For the past two years Storying has been an integral part of the Recovery Education Programme (REP) run by Community Recovery Services (formerly SPACES). REP is an eight week educational programme designed to help people who are grappling with a variety of mental health issues. All but one of the classes are delivered by people with experience of living with a mental health condition, and facilitators often share their own mental health stories/journeys with group participants. The aim of REP as a whole is to show that recovery is possible and that by following and putting into practice the information taught in each class, it is possible to improve your life using the recovery principles taught in REP and to begin to take ownership and control of your own recovery journey.
The Storying workshops facilitated by Kay Aitch and Chrissy Bonham is always hugely popular and through using Storying techniques they have helped many people find their voice again after losing it to mental illness. Through a range of discussion based and art based activities they have allowed people to see that there is much more to life than a particular mental health diagnosis, which can often become the only story we feel we have to tell about ourselves. There is a great emphasis on telling asset-based stories that are not related to mental health and through this approach many people have found parts of their identity that they thought were lost. The workshop also offers a great opportunity to feel connected to other people as often the stories shared will raise a discussion and connections are forged between people, which is such an important part of mental health recovery especially if social isolation has been present.
The Storying workshops are ever evolving and Kay and Chrissy are always trying new ideas associated with recovery to keep the material fresh and up to date with current research. The main feedback received from participants is that the session is just not long enough, which certainly speaks for itself when it comes to how important Storying is in a recovery context and how much people have gained from attending the workshop.