Storytelling Centre is a unique knowledge base of applied storytelling, nationally and internationally. With clear methods we teach people to tell stories and listen.


Since our founding in 2012, we have gained an enormous amount of knowledge on applied storytelling. We have incorporated this knowledge into various methods and books. By participating in European innovation projects, we have also developed several specific methods based on our Share to Connect method.

Share to Connect

Our most well-known method is the Share to Connect method. It includes 27 exercises, shows how to prevent fear of telling stories, demonstrates the importance of a safe environment when sharing stories, how to use storytelling in conflicts, and the power of sharing personal stories. 

This storytelling method is for everyone and is already being used by municipalities, social organisations and district administrators.

Share to Connect method

You can download the Share to Connect-methode for free via this website.

Three pillars of applied storytelling

We developed several specific methods based on Share to Connect. These are used to stimulate personal growth, to create social impact, for example by countering polarisation, and for language development.

Personal growth

Storytelling contributes to a growth in self-confidence, self-respect and self-reflection. In this the aspect of being heard is very important. And you will be heard sooner if you can tell a good story. That is why we regularly offer training courses to different groups to learn how to tell a good story. Moreover, making a story helps you structure your thoughts and discover what you actually find important.

Many projects focus on women, but in there are also men who are in a vulnerable position in our society. They often came here in their early years to work, lost that work in one way or another and ended up in a downward spiral. They have a loss of self-esteem, feel that they are not taken seriously and feel shame. They become a single story. We have started a project within Golden Men to let these men discover their own story and to show them that they are not just this single story, but that their personality consists of so much more.

Read the whole story of this project

Social impact

“The enemy is the one whose story you do not know.” That is the starting point for our training focused on conflict management. Together with the participants we look for the common denominator or common ground and we ask to make stories about that. We do this in culturally diverse neighborhoods in the Netherlands, but also in Palestine / Israel. Trainings are tailor-made, depending on the target group and the goal. This can range from neighborhood disputes to conflict areas or problems related to diversity and social insecurity.

At the request of the OBA in Molenwijk, we developed a training course to connect young people and adults in that Amsterdam neighbourhood through stories. Many adults (45+) experienced the presence of certain groups of young people as a nuisance. Among other things, this reduced their sense of social security.

Read the whole story of this project

Language development

We teach language trainers to use storytelling techniques and other non-formal learning methods in their classes of Dutch as a second language. The training courses are suitable for professionals and volunteers who work with people with low language acquisition skills. We make language learning fun. This way, participants gain the self-confidence to participate in society. In this way, we contribute to identity reinforcement.

Many European countries have experienced an influx of refugees in recent years. Learning the new language is essential for their integration. But what if this is too big a challenge? During our language lessons for people with low language learning skills, we saw a need for an alternative method.

Although Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands have good formal methods for learning the second language, there is a group of newcomers for whom this is too much of a challenge. For example due to low literacy. The goal of this 2-year European cooperation project is therefore to develop an alternative method to give them the chance to learn a new language so that they can actively participate in society.

Read the whole story of this project

Knowledge in books

The world is storytelling

The World is Storytelling offers a fresh perspective on the ancient art of storytelling. Co-authored by Arjen Barel, Stu Packer, and Ronni Gurwicz, coaches and colleagues at Storytelling Centre Amsterdam, this book takes readers on a fascinating journey through the theory and practice of storytelling in our modern world. Whether you’re interested in job creation, language learning, conflict resolution, or simply enjoy folk tales, this book is a snappy, engaging, and insightful exploration of the power of storytelling. Drawing on personal experiences and years of workshop case studies, this book is the ideal companion for anyone interested in the art of storytelling and its impact on the world

“This book is full of practical advice for using humanity’s greatest resource, stories, to develop both individuals and communities.”

Robin Yassin-Kassab, Author of ‘Road from Damascus’

You can order The world is storytelling through this site

Sterker Staan met je Eigen Verhaal

How do we give meaning to life? Especially in moments of crisis, such as burnout, the end of a relationship or the loss of a job, this question is crucial. With Arjen Barel’s storytelling method in the book Sterker Staan met je Eigen Verhaal (Standing Stronger with Your Own Story), you gain insight into every event or situation in your life in five steps.

Barel has been using this to help members of minorities and people with a migration background for years. His method is therefore lived-through and sincere, there really is something at stake. A no-nonsense and honest story about personal growth.

Sterker Staan met je Eigen Verhaal is sold by De Theaterboekhandel.

Author Arjen Barel

Arjen Barel is the founder of Storytelling Centre. He is a storytelling coach, dramaturge, director and producer and spends a large part of his professional life listening to stories and training people in the art of storytelling. He teaches Storytelling and Presentation at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam and regularly gives guest lectures in the Netherlands and abroad. He also trains professionals in the use of storytelling in youth and community work in different parts of the world. In recent years, he has trained groups in Morocco, Palestine, Lithuania, Slovenia, Great Britain, Israel, Germany, Greece, Spain, Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Hungary.

Arjen studied Theatre Science and Cultural Studies at the University of Amsterdam and wrote the books Theatre & Marketing, Tension & Sensation (composition and editing together with Esther Lagendijk) and Storytelling and the World – this book will be translated in English soon, so keep an eye on our site or socials for the exact date that it will be published. He regularly writes interesting pieces about storytelling and society. Keep an eye on our blog page to stay informed. 

European projects

We are partners in various cooperation projects with various countries in Europe, often with the support of the programme Erasmus+. Because together we stand strong. We make use of the expertise that the international partners have to offer and thus ensure a strong and positive social impact throughout Europe. The methods we develop(ed) in each project contribute to our knowledge base.

Alternative ways I & II

In the Alternative Ways I project, we developed a non-formal and interactive language training for people with low language acquisition skills together with professionals from France, Germany and Belgium.

As a follow-up, since December 2022 we have been working with organisations in Belgium, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands to develop a non-formal method to help people who are distanced from a society, such as migrants and refugees, to become integrated.

Look here for the Alternative Ways method and more information on the interactive language training. As soon as we are further along with the development of the civic integration method, it will also be available on the website and downloadable.

Both projects have been and are co-funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ Programme.



How do you find working with groups in an ONLINE context? Difficult? Inspiring?  Do you want to improve your skills?

By necessity, since the spring of 2020, people have been studying the possibilities of continuing lessons, training courses and performances digitally.

In the ONlife project (Erasmus+) we will first map what educators and performers have come up with to digitally overcome the barriers created by Covid 19. We will then test some of these digital solutions for their effectiveness when it comes to the presentation of performing arts and the use of creative tools in informal education. 

Our goal? To provide educators, trainers, teachers and/or storytellers with a nice looking, easy accessible and informative toolkit that will help to foster creativity in “virtual realities.”


We are lead partner in a major European project to improve the integration of refugees using digital storytelling. This project started in December 2020 and will run for two years. With partners from Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria and Lithuania, we are working on strategies to make newcomers feel ‘at home’ more quickly in their new place of residence. This project fits within Storytelling Centre’s mission statement that there should be a place for every story in a balanced and equal society.

DIGIMI is made possible by a contribution from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) of the European Union.


Common Ground, Common Future

In this Erasmus+ innovation project, we look for narratives that connect. In line with this, we are developing strategies that will enable people to better recognise and combat harmful stories (fake news, hate speech). This project is in cooperation with partners from Kosovo, Norway, Romania and Cyprus. Read more about the project here.

Digging for Gold

Everyone has gold in them, but sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find it. We have experience with this by working with the Golden Men. Now, together with partners from the United Kingdom, Hungary and Greece, we are looking to deepen the storytelling process even further in order to work with vulnerable groups. VU University Amsterdam is researching the process and providing the academic foundation. For this project, Storytelling Centre is collaborating with DW-RS productions.

Stop! Storytelling against Polarization

How can you use storytelling as an intervention to reduce polarisation? We have put this into practice a number of times and now participate in a European project to develop transferable tools for this.

The Stop! project intends to produce a board game, but also a handbook with methods for community and youth workers who want to bring groups together. Read more about this project here and have a look at the website of the project here

COBU - working with self-managed volunteer groups

COBU is the abbreviation for ‘COmmunity BUilding through self-managed volunteer groups’. In Dutch; building communities through self-managed volunteer groups. It is a European project in which the Storytelling Centre is working with partners in Spain, France and Hungary. In this project, we train people to develop their own initiatives with and for the community they are part of. Such an initiative can be anything: knitting together, cooking, setting up a bicycle repair shop, playing bridge, chess or telling each other a story every week. These are just a few examples.

Read more here


Strengthening inclusive learning environments with multiple uses of cultural heritage; that is the goal of the Rebelah project. Together with partners from Spain, France and Hungary and with the University of Groningen, Institute for Christian Cultural Heritage, we investigate how to create learning environments in which everyone feels free with regard to cultural background and faith. Sharing stories is an essential activity to get there, but we also involve other methods, such as theatre and applied psychology. Read more about the project here

Picture your story

In the Picture your Story project of Erasmus+ we developed a toolkit that connects young people with different cultural backgrounds in (potential) conflict areas. This enables them to build strong, resilient, respectful and peaceful communities. The PicS Toolkit has been developed and tested by several European organisations, all contributing their own expertise, based on research done for this project by Hogeschool van Amsterdam. Click here for the toolkit and more information.


Get in touch and find out how our services can improve your company, organisation or customers.

Contact us for a free appointment or consultation

Arjen Barel