Calendar of Events

Tell Me a Story: Creativity and Storytelling

25 Main St
Stockbridge 01262
August 9, 2013 at 7:00 PM to August 10, 2013 at 4:30 PM


Ruth Alperson, Professor of Music
Judith Black, Storyteller
Kevin Coleman, Actor/Theater Director
Ellen Handler Spitz, Professor of Visual Arts


Lewis Hyde, Writer
Linda Mayes, Psychoanalyst


“Tell me a story!”  What parent hasn’t heard this exuberant request, this happy insistence, this mournful plea, a thousand times?  What parent’s heart hasn’t quickened at the thrill in those words or hasn’t sunk as fatigue overtakes the adult even more than the child?  Which of us hasn't relished entering into a good story, or wept at its heartbreaking moments, or felt the reassurance of a familiar ending before sending ourselves – or our children – off to that evening’s dreams?  Some researchers tell us that American creativity is declining, even as others report that childhood creativity is three times more important to lifetime creative achievement than childhood IQ.  Might this wonderful invitation to “tell me a story” open a path toward understanding essential creative processes?

And perhaps creativity is critical to a child’s development in other ways as well.  Some data suggest that when a culture revives interest in its stories and language, collective health improves.   Children naturally play out the emotional stories they are processing from family life.  Eventually, how they tell each story, how it evolves, how it opens up with flexibility and resonance is a measure of that child’s accruing health.  Even for adults, psychotherapy can be seen as an intimate – though, to be sure, embattled – request to “tell me my story, even as I unconsciously tell it or live it out with you.”  In the Lacanian psychoanalytic tradition, analysts-in-training are actually authorized by the authenticity with which the story of their analysis can be told.  

The psychoanalyst Adam Phillips once remarked that a person is only as mad as the other person is deaf.  Riggs can be seen as an archive of the stories that need to be told but were not previously able be heard, and, because not able to be heard, couldn’t be told – except in symptoms, nightmares and actions.  From this angle, psychopathology is suppressed creativity, and growth is about storytelling and story listening.  But how do we enable this essential creative process?  What might a child’s “tell me a story” teach us about that process?  Which stories work and which don’t, and why?  How does storytelling deepen our understanding of creativity more broadly?  

Learning Objectives:

  1. To explore storytelling as it relates to the creative process.
  2. To identify how storytelling works as an experience of satisfaction and growth.
  3. To explore the role of storytelling in psychotherapy.   

Seminar Schedule:

Friday, August 9, 2013
7:00 pm - 8:00pm – Storytelling Session and Discussion

Saturday, August 10, 2013
9:00 am - 9:30 am Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:30 am - 9:45 am Seminar Opening and Narrative Exercise - Nick Holliday, M.D.
9:45 am - 10:45 am Judith Black, Storyteller - Presentation and Discussion
10:45 am - 11:00 am Break
11:00 am - 12:00 pm Ruth Alperson, Ph.D., Musician - Presentation and Discussion
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Ellen Handler Spitz, Ph.D., Visual Arts - Presentation and Discussion
2:00 pm - 2:15 pm Break
2:15 pm - 3:15 pm Kevin Coleman, Actor/Theater Director - Presentation and Discussion
3:15 pm - 4:00 pm Small Group Work on Narratives with Lewis Hyde and Linda Mayes, M.D.
4:00 pm - 4:30 pm Plenary Session - Nick Holliday, M.D.

The Berkshires:  

From world-renowned performances at Tanglewood, the Berkshire Theater Festival, Shakespeare & Co and Jacob’s Pillow, to major art exhibitions at MASS MoCA, the Clark Art Institute, and the Norman Rockwell Museum, summer in the Berkshires offers the richest cultural experiences in a setting of unsurpassed natural beauty.

Seminar Fee:   $95.00

Continuing Education:  The Austen Riggs Center designates this live activity for a maximum of 5.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™.  Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. 

The Austen Riggs Center is accredited by the Massachusetts Medical Society to provide continuing medical education for physicians. 

The Austen Riggs Center is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  The Austen Riggs Center maintains responsibility for the program and its content. For additional information about this program, please call Doreen Barscz, Erikson Institute Education Coordinator, at (413) 931-5273.

The Austen Riggs Center’s policy on disclosure requires ARC Guest Speakers to disclose any significant financial interest or other relationship with any commercial supporters of this live activity.  In keeping with this policy and the disclosure requirements of the Massachusetts Medical Society, we hereby state that neither today’s speaker, nor anyone involved in the planning of the CME/CE event, has disclosed a potential conflict of interest. The Austen Riggs Center accepts no commercial support of any kind to support our CME/CE events.

This program has been approved for Continuing Education Credit by the Smith College School for Social Work in accordance with Continuing Education Regulation 258, CMR, 31.00, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


For more information or to register, please contact Alicia Zaludova at 413-931-5230

Intended Audience: 

Event Options

Total Cost: $95.00