“To be human is to have a story,” says Erica Helm Meade who balances her work-life between two vocations: storytelling and a private practice in psychotherapy. “The two arts feed one another,” she says. “Both have to do with character, the human condition, and the psyche’s bent toward narrative as a way to make meaning.”
A lifelong student of myth and folklore, Erica sees mythology as the first psychology and often brings a pertinent story into the consulting room. “It’s powerful to visit that place where the personal and universal overlap. When a story strikes a chord it goes to work on you. Catharsis, insight, perspective, compassion, solace, courage—all these can come from a well-chosen tale.” She has written two books inviting us into this process, TELL IT BY HEART: Women and the Healing Power of Story and THE MOON IN THE WELL: Wisdom Tales to Transform Your Life, Family, and Community, both published by Open Court.
“At the heart of therapy,” she says, “are the stories that define us—family stories, personal stories—spoken and unspoken. These can inspire or constrict us. The stories we tell ourselves shape our perception of the moment, influence our actions, set the tone for the future, and even have the power to self-fulfill.” Erica’s current book in progress, THEMEWORK: How to Re-Story Your Life and Get Over What Holds You Back, is about deconstructing the restrictive stories in our heads. It takes a look at how they got there and what purpose they once served, and shows ways to replace them with stories that are more lively, optimistic, creative, and best of all, more true. Erica’s process with self-stories invites us to be more fully present to what we know to be true, and act on it; thus becoming the hero or heroine of our own lives.
© 2009-2015 Erica Helm Meade
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