The team at Roundabout were asked to share their favourite stories to use in dramatherapy sessions. We would like to share these with you and the reason why these stories are so special.
Helpful for bereavement, brutal and sudden loss.
Children of Wax
Really useful story for working with bereavement, loss and change. It is an emotional story which supports clients to get in touch with their feelings in the session and lends itself to leading into other work around these issues.
A classic tale that most people have knowledge of. Plenty of opportunity for character work, reminiscence and fun!
Jack and the beanstalk
A story about boundaries, an ambiguous hero, involving big and small, right and wrong, mother and son, possibly absent father.
It has many helpful universal messages: facing fears, accepting being different, asking for and getting the support of others and growing through this support.
It is short, simple and evocative whilst also allowing ones own projections.
It is a lovely story to use with girls whose self-esteem is low. Facing fear, terror, yet surviving and healing.
The ‘momatoro moment’ is when the child is discovered inside the peach (wrapped in fabric) and adored by the couple who find them. Children love this huge attachment drama and ask to repeat it over and over.
Psyche and Eros
Great story on so many levels.
Raven and the Giant who Sits on the Tide (Native American Myth)
Raven’s part in the story creates the opportunity to experiment with the role of someone who is overseeing and trying to help. It is a powerful role for clients to take on and experience. The Giant sits on the tide and is stuck until Raven teaches him a new way. Giant doesn’t get it right at first, but in the end succeeds in being a more helpful part of his environment/society. There are themes of hope and transformation.
Beautiful story of sadness and loss that lends itself well to enactment.
The Central character is mysterious but easy to identify with. This is also about beginnings, but focuses on relationships and how the act of sharing food can create bonding.
The Angel’s Wings
It invites the client to explore loss and think about what their heart desires most.
The Barnacle Maid
A story that helps us look at grief and loss, it has the number three motif which children and young people seem to find easy to remember. It is clear and helpful to under pin any sessions where a person needs an outlet for saying goodbye.
The Blind man and the Huntsman
This has lots of characters and inanimate objects too so that clients can either take a main role or a minor role of being a tree, animal flower etc…
The Boy who lived with bears
Enables children to access the part of them that has been let down and find ways to channel this.
The Boy Who Wanted A Drum
A lovely story that explores loads of themes including anger, hope and disappointment, kindness, parent/child relationship, determination and skill. Great repetition in the story which allows the client to really get involved and anticipate what will happen next and lovely use of humour.
The Coomacka Tree
It’s all about leaving an old ‘place’ & starting anew. It’s also a Caribbean creation myth, so it holds specific relevance for children/young people with African-Caribbean roots.
The Day the Sea Went Out and Never Came Back
A story for children who have lost someone they love. It is very adaptable to explore any loss – family / friends / pet etc. Lovely images and characters to help bring the story to life.
The Dragons of Peking
This is a tale of the Prince wanting to make things better, and the dragons trying to thwart his plan. The dragons are tricksters, and almost ruin everything, but as hero, the prince wins through. There is a lot of fun to be had in playing the dragons: a playful way to express anger and revenge. At one point the dragons disguise themselves as people, as part of their trickster plan. This is a subtle concept for clients to be pretending to be one thing who is pretending to be another, and is a great symbol of human beings having many sides to the personality.
It gives the client an opportunity to express their anger and frustration and explores giving and receiving help.
The Four Friends
A good story for a group. Concentrates on the differences amongst the four friends and what those differences bring to the group. In using their different skills they can evade capture and escape danger when on their own they would be lonely and vulnerable – friendship and team work.
The Girl who Wanted a drum
Emotional out bursts that we hide, repetition humour
The golden Goose
An unlikely or un-recognised hero who makes good. The magic of the journey, three, getting stuck and overcoming injustice, with repetition and humour
The Kalydonian Boar Hunt (Greek Myth)
This story provides a great array of characters to play including a huge monster, lots of heroes (including a strong female heroine), an anxious mother, and the Fates (crone archetypes). There are parts of the story where people work together, and other parts where family rivalry brings tragedy. The story ultimately has a tragic ending, but I may be guilty of putting a happier spin on it.
The Maiden with the Wooden Bowl
This can be interpreted in different ways and from so many angles.
Themes; mirroring, thinking the grass is greener, difficult feelings, competition vs cooperation
The Pedlar of Swaffham
Can work on many levels, depending on ability of client to work at different depths. The process of journeying, treasure, internal gifts. Lovely story based on truth, looks at the theme of treasure within. Our treasure is right here, with repetition and humour.
The Princess of the Dark Cloak
Themes; constricted feeling, keeping things hidden, being seen/heard
‘The Queen Bee’ (Brothers Grimm)
I love this story because of its repeated structure and focus on the youngest brother hero who everyone thinks isn’t as great as his older brothers. I also love the part when the younger brother is helped by the animals who he has saved along the journey and the way this always creates discussion around not being able to do everything on your own or needing to bring out other parts of yourself to journey onwards.
The Rainbow story
Great for thinking about the group – dynamics, appreciating one another, respect, gifts and qualities. Brilliant story about differences and working together. Gives opportunity for working with colour, costume, character and script
The Spirit that Couldn’t Make up its Mind
Relevant to so many!
It looks at what might happen if an ‘untold’ story remains ‘untold’ or stuck.
The Story Of The Two Wolves
I’ve found that different groups take different things from it – sometimes not what I’m expecting them to get from it…
The Three Sillies
Good fun and meaningful with it.
The Two Travellers
Has so much scope for clients using their imagination and can be a very good assessment tool – what’s in the cupboard? Themes of rules, boundaries, impulse, temptation. A great way to see how clients might like to work with story and can be effective in a group or individual session.
The Water of Life
Playful repetition – and the theme of what makes a house a home – great for those living in less traditional forms of home (residential, nursing, supported living)
Themes; control, chaos, calm, unlikely hero, connection, hunger, bound vs free flow
Tiddilick the Frog (Aboriginal Dreamtime)
This thirsty frog’s story is about holding on and letting go. And it gives an opportunity for clients to move, play and laugh.It can be used with a variety of group sizes. Involves taking on character, physical work, and humour. Animal warm up games are always fun to play before hand and there’s lots to reflect on after enacting or telling the story – friendships, greed, teamwork, persuasiveness. Also nice because it involves thinking of a far away land and different environment which can be fun to create.