2009: Issue 4

2009-no-4Dear Reader

As this year draws to a close we would like to thank all those who have contributed to the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work during 2009. This includes all the authors, reviewers, the editorial team, and, of course, those for whom this journal is produced. Thank you for your interest in narrative ideas.

This journal seeks to be a forum for the discussion, circulation and renewal of narrative therapy and community work practices. Over the course of this year, we’ve been delighted to publish papers from Australia, India, the UK, USA, the Palestinian Territories, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, and New Zealand. This issue also includes authors from Brazil and Colombia/USA. The ‘community of ideas’ that is engaged with narrative practice continues to grow. So too does the creativity and diversity of practice.

This issue includes another diverse collection of papers. In Part One, Ninetta Tavano describes a ‘parent-teen conflict dissolution map’ based on the work of Michael White. Janelle Dickson conveys how she used the Tree of Life methodology in rural Australia as a gateway to other maps of narrative practice. And Nikki Evans shares ‘a mother’s tale’ of therapeutic story writing.

In Part Two, three papers explore ways in which people ‘make new homes’. Katie Howells discusses the use of metaphors of home within her narrative therapy practice in Singapore. Michael Boucher recounts a narrative gathering which took place with refugees in New York State. And Viviane Oliveira describes how she has used the Team of Life and a range of other collective narrative practices with Brazilians living in Sydney.

In Part Three, Marcela Polanco and David Epston offer tales of travels across languages. This collaboration between an apprentice bilingual translator / narrative therapist and one of the originators of narrative therapy, describes how, as narrative ideas migrate cultures, these crossings can enrich, acculturate and diversify narrative practices. This is an exciting theme and in coming years we hope to publish more about this.

Thanks again for your interest in narrative ideas. If you have suggestions for future themes or articles, please let us know. We are delighted to publish creative work from practitioners who may not have written before. If you have a story from your work that you think may be of interest to others, but don’t know how to go about publishing this, we would also be interested to hear from you.

Finally, it also seems to relevant to mention here that the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work is now to be listed in the distinguished SocINDEX with full-text worldwide database.

Wishing you well from all of us here at Dulwich Centre.

Warm regards,

Cheryl White


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    Parent–teen conflict dissolution— Ninetta Tavano

    This paper describes how Michael White’s ‘conflict dissolution map’ can be used with parents and adolescents to assist in ‘dissolving’ conflict in narrative therapy sessions. The author explains how the practice of ‘repositioning’ is combined with definitional ceremony and outsider-witness practices to create conversations that allow family members to re-engage in ways that are based on acceptance, care and respect.


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    The ‘Mighty Oak’: Using the ‘Tree of Life’ methodology as a gateway to the other maps of narrative practice— Janelle Dickson

    This paper describes using the ‘Tree of Life’ narrative therapy methodology with a young man who was experiencing bullying, and had himself engaged in anger and aggression. This thorough account of narrative practice shows how a ‘stand-alone’ methodology like the Tree of Life can be a ‘jumping off’ point for using the other maps of narrative practice, including re-authoring conversations, re-membering conversations, definitional ceremony, and therapeutic documents. In this way, the ‘Tree of Life’ methodology provides entry points to other narrative conversations and practices, which blend into each other and complement each other for an effective therapeutic engagement.


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    From print to e-books in therapeutic story writing: A mother’s tale— Nikki Evans

    This paper describes how narrative therapy provided the background for developing a resource for troubled children and young people. The resource, Eloise’s excellent experiment, is the result of combining the professional with the personal as the author and her daughter used their storytelling, writing, and illustrative skills to tame ‘The Worries’.


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    Narrative work and the metaphor of ‘home’— Katie Howells

    This paper explores how homes – both as physical places and as metaphors– can be taken up in narrative therapy practice. The author first explores various meanings that people attribute to the concept of ‘home’, and then outlines some options for the relevance of the home metaphor to various maps of narrative practice. The paper then recounts three examples drawn from practice: first, re-authoring conversations with a couple leaving one way of living, dominated by addiction, to reclaim another; second, the documentation of the skills and knowledges of a young woman working to ‘stay close to home’ in dealing with anorexia; and, finally, a remembering conversation supported by the metaphor of home with a woman wanting to review her husband’s membership of her ‘club of life’ following his infidelity.


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    Finding resiliency, standing tall: Exploring trauma, hardship, and healing with refugees— Michael Boucher

    This document records some of the traumas and hardships faced by refugees living in Rochester, New York. Along with the effects of these hardships, the document also records the accomplishments that refugees have made, and how refugee communities resist the effects of trauma and hardship, as well as what sustains them. Finally, the document records some things the refugees wanted people working in social services, as well as members of the broader community, to know about refugee experience. This document was prepared using methodologies and ideas from collective narrative practice, including collective narrative timelines, collective narrative documents, ‘double-listening’, and recruiting audiences.


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    Team Garra: Using the Team of Life to facilitate conversations with Brazilians living in Sydney— Viviane Oliveira

    This paper outlines an application of the ‘rites of passage’ and ‘migration of identity’ metaphors from narrative therapy and community work, in conversations with Brazilian immigrants in Australia. The author also employed the ‘Team of Life’ methodology, which was highly culturally-relevant, given the Brazilian people’s love of soccer/football, as well as the ‘narrative timelines’ methodology and ‘definitional ceremony’ map of narrative practice.


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    Tales of travels across languages: Languages and their anti-languages— Marcela Polanco and David Epston

    This paper is a collaboration between an apprentice bilingual translator/narrative therapist (Marcela) and one of the originators of narrative therapy (David). Studies of translation and bilingualism offer interesting and useful contributions to the renewal of narrative therapy. As narrative ideas migrate cultures, these crossings can enrich, acculturate, and diversify narrative practices. At the same time, considerations of bilinguality or multilinguality can influence our practice within languages. The example of therapeutic practice that is offered illustrates how narrative therapeutic conversations can move between and across multiple namings of people’s predicaments. In this process, understandings need not be ironed out, as often happens in monolingual conversations. Instead, multilinguality puts names in play as transitory constructions, susceptible to renewal or reinvention.