Story Guide

As a storytelling guide (facilitator), you encounter all kinds of stories and to cause no harm in your story work. Sometimes with some of those stories emotions happen, and you as the facilitator need to ensure you provide safe space for all, resources, and help if need be.

If you are not comfortable with strong emotions, certain topics, and being able to hold safe space for all the storytellers, maybe being a storytelling guide is not for you, and that’s OK.

There is so much you have to consider when you decide to step into this type of facilitation role; besides handling strong emotions, your language, including your body language, needs to be as neutral as possible, and you don’t offer advice, but instead, ask questions to help guide the conversation. There is also power dynamics within your group you need to be aware of as well as cultural diversity to think about.

You also have to realize it’s not about you. Being a facilitator is NEVER about you, it’s about the learners, the storytellers, and the stories. You also need to understand and respect that each storyteller brings something to the table – so the learning process is dynamic, a 2-way process, and not about how much you know or about your stories.

For me, being a storytelling guide has been one of the greatest works I’ve been honored to participate in. I’ve been facilitating digital storytelling workshops for 10+ years and my story facilitating skills continues to grow as I learn something new with every workshop I’ve done Y and it is something I hope to do for a long-time to come. If I cannot be a storytelling facilitator, then let me continue to be a story keeper or carrier and continue to honor the story and storytellers I’ve met Y

Here’s some resources to help you think about before you facilitate a story workshop:

Transformative Storytelling for Social Change – Before the Story Circle: https://www.transformativestory.org/what-are-the-methods-for-transformative-storytelling/personal-storytelling-digital-storytelling/steps-to-the-digital-storytelling-process/before-the-story-circle/

Transformative Storytelling for Social Change – Ethical Practice: https://www.transformativestory.org/good-practice-in-transformative-storytelling/ethical-practice/

UC Davis – Facilitating a Story Circle: https://ucanr.edu/sites/tfc/files/134496.pdf

Community Toolbox – Section 2. Developing Facilitation Skills: https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/leadership/group-facilitation/facilitation-skills/main

5 Things Never to Say to Someone who is Struggling: https://www.elephantjournal.com/2018/04/5-things-never-to-say-to-someone-who-is-struggling/

And also, you need to take care of yourself as a group facilitator: https://www.stroke.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Taking-Care-of-Yourself-as-a-Support-Group-Facilitator.pdf

Not a link but you should look at your state’s requirement, and your organization’s requirement for “Mandated Reporting” there’s somethings you may hear that require you contacting public safety officials, such as Elder abuse or child abuse.

This is by no means a complete list, just things to help you think about as you start your storytelling journey, and to help you think about what kind of training you’ll need before guiding your first story workshop.

Story on peeps, story on.

  • Laura

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