January 13, 2014
14-4

Jessica Pope
Communications Specialist

Our Stories, Our Selves: VSU to Host Expert on Personal Mythology

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services will host a weekend series with world-class Jungian psychologist and storyteller Dr. Jonathan Young Feb. 21-22.

Young is founding curator of the Joseph Campbell Archives and Library and director of the Center for Story and Symbol, both in Santa Barbara, Calif. His two-day event at VSU, themed “Our Stories/Our Selves,” will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21, in the University Center Theater, with a free public lecture titled “Claiming Our Stories.”

“Wisdom tales offer support in periods of personal uncertainty,” according to event organizers from VSU’s departments of Psychology and Counseling, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Social Work. “Such lore is an enduring form of psychological and emotional guidance. This lecture explores mythology and folklore to see how enchanting characters from Hans Christian Anderson provide clues for our own quests. These tales show how to find the right path and serve a worthy calling. Dr. Young will draw on his work with Joseph Campbell and Jungian psychology to investigate what we can learn from the mythic imagination.”  

Young’s VSU weekend will conclude with a workshop, titled “Guides to Discovery: Uses of Stories and Archetypal Dimensions of Counseling and Psychotherapy,” from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, in the University Center Cypress Room. The cost to attend is $50 for professionals, $20 for students, and includes breakfast and lunch. The material scheduled to be presented is appropriate and useful for mental health and social service professionals, undergraduate and graduate students, and members of the general community with a working knowledge of Jungian tradition, including artists, writers, educators, and anyone interested in folklore.

“The presenting material in a counseling session is a narrative,” according to event organizers. “Clients bring their stories to pastoral counselors and psychotherapists. Showing them how to see their stories as worthy experiences is part of healing. Drawing parallels between their experiences and mythic stories can add dignity, even elegance, to what they have endured. This clinical training seminar looks at tales collected by the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault as illustrations of finding resilience and developing inner resources. Discussion will focus on how to analyze the structure of classical adventures for key metaphors and for parallels with dreams. We will discuss how a strong sense of life story can aid with adult developmental transitions.”

The all-day professional workshop is co-sponsored by both the Georgia chapter of the National Association of Social Work and the Georgia Psychological Association. Continuing education units will be awarded.

Young is a psychologist, storyteller, and self-help writer who assisted mythologist Joseph Campbell, a student of Carl Jung, at seminars. He has taught Jungian psychology at several different universities and is a frequent commentator on History Channel documentaries. His books and articles focus on personal mythology; selections are posted in the articles section at www.folkstory.com.

Visit www.valdosta.edu/psychology for registration and event information.

Regarding Friday’s free, public lecture, “Claiming Our Stories,” Dr. Jonathan Young says:

“Mythic lore includes fairy tales, sagas, and legends, in addition to formal mythologies. Our predecessors, those who have ‘passed this way before,’ have left us guidance in the form of enchanting tales. These stories and adventures can be seen as windows into our contemporary lives. Our task is to read them as maps through difficult times. Some stories are worth extra study. People recognize a wisdom tale as one that speaks in personal ways to us. Certain images, characters, and situations seem to become figural of our deepest emotions. Also, many of these classic tales have initiatory elements, which are not just for the young. They serve as guides as people move through life-stage transitions. Stories about profound learning experiences can show us how to gain an enlarged vision of self and the world. For example, when the princess met the frog, she embarked on an adventure that took her into a new stage of life.”  

Regarding Saturday’s professional workshop, “Guides to Discovery: Uses of Stories and Archetypal Dimensions of Counseling and Psychotherapy,” Dr. Jonathan Young says:

“Joseph Campbell thought a mythic image would guide the emergence of the shaping stories of our time. Some of the new wisdom tales are about understanding other people and nations as more like ourselves than different. Stories help us deal with the unclaimed parts of ourselves. Because we are in a profound period of social change, it is particularly relevant to look at the shadow elements of contemporary issues. The psychological dimensions of today’s problems are not just about unresolved emotions in other people. Our own unexplored depths are part of the picture. The greater the chaos around us, the more we need inner stability. Having a strong sense of the story that lives through us is helpful. There is no doubt that changes around us are great. It is a challenging time. We in mental health are obligated to help people deal with changes. Our test will be handling the big shifts ourselves. We need to be earnest clients to be effective therapists. As was taught in the myth, when Odysseus returned home, he used wisdom gained in his long journey to solve major political problems.”