Storyteaching as a way to enhance mutual understanding

Creative methods in Storyteaching, by Karen Bell, RN, Nancy Boutin, MD

Storyteaching is storytelling with a twist. Both are learned skills, as was aptly demonstrated by two gifted storytellers/teachers. There is one essential and several important structural hints, but the essential issue is setting; that is, a safe place where stories of immense personal importance can be told without time constraints and in a language familiar to the listeners. That means the storyteachers must take the time to know the patient/family life stories and use analogies and language from those stories to which they can readily relate. (Because “time” is an issue here, much of the hour was spent justifying storyteaching as an essential therapeutic intervention.)

Another important skill is the ability to tell the story with lots of holes in it. They call this “interpretative space”. If it’s a story patients/families can relate to, they will fill the holes with their own stuff, so that it indeed becomes their own and has much greater impact.

We were encouraged to develop a set of story templates dealing with difficult themes we encounter each day (e.g., CPR/DNR, AHN, the “When?” question, the use of opioids, etc.). The slides have many tips about this, are exceptional, and will be on the AAHPM website.
Charlie G.

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