Fairy Tale Therapy

Fairy Tale Therapy

Fairy tales are a huge source of knowledge and wisdom. They teach about other ways of thinking and acting. Fairy tales show patterns of behaviour that support people in various emotionally charged situations, and they help relieve tension and provide solutions to problems. In addition, they enhance bonding between parents and children, enabling closer contact, which helps parents better understand a child’s emotions, feelings and their outlook of the world. 

Fairy tales are a therapeutic means of coming to terms with reality. Favourite stories are often very closely related to the symptoms of a particular problem, a personal experience or behaviour. For this reason, fairy tales are used in various types of psychotherapy, not only for children, but also for adults. They suggest a better approach to problems, especially due to their figurative nature and emotional portrayal. In order to have a therapeutic effect, it is necessary that a fairy tale evokes a wide range of emotions. 

You can become a therapist for your child too

When a parent reads a story to a child, it is not automatically considered fairy tale therapy. It only becomes one when a parent sets a clear goal regarding what they want to achieve. They must choose a suitable fairy tale similar to the situation their child is facing. Then the child can find solutions to their problems while feeling safe and secure in their fantasy world.

The child can listen to the story and find the solutions themselves. However, it is much more effective when the child identifies with the main character in the story, but this depends on the specific problem, the type of fairy tale, its focus and the hidden meaning. The effect of the therapy can be taken to the next level, through drawings, playing a game, play-acting or creating figures of the main character or other characters.

A parent knows their child best and can therefore create their own fairy tale tailored to the needs of their child. If so, the following principles are important to follow:

  • Choose and describe a hero who resembles the child as much as possible in terms of character or appearance. Use an appropriate hero according to the age of the child. For example, for ages between 6–7 animal characters are suitable. For ages 7–8 witches and witchers can be used and for ages 8–13 knights, dragons, princesses and human heroes are suitable. From the ages of 14 and above, true stories are very effective.
  • Describe in detail the environment and the circumstances the hero is in which should be similar to the situation the child is in. 
  • Describe a problem that is similar or same, to the one the child needs to solve.
  • Describe the emotions, thoughts, ideas, feelings, and behaviour of the hero. 
  • Describe how the hero manages to solve the problem even when in a critical, complex situation. This is necessary so that the child understands that they can solve their own problem in the same way. The most important is to have a happy ending for the hero as well as for everyone else in the story.

In Readmio app, you will also find fairy tales that address specific problems such as paralysing fear, grief over a loss, solving a crisis, problems at school or kindergarten and more. These can be introduced to children to create a suitable atmosphere for solving children's problems with care and sensitivity.

Sources:

Vachkov, I. V. 2016. Fairytale therapy today: determining its boundaries and content. Annual International Scientific Conference Early Childhood Care and Education, ECCE 2016, 12-14 May 2016, Moscow, Russia.

Petrushkevych, O. 2019. Education via fairytale therapy. https://www.creativeschool.com.ua/en/blog/vyhovannya-za-dopomogoyu-kazkoterapiyi-interv-yu-z-kazkoterapevtom-olenoyu-petrushkevych/

Dieckmann, H. 1997. Fairy-tales in psychotherapy. Journal Analytical Psychology. 1997 Apr;42(2):253-68. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-5922.1997.00253.x.

Levin, K. A., Psychother, J. 1996. Unconscious fantasy in psychotherapy. Spring;50(2):137-53. doi: 10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.1996.50.2.137.PMID: 8804517.

Ruini, Ch., Masoni, L., Ottolini, F., Ferrari, S. 2014. Positive Narrative Group Psychotherapy: the use of traditional fairy tales to enhance psychological well-being and growth. Psychology of Well-Being: Theory, Research and Practice 2014, 4:13. http://www.psywb.com/content/4/1/13

Kuciapiński, M. J. 2018. The therapeutic and educational properties of fairytale therapy in the early stages of children’s development. Vol. 12 No. 3 (2020): Revista Românească pentru Educaţie Multidimensională.

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