What does the horse whisperer do for people with horse problems? “The truth is I help horses with people problems,” he says. His lessons are far more reaching.
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I would like to talk about storytelling as behavioral therapy. As we all know, post-traumatic stress disorder – PTSD, is a significant problems for many of our service members and Veterans. Continue Reading →
The last place you would probably expect to find a standup comedian would be in an Army uniform. But there I was for the better part of a decade, trying to make one of the most dangerous chapters of my life a laughing matter. Not because I didn’t take the Army seriously, much to the contrary. I took it very seriously, which is why when the laughter stopped I was in big trouble. Continue Reading →
The little boy loved to play army with his friends. There were the battles, the victories and the teamwork. As he grew older, he dreamed of doing something meaningful with and for other people. So he enlisted. But he never dreamed he would feel intense isolation after the battles ended and the teams disbanded. He would be alone with flashbacks of fear, guilt and horror.
In the military culture, it made sense to subdue vulnerable feelings – they didn’t exactly promote survival. So the soldier learned a new and necessary habit: emotional silence.
He did not know it, but his brain – like everyone else’s brain – recorded and retained information for the new habit in the basal ganglia. This is where neuropathways are formed for repeated behaviors.
So, later as a civilian, when he wanted to change this habit and he thought of sharing some of his experiences, he found it difficult and seemingly impossible. Relationships suffered. He suffered.
Blessed with a strong intuition, he accepted an opportunity to meet with some vets. As they everrr soooo sloooowly opened up about their feelings, his mirror neurons – like everyone else’s mirror neurons in the group – were activated. These brain cells are believed to mirror the behavior of others, so the quiet observer feels as though he is the actor.
He gradually saw and heard people who had similar and unique stories of horror, fear and guilt. Eventually, he felt that it was OK to share.
And guess what happened next?
In a safe and relaxing atmosphere, the childhood habit of teamwork and camaraderie overrode the adult habit of emotional silence. In other words, brain activity that is related to different habits – even opposite habits – can be remembered and rekindled by environments and situations when there’s a need for that specific habit. That’s what neuroscientist Ann Griel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology tells us, and her work with habit formation won her the prestigious Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science.
There’s more good news. The brain is flexible, or plastic, so people can deliberately reinforce helpful habits. And even in stressful times, those chosen habits will get triggered more easily and more often. For healthcare providers, educators and anyone else interested in behavior change, that’s the best news.
There’s one last point to remember: When you need to use narrative communication to tell a story to influence behavior change, decide on which emotions you want your audience to mirror. Is it compassion and love, or is it guilt and shame?
Narrative Communication to influence Behavior Change
Sharing Learning through Narrative Communication to Influence Behavior Change
We’ve all faced a scenario like this: we sit through a meeting, presentation or conference, listen to catch what we can, take lots of notes, and then think to ourselves “Good—I got it” as the situation ends.
But did we really?
Did we understand what the speaker was trying to communicate?
He can only hear his story: He found her in bed with another man when he returned from an important mission. She can only hear her story: She’s tired of being his second wife – the military is his first.
They’ve got four kids. And along with their wedding vows, they promised each other an ugly divorce – if it came to that.
Each thinks the other is the villain. But they’re about to learn the name of the real enemy. Continue Reading →
Joe read the Go Army ads and enlisted. He’s a good guy. Not Harvard or Stanford material, but a hard worker, a guy who knows that courage is acting in spite of fear. He was also thinking about the post-deployment perks when he signed the papers.
So he goes through kick-butt training, gets deployed, gets knocked down, and two years later comes home with PTSD and mild traumatic brain injury.
We face issues in isolation. Despite the fact that our healthcare system, mental health treatment models and behavioral health interventions are often face-to-face centered or group support-focused, most people face their issues alone. Problems are most challenging when people are in their own space, place and moment. That means without their spouse, friends or healthcare provider nearby. Continue Reading →
Our team here at EmotiveStorytelling.com has just spent two days filming and recording the stories of eleven Veterans, most of whom have seen and survived the worst of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was an extraordinary experience that deeply touched all of us who were involved. Each of these Vets has suffered lasting consequences of their combat experience, including Post-Traumatic Stress, mTBI and other emotional pain associated with combat or trauma. Continue Reading →
We’d like to show you an example of a small part of an emotive story focusing on how emotions can be used to provide a powerful resolution to a story. Healing stories, like most stories, have three elements of plot: Conflict which identifies the problem to be solved; Climax, the point of highest tension, and Resolution, the end of the story. In this clip you see the sad resolution of a story about suicide. This is indeed the end of the story.
Continue Reading →