2005: Issue 1
Welcome to this first issue of the year! It’s always a bit of an adventure sending the first journal to the printer and awaiting people’s responses.
This issue contains papers around a number of themes, first of all ‘Psychiatry and narrative ideas’. We’re pleased to include here the first of a series of papers by psychiatrist SuEllen Hamkins in which she explores the use of narrative practices within her psychiatric practice. This paper follows on from the formation of a group of psychiatrists who are interested in narrative ideas, which occurred in Oaxaca, Mexico at the 6th International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference. The second paper in this issue, also by a psychiatrist, Nacho Maldonaldo, was a keynote at this conference and describes experiences of mental health work within Argentina, Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico. The third paper in this initial section is by Pam Burr Smith and describes an exercise used with groups in a psychiatric hospital setting. It involves the use of humour and novel ways of inviting externalised conversations.
The next section of this journal focuses on ‘Stories from working with men’ and includes two papers, by Mark Gordon and Larry Towney, which were given as keynote addresses at an international summer school of narrative practice that took place at Dulwich Centre in Adelaide late last year. A third keynote from this session, by Art Fisher on ‘Narrative possibilities for unpacking homophobia’, will be published in an upcoming issue!
Two papers on ‘Stories from working with women’ are then included. The first, by Cindy Gowen and Stephanie Paravicini, describes the ways in which young women in a Californian high school are taking a stand against sexual violence. The second, by Shona Russell, discusses the responsibility of therapists to open spaces in conversations with women to examine cultural and social conditions that can easily remain invisible.
The next piece, ‘Was it a girl or was it a boy?’, by Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad, a bi-gendered doctor and family therapist in Norway, then throws into question issues of gender and sexual identity!
Finally, the journal concludes with two pieces that both involve ethical explorations. Bill Madsen offers a training exercise developed to assist workers to examine inadvertent disempowering professional practices that may have negative effects on the people who consult them. A paper by Leonie Sheedy, about the experience of former state wards, foster children and those who grew up in Children’s Homes, invites social workers and other health professionals to come to terms with the history of these professions.
It is a thoughtful collection and we hope you enjoy it. You will also notice that for the first time we have included a new section, Recent News. With so much happening in relation to narrative therapy ideas, we thought we might institute a column which lets readers know of recent events. If you have ideas as to what we could include next time, please write to us and let us know. Thanks!
Healing, Politics and Community Action— Nacho Maldonaldo
This paper traces some of the histories that have shaped the author’s understandings of the role of psychiatry and family therapy, and discusses some of the key current issues in the field, most notably domestic violence. This paper was originally delivered as a keynote address in Oaxaca, Mexico, at the 6th International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference.
Good Answers to Bad Invitations— Pam Burr Smith
This article describes an exercise used with groups in a psychiatric hospital setting. It involves the use of humour and novel ways of inviting externalised conversations.
Unexpected Conversations — Some Reflections on Talking with Men— Mark Gordon
Conversations with men can lead to unexpected destinations. Narrative practices that enable counsellors to listen for what it is that men value, that explore meaningful relationships, and that avoid shaming or belittling, can result in creative conversational adventures. This paper, by Mark Gordon, was initially delivered as a part of a keynote session at Dulwich Centre’s 2nd International Summer School of Narrative Practice, in Adelaide in November 2004.
The Power of Healing in the Yarns: Working with Aboriginal Men— Larry Maxwell Towney
‘The power of healing in yarn’ is an approach to conversations with Indigenous Australian men that involves the use of certain narrative practices in culturally appropriate ways. This paper, by Larry Towney, was initially delivered as a part of a keynote session at Dulwich Centre’s 2nd International Summer School of Narrative Practice, in Adelaide in November 2004.
Getting it Out There: Young Women Take a Stand Against Sexual Violence— Cindy Gowen and Stephanie Paravicini
‘This is a story about several young women from California and their journey back from despair and depression. These young women decided to share their stories so that other young women might learn from what happened to them. It is also a story of the ways in narrative practices that were engaged with by two counsellors to assist these young women in telling and re-telling their stories.
Was It a Girl — or Was It a Boy?— Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad
This short paper seeks to ask questions about sex and gender identity. It was originally offered as a keynote at the 6th International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Conversations about Inadvertent Disempowering Practices— William Madsen
This short piece describes an exercise developed to assist workers to examine inadvertent disempowering professional practices that may have negative effects on the people who consult them. The exercise also explores ways of talking with colleagues about these practices.
Try to Put Yourselves in Our Skin: The Experience of Wardies and Homies— Leonie Sheedy
This paper describes some of the experiences, skills and knowledge of ‘Wardies’ and ‘Homies’ – former state wards, foster children and those who grew up in Children’s Homes and orphanages. It also invites social workers and other health professionals to come to terms with the history of these professions.