Unblock Yourself through this Powerful Workshop on Parental Storytelling

Photo from a Parental Storytelling Workshop by David Labi

Processing complex legacies with creativity and joy.

Since 2019, I’ve been on a personal trajectory to explore the story of my late father – a Holocaust Survivor and bombastic alpha male whose unprocessed trauma heavily impacted upon those around him. This has led to the creation of a comic one-man show, Pieces of a Man. But when spectators at various performances approached me to share personal stories about their own parents, these reactions showed a need to process such stories.

Given my background in workshop design and facilitation, I developed an interactive workshop format creatively exploring the stories we tell ourselves about our parents – which I call “parental storytelling”. Along narrative therapy lines, my goal is to “open a space for the authoring of alternative stories” (White & Epston). In a world where crazed male leaders drag us to oblivion, clearly plenty of unprocessed trauma is impelling people to (self-)destruction. Revisiting our parental relationships in an interactive, creative way can help resolve internal blockages. This in turn can allow people to participate in the building of more peaceful and just societies.

I’ve designed and run interactive experiences since my teens when I trained in youth leadership at a progressive Jewish youth movement. I ran activities for hundreds of kids, trained other youth leaders, and directed residential camps. Eventually as national director, I was responsible for a curriculum of non-formal education for hundreds of youth leaders and thousands of young participants. I went on to run seminars for young people in schools all over teh UK, and later workshops became the main methodology of my storytelling agency Good Point.

Hence the form fit, as did my own experience exploring the story of my own complicated parent. The act of sharing this story in public and making myself vulnerable seemed to open a space for others to share their stories. This has also served in organisational or campaign contexts to allow people to open up in a fun and intimate way. Making a trip to approach our parent/s – and I don’t necessarily even mean the real parent but the mini avatar we carry around inside – helps us understand them better, and therefore understand ourselves, and others.