Module Summary 

This module demonstrates how to create a safe space for facilitating storytelling processes. The module outlines how this process starts with building a trusting relationship with fellow narrators and creating a safe space in which they feel comfortable sharing their story. Other issues involve gaining the respect of narrators and patients, providing training for non/verbal skills during storytelling and developing individuals’ ability to empathise. Also, this module provides tips for how to facilitate dialogue and how to maintain the flow of storytelling.

Key areas covered

  • Establishing trust: how make sure that the person you are talking to knows that what they share stays with you.
  • Listening: how to talk people through their issues, and how to avoid adding to opinions and advice.
  • Stay affirming: how to share stories with narratives, how to thank them for sharing their story, and how to pay attention.
  • Ground rules for creating a safe space, such as refraining from commenting or offering advice, and practising empathy instead of sympathy.
  • Ethical concerns surrounding story-documentation and informed consent.

Learning outcomes

  1. Understanding the story of the institution.
  2. Defining and applying Global Reference Theory and & Quantum Dynamic Spatial Architecture.
  3. Developing resilience.
  4. Designing safe spaces.

Importance of module to healthcare delivery

Creating safe spaces for storytelling presents new opportunities and challenges for instructors. It is necessary to delineate what a safe space might look like in the education context. It is proposed that experiential learning can result in deeper learning when conducted in such a space, which consists of appropriate physical aspects, trust, respect, suspension of judgment and censorship, a willingness to share, and high-quality listening. Part of the transformative power of stories stems from the intimacy and vulnerability that comes with listening to and sharing them. That power comes with the responsibility to be mindful about the planning and execution of the storytelling projects. It is important to recognise the nature of the stories shared and consciously ensuring that appropriate aftercare will be needed, both for the healthcare professional and the community around which the vulnerable person relies.

Importance of module to individual healthcare professionals

Listening to and working with the stories of others is a transformative experience, but it can be difficult, especially when interviewing someone who has faced hardship or trauma. Secondary stress and “compassion fatigue” are common consequences of participating in storytelling practices, and this will certainly be relevant in the case of healthcare professionals using storytelling in their professional practices. This module will help health professionals learn how to overcome the challenges of using storytelling by teaching them how to create boundaries, talk to other people who can relate to their experiences, get enough rest, nutrition, hydration and exercise, and accept their own limitations.

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