The Story Clinic

The Story Clinic

An article for Nosy Rosy by Dr Walter Harry Willies

The Story Clinic is run by Walter Harry Willies, D.Litt, DiHom, who is emeritus professor of narrative studies at the Western Orthodox University, Dominica, a US registered poetry therapist and a UK registered homeopath.

One of the most important functions of the brain is to tell stories about experience, creating a sense of what’s going on so as to understand the world in order to take sensible action. Needless to say, almost all of the stories are insufficient. The neurons do their best, but the general outcome for all is usually a striving for success and happiness with some satisfying moments and many disappointing and despairing times.

Lack of self-knowledge is at the root of this dilemma, and an effective way of dealing with such a lack is to pay attention to one’s life as though it is a story, or story-like, and to find the healthy story that helps the neurons to establish attitudes that are beneficial and fruitful.

And for you being so clever to be here to read this – how is this for an offer? Any group, couple or single person staying for two nights, booking directly on the website, gets a 3-4 hour story clinic for free at any time except August and September! Knowing, understanding and loving yourself has just become much closer and much more amazing than you ever thought possible!

How is one’s life like a story?

The imagination is usually wiser than the self, who it comes to intuition. Give a few cues or suggestions, and see what happens. For example

What’s the heading of the current chapter?

What’s the focus of the current chapter? Want to change it? Let’s suggest a new turn in the plot.

Who were the important characters in the previous chapter? What did they communicate to each other? How did they feel and respond to what happened?

Is there a general mood to this book of your life? What could it be? Does the author want this mood, or was it just there from the beginning?

Let’s change “I” to “he” or “she”. Let’s objectify your “self” as a third person character and play a bit with presence, purpose and personality.

The possibilities are endless. The Story Clinic takes you through a structured and guided experience of how the sense of story and sense of meaning work together.

At another level, the story of a group or even a nation becomes alive when voice, presence, purpose and plot arise spontaneously. State capture is not only about money, but also about whose narrative is allowed to rule.

For those who are ill, depressed or grieving, the body’s story is a fascinating way of realizing how taken for granted our health is, and how healing it can be to allow the sense of story to nourish the soul and body in surprising ways. Perhaps I am not merely one story with a beginning and ending, but many stories, each more surprising than the next.

You don’t need to be ill to get better. The Story Clinic is versatile, welcomes individuals, is able to travel to groups, and can host groups at a wonderful guest house in Clanwilliam in the Cederberg. Contact Dr Willies at 082 853 0902 email and read the blog at