So by “a post every two weeks,” clearly I meant “my second post will be created a month after my first through no one’s fault but my own.” I continue to welcome submissions for future posts through the following channel:
Type your story or experience in a Word document.
Title your Word document “LastName_FirstInitial_CSDBlog_Date”.
Keep it roughly between 500-1000 words.
You can email a submission to SLockenvitz@MissouriState.edu as an attachment.
The following is the described experience of graduate students Julie Shoemake and Morgan Highfill. Thank you, Julie and Morgan, for your willingness to share!
Two Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) Master’s program students, Julie and Morgan, had a unique opportunity during their clinical experiences this spring semester. Under the supervision of Dr. Alana Mantie-Kozlowski, PhD, CCC-SLP and Mrs. Jennifer Pratt, M.S., CCC-SLP, they oversaw group story-telling activities for people with dementia (PWD). Their experience was unique: this was a story-generating group that took place off-site at an assisted living facility in the Springfield area and incorporated several Communication Sciences and Disorders Bachelor’s program students as part of the process. The following is an overall reflection of Julie and Morgan’s experience.
The Storytelling Experience
We were initially both very grateful to receive this opportunity as it was so vastly different than the typical requirements for a graduate student’s clinical practicum and we valued the ability to diversify our skills. We both have always had a passion for working with the adult population; thus we were eager to participate. It is not typical for a graduate clinical practicum to offer the ability to work with PWD or lead a story-generating group.
Our supervisors, Dr. Koz and Mrs. Pratt, guided us through the plan, as we would be incorporating two elements that were novel to both of us: group story-generating and leading undergraduate students. Our approach expanded upon an evidence-based therapy called TimeSlips that focuses on “…replacing the pressure to remember with the freedom to imagine” (History). Their website includes more information about TimeSlips storytelling, as well as a collection of stories created by other storytelling groups.
Every session we strove to create a celebratory environment where we would put on a “party” with the residents, or PWD. We would begin with handing out snacks and singing an introductory song, then we would engage in storytelling and end with a closing song. Each member of the group had the chance to participate and together they would craft narratives based on an action picture provided at the front of the room.
This experience proved to be rewarding, even in many ways we did not foresee. Here are a few of the awesome moments we shared:
- The personal connections we made with each PWD,
- All of the creative stories!,
- And the experience of working together as a “team.”
There were also some challenges along the way that helped us grow into more knowledgeable clinicians, though. Here are a few of the challenges we overcame:
- Conflict between PWD while creating the stories,
- Learning how to provide appropriate guidance to the undergraduate students,
- And recognizing behaviors that decreased group participation while working to minimize their effects.
Here is an example of one of our stories with its corresponding picture (we have changed the names of the PWD for privacy reasons):
The first character is the one on the right named Jane Addams. She was the original social worker who put all of the ladies to work making dresses. One of the other ladies’ names is Betty. The ladies are making costumes for a Halloween party they are going to. At this party they will wear some formal costumes. The party is happening tonight on Friday the 13th at 8 o’clock. The name of the party is going to be called “Merry Christmas.” They will do good at the party and eat real good food, too. They are not going to do their hair for the party because they don’t know how to. The party will be at MSU. Jane is over there looking at her dress really good. The ladies will have to give Steve dance lessons to some pretty fast music with a lot of fiddle. Then, Jane finds out someone spiked the punch! Now all the ladies get really giggly and have to go to the bathroom. They are going to start saying some nonsense. Amen! Carol’s grandma shows up to the party now, but with no clothes on! Carol will give her some clothes. Carol is beautiful, but Ben prefers to be called handsome. The ladies are crying because Steve wouldn’t dance with them. They are also crying because they stubbed their toes all the way home. Then, the ladies will chase Steve back to his house and Steve will say, “Ooooooh yeah!”
Overall, we spent a lot of hard work, time, and dedication collaborating on how to provide the most beneficial storytelling facilitation techniques. We met with our supervisors weekly to adapt our skills and the environment for future sessions. We also provided support to the undergraduate students to refine their story-generating facilitation techniques. In our motivation to improve the group storytelling experience we found ourselves spending several extra hours per week together (sometimes 10+ hours!), on top of the time we spent in other aspects of our Master’s program. As a result of this, we found another hidden benefit of this experience – it laid a foundation for a great friendship to blossom between us!
Even now, we still remember all of the happy moments from our storytelling group. In fact, we still “tag” each other on Facebook when we see a reminder of our adventures in the storytelling group. For example, last week we found a picture of two penguins, which reminded us of when the PWD created a story in which a pair of penguins fell in love, defying all odds to get married. In our classes, we discuss how we can improve our clients’ communication, but we do not often consider how our clients can change us as clinicians. What started out as hopes for improving the quality of life for PWD ended up improving our quality of life, too!
History. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2018, from https://www.timeslips.org/