David Boje

Daily Manager


1780 E University Ave

Las Cruces NM 88003

United States


The VETERANS THEATER PROJECT: We are talking with homeless veterans and the homeless community of New Mexico to come up with the stories that are the basis for the theater plays. They turn these stories into theater plays for paying audiences. It started with Liz and I applying Anete Strand's Material Storytelling Method, not your usual sandtray work, rather an Object Theater of one's whole life depicted without words, just assembling objects to spatialize and temporalized and embodied storytelling.

Here is a short video by Dr. Boje and Dr. England Kennedy, on how ERP is combined with Dr. Strand's material-sandplay-for-adults, in-order-to do repeated rounds or restorying with formerly homeless veterans at Community of Hope in Las Cruces New Mexico.

Work by Boje (international storytelling and restorying researcher) and England Kennedy (2013, video), a Mediacal Anthropologist and Social Worker, with the formerly homeless veterans at Community of Hope in Las Cruces New Mexico developed the Embodied Restorying Process (ERP). It is not the usual or traditional sandplay that is based on Jungian psychology. In Jungian sandplay, the therapist is the expert, and interprets the display of material objects.

More on storytelling


  1. Equine Assisted Growth Learning Events (EAGLE). David Boje, Ph.D. and Grace Ann Rosile, Ph.D. are certified equine-specialists with EAGALA, and certified to work with veterans and family members. The horse mirrors the disposition of Service Member and their Family members. We consider the Equine-arena to be like a large sand tray, in which a herd of blood-and-flesh people encounter a herd of blood-and-flesh horses.

  2. Embodied Restorying Process (ERP) and original approach using sandplay objects that veterans and their families assemble to depict a visual story of deployment to a combat theatre and return to family life. In Restorying sessions we use plastic and cotton figures in a 2 ft. by 2.5 ft. sand tray, instead of traditional text/talk restorying.

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Why Storytelling: It's about Story Listening

It is time for military leaders and the Military Medical System to do story listening. One way to do this is to work with Embodied Restorying Process (ERP). Unlike traditional 'restorying' that is text-based (talk-based), ERP focuses on letting Service Members and Family members to do a non-verbal layout of thier deployment experience using material objects, during sandplay. Unlike traditional sandplay, which used Jungian or Freudian interpretation schemes by the psychologist or psychoanalyst, ERP is focused on encouraging the Service Member and Family members to tell thier own story, while the counselors do Story Listening.

This is work using the 'Embodied Restorying Processes' and new 'sandplay' methods was originally done to help formerly homeless veterans develop a more efficacious set of outcomes (performance, persistence, outcome expectancy, and motivation) antenarratives.The work was done at Community of Hope by David Boje and Liz EnglandKennedy, and has Internal Review Board approval for the project. Antenarrative is a concept developed by David Boje, to help storytellers make better 'bets on the future' (Boje, 2001, 2011). With the ERP, the veterans develop new 'bets on their future.' Each round of restorying is hypothesized to improve self-efficacy, empowerment, and self-agency. The veteran learns to restory their past-experiences in ways that take them out of the victim-role and into the self-agency role, resulting in developing more possible, and positive futures.


Boje, D.M. (2001). Narrative Methods for Organizational and Communication Research. London:  Sage.

Boje, D. M. (2011). The Future of Storytelling in Organizations: An Antenarrative Handbook. London: Routledge.


The Embodied Restorying Process (ERP) begins with recharacterize, so the problem becomes the problem, not the person (Rosile, 2007; Rosile & Boje, 2002). We became interested in adapting ERP to the field of 'material storytelling' when we began working with Anete Mikkala Camille Strand (2012), who has founded a lab in Denmark for Material Storytelling at Aalborg University.

Dr. Strand has trained the sandplay method extensively for several years and translated it to bring together the two areas (sandplay and storytelling) in the 'material storytelling' mode ‘stories of artifacts’ and in doing so it reconfigures from a therapeutic field to a storytelling field within organizations and teaching/research. Dr. Strand works with adults. Her lab focused on helping companies resdesign and change work processes. Boje, in particular, has been working with Strand since 2009, and served on her dissertation committee (Boje, Jørgensen, & Strand, 2013). Dr. Strand is a frequent presenter at the annual conferences devoted to storytelling research (Standing Conference for Management and Organizational Inquirysc'MOI, and Quantum Storytelling Conference in New Mexico.


Strand, Anete Mikkala Camille (2012) Enacting the Between - On dis/continuous becoming of/through an Apparatus of Material Storytelling.(More on Material Storytelling Lab).


Download PhD thesis: Book 1 /// Book 2

Photo: Anete Mikkala Camille Strand, Ph.D. at the Material Storytelling Lab at Aalborg University, Denmark

Photo by D. Boje, 2014

Boje, David; Jørgensen, Kenneth Mølbjerg; Strand, Anete Mikkala Camille (2013). Towards a postcolonial storytelling theory of management and organization. Journal of Management Philosophy. Vol 12 (1) 43-66.


"The Material Story Lab offers a process-oriented and holistic approach to practices of knowing and becoming" (Material Storytelling Lab, Denmark). It is our intention to work closely with Dr. Stand to develop a storytelling lab here in New Mexico.


How ERP works? We begin in Step 1 with stories of the veteran at their best to set a baseline of authentic Self identity. Then in Step 2, we Externalize and name the problem as the problem, externalizing it from the person. For example, we name ‘Mr Stress’ or (Spirit of Stress) as the problem that has gripped the veteran. In steps 3 and 4, it is important to deconstruct the ways society, medical establishment, the media (movies, TV, news), and even the military are characterizing, making the person into a pathology, simulacra, a stigma, a stereotype. When a person is pathologized, they become the problem to be fixed by meds or treatments, or just shunned. Step 5, reclaims those Little Wow Moments of exceptoin to the grand old story of the Sad Sak veteran, who has internalized a permanent pathology from media, or traditional treatment modes.

Table 1: 7 STEPS of Embodied Restorying Process with ♥ of Care 

Step 6 completes the restorying process. It rehistoricizes the Grand old Story of Sad Sack, by collection the Little Wow moments of exception and success events into a New story.


Step 7 is important. The family and friends form a support system for the veteran to sustain the New story. This can be done by face-to-face meeting or by letter writing between the veteran and the family and friends. Below we introduce a way to do this process and strengthen New Story efficacy during deployment.

In sum, the ERP anchors the New Story in embodied life of the veteran's family support system. It does this by using material objects, in sand play, and in the equine-assisted growth and learning events (EAGLE), in the bigger sandplay with live horses and live people, and material objects, as Service Members and Family members tell and retell, and restory their deployment experiences, and attain more self-efficacy, and self-agency to author their own story, while learning to resist and refust the Grand Narratives such as stigma and stereotype. In each military context there are many Grand Narratives (Lyotard 1979/1984) that privilege one standpoint over any others (e.g. Macho Warrior who refuses mental health care). And each Grand Narrative has an ideology that marginalizes others' ideologies, and discounts the living story web of relations that Service Members and Family members have with one another. More one difference of Grand Narrative and Living Story Web.


Boje is affiliated with an Honory Doctorate from Aalborg University (Denmark (and the Material Storytelling Lab (see Boje, Jørgensen, & Strand, 2013for more on this topic). Boje and Liz EnglandKennedy of New Mexico State University have developed a portable version of material apparatus to work with Veterans and their Family members, that builds on White and Epston's (1990) text-based restorying, and moves beyond it using 'material apparatus' of sandlay as pioneersed by Dr Strand (2012). The contribution of Dr. Boje and Dr. EnglandKennedy is to use repeated rounds of restorying during the sandplay with former Service Members of the Military, and with Student-Veterans in-order-to generate more self-efficacy, self-agency, and self-authoring storytelling results.

Embodied Restorying Process (ERP) with Sandplay

We are using a temporary STORYTELLING LAB at NMSU to work out the methodology

We use a portable STORYTELLING LAB with Community of Hope Veterans to perfect our Embodied Restorying Process (ERP). Above is a demonstration of the ERP at the Teaching Academy event at New Mexico State University held 27 August, 2014 in Milton Hall, Room 50 (converted to a temporary lab).Instead of text-based approach to restorying (White & Epston, 1990), Boje and EnglandKennedy, focus is what Brandt and Clinton (2002: 344), refer to as a Latourian approach, “the “capacity to be visible and animate outside the interactions of immediate literacy events. These capacities stem from the legibility and durability of literacy: its material moors, its technological apparatus, its objectivity, that is, its (some)thing-ness.” This is a departure of storytelling form word- and text-contexts, to how people and things “are given the status of social actors” (IBID.: p. 348).

ERP incorporates “materiality, its (some)thingness” into the storytelling, story listening, and story noticing processes (p. 353). The material dimensions of storytelling (Strand, 2012) hold together multiple agents (material inanimate things, and in EAGLE the live horses and people).


More on this topic: Material storytelling in organization and systems design, SEE STUDY GUIDE NEW MATERIALISMS