2007: Issue 4
The year is drawing to a close and we are pleased to be sending to you the last issue of this subscription series. We hope that this year’s reading has stretched and engaged your thinking and assisted in your practice.
To refresh your memory, the first issue of this year focused on the theme ‘New Voices’, the second on ‘Experience Consultants’ and the third on ‘Eating Issues, Transgender Journeys and Narrative Practice’.
Due to requests from readers this issue focuses on ‘Children & young people: Dreams, Responses and Dilemmas’. The first paper, by Angel Yuen, proposes the development of a ‘response-based narrative practice’ to assist children who have been subjected to trauma. The second, by Milan Colic, describes the use of narrative practices to explore the meaning of the dreams being experienced by a young person with whom he was working. And the third, by Jodi Aman, conveys ways in which narrative approaches can assist in linking families together when children/young people are going through difficult times.
Two papers on the theme of ‘Eating issues’ then follow. Ali Borden describes the work of the Eating Disorder Centre of California. She conveys how narrative ideas can be used within a treatment centre to provide opportunities for the renegotiation of identity in group settings. Cari Corbet-Owen then provides a brief ‘exposé of body-worry’.
The final section focuses on ‘Sharing dilemmas of practice’. This is a new section of the journal which we are pleased to introduce. Here, practitioners write about dilemmas they have encountered in their work and how they have tried to respond to these. These are not seamless descriptions of ‘perfect’ practice, but instead honest reflections on the realities of complex conversations. In future issues we wish to regularly publish writings from practitioners who have perhaps stumbled, or struggled with some aspect of practice and then found ways of responding to these circumstances. Both ‘sharings of dilemmas’ in this issue relate to work with men who have been violent and/or abusive. We are pleased to include the writings of Chris Chapman from Canada, and David Newman from Australia.
The papers in this journal originate from Canada, Australia, USA, South Africa. Over the course of this year we have also published papers from Bangladesh, UK, Norway, Vietnam/Australia, Israel, Rwanda and the Palestinian Territories. In 2008 we hope to continue to publish papers from a diversity of contexts.
Your feedback on previous issues
Throughout the year we have been receiving feedback from readers on the different papers that we have published. Recently, for instance, we have received wide-ranging positive feedback on the paper ‘Stories about home’ (2007 #2) by Leonie Simmons about her experiences of being born in Vietnam and being adopted to Australia. This paper is now being circulated amongst organizations and groups working in the field of inter-country and cross-cultural adoption. Due to the feedback we are receiving, we are now working on a DVD version of this paper! We hope this will be available in the first half of 2008.
We very much appreciate hearing from readers with your views, feedback, suggestions and/or critiques of papers that we publish in these journals.
We hope that the new year treats you kindly.
Thank you for subscribing during 2007. We look forward to corresponding with you again in 2008!
Discovering Children’s Responses to Trauma: A Response-based Narrative Practice— Angel Yuen
Modern discourses of victimhood, which are often present in instances of childhood trauma, can contribute considerably to establishing long-term negative identity conclusions. However, focussing on children’s responses to trauma can aid in conversations that contribute to rich second story development, without re-traumatising children or young people. These kinds of enquiry can focus on children’s acts of resistance, places of safety, and other skills of living. This paper gives examples of therapy informed by this approach, and provides a map of four levels of enquiry for conversations with children and young people which elicit and build upon responses to trauma.
Kanna’s Lucid Dreams and the Use of Narrative Practices to Explore Their Meaning— Milan Colic
This paper presents how the lucid dreaming of a young woman, Kanna, was unpacked in line with the ideas and practices that underlie narrative therapy. It outlines how Kanna’s dream was rendered into a metaphor in order to story events and experiences in her life, culminating in the selection of a new support ‘Team’, and changing what she had come to know as distressing nightmares into ‘lucid dreaming’, in which she was authorised to shape the stories that she now could tell herself in both her sleep and her waking life.
Linking Families Together: Narrative Conversations with Children, Adolescents, and Their Families— Jodi Aman
This paper explores ways of responding to the problems children and adolescents face in ways that include and honour the contributions of other family members. For example, parents and care-givers can be enlisted to help with scaffolding and outsiderwitnessing, as well as providing what the author refers to as ‘comemories’. The paper also discusses specific ways of working with children, such as keeping therapeutic conversations fun, regarding children as ‘story listeners’, opening space for conversations about difficult problems, and using therapeutic documents. How these considerations are put into practice is then documented in three accounts of working with children and adolescents on issues of anxiety, the death of a pet, and a parent’s diagnosis of cancer.
Every Conversation Is an Opportunity: Negotiating Identity in Group Settings— Ali Borden
Therapy within the context of a treatment centre can spread and confirm stories of deficit, or it can be an opportunity in which preferences and skills reverberate within a community and enable preferred reputations to be born. In a group setting, every conversation is an opportunity to negotiate meaning, and every group provides a stage for the performance of identity. This paper describes some ways that we at the Eating Disorder Center of California day treatment program guide some of that performance, including how we seek to take apart assumptions about eating problems and recovery, what is relevant to share, and what people have in common. Our intention is to open space for women to share their experiences as rich and complicated; their preferences as diverse, varied, and dynamic; and at the same time encourage points of connection, camaraderie, and community.
An Expose of ‘Body-Worry’— Cari Corbet-Owen
Concerns about body size and weight have increased in western cultures in past decades. This brief paper recounts how one client, concerned about ‘body worry’ for both herself and her daughter, was able to engage in a deconstructive conversation about body image and diet. Unpacking some of the cultural understandings and prescriptions around these issues provided a foundation for the client to renegotiate her relationship with ‘body-worry’ and restore her relationship with her daughter.
Dilemmas about ‘Taking Responsibility’ and Cultural Accountability in Working with Men Who Have Abused Their Female Partners— Chris Chapman
In this paper, Chris Chapman describes two incidents from his work with men who had abused their female partners in which he inadvertently perpetrated cultural dominance. In one of these incidents, his ‘knowledge’ of the other man’s culture eventually allows him to recognise the cultural dominance; in the other, his ‘knowledge’ of the other man’s culture actively facilitates the cultural dominance. Chris reflects on these incidents in an attempt to reflexively problematise notions of cultural competency and individualistic notions of responsibility.
Audience as Accountability?: Dilemmas in the Use of Outsider-witness Practices in Supporting Men’s Anti-violence Projects— David Newman
This article explores the author’s concerns about accountability when inviting women as outsider witnesses to conversations with men. A practice-based example of working with a man on issues of anger and violence provides a springboard for thoughtful questions about gender accountability, men’s privilege, safety, and ‘non-burdening invitations’.