Toula Gordillo's Thesis Presentation

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Toula Gordillo's Thesis Presentation

We invite you to attend the Thesis Presentation of Toula Gordillo, a Doctor of Creative Arts candidate within the School of Communication and Creative Industries, in the Faculty of Arts, Business and Law.

Title: Building a Bridge: Mental Health Messages in Young Adult Fantasy Fiction

Presenter: Toula Gordillo

When: Wednesday, 18th April from 11-12 noon.

Where: Building E, E1.04

Abstract: The intent of this doctoral project is to creatively address the research question: How can Young Adult (YA) fantasy fiction reframe and illuminate mental health messages?

Young Adult mythic/heroic fantasy fiction, while often dealing implicitly with issues of psychological wellbeing, morality and emotional safety, does not explicitly deploy psychological tenets in the crafting of the text. This project focuses on youth mental health through a creative practice that explicitly fuses various psychological theories and therapies. The resulting creative artefact is a counter narrative novel with epistolary and diagrammatic components entitled Discovering the Bifrost: A Hero’s Journey.

In response to Grynbaum’s (2001) Jungian insights regarding Rowling’s (1997-2007) Harry Potter series, the artefact is underpinned by extensive mythical, psychological themes and motifs; combined with symbolic imagery, metaphors, dreaming sequences and poetry. The research aims to offer young adult readers a metaphorical tool to encourage mental wellbeing. The protagonists’ heroic journey (from ineffective to more effective methods of coping) is an exemplar of Meehl’s (1962) diathesis stress-model. It is also an extension of Boyd’s view of transformative learning theory, grounded in Jung's concept of individuation (Boyd 1991; Boyd and Myers 1988) and modern Stoic thought (Aurelius, 2011; Seneca, 2016; Ussher, 2016). The broader project is informed by a mosaic of Carl Jung’s depth psychology insights, Joseph Campbell’s heroes’ journey formulaic, James Hillman’s archetypal depth perceptions, modern Stoicism, expressive therapies, and positive psychology interventions.

Bio: Toula Gordillo is a practicing clinical psychologist and Jungian psychotherapist. She has extensive experience working with children and youth as a teacher, guidance officer intensive behaviour support and head of student services in schools for over twenty years. Toula is further involved with the Australian Institute of Story Image Therapy (AISIT) and the Talk to Teens program. Toula is also the parent of three adolescents. In 2014-2015 Toula began PhD research regarding ways to improve youth resilience using technology. One of the key themes to emerge from her emerging qualitative research was that young adults relate to stories and images, online and offline, to cope with stress leading to mental health concerns. Based on Toula’s work in clinic, as a parent and her earlier higher degree data gathering, Toula decided to change programs and pursue doctoral research in the field of Creative Arts (Creative Writing). In these doctoral studies she has been researching ways to deliver mental health information through ancient and modern stories and images through the Young Adult (YA) fantasy fiction genre.

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