2010: Issue 3
Here in Adelaide, it is spring! The sun is finally shining through and we are delighting in it.
We’re pleased to bring you a very thoughtful collection of papers.
The first section includes papers relating to the issue of suicide. Loree Stout’s paper, Talking about the ‘suicidal thoughts’: Towards an alternative framework, provides new options for practitioners who are meeting with people who are being tormented by suicidal thoughts. The second paper, Illuminating experiences, skills and knowledges around suicide, is an invitation for readers to contribute to the development of resources for families who have lost loved ones to suicide. We will welcome your contributions.
The second section includes a series of innovative practice-based papers. Ocean Hung, a Hong Kong practitioner, describes work with people challenged by physical disability as a consequence of the Sichuan earthquake. Benjamin Herzig offers a story of work with a man changing his relationship with alcohol or ‘the Drink’. Bharati Acharya describes the use of narrative practices to explore the foundations of social activists’ efforts for justice. These are diverse and thoughtful papers.
The third section consists of two narrative research papers. Jay Marlowe describes the use of doublelistening in research contexts with Sudanese refugees. Christine Dennstedt examines the interplay of substance misuse and disordered eating practices in the lives of young women.
Finally, we’re delighted to include a keynote address to stretch our thinking. Julie Tilsen and Dave Nylund invite us to resist normativity and provide queer musings on politics, identity, and the performance of therapy.
These papers come to you from China, Canada, Australia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and the USA. We hope you enjoy them.
Talking about the ‘Suicidal Thoughts’: Towards an Alternative Framework— Loree Stout
This paper documents work with two women who have been subjected to suicidal thoughts. Part of this work is presented in the form of a collective narrative document. The final part of the paper presents an alternative framework for conversations about suicide, rather than standard checklists, as well the author’s suggestions for questions workers can ask themselves when meeting with people experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Illuminating Experiences, Skills and Knowledges around Suicide: An Invitation to Practitioners: From Marnie Sather, David Newman and Dulwich Centre
This project aims to assist individual’s families and clinicians in navigating the loss of a loved one through suicide. I (Marnie) lost my husband from suicide in March 2004. The process of swimming through the waters of shame and guilt has been rocky and sometimes I’ve been swept out by the strong currents. Now, with this project, we hope to collectively come up with ideas and actions that will make a difference to others who have lost loved ones to suicide. We hope this project will assist people to hold their heads up in difficult times.
Walking with People Challenged by Physical Disability: An Experience from Sichuan— Ocean Hung
This paper describes the use of narrative therapy with survivors of the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, China, in which more than 300,000 people were injured. The author explores some of the discourses around injury and the ‘disabled-person identity’, and raises questions about the dominant ideas of ‘restoration’ and ‘recovery’. Instead, the ‘rites of passage’ metaphor is proposed as a more useful way to conceptualise injury and disability in the wake of natural disasters. Ways of responding to people facing the identity-disrupting effects of injury, disability, and trauma are explored through two case studies. Finally, the author explores how responses to disability can move from the realms of individual therapy in a rehabilitation centre or therapy room, and also involve social advocacy and actions at a community level.
Michael and ‘the Drink’— Benjamin A. Herzig
This paper presents a description of work with Michael, an outpatient client struggling with alcohol. A framework informed by narrative therapy allowed the author and Michael to create a story about how alcohol dependence – ‘the Drink’ – had intruded upon him, caused trouble for him, conspired with other problems, and prevented him from crafting a lifestyle that he desired. Following an introduction of Michael and an account of his initial presentation in therapy, the paper presents an application of narrative therapy approaches in meetings with Michael, and the outcomes of this.
Using a Narrative Approach of Double-listening in Research Contexts— Jay Marlowe
This paper introduces the process of using the narrative principles of double-listening and double-storied testimony as an approach to conducting research with Sudanese men who have resettled in Australia. It highlights the value of documenting not only the trauma story but also a person’s response to it. While double-listening has been used in professional practice and community engagements, this approach also offers a valuable insight into how research can be conducted in respectful and resonant ways that create safer spaces to engage people’s lived experiences.
The Interplay of Substance Misuse and Disordered Eating Practices in the Lives of Young Women— Christine Dennstedt
Many young women struggle with problems of substance misuse and disordered eating practices. However, programs and ways of working when both issues are present are not common. This article explores the similarities and interplays of substance misuse and disordered eating, drawing on interviews with young women, and discusses some implications for therapy and residential programs.
Resisting Normativity: Queer Musings on Politics, Identity, and the Performance of Therapy— Julie Tilsen and Dave Nylund
What are some of the hazards of the modern gay rights movement? The authors propose that in attempting to secure ‘equal’ rights in various aspects of public and private life – for example, marriage, military service, and health insurance – modern gay rights engages in ‘homonormativity’ which seeks to limit the options for queer people by having them replicate aspects of mainstream, neoliberal, heterosexual lifestyles. Instead of this approach, the authors propose a ‘queer utopia’ based on ideas of sexual freedom and honouring diversity