Using Stories to Build Bridges with Traumatized Children: Creative Ideas for Therapy, Life Story Work, Direct Work and Parenting, by Kim S. Golding, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Philadelphia, ISBN: 978-1-84905-540-6, 2014, 205 pages including index, $24.00.
Any social work student interested in working with children and teenagers will thoroughly enjoy this book. Current practitioners in the area of children and families will appreciate a different perspective on the art of storytelling, providing specific types of stories to tell with specific types of clients. Golding leads the reader through the basics of understanding the history and importance of storytelling for successful practice application.
The book begins with an introductory chapter focusing on the power of storytelling in the practice of healing. Chapter 2 is written with the practitioner in mind, encouraging the creation of personal or imaginary stories to introduce into practice. In this chapter, Golding explains the different types of stories, and then provides the reader with step-by-step suggestions for story development, focusing on theme, setting, main characters, making sense of the story, helpers throughout the story, and the resolution.
The following seven sections provide the reader with 21 actual case vignettes, taken from Golding’s practice, featuring the corresponding stories that were told during therapy. There are three case vignettes and corresponding stories for each theme. Themes focus around helping children feel safe and secure, emotional connectivity, relaxation, regulation, and reflection. Additional themes include relationship management between children and parents, children and peers, and children with siblings. Another important theme within these sections is trust and dependability. Golding explains that to work effectively with children, especially when trust has been violated, the stories must show support and understanding of the child.
Section 6 of the book is written with the parent-child relationship as its focus. The wonderful aspect of this section is that both children and parents, as they read and listen, will be able to apply each story to themselves. The unique section encourages parents to be creative and develop their own story, their own way of storytelling, as well as use their own stories to help themselves.
The final three stories focus on practitioners. These stories serve to provide insight, understanding, and encouragement to practitioners who often find themselves struggling with burnout and heartache.
Another unique quality of Golding’s book is the importance of tapping into the practitioner’s creativity with zealousness and on behalf of clients. Children yearn to tell stories and to listen to stories. Golding embraces the use of storymaking and telling to enhance our clients’ recovery, as well as to strengthen and enhance the skills of the therapist. Golding’s skillful writing style pulled me directly into the case examples, and I could imagine Golding reading or telling these stories, almost as if I were there in the room with her. The book is a delightful read, eloquently written, and will continue to be an active part of my practice with children.
Reviewed by Marian Swindell, Ph.D., MSW, Associate Professor, Mississippi State University.