Nici Long
Reaching the ‘hard to reach’ through stories.

Author: Nici Long, University of Manchester.

Title: “Reaching the ‘hard to reach’ through stories”

This workshop will reflect upon an on-going research project focusing upon the experiences of 18 ‘hard to reach’ young people who have attended a therapeutic storytelling programme. In particular, it focuses upon the ways in which young people actively utilise the sessions for their benefit. The broad exploratory research question for the project is: How do ‘hard to reach’ young people make use of therapeutic storytelling workshops? The main bodies of literature that this workshop draws upon are the use of storytelling and creative therapies to enhance emotional literacy in the classroom when working with ‘hard to reach’ young people. In addition it draws upon attachment theory, humanistic and psychodynamic therapies and neuropsychology.
This project is harnessed around the heuristic research process as outlined by Moustakas (1990). This encourages the researcher to view those involved in the project as co-researchers engaged in a co-created dynamic and interactive process. The aim of this research is to understand what this process of engagement is like for the co-creators. All participants are invited to go through a process of ‘immersion’, ‘incubation’ and ‘illumination’ to elicit key personally meaningful themes about their engagement with the storytelling programme. 18 participants have been recruited from two Pupil Referral Units in Manchester (one KS2 and one KS3). They have been asked to participate in a storytelling programme which will engage them in the creative and therapeutic processing of stories. The researcher is also the storyteller. Participants in the research project will meet in their respective groups for 12 two hour sessions over the term where they will hear and work on a story through discussion and other creative techniques. Each week the young people will be invited to respond to their experience of the storytelling workshop in verbal or other creative forms.
At the end of the Programme they will be facilitated to co-create an individual depiction of how they have made use of the storytelling workshops. This engages the young people in their own heuristic analysis comprising the stages of immersion, incubation, illumination, explication and creative synthesis. The individual depictions created by the young people will be analysed by the researcher following the same heuristic stages as above, resulting in a composite depiction and then a final creative synthesis. These latter two stages will be member checked in an attempt to stay as true as possible to the participants’ experience. This project has gained ethical approval from the University of Manchester research Ethics Committee. This will be an experiential workshop in which individuals will be asked to take part in a storytelling activity, similar to that engaged in by the research participants. This will allow the workshop participants to experience the benefits of personal development through story as well as participating in the heuristic analysis and data collection process.
Participants will produce their own data from which they can create their own individual depiction and as a group we will aim to create a composite depiction and potentially a final creative synthesis. This will be an original synthesis of the data reflecting the researchers’ intuition, imagination and essential meanings of the experience (Moustakas, 1990).

The DARE Collaborative is a research partnership focused on the digital arts in education, led by the UCL Institute of Education and the British Film Institute. It has a membership of university researchers, teachers and educators in cultural organisations with an interest in arts, media, culture and new literacies in the context of education and digital media.
Centro en Investigación Avanzada en Educación