Sharing Story Massage with Nepalese Teenagers

Story Massage can be a powerful medium for enabling young people and adults to share and explore their own personal story in a safe environment. The combination of narrative and positive touch offers a gentle way for people to express some of their feelings, memories and experiences that may otherwise remain unspoken and unresolved.


When we were first invited to work with the Empowering Women of Nepal project in Nepal, we envisaged working solely with the disadvantaged children in the children’s home. However, the staff were so excited about the possibilities of Story Massage that they invited us to introduce it as part of their GOAL programme in secondary schools in Pokhara. The team were soon working with our Story Massage book and developing their own ideas to incorporate it into their work.


The GOAL programme is designed to empower and equip at-risk youths, especially girls, with valuable life skills as they deal with complex issues that are brought on by family, their peers and traditional society in Nepal.


Young girls from ages 12-17 are selected to take part in the weekly programme which includes an hour of life skills followed by sports and other creative activities. Topics covered by the GOAL programme include dealing with peer pressure, learning to say ‘no’, trafficking, violence, knowing your rights, managing money, body image and contraception.

The girls are given clothes to wear, and offered orange juice, fresh fruit and snacks before the session begins.


Story Massage for Teenage Girls

Our session focussed on “Who Am I” and “What I Can Do” in life. Students were paired and they asked each other questions and talked openly to each other. To build confidence, the facilitators asked the girls to close their eyes and to think of one thing they do best. Then they were asked about their future. What did they see themselves doing in the next 3 years? Where did they see themselves in 15 years? Although interrupted by such cultural norms as a cow wandering across the field, the girls were keen to participate.


The session was attended by 35 teenagers who sat in a large circle in the grounds of the school (below). The leaders introduced our 10 basic story massage strokes and the girls had great fun singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ in English and sharing the massage moves.


Respectful Touch

Central to our work is the principle of respectful touch, and this is especially important for Nepalese girls living in a society where men traditionally hold the power. They were taught to ask permission before touching another girl, and to say ‘thank you’ at the end of the story massage. We also discussed using hand signals to offer feedback if the touch is too soft, or too firm – if it felt really good or if they they like it to stop. The girls were intrigued by these signs and chose to spend time practising and remembering them.


Perhaps the most moving experience for us was being invited into the circle while the GOAL Leaders shared a massage story that they had written especially for the session using our story massage strokes.


The story centred on the need for girls to know their rights and recognise their own value. In a country where most girls are married at a young age and have very few opportunities to improve the quality of their lives, this is an important message.


Who am I?

Once upon a time in a small village of Nepal there lived a beautiful girl.

She came from a very traditional background.

She wanted to join school and fulfill her dreams but her family didn’t allow her to go to school.

One day she made the most difficult decision in her life. She went against her parents wishes and joined a school where her teacher taught about her rights and she joined a life skills class.

She found a job as a trekking guide and was able to earn her own money.

She went back to her village and told her sisters, her friends and her mother about what she had learnt.

Her family were very proud of her.

The girl tells other girls to remember:

I am a beautiful girl

I am a powerful girl

I am a disciplined girl

I am a human being

I am a strong girl

I am a good student

One day I will fulfil my dreams

Who are you?

(Turn around and look at each other)

I am ……………..girls name

(Repeat above if you wish)


Looking to the Future

The girls became very animated as they shared the massage story and later spent time discussing their own vision for their future.


It was very positive to hear that many girls saw themselves studying in the next three years. In the next fifteen years, some of them said that they would be working, some said they would probably be married with a family and a few of them showed interest to become life skills facilitators and work with children.

Are you inspired to work with Story Massage?

You can find out more from our book, DVD and FHT accredited day course in Story Massage. Take a look at the Story Massage website or contact Mary Atkinson for more information. We’d love to hear from you.



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