Dissertation Title:

Virtual Storytelling in a Time of Pandemic: Building Bridges Across Social Distance


Thomas Martinez

Date, Time & Place:

January 18, 2022 at 12:00 pm


This community psychology project consisted of two virtual storytelling groups gathered to examine the impact of storytelling during a global pandemic. It used the public narrative methodology of Marshall Ganz placed within the context of community mental health. Each storytelling group met weekly for 8 weeks. The Sunday group had seven members drawn from Desert Palm UCC, a mid-sized Protestant Christian congregation located in Tempe, Arizona. The Monday group had four members from Desert Palm UCC and two participants from a housing program called I-Help. I-Help is a transitional housing program run by the Tempe Community Action Agency, a nonprofit social service organization connected to the City of Tempe. Desert Palm UCC has a long history of support and engagement with the I-Help program. The research project was intended to explore the impact of storytelling carried out virtually (on Zoom) during a time of social distancing that was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Five factors related to personal recovery and included in the I-Help community mental health recovery program were employed to help organize the material thematically. The acronym for the five factors is CHIME, which stands for connectedness, hope, identity, meaning, and empowerment. In the final session participants were invited to reflect on whether the stories they shared had any common themes, and whether they resonated thematically with any of the CHIME components. Participants identified several common themes, including connectedness. Several participants reported feeling more connected to other group members as a result of the storytelling experience.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psych Community Liberation Indigenous Ecopsychology, P, 2015
  • Chair: Dr. Helene Lorenz
  • Reader: Dr. Ed Casey
  • External Reader: Dr. Thomas Moore
  • Keywords: Storytelling, Community Mental Health, Social Distance, CHIME, Connectedness