Visit my show at the PSCCU Credit Union, Vashon, Washington May, June 2024 

3rd Act: Dr. Juliet Bruce–Transformational Storytelling.

Juliet Bruce, Ph.D.,  is helping people discover their legacies, and find more meaning, as they look at their lives through the lens of story, and specifically the Hero’s Journey framework.

For those of us who are aging, Juliet knows that even with its difficulties, aging can be viewed as another step in a heroic, transformational journey.

For twenty-five plus years, Juliet has been helping people understand how they live inside of stories- and can change those stories.

Combining her training in expressive arts therapy with her background in literature and journalism, Juliet has developed a unique way to work with individuals and groups. Her clients have ranged from trauma survivors, to members of our most marginalized populations, to those grappling with questions of life and aging.

Juliette holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Northwestern, an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Washington University, and a Ph.D. in Expressive Arts Therapy and Transformational Education.

In the wake of 9/11/2001, she founded Arts for Life, a non-profit organization that sent trained teams of storytellers, visual artists, dancers, actors, musicians, and expressive therapists into public venues to facilitate healing programs. She also founded a program to help New York City first responders who were continuing to experience PTSD.

She is currently writing a book, which draws from her moving experiences bringing the world of myth and story to clients including her work within a maximum security prison for criminally insane men.

If you can help transform lives through storytelling in that environment – anything is possible.



Highlights and quotes from the Show

How a cat helped Juliet start her own transformation.

“As soon as we begin to frame our experience as a story, as an adventure, everything changes, anything becomes possible, and we begin a transformational journey that leads up and out– ultimately to finding a gift or a strength in our circumstances and in ourselves that we can then share with other people.”

Transformation is the key to the journey – First, there’s a crisis, then a struggle, and finally, transformation.

“I wanted to use my writing to serve something good. I understood the power of story to change and  transform, not just individual lives but community lives. To create wholeness where there was a shattered experience. I’m always in awe of what happens in a group of people who are sharing their stories. Not their victim story, but their hero’s story–the story of how they did things right in difficult times in their lives, and how they found meaning in moments in their lives that changed their lives.”

How so many people are incarcerated by their own limitations or by life circumstances.

How a group of men in a maximum security prison went from feeling completely victimized to understanding that they were undergoing a rite of passage in their Hero’s Journey.

“The truth of the hero’s journey is found in the darkest parts of the soul.  The ‘all is lost’ moment is the moment before breakthrough.”

How aging, as we are confronted with our own dark night, has the power to be transformational.


How Juliette works with legacy stories – asking story questions about what people want in their 3rd Act even as they face the limitations of life.

“Ask a person not to remember, not to talk in generalities, but to ask story questions about their lives. What was your wedding day like, tell me about your wedding day? Very specific scenes in their lives. What music played around the birth of your child? Get people into their senses, their sense memories and whole beautiful stories of decades emerge.


Using The Hero’s Journey paradigm people find that their lives were not a waste, in fact, they were very beautiful lives no matter how ordinary they were. They made choices that were the best choices they could make in the moment. They endured, they carried on, and they made it to this age. And now, faced with the frailties of the human body, and sometimes the mind, they still have great wisdom and a sense of continuity to share with younger people.”

How she is helping people, in their older years, reclaim their sense of adventure.

“You became a hero because you took the hard road. The Hero’s Journey is about someone transcending difficult circumstances and bringing it [what they learn] back to people, and serving people.”

How she asks people, “What are you doing to do with this gift?” “Who needs to hear your story?”

Why we need stories of people overcoming adversity. How Juliet works with people on the verge of deportation.

“Life wants to live and story supports life.”

Hear the interview with Juliette:

Click here to go to the full interview on iTunes (#88).


And please leave a rating and review!


The Show Notes


Coming this year: Juliette’s book:  A Write of Passage: A Storypath Home.


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