current challenges within a larger context – they show you why that challenge is necessary in your life, and they also tell you that a solution is coming your way. Fairytales are always a source of encouragement and hope.
Fairytales are effective guides: they help us notice alternative solutions, they help us deal with challenges and also with change. They provide us with advice on how to build meaningful, resilient relationships. In short: they help us restore balance, grow, and change our lives for the better. How do they do this? Read more about the general ways in which this method works here.
Question 2: "Aren't fairytales super old-fashioned? Is this really relevant for me?"
Some say that fairytales are old-fashioned, depicting a form of life that is long gone. But if you go deep enough to understand the real meaning behind the symbolic language used by the fairytales, you will find universal wisdom about how life, relationships, and love work. Ancient wisdom polished by centuries of humankind’s collective experiences.
Ever noticed how certain themes keep recurring in your life? And how certain topics keep reappearing in movies, arts, and all other genres of social discourse? Those same themes are represented in fairytales, in a timeless and ever-relevant manner. With the right facilitation and counseling, fairytales can help you gain a fresh insight on the topics that keep you up at night.
To give a specific example: fairytales are often criticized for the way they depict gender, and the argument against tales in this context is very clear: fairytales often depict women as the helpless ones who need to be saved by the male protagonist-prince, as the characters whose only opportunity in life is to do domestic chores. And on a more superficial level, this criticism is true – but we do not work at all with that superficial level. Fairytale counseling works on a different, much deeper, symbolic level, and it reaches down to an archaic meaning of fairytales that is much more fundamental then our current social constructs of e.g. gender. In a fairytale, all characters are a representation of a different part of your own soul (very similarly to dreams). Whichever gender you identify with, that princess is a part of you, and that prince is another part of you. In summary: this deeper level of meaning is based on the very fundamental structures in which are souls are structured, and so it is timeless, and still very relevant today.
Question 3: "This sounds childish and ridiculous. Fairytale counseling? Soul search? Change my life with the help of fairytales?!!"
Childish as it may seem, working with fairytales is actually a professional methodology that is based on some key ideas of psychiatrist and psychoanalyst C. G. Jung. It is based on the fact that fairytales are in fact a symbolic language, and working with those symbols can have very positive effects on your life and wellbeing. Fairytales are built in a similar structure as our personality is, and they operate with images, just like our subconscious. Working with fairytales is a bit like working with dreams.
Fairytale counseling is a unique methodology that combines elements of art therapy and narrative techniques. (Read more about the approach on my blog here.) We don’t just read fairytales for the fun of it: you are always invited to find your own, personal interpretation: Where are you in the story? How are the people, events and themes of your own life reflected in the story? And what can you learn from all this? How deep you go on this path offered by the tale, is your decision – but the path is definitely there.
I hope that the above points help clarify some of the questions and doubts you may have had about fairytale counseling. If you have more, you are always welcome to drop me a note and ask! And if it sounds interesting, why don't you give it a try yourself? Feel free to get in touch with me and book your first, free consultation session.