2004: Issue 2
We send this issue out with hopes that it will assist you in your ongoing explorations of narrative ideas. In each edition of this journal we try to bring together a diverse collection of hopeful, thought-provoking papers that are relevant to practitioners.
This collection begins with a paper by Linette Harriot, entitled ‘Town Bikes Unite’ which is an invitation to all of us to question attitudes to women’s sexuality, particularly how these attitudes influence women who have been subjected to sexual assault. This is then followed by a paper by the founder of the Deconstructing Addiction League, Anthony C., which offers a series of proposals for using narrative maps of practice to assist people in changing their relationships to substances. A letter to the ongoing ‘Feminism, therapy and narrative ideas project’ is then included. This letter is by Arthemis Rodhanthy, a Belgian woman therapist of transsexual/transgendered experience, and raises important questions. The final paper in the first section of this journal, by David Denborough, describes a recent gathering on Robben Island, South Africa, in which participants from Uganda, Rwanda, Namibia, Samoa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Germany, Burundi, Eritrea, Northern Ireland, the USA, Australia and South Africa came together to try to find ways to contribute towards the healing of histories of trauma that have occurred in their respective countries. We hope you enjoy these four extremely diverse contributions.
The second section of this journal focuses on the theme of research and narrative ideas. This is the first installment of papers on this particular theme. A further number of papers will be included in the next issue. Many months ago, Andrew Tootell and Stephen Gaddis approached Dulwich Centre Publications about the idea of publishing a special issue of this issue on the theme of research and it has been their enthusiasm for this project, along with the contributions of Wendy Drewery, that have resulted in this collection of papers! We would like to thank Andrew, Wendy and Stephen for their efforts over the last eighteen months.
This first installment begins with a question and answer paper which explores the origins of narrative therapy being understood as co-research and the many vibrant links between narrative practices and research practices. The second paper, by Stephen Gaddis, describes the author’s personal commitment to reposition traditional research in ways that honour clients’ accounts of therapy. Cate Ingram and Amaryll Perlesz then convey to us the benefits of inviting those with whom we work to document their ‘wisdoms’ and to make these available to other families. Amanda Redstone describes her journey in trying to develop ways of evaluating therapy conversations that are congruent with narrative practice. And Kathie Crocket documents her professional identity story as she moved from engaging with narrative practice in counselling, to narrative practice in research. We hope that each of these papers will spark new ideas for practitioners.
Finally, this journal also includes two invitations to you the reader. We hope you will become involved in our new project about ‘Responding to trauma: including the trauma of war, occupation, terror, political violence and torture’. And we also hope you will join us in a new ‘Village-to-village’ project which is attempting to build links between our readership and a number of villages in Papua New Guinea.
This journal issue represents view points from a wide-range of countries. We hope you enjoy it.
Town Bikes Unite— Linette Harriott
Written by a counsellor in an Australian Centre Against Sexual Assault, this paper questions the attitudes of the dominant culture to women who are sexually prolific. It also explores the links for some women between experiences of sexual assault and subsequent prolific sexual activity. By questioning the effects of dominant attitudes towards women’s sexuality and by inviting therapists and researchers to explore the meanings that women give to their own experiences of sexuality, this paper offers new challenges to the counselling field.
Narrative Maps of Practice: Proposals for the Deconstructing Addiction League— Anthony C.
This paper invites therapists to consider establishing community resources informed by narrative practices as a way of challenging the culture of consumption and assisting those trying to revise their use of substances. The paper also discusses a range of specific proposals as to how various narrative maps of practice can be used to deconstruct addiction. This paper was given as a keynote address at Dulwich Centre’s inaugural Summer School of Narrative Practice, in Adelaide, South Australia, in November 2003. It was heralded by those present as both a call to action and a creative engagement with narrative ideas. The presentation has been adapted slightly for publication here.
A Letter to the Feminism Project— co-ordinated by Shona Russell, Maggie Carey & Cheryl White
The paper, ‘Feminism, therapy and narrative ideas – Exploring some not so commonly asked questions’, compiled by Shona Russell and Maggie Carey, was published in an earlier edition of the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work (2003 #2) and heralded the beginning of an ongoing project on this theme. Subsequent articles by Judy Wright (2003): ‘Considering issues of domestic violence and abuse in palliative care and bereavement settings’; and ‘The Mother-Daughter Project: cocreating pro-girl, pro-mother culture through adolescence and beyond’ by SuEllen Hamkins, Renee Schultz et al. (2003), represent ongoing explorations of these issues.
If you were not a subscriber to the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work in 2003 it is possible to receive back issues (just contact your local distributer). A number of these feminist-informed papers are also available on the Dulwich Centre website: www.dulwichcentre.com.au
Stories from Robben Island: A Report from a Journey of Healing— David Denborough
A three-day gathering on Robben Island, South Africa, organised by the Institute for the Healing of Memories and the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre, brought participants together from many different parts of the world to share stories and ideas about the healing of memories and ways to address histories of trauma. This paper describes some of the principles and practices of healing which shaped this meeting. It describes the structure of story-telling and reflection that occurred, and includes a number of stories, reflections and the lyrics of songs to convey the experience.
Narrative Therapy and Research
There are rich connections between narrative therapy and practices of research, and considering these links has been a source of creativity for many practitioners. This short piece seeks to describe how narrative therapy first began to be described as co-research, and describes some of the common research practices that are engaged with by narrative therapists. This piece also considers the powerful challenges that Indigenous researchers are making to the field of research. This paper has been collaboratively created. Marilyn O’Neill, Shona Russell, Makungu Akinyela, Helen Gremillion, David Epston, Vanessa Jackson and Michael White all responded to the questions listed below, and David Denborough then wove their responses into a final form.
Re-positioning Traditional Research: Centring Clients’ Accounts in the Construction of Professional Therapy Knowledges— Stephen Gaddis
As a boy, I was subject to the ideas that therapists had about how to help me. In my experience, the ideas they used were not helpful to me and may have inadvertently created more suffering for my family and me. This experience and my interest in narrative therapy led me to want to challenge the sources that shape what therapists think is helpful for clients. One important source that constructs therapists’ ideas about therapy is research. One of my greatest concerns has to do with how traditional research practices privilege professionals’ interpretations and understanding over those of clients. I have attempted to re-consider therapy research so that its main purpose is to honour clients’ accounts of therapy. My hope is that this will enable us as therapists to be taught as much by clients as by other professionals. The research project I undertook resulted in the participants (i.e., ‘therapy clients’) reporting that their experience of the project helped them with the problems they struggled with in their lives and relationships. This was an outcome I had not anticipated but is quite exciting to consider.
The Getting of Wisdoms— Cate Ingram & Amaryll Perlesz
An action research project was conducted by a public family therapy agency, in Melbourne, Australia, to investigate the impact of the writing of client stories and the subsequent reading of these stories to others in similar circumstances. This paper describes some of the effects this process had on individuals and families who authored their ‘Wisdom Narratives’ in the hope of inspiring and supporting others. Going through the process of putting their story/struggle into words on paper enabled people to recognise their own agency and influence, while reading stories out loud back to the author engendered self-compassion. In conclusion, the creative process of penning narratives of change might now be considered as having an important impact in generating self-worth and sense of agency.
Researching People’s Experience of Narrative Therapy: Acknowledging the Contribution of the ‘Client’ to What Works in Counselling Conversations— Amanda Redstone
This paper explores the possibility of developing a way of evaluating narrative therapy conversations that acknowledges clients’ contribution to ‘what works’ in counselling conversations, and at the same time contributes to further rich description of clients’ preferred stories of identity.
From Narrative Practice in Counselling to Narrative Practice in Research: A Professional Identity Story— Kathie Crocket
This article describes particular practices, learned in and for my work as a counsellor, which I called on as I produced myself as a researcher in undertaking a doctoral study. Both copying and originating, I wove into my research practice knowledges familiar to me from counselling practice. My account of becoming a researcher is a story of professional identity: it was my wish to practice research in ways that were congruent with the values that informed my counselling work. In this article, I describe how narrative ideas of storying, of constructing a club of one’s life, of migration of identity, were all useful tools to me as I learned and theorised and generated new practices in research. I show, too, some ways in which I grappled with interpreting the practice-research relation.