2009: Issue 1
Compiling the first journal issue of each year, and sending it to the printer, is a significant ritual. It always signals new ideas and directions. It links us with the authors of the papers, and also all the subscribers. As we write these editorials, we think of you, the reader, and whatever context you may work within.
Last year was momentous for Dulwich Centre with the passing of Michael White and Flora Tuhaka. Now, each time that we have the opportunity to publish new, creative directions of narrative practice, we find ourselves looking both backwards and forwards. We find ourselves recalling the origins of narrative therapy and the early enthusiasm of Michael, David Epston and others. We find ourselves remembering Flora Tuhaka who, along with the others from the Just Therapy Team in New Zealand, brought such challenge and innovation to the field in relation to issues of culture. At the same time, we are celebrating the creativity which is currently occurring within the field. This journal issue vibrantly showcases this.
It begins with a paper by a young feminist practitioner, Holly Loveday, who is using narrative practices to transform a women’s refuge to become a place of celebration of women’s stories. It then includes a piece from Peter Ord and Emma about their use of a cartoon as a way to gain influence over a problem.
The second section of this journal issue focuses on re-membering practices with elders. We are delighted to be able to include papers by Bobbi Rood and Mark Trudinger on these issues. There have been relatively few published papers about the use of narrative therapy with older people. These two papers seek to redress this.
The third section ‘Pastoral narrative practice’, includes two descriptions of narrative therapy about people’s relationship to Christianity. Josie McSkimming and Kim Barker consider the politics of religion, fundamentalism and spirituality within their therapeutic practice.
Finally, our attention turns to a paper from Diane Clare in which she reflects with honesty and thoughtfulness on her work with Jay, a woman who engaged in acts of extreme self-harm, and who took her own life.
This is a collection of thoughtful and at times profound papers from practitioners from England, South Africa, USA and Australia. We would like to thank all the authors for their contributions. As always, we will welcome your feedback.
We hope 2009 is treating you kindly so far.
From Oppression, Resistance Grows— Holly Loveday
This paper explores the author’s use of narrative practices with women experiencing domestic abuse, and looks at how, despite living in a broader environment of secrecy and threat, women’s voices and stories can be honoured and a place of refuge can become one of laughter and celebration. The paper explores women’s reflections on their experiences of counselling and group work, examples of externalising conversations, therapeutic letters, and conversations employing the migration of identity metaphor.
The Therapeutic Use of a Cartoon as a Way to Gain Influence over a Problem— Peter Ord & Emma
This paper describes how Emma used a cartoon in therapy to gain a perspective and influence over a problem in her life. It has been written in collaboration with Emma, with additional first-hand accounts by her and others. The purpose of submitting the cartoon for publication is to provide a testimony to the value Emma placed on comedy. An example of this was how Emma imagined a cartoon could portray a problem and the process of gaining influence over it, and this paper focuses on a cartoon we developed as a consequence of such a perspective. The paper begins with the background and context in which the cartoon was created and then describes the effects for all concerned.
A Time to Talk: Re-membering Conversations with Elders— Bobbi Rood
This paper describes using various narrative practices with elderly residents in a community care home. The author first reviews some of the historical influences of work with elderly people on narrative therapy, particularly the legacy of Barbara Myerhoff’s work on life histories and performance. Following this are different examples of outcomes of engaging in narrative conversations with elderly people including a collective document, poetry, and excerpts from re-membering conversations.
Remembering Joan: Re-membering Practices as Eulogies and Memorials— Mark Trudinger
The article discusses the re-membering practices of collective practices such as eulogies. The document is a collection of stories from some of the staff and residents at Grafton Aged Care Home about Joan, one of the first residents of the home.
Is It Good to Be ‘Grey’ in the Therapy Room?: The Politics of Religion and Religious Culture in the Therapeutic Context— Josie McSkimming
This paper explores some dilemmas, ethical considerations, and ideas for therapeutic practice in contexts where clients may be experiencing some questions in relation to religion, specifically Christianity. Through engaging with Foucault’s notions of ‘subjugated knowledges’, ‘projects of genealogies’, ‘the Gaze’, and ‘power/knowledge’, the author suggests options for nuanced identity projects of reclamation in contexts of power and subjugation.
Opening up a Crack: An Account of Narrative Practice in the Context of Pastoral Therapy— Kim Barker
This paper explores some of the possibilities and challenges of therapeutic conversations with people who hold strong religious beliefs and/or find themselves under the influence of oppressive religious discourse. With particular reference to one woman’s therapy journey, it shows how the articulation and deconstruction of one’s ‘belief story’, in the absence of any prescriptive or proscriptive constraints, can render visible various possible entry points into alternative storylines.
Snakes and Ladders: The Ups and Downs of a Self-harming Lifestyle— Diane Clare
This paper describes work with Jay, a woman who, after experiencing abuse as a child, engaged in acts of extreme self-harm in later life. The work involved a range of health care staff acting as a reflecting team, using outsider-witness practices of narrative therapy. To ensure that this apparently high number of resources used could be justified within the context of budget-conscious health services, the author developed the idea of clearly calculating and reporting on the ‘economix’ of the approach. The article also outlines the practice of ‘bookmarking’ with clients, which became a pivotal practice. The paper concludes with a poignant and reflective postscript given the tragic event of Jay’s death at her own hand.