We all have a story. What’s yours?
This phrase lives on the front page of Peter Zook’s website. Peter is a licensed social worker with a clinical concentration and specialization in mental health. He runs his own therapy practice in Philadelphia.
I run a storytelling organization, so of course I was drawn to this phrase when scrolling down his home page. But the main source of my intrigue came not from the story nerd within, but the thought: What does storytelling have to do with therapy?
A lot of people use the words “story” and “storytelling” on their websites. I often click on a link from a landing page that says, “Read about my story” or “This is the story of our company”. More often than not, I will click on that link and there won’t be a story attached. Instead, I am reading straight fact about a product or person. Sometimes it is a call to action. (I call this a story TRAP!) Forget a personal journey of any sort, there’s rarely a beginning, middle, and end.
Peter is a fan of stories. I first met him as a devoted audience member of Tell Me A Story’s bi-monthly events at Shot Tower Coffee. I thought his love of storytelling was just a hobby. As we talked more about his work, and the phrase on his website, I discovered how he puts the personal narrative into practice.
"I am naturally curious about what's going on in people's lives.” Peter explains his website copy: “It’s to invite those who feel intimidated or apprehensive about therapy to feel like, ‘Oh, I'm going to talk about my story. I don't have to necessarily dig up skeletons or things like that. I can just talk about myself.’"
I spent the last month working with Peter on an audio story about his work as a psychotherapist. In the few short hours that I spent interviewing and recording Peter, I felt calm and more attune to my own feelings and needs. Not only did I connect with the thoughts and experiences that came out in conversation, I found even more joy in working with someone else to help them tell their story and articulate their mission. I think Peter feels the same way about his work: “Ultimately, it just sort of humbles you. It gives you so much insight into what's out there and what's happening in people's lives.”
I hope you enjoy listening to Peter’s audio story. It sprung from our mutual appreciation of the art form. It also came out of our mutual understanding that when you put the word “story” on your website, you better have an actual story to go with it.