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Holding Space and Holding Hearts: The Journey of a First-Time Storyteller (Part 1)

Storytelling is how we connect as humans. It’s how we share information with one another, and it crosses all boundaries: cultural, generational, and traditional. Digital storytelling is a lasting means of capturing, communicating, and preserving some of the most important events and details of our lives. Although the digital aspect of what I do is relatively new, storytelling is as old as time.

In its simplest form, counselling is storytelling. 

Recently, I worked with first-time storyteller and clinical counsellor, Tina Antrobus, to bring her own story to digital reality, and I want to share her journey with you.

Storytelling in all its forms, whether verbal, visual works of art, written poetry, etc., acts as a vehicle for healing. Storytelling in the counselling environment helps us remember and acknowledge our lived experiences; it allows us to identify and acknowledge our regrets and successes; it helps us understand how we came to our present situations, how we’re coping – or not – and whether we are healing and growing. Tina’s curiosity about how digital storytelling could factor into her own life, and whether it could be a means to connect more thoughtfully with her clients, led her to explore creating her digital story with me. 

What makes digital storytelling so valuable? 

Positive outcomes like clarity and validation may be realized merely through the processes of gathering and recording details, organizing thoughts, choosing imagery, and holding space for the story itself. Ultimately, as the storyteller, you will have a permanent record to refer to again and again, a means of sharing it with close friends and family, or even contribute to the public domain. 

One important note about digital storytelling and the inherent benefits that may be realized by creating one for yourself is, the choice to share it with others does not have to factor into the telling and production of the story, at all. That is a deeply personal decision and it can impact the outcome. The decision not to share your story with others may allow you to delve deeper, exposing truths that you might otherwise feel uncomfortable sharing. I have helped many people create their own digital story who have never shared it with others, yet still benefit greatly from the process.

The key is holding space and heart for your journey. 

Tina decided to create her own digital story to learn more about the process. When we started she acknowledged feeling nervous and excited, as she was sharing from the perspective of a client in this case, when she is typically on the other side of the equation, acting in the capacity of a clinical counsellor. It is not usually her personal story that is being shared. What I hoped to observe and obtain while helping Tina create her own digital story is improved sensitivity and awareness, while safeguarding “storyteller well-being”. This is so critical as I witness and capture the very personal and often intimate details that are shared with me.

I always strive to create a safe place where you may express yourself freely and I am mindful of the need to improve my awareness of the mental health supports that might be necessary, so that you as the storyteller feel safe to express your vulnerabilities. This is what led me to connect with Tina. I believe that by helping Tina tell her own story, it will be an opportunity for me to learn and grow along with her, and my future digital storyteller clients will benefit from the experience.

Follow along with Tina

Tina and I engaged in four sessions together, resulting in a digital story that will be shared at the October 25th Evening of Digital Storytelling at artsPlace in Canmore. Tina’s story was not only captured and preserved digitally, but also provides an insider’s look at the process of co-creating a digital story with me. Following completion of her digital story we had a second interview which will be shared in September.

Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter and YouTube channel so you can follow along and share in this process, and if you’d like to book a free digital storytelling info session with me, click here.  

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