The fairy tale therapist

Blair, L (2022) The fairy tale therapist. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

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Creative Work: The Fairy Tale Therapist:- My original intention was to create a new form of self-help book using fairy tale characters to address psychological problems. The book I wrote does use fairy tale characters to address psychological problems, but it isn’t written as a typical self-help book. Instead, it’s the story of Helen, a therapist whose personal life suddenly and dramatically falls apart. Her solution? Not one she would suggest to her clients. She leaves everyone she knows and sets up a new practice in a small village in Wales, where her troubles start to fade. Until, that is, the fairy tale characters start coming in through her office window. Contextualising Research: The Fragility of Equilibrium in Therapy and Writing:- In this part of the thesis, I explore the methodologies, underpinning literature and the personal journey of discovery that led to the final book. I examine bibliotherapy, the self-help genre and case studies after selecting a canon of well-known self-help books. I then review classical fairy tales and I try using fairy tale characters rather than case studies as examples in a self-help book. I present these attempts and argue why this straight substitution doesn’t work well. Instead, therefore, I decided to use fairy tale characters’ dilemmas to illustrate the process of psychotherapy, so readers can better understand the aims and processes in therapy, and see inside a therapist’s mind. The resulting book ('The Fairy Tale Therapist', the creative part of my thesis), raised two further questions which I answer and explore in the critical component. Is there a concept that is central both to writing fiction and to carrying out/undergoing psychotherapy, and if so how does it achieve this? Story is the bridge that links these disciplines, and I found the key within story is the concept of equilibrium, the desire to return to a stable state an organism is disrupted by a challenge. Equilibrium is, however, elusive: once achieved, disequilibrium begins again. How might changing perspective help to better understand characters in fiction and clients in therapy/self-help? I found that by adhering to the plot but looking at what happens from a different perspective, as an author I gained a deeper understanding of characters other than the central character. I can also apply this technique to help my patients. Instead of trying to change what’s going on outside of themselves, I can challenge them to try changing the way they consider what’s going on, and in so doing help them to learn to accept—perhaps even celebrate—their circumstances.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

This research was carried out as part of the Story Foundry doctoral programme supported by Bath Spa University’s Research Centre for Transcultural Creativity and Education (TRACE).

Keywords: PhD by Practice, creative writing, fairy tales, bibliotherapy, psychotherapy, self-help books, case studies, character study, Story Foundry
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
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Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2022 16:04
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2024 18:31
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