Inspiring the Stories, by Jodi Ann Mullen, PhD LMHC

August 30, 2013 · 2 comments

Inside me there are stories. There are scary stories, fascinating stories, stories with lessons embedded in them, and there are stories that are even mysteries to me; a treasure chest in my heart that is replenished with every new experience. My challenge as a writer and storyteller is knowing which of these stories to share. How should I tell them? When is the optimal time? I learned this lesson the way I have learned many important lessons in life: from children.

I had a story I wanted to share that was co-constructed with my son Andrew, who was eight at the time. He made a poor behavioral decision and I caught him. I have a knack for that. Together we revisited the event and came up with all the prosocial choices that were available to him even though he made an antisocial choice. (I’m a mental health counselor who specializes in working with children. You can gather from this example that my work impacts my parenting). We were excited about all the alternatives we came up with and shared what we were working on with my daughter Leah, who was 12, and my partner Michael. The energy around this task was so great that our family started dreaming and writing.

Dreaming and writing turned into weekly writing and creating meetings. After four months, we had Naughty No More: A workbook for children who want to make good decisions. The book was released and feedback started rolling in. A theme developed. Parents repeatedly shared that their children found this book inspiring. Inspiring!

What super feedback; children were inspired to make good decisions. But the lesson was not that they were inspired to make better behavioral decisions (although that was true, too), they were inspired to write and to share their stories.

So when is the right time to share your stories? Which stories should you share? Children taught me the answer: All the time and Everything. Writing stories makes others want to write and share their stories. The answer is all the time and every story, and that’s Inspiring!


Dr. Jodi Ann Mullen, PhD LMHC RPT-S  is the Director of Integrative Counseling Services in New York State.  She is an associate professor at SUNY Oswego in the Counseling & Psychological Services Department where she is the coordinator of the Mental Health Counseling Program and Graduate Certificate Program in Play Therapy.  Dr. Mullen is a credentialed play therapist and play therapy supervisor.  She is the author of several manuscripts on play therapy and supervision:  “Counseling Children & Adolescents through Grief and Loss” (co-authored by Dr. Jody Fiorini) (2006), “Play Therapy Basic Training: A Guide to Learning & Living & the Child-Centered Play Therapy Philosophy” (2007), ”Supervision can be Playful: Techniques for Child and Play Therapist Supervisors” (co-edited with Athena Drewes) (2008), and “Counseling Children: A Core Issues Approach” (2011). Her books include:  How Play Therapists can Engage Parents & Professionals (Rev. ed.) (2011) and, written along with her children and partner, Naughty No More: A workbook to help children make good decisions (2013)Dr. Mullen is on the editorial board for the International Journal of Play Therapy and has served as clinical editor of Play Therapy Magazine. Dr. Mullen was the 2008 recipient of the Key Award for Professional Training & Education through the Association for Play Therapy. Dr. Mullen navigates the world of child rearing on her podcast Freakishly Well-Behaved Kids at  She is the proud momma of Andrew and Leah.

To order Naughty No More: A workbook to help children make good decisions

  • Sara Goff

    Jodi, the children have so much to gain from your post Inspiring the Stories. Many underprivileged children aren’t given the opportunity to express themselves, and they keep their experiences, good and bad, bottled up inside. Hiding away their feelings can make their hearts heavy and become a weight on their spirit. Thank you for this simple and yet liberating solution: Share Your Stories! Don’t be Afraid! Start Now and Don’t Stop! Expressing ourselves is how we connect with the rest of the world, and how we grow to understand, forgive, and love ourselves. Please pass this message on!

  • http://LifttheLidandseeWhat'sInside Alfredo Olavidez

    Would be interested to get a copy of the book. Our children are naughty by nature although a few are also basically nice. Environment where the are growing in is also a negative factor. I am sure many of our kids would want to learn how to make sound decisions and they should start learning it now.

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