“In today’s busy world, we need to take time to sit and tell stories, just as our ancestors did. Sitting in quiet contemplation is necessary in order to build the connection to ourselves, others and the world around us,” Toula says. “We also need to sit and ponder an image (known as a mindfulness activity) to enhance the connection.”
Dr Gordillo’s purpose in developing SIT, and the accompanying SIT Tools, is to demonstrate that through fantastic, heroic and mythic stories and images, important information can be re-framed and illuminated.
Her ultimate aim is to improve a young person’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Based on Toula’s research, the most effective way to do this is by tapping into what Jung called ‘the active imagination’.
“The importance of the imaginative process,” Dr Gordillo maintains, “is something novelists and readers will understand. It is the most powerful medium to deliver information and create positive change.”
Dr Gordillo’s key influencers
Story Image Therapy and Tools (as part of Universal Psychology) has been inspired by past and present theorists. These include most notably Carl Jung’s Depth Psychology insights, Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey monomyth, Martin Seligman’s Positive Psychology interventions (namely positive writing), and Allison Waller’s Fantastic Realism genre in adolescent literature. Toula’s key influencers also heavily include the ancient Stoic Philosophers, originally founded by Zeno of Citium in 300 BCE.
Whilst Toula does not advocate for parents/carers and teachers to counsel their children or students, Dr Gordillo is convinced that today there is insufficient connection between the younger and older generations. Any story or image resource, therefore, that helps to enhance this connection—in a healthy way—she believes is valuable.
“Mythology-based stories and images that demonstrate a characters’ symbolic ‘descent to hell and return’ (called the katabasis and anabasis) can provide a metaphorical window to a character’s own struggles. The narrative can thus demonstrate a metaphorical mirror to the young readers’ own mental health status,” Dr Gordillo says. “In this way, stories and images can help young people to find the balance… and themselves.”