Therapeutic Writing Network

Teacher: Joanne Martin
Released: 10-15-2011
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Examining the “ages & stages” of women through an exploration of Fairy Tales

Has your Prince Charming turned into a frog?  Are you feeling as though locked up in a tower?  Are you wondering what happened to “the happily ever after” part?  Well, if the shoe fits…  

What’s your favourite fairy tale?  Are fairy tales for children or adults?  What can we learn about ourselves through fairy tales?  In week 1 of this workshop, we explore the history of fairy tales and various perspectives, approaches, and interpretations of their significance.   Beginning with the story of Demeter & Persephone we consider the seasons of a woman’s life, and the various stages of women’s transformation.  In subsequent weeks, we will explore another fairy tale each week and, through our own writing, we will explore its relevance to our own lives.   

Specific fairy tales may vary from program to program, and others may be added in future.  Currently we will be drawing from the following:

Hansel & Gretel:
Mother represents the source of nourishment, nurture and security.  But eventually “children” must fend for themselves.   In this tale we explore some of the challenges of that transition, and what can sometimes happens if not completed well.

Little Red Riding Hood:  
While Hansel and Gretel were pushed out into the world, Little Red Riding Hood, unafraid, leaves home willingly.  She ventures off the beaten track, and takes unusual risks!  Here we consider the consequences of such reckless behaviour, and how – or whether - she is transformed by it.

Snow White:
A child’s first mirror is her mother’s eyes.  Here we will examine the relationship between daughters and their mothers.  We will also view the major transformations of adolescence, sexual awakening and leaving home.

In this tale, we explore the agonies of sibling rivalry, and the relationship between a child and her parents.  But it is also a story of wishes coming true and of social elevation.   Is this a tale of rescue or of transformation?

The White Bride/Black Bride and Bluebeard:  
Marriage as social transformation

Sleeping Beauty:
In October 1759, famed French philosopher Denis Diderot wrote to his young friend Sophie Volland the poignant words, "you all die at 15”.   From all the transformations in a woman’s life, the “thorniest” is the one from “we” to “I”.  Here we explore sleep as “incubation”, germination, gestation, dreams; and we consider transformation as an awakening to consciousness.

In this tale, we explore confinement  and rage vs. abandonment  and depression, and  solitude.  Sooner or later, every woman experiences it: whether as a jilted lover, discarded wife, outgrown parent, or as a widow.   For many women, transformation is manifested in the independence of relying on themselves rather than their ability to attract a man

The Seal Wife:This is a tale about a woman who transforms herself by changing her skin.   
Bettelheim says that “There is a part of every wife that is never married.”   She may be hungry for intimacy, while at the same time, thirsty for silence.  Here we explore the issue of independence vs. intimacy.  

Specific readings will be assigned each week from the following books, which can be obtained at most bookstores:
• Bernheimer, Kate, (ed.) (1998), Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Anchor Books, New York, N.Y. (required)

3 Months: $ 200
Joanne Martin

Joanne has over 30 years experience in industry, higher education, and in private practice, as a counsellor, educator, trainer and facilitator. She has presented workshops in Canada, the U.S. and Australia.

Joanne’s approach to facilitating adult learning is experiential and problem-based, so that learning is always practical. To enhance the learning experience, she likes to draw from a variety of media. Story-telling, writing and art are often used, incorporating material based on archetypes, myths, fairy tales and the heroic journey. Joanne also likes to make sure that learning is fun!

Courses by this teacher

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• Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, The Complete Grimms Fairy Tales (Click To Purchase)
• Sexton, Anne (2001), Transformations, Mariner Books, New York, N.Y. (optional) (Click To Purchase)
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