We all know how storytelling can be a pleasurable experience for both children and adults.

New Yorker Laura Simms has taken the art of storytelling to a whole new level. She uses storytelling to help people deal with trauma in their lives.

Laura Simms

"Our Secret Territory: The Essence of Storytelling" by Laura Simms (Sentient Publications)

Simms is in Winnipeg to give workshops on storytelling and to read from her book Our Secret Territory: The Essence of Storytelling.

She says storytelling can be helpful in some very significant ways. "When we are listening to a story, we are released from our preoccupations," she explains. "Then we become really curious about the story and our imagination begins to work. So it’s refreshing, a kind of relief."

She also believes that through storytelling we can confront deep obstacles. "When we are consumed or preoccupied or hurt by something, we keep repeating it and trying to figure it out, understand it from our own point of view," she says.

Trauma victims, similar to characters in a story, can also overcome obstacles. Simms maintains that "a story can give someone the inner practise of being able to deal with strong emotions and difficult situations and begin to be able to envision a future."

Simms has worked with animals, survivors of earthquakes, and child soldiers. In 1998 she adopted Ishmael Beah, a boy from Sierra Leone who lost his family when he was 11 and eventually became a child soldier.

Beah moved with Simms to New York and has since gone on to write a long way gone – Memoirs of a Boy Soldier.

Hear Laura Simms read from her book Our Secret Territory: The Essence of Storytelling on Wednesday Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m. at McNally Robinson. She is also sharing her knowledge on Intensive Creative Arts in Therapy. Public workshops are on Saturday and Sunday and she will perform at the Dragon Arts Collective at 91 Albert St. on Monday evening, Oct. 28.