2010: Issue 2
Here at Dulwich Centre, we regularly receive emails requesting articles about a range of therapeutic concerns. As therapists are consulting people facing particular issues, they seek out writings that will assist them in their next conversation. This journal issue contains papers on some of the topics about which we most often receive requests.
The first paper, by Belinda Emmerson-Whyte, focuses on couple therapy. If there is one topic about which we are most often approached, this would be it! In this paper, Belinda describes an effective use of ‘internalised other interviewing’, a way of working originally developed by David Epston and Karl Tomm.
The second paper, by David Newman, provides examples of narrative practice in responding to anxiety and depression. This paper was originally given as a keynote address at the Reconnexion Annual National Anxiety and Depression Conference in Melbourne, Australia.
And a paper by David Epston and David Marsten completes the first section. This paper, entitled ‘What doesn’t the problem know about your son or daughter? Providing the conditions for the restoration of a family’s dignity’, offers a novel approach in which children’s problems can be directly corresponded with.
The second section of this journal consists of three collective narrative initiatives. The first of these relates to group work with parents of children with autism. Courtney Olinger describes her work in this area in the first paper we have ever published on this topic.
Another area of practice about which practitioners consistently approach us is in relation to narrative approaches to drug and alcohol addiction. Therese Hegarty, Greg Smith & Mark Hammersley provide new metaphors and ideas in their paper ‘Crossing the river: A metaphor for separation, liminality, and reincorporation’.
And finally, Marcela Polanco describes a collective narrative project within a university setting. In doing so, she introduces the methodology of the ‘wall of wisdom’.
We hope these papers provide encouragement and ideas to your own practice. As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions for future issues.
Learning the Craft: An Internalised Other Interview with a Couple— Belinda Emmerson-Whyte
This paper presents extracts from a couple therapy session to highlight some of the identity and relationship re-constituting and re-authoring prospects discovered while applying ‘internalised other questioning’. Ideas based on David Epston’s and Karl Tomm’s ‘internalised other questioning’ practices are presented including interviewing the ‘distributed self’, interviewing the ‘internalised other of the internalised other’, and repositioning from ‘settled certainties’ to preferred ‘practices of relationship’ and ‘practices of self’.
Using Narrative Practices with Anxiety and Depression: Elevating Context, Joining People, and Collecting Insider-knowledges— David Newman
This paper, first delivered as a keynote address at the Reconnexion Annual National Anxiety and Depression Conference in Melbourne, May 2010, explores various narrative practices in responding to anxiety and depression: elevating context and externalising problems, linking people in the work, uncovering local and insider-knowledges, and documenting and archiving these knowledges, including using ‘living documents’ as collective therapeutic documents.
‘What Doesn’t the Problem Know About Your Son or Daughter?’ Providing the Conditions for the Restoration of a Family’s Dignity— David Epston and David Marsten
This paper looks at the effects of Problems in the lives of children and young people, and also why Problems, by definition, have a ‘limited scope of interest’, and therefore can never reflect the richness of young people’s lives. The authors offer a range of ways that Problems can be directly responded to, including informing them of children’s and young people’s ‘wonderfulnesses’. Several examples of therapeutic documents intended to provide a full disclosure of such ‘wonderfulnesses’ are provided.
Privileging Insider-knowledges in the World of Autism— Courtney Olinger
Diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) continue to rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States of America suggested in 2007 that 1 in 150 eight-year-olds in the US has autism. In 2009 the CDC prevalence rose to 1 in 110. With the rising number of diagnoses, more families are impacted. Unfortunately, discourses surrounding ASD often present limited views and ways of working with these families. Using narrative practices, insider-knowledges can be privileged and guide professionals. This article presents ways that service providers can incorporate outsider-witnessing to elevate parents to ‘expert’ status, involve parents’ voices, and promote agency. It also includes a collective document of parents’ insider-knowledges which can be circulated to inform professionals and parents about the experiences of autism.
University Students Take Action Under the Gaze of ‘the Eye of Success’: A Narrative Collective Initiative— Marcela Polanco
This paper presents an initiative for narrative collective work to address western ideas of success. Within the context of the author’s practice at the Student Counseling Center at Nova Southeastern University, Florida, this initiative addresses what the author calls ‘the eye of success’, along with its effects on students’ identity conclusions. Drawing from ideas about modern power, the author situates the eye of success in western educational traditions that set thresholds of success and rating scales against which students measure their lives. The collective narrative practice employed to respond to this, ‘The Wall of Wisdom’, is presented as a way to extend individualistic therapeutic practices by creating public spaces of acknowledgement that link students’ practical options for action.