WholeStory Speech: Building Social and Communication Skills through Storytelling

STORY EMOTION SOCIAL THERAPY (SEST) Guide to Training Opportunities

Thank you for your interest in Story Emotion Social Therapy, the SEST methodology. To use SEST within your practice, you first participate in the Principal Training, which teaches you to use SEST with neurotypical children. Advanced Training provides you with the deeper knowledge to effectively use SEST with children with social learning, social emotional, and/or social anxiety issues. To apply to the Principal Training and to learn about the fees and upcoming training dates, please email [email protected] to receive an application. Or, simply feel free to contact me! I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about SEST or these training courses.

Sincerely, Dr. Rochel Lieberman


The SEST Approach

SEST encourages individuals to more fully communicate about themselves, their thoughts, emotions, and desires, through the medium of storytelling. SEST does not require strict adherence to a set of rules. Instead, it is a flexible approach, recognizing the “wholeness” of the individual and accepting individuals for who they are in the moment. The SEST practitioner guides them in and through that moment, while encouraging more open and meaningful communication and skill development. Assumptions of ability—at any moment or level—are not part of SEST. Practitioners are taught to “see” the client as they come to a session, physically, emotionally, and holistically, and work together from that point of reference. Parents are an integral component of SEST and learn about storytelling alongside their child and ways to practice it together outside the therapy setting.

Two levels of SEST training

There are two levels of SEST training.

  • Principal Training teaches how to use the SEST approach and its materials with neurotypical children or adults. It is geared to helping a child who has weak social interpersonal skills, weak group dynamic skills, is shy or steers away from interpersonal involvement.
  • Advanced Training teachings and exercises are designed to help individuals who need deeper social emotional support. These individuals may be diagnosed with SCD (social communication disorder), ASD Level 1 (autism spectrum disorder), with anxiety/social anxiety, or with no diagnostic label but who still struggle with social emotional understanding, learning, and integration. Advanced Training also teaches therapists how to work in a more holistic way with parents/caregivers, prompting them to develop their own stronger listening and communication abilities so that the SEST practice is widely used and becomes meaningful to them and their family.

Principal Training consists of approximately five hours of self-paced video module training that ends with face-to-face (via video) small group training with Dr. Lieberman. This acts as a fidelity check of the practitioner’s understanding of the SEST approach. Upon completion, participants receive a Certificate of Training Level 1, which entitles them to use SEST with neurotypical children only.

This first level of training covers the basic concepts and principles of SEST, outlines story grammar and/or CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) techniques, teaches the parts of a story and how to use storytelling to encourage social emotional communication abilities and self-expression. Then, through 10 specific exercises, participants are given the teaching tools to use SEST within their practice with neurotypical children.

Principla Training Requirements, Fees, and Schedule

Requirements: you are a practicing SLP with at least 18 months of clinical practice in 1:1 settings with your clients; you have at least a working knowledge of CBT (cognitive behavior therapy); you complete the self-paced Principal Training video modules, and then schedule/participate in 1-4 individual or small group face-to-face sessions with Dr. Lieberman.

Fees: A nonrefundable deposit of $150 is due at the time you are accepted for training. The fee for the video module training is $700; the balance of $550 is required before you are given access to the training module. This fee also includes access to the SEST Training Materials in PDF form. The flat fee for the individual or small group sessions is $500. This fee is due at the time the training schedule is approved by Dr. Lieberman, and covers the total number of sessions you are required to complete. Upon successful completion of both parts of Principal Training a certificate is awarded. Total Principal Training fee: $1200.

Dates: We’re happy to announce that SEST Principal Training will begin on May 15, 2023.

Applications are due no later than March 12, 2023.

Approved candidates will be notified by April 24https://vimeo.com/showcase/10559412, 2023, of their acceptance into the training.

Click here for the SEST WholeStory: Clinical Resources