2012: Issue 3
Welcome to the third on-line issue of the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work which includes papers focusing on work in Hong Kong, Kurdistan (Iraq), USA, Australia and New Zealand!
Part One focuses on narrative therapy with young people. In particular, these two papers explore ways of enabling young people who are attending counselling to link their lives with, and make contributions to, other young people.
Part Two consists of a publication entitled ‘Responding to survivors of torture and suffering: Survival skills of Kurdish families’ which is the result of a partnership between Kirkuk Center for Torture Victims in Iraq and Dulwich Centre Foundation International.
Part Three includes two papers that build bridges between narrative therapy and other approaches. A paper from New Zealand explores how narrative practices can be used to accompany strengths-based approaches. And a paper from the USA makes links between Buddhist/mindfulness perspectives and narrative therapy approaches to trauma.
This journal concludes with explorations from Hong Kong about how teaching exercises and games can be used to introduce concepts of poststructuralism that inform narrative practice.
Opening up the counselling room: The joining of stories as a political act— Renee Handsaker
This paper will focus on my endeavour to ‘open up’ the counselling room by initiating a conversation between two young women I was meeting with for individual counselling. The conversation that commenced between these two young women took the form of letters that were constructed from transcripts of our recorded conversations. I will discuss some of the ideas that underpinned and motivated this exchange, as well as reflect on some of the key considerations involved within the process. I will finish by trying to demonstrate some of the flow of conversation that made it possible for new understandings, preferred identities and shared contributions to be generated.
Reducing collusion with individualism and dichotomous thinking: Exploring the constructs of ‘confidentiality’ and ‘disclosure’ through forums and interviews— Adam Hahs and Milan Colic
The idea of sharing stories so people can be more political with them is not a new idea to narrative therapy. However, as far as we are aware, there is very little research or documentation in the counselling literature that has asked groups of people their opinion about sharing their stories outside of the counselling arena for individual and broader collective good. In many instances, the constructs of ‘confidentiality’ and ‘disclosure’ can be referred to in rather fixed terms, and as non-negotiable entities. This paper outlines the development of forums and interviews with 62 young people in our respective counselling contexts – two co-educational high schools in Melbourne, Australia, to provide us with an indication of how the young people we consult with may feel about ‘confidentiality’ when viewed alongside their right to be supported in sharing their stories.
Responding to survivors of torture and suffering – Survival skills of Kurdish families by David Denborough on behalf of Kirkuk Center for Torture Victims and Dulwich Centre Foundation International
The Kirkuk Center for Torture Victims is a human rights organisation assisting victims of torture, persecution and violence in Iraq. We believe in a democratic society where the dignity of the human person is respected, where adults and children enjoy the right to life and liberty, and where citizens are free from torture and terror.
Dulwich Centre Foundation International (DCFI) is an Australian-based organisation that responds to groups and communities who are enduring significant hardships, co-develops culturally-appropriate and resonant methodologies to respond to community mental health issues and collective suffering, and works in partnership to build the capacity of local workers.
In November 2011 and September 2012, David Denborough from DCFI conducted workshops for the counsellors of the Kirkuk Center for Torture Victims. This publication describes a number of the narrative methodologies that were discussed in these workshops – The Tree of Life, The Team of Life, and the use of letters, documents, poems and certificates. It also includes stories from local workers about the survival skills and knowledge of Kurdish families.`
Placing strengths into storylines – Building bridges between strengths-based and narrative approaches— Kay Ingamells and David Epston
Could narrative inquiry enliven strengths-based practice through returning stories to strengths? This paper tells the story of the composition of ‘narrative of strengths’ interviews and their use with students, within a research project utilising the Clifton Strengthsfinder at Unitec, New Zealand. It moves on to explore possible seeds of connection between strengths-based and narrative practice, taking the paradigm of life as story and the reclaiming of the territory of the past as starting points for this inquiry.
An invitation to people struggling with trauma and to the practitioners working with them— Diane Benjamin and Lori Zook-Stanley
This paper invites readers into an examination of a decade of therapeutic collaboration. Through the lenses of narrative therapy and mindfulness and Buddhist spiritual practices, the authors describe a number of ‘healing skills’ that were used to meet trauma and transform its effects.
Introducing poststructuralist ideas in a workshop setting: The use of games and exercises as a prelude to narrative therapy training— Victor Wong
Those who are not familiar with narrative therapy may find it difficult to begin a journey informed by poststructuralist perspectives. This paper provides a number of games and exercises to facilitate an appreciation of poststructuralist perspectives.