Therapeutic Storytelling

Most adoptive parents tell a variation on the story, “The Day We Met You,” or “Our Story,” or “How You Came Into My Life.” This story shares the adoption preparation the parents went through, the day we met you, our first weeks together, and sometimes even further into family life. The goal is to help a child who was adopted to understand and appreciate their place in the family. Depending on the age of the child, the type of adoption, etc, the story is also meant to help a child to understand the similarities and differences in the story of their life from other siblings and friends.

During my daughter, Hannah’s, attachment therapy, the therapist read therapeutic stories to Hannah. These were stories that provided new ways for Hannah to understand and examine her emotions. The therapist also had me tell Hannah variations of the “Hannah story.” Throughout Hannah’s therapy, I’ve become convinced of the power of storytelling to heal and comfort.

A story can be therapeutic because you’re pointing out that another person/character is similar to your own child. It can be therapeutic because you’re giving your child an example of how to deal with a big emotion. It can be therapeutic because it’s giving your child a new way to look at themselves in a new, more positive way.

If you’re not experienced at telling your children stories, let me share a few tips to get you started with general storytelling:

Therapeutic stories give children new ways to look at difficult issues in their lives. It allows them to understand and feel emotions and issues in new ways.

Susan M. Ward, an older child adoption specialist, provides parent coaching and resources for adoptive families. Susan’s training has focused on adoption issues relating to attachment, grief, and parenting. She’s also the adoptive parent of a child healed from RAD (reactive attachment disorder). Her website is Older Child Adoption Support.