Mind the Twist in the Tale: The Story as a Channel for Culture-Resonant Career Counseling

  • Kamini Ramachandran
  • Gideon Arulmani
Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP)


There is a growing urgency to identify and deploy methods and techniques of counseling that are culture-resonant. In times gone by the “elder” or the “wise person” of the village, drawing upon the wisdom accrued in the community over the ages, helped people deal with the social and psychological problems they encountered. This way of life continues to flourish in many non-Western cultures and it has been documented that members of these cultures first turn to the individuals who are sanctioned representatives of their culture when they are in need of succor. A medium commonly used with great effectiveness by these “traditional counselors” is the story. In this chapter we present the story as method that could be used for culture-resonant career counseling. We begin by defining the story and provide an overview of types of stories. We analyze the motivations that underlie this almost universal human tendency to tell stories. We reflect upon the story’s illuminative role as a receptacle of culture and describe the manner in which stories provide guidelines for everyday life. An important feature explored is the manner in which stories create a sense of connectedness between not only the members of a culture but also across cultures, locations, and time. We then describe how storytelling cultures have used the story as a tool for learning and teaching. Examples are drawn from Native American lesson stories, Sufi wisdom tales, African dilemma tales, cautionary tales from the Malay tradition, and Indian story creators. The potential that a pertinent story has in raising the individual’s thoughts and feelings beyond the constraints of logic and causality and the fact that a story may be illogical but sound are examined. Based on this background, next we describe the linkages that could be forged between career counseling and the story as a repository of knowledge and wisdom. The psychological underpinnings of the story in the form of the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that it evokes are described. We then draw these ideas together to describe three trial tested, practical techniques—Guided Deliberation, Stories as Vicarious Experience, and Framing and Reframing—that could be used for culture-resonant career counseling. At the outset it is clarified that although it is located alongside two well-developed bodies of knowledge—the narrative style of counseling and the ancient tradition of storytelling—this writing does not focus on either. Instead we attempt to explore, examine, and describe how the career counselor of today could learn from the methods of traditional counselors to create channels between pertinent, well-recognized stories and the person such that he or she could construct answers by drawing upon the collective wisdom of the community. In summary in this chapter we blend a technique of counseling commonly used by traditional counselors, with contemporary approaches to counseling, and present for consideration a method for the delivery of culture-resonant career counseling services.


Career Counseling Fairy Tale Cautionary Tale Wise Person Information Technology Company 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MoonShadow StoriesSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.The Promise FoundationBangaloreIndia

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