2011: Issue 4

2011-no-4Dear reader,

Welcome to the final journal issue for 2011. Looking back over this year, we realise we have published papers from Mexico, Canada, Australia, USA, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Norway, Israel, Greece and Pakistan. And happily, a significant proportion of these have been from new authors. The creativity and diversity of narrative practitioners continues to make the task of editing this journal an enjoyable one!

In this issue, we bring to you a keynote address that was given earlier this year at the 10th International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference in Salvador, Brazil. This keynote address by Jill Freedman, responded to the question ‘What are your favourite narrative therapy questions?’

The second section of this issue focuses on visual means to therapeutic ends. Lesley Grant and Rowena Usher describe how they are using the whiteboard as a co-therapist, and Milan Colic proposes extending outsider-witness practices through the use of words and pictures.

The first paper in part three, ‘Resisting burnout with justice-doing’, by Vikki Reynolds, critiques the individualism and neutrality of burnout and offers an approach for resisting burnout with collective sustainability and ‘justice-doing’.

Yuk King Lau then describes her work with a narrative oriented multiple-family group with students who refuse to attend school and their parents. This paper also describes the ways in which narrative practices have been adapted to enable resonance within a Chinese context.

The final section of this journal provides a keynote address recently offered at the International Spring Festival of Narrative Practice here in Adelaide. Within it, Mary Heath offers a range of ideas for enabling conversations about sex and sexuality. Barbara Baumgartner, a Canadian narrative practitioner, has provided a reflection on this paper and a series of questions to practitioners to consider, write about, and discuss with a friend, partner, or in a supervision group.

One of the aims of this journal is to spark the imagination of practitioners and to provide papers that stretch the field of narrative practice. We also hope to be continually providing a forum in which firsttime authors can write about and share their work, alongside the writings of experienced and well-known practitioners. If you are interested in writing about your use of narrative practices, please do not hesitate to contact us.

And, as always, we will welcome your feedback!

Thank you for your interest in narrative ideas and your support of the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work. We appreciate it.

Warm regards,

Cheryl White


 

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    My favourite questions— Jill Freedman

    This paper, which began as a part of a plenary address at the 10th International Narrative Therapy Conference in Salvador, Brazil, offers 3 sets of questions that the author names as ‘favourites’ in her work. The first 2 sets of questions are questions that therapists can ask clients in therapy conversations. The first set may help people link their lives with others. The second may help people organise their experience into narratives. The third is a question that therapists can ask themselves to help them come to questions that promote experiential involvement.


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    The whiteboard as a co-therapist: Narrative conversations in a generalist counselling setting— Lesley Grant & Rowena Usher

    This article describes an innovative way in which whiteboarding is being utilised in a therapeutic setting. Narrative ideas and practices have been pivotal in developing our use of the whiteboard. In this article we hope to demonstrate the use of the whiteboard in respectful, mindful, co-authorship of client’s stories as they connect with their preferred way of being. We have been inspired to share these discoveries as they are unfolding – therefore this is not a finished product; this is part of a journey.


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    Extending outsider-witness practices: Drawing on words and pictures— Milan Colic

    The purpose of this paper is to outline some ways I have found to extend on ‘outsider-witness’ practices through the use of drawings, with the support of ‘alumni members’ – young people I have worked with in the past, returning to the therapeutic domain to support others experiencing hard times. These are developments that have unfolded from three stories of work in particular. I will outline these in detail and then follow up with some key learnings.


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    Resisting burnout with justice-doing

    In this writing I critique the individualism and neutrality of burnout, and offer an approach for resisting burnout with collective sustainability that is shouldered-up by justice-doing. This requires an understanding of collective ethics, and the spiritual pain that we hold as community workers and therapists when we are forced to work against our ethics. I describe the role of justice-doing and solidarity in relation to our sustainability, and practices which can foster our sustainability collectively, including embracing Earth Democracy, co-creating collective ethics, contesting cynicism, attending to immeasurable outcomes, and giving-it-back practices. I connect staying fully alive in our work with therapeutic and possibly revolutionary love, and reflect on the powerful transformations our work offers us. I address the possibilities of connecting with the social divine and transforming the contexts of social injustice in which clients live and we work.


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    Narrative oriented multiple-family group with students who refuse to attend school and their parents— Yuk King Lau

    Education and a parent’s responsibility to govern children’s appropriate behaviours are greatly emphasised in Chinese culture. In this culture, school refusing behaviours are not only a reflection of personal problems or a deficit of the students, but also a failure of their parents’ parenting skills. Qualitative studies on students who refuse to attend school found that they are usually ‘exiles’ who are critical of the meritocratic ideology promoted in their schools. Students who refuse to attend school and their parents need space for their voices and critical perspectives. This article illustrates the implementation of a narrative oriented multiple-family group with students who refuse to attend school and their parents, which is guided by the tradition of ‘consulting your consultants’ developed by Michael White and David Epston. The telling and re-telling in the group was found to be an empowering process for the participating families. The cultural difference between the emphasis on modesty and humility in the Chinese culture and the emphasis on self-affirmation was identified in the re-telling process. Further observations in the group process revealed that it is direct compliments or praise – especially those in big and abstract terms – that are being resisted in Chinese culture. Indirect appreciation through the resonance of life stories is accepted in both the west and the east.


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    Enabling conversations about sex and sexuality— Mary Heath

    In this paper, I argue that the capacity to talk about sex and sexuality is vital to effective narrative practice, though these issues are little discussed among narrative practitioners. Building our skills in enabling such conversations can better equip us to move in the direction of reducing violence, discrimination and coercion; creating safety and improving wellbeing. I argue that being capable of conversations about sexual practices is critical to important goals, such as ending sexual violence and eliminating discrimination against queer people. The capacity to speak about sexuality is also important in supporting people who wish to move beyond traumatic or joyless experiences related to sex and into living thriving and pleasurable lives. This paper invites readers to reflect on their own confidence and ability in enabling conversations about sex and sexuality. Finally, it provides concrete suggestions for people who would like to increase their capacity for relaxed conversations about sex and sexuality.

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    A reflection on Mary heath’s paper ‘enabling conversations about sex and sexuality by Barbara Baumgartner.