Voices of Petersburg is a three-day digital storytelling workshop for our clients.
Participants choose an experience they want to share and, with the guidance of mental health counselors, write a script for a digital story to give voice to their struggles and triumphs.
In the production process they work with several media specialists to sort through family photos and myriad digital images to help convey their story visually. They record their voice as narration and choose accompanying music to help express the emotional current of the piece.
The process of writing, choosing supportive media assets, and bringing the story to the screen provides a platform for healing unique to the mental health therapies. The production process allows a workable distance from the subject while still engaging in what is often painful territory.
The process of creating our stories creates a “realness” with our interactions with others that many clients do not have in their own lives. Some clients have never felt accepted by others or been a part of a group. Their stories are a bridge to each other. The care and respect that they show is profound.
In our small, rural community it can be difficult to find a place to belong if you are considered different. The sense of isolation can be profound. Our non-profit agency has limited staff to serve all the people living on our island. Our philosophy of “it’s all about connection” is not just good practice, it’s a necessity. We must find ways for our clients to develop supports outside of our office. Digital storytelling does this. You can see it when the participants share rides with each other, provide feedback, or even begin to meet for coffee after the program ends.
When we show the movies clients may bring family members or important people in their lives. There is a warmth and air of expectancy that reminds me of Christmas. The clients can feel accepted by a larger group of people in a very profound but safe way.
For more about the project and to view interviews by participants and their completed digital projects go to: