2015: Issue 1
Welcome to the first issue of the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work for 2015. It features four parts. The first contains of a paper by Susannah Sheffer of Murder Victim’s Families for Human Rights which describes a ritual for those who have lost a family member through execution, and two reflections from narrative therapists in Australia and Singapore. This seems particularly poignant and significant at this time.
The second part includes two narrative practice papers, both of which break new ground. The first, by Chris Wever on the co-construction of alternative psychologies; and the second by Nick Coleman on the use of rites of passage metaphor in enabling a voyage away from alcohol.
The third part explores sex-positive ways of understanding diverse turn-on patterns. It includes a paper on this theme by Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad, Elsa Almås and Kaethe Weingarten and three reflections – one from a member of the BDSM kink community and two others from narrative practitioners.
The journal issue concludes with a paper describing narrative practice with vulnerable children and young people which took place in India.
It is certainly a diverse collection to spark discussions. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Grieving Together: The value of public ritual for family members of executed persons— Susannah Sheffer
Families of people who have been executed receive little sympathy for their grief and little recognition of the execution’s traumatic impact. Their grief is disenfranchised in that the loss cannot be publicly mourned and is not socially supported (Doka, 1989; Jones & Beck, 2006).
This paper describes an attempt to address some of the harm to families of executed persons through the creation of a private support gathering and public remembrance ceremony. Designed by the organisation Murder Victim’s Families for Human Rights, the ceremony gave participating family members an opportunity to come together, mark their losses publicly through a symbolic act, have their grief witnessed by others, and acknowledge both the murder victim and the family member who had been executed. As a demonstration of the value of public and communal ceremony in the aftermath of traumatic loss, this discussion offers and example of a way to respond to losses that have been stigmatised and re-establish community among those whose grief has been disenfranchised.
Beyond psychological truth: Deconstructing western deficit-oriented psychology and the co-construction of alternative psychologies in narrative practice— Chris Wever
This paper explores the temporary and intentional centring of the ideas that inform narrative therapy as part of therapeutic practice. Chris describes the usefulness of exposing, in the therapeutic context, the presence and operations of dominant, western, individualising psychological constructs that so often disqualify and pathologise lives. Conversations that remove the truth status of white western psychology can make space for the co-construction of alternative, more relational psychologies.
Chris describes conversational therapeutic practices that include scaffolding questions with the political, psychological and philosophical ideas that underpin those lines of enquiry. Her intention is that people leave the therapy not only with re-authored lives and identities but also with preferred psychologies for how they might think about their own and others’ lives and identities in the future.
Joe’s voyage of life map: away from alcohol— Nick Coleman
This article explores using a visual therapeutic document, the Voyage of Life map, with men living in Aotearoa/New Zealand. These men, who are revising their relationships with alcohol and other influences on their lives, have had previous experience with twelve-step models and broader ‘recovery’ approaches.
The Voyage of Life map, and the broader narrative practices that surround its use, are demonstrated through the story of one man, Joe, who is of a mixed cultural background. Through the process, Joe renegotiates his life in relation to alcohol, and re-claims aspects of his Māori whakapapaʼ(history/genealogy).
Sex positive ways of perceiving sexual turn-on patterns Part I Understanding— Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad, Elsa Almås and Kaethe Weingarten
Humans have the capacity to respond to sexual stimuli across the lifespan. Sexual responses are modified through interactive processes and manifest through sexual turn-on patterns.
In this paper, the authors review the history of understanding sexual turn-on patterns in the professional literature. They discuss their preferred understandings of how these patterns arise and their preferred sex-positive ways to help people with them. This includes a discussion on using the understanding of learning languages to explain how sexual turn-on patterns are learnt.
Like language, sexual feelings develop in many directions, depending on circumstances: as we happen to learn a language, so too we happen to ‘learn’ sexual turn-on patterns. As we cannot unlearn a language, we cannot unlearn a turn-on pattern. However, we can learn new languages. We can also new ways of being turned-on.
Listening for alternative stories: narrative practice with vulnerable children and young people in India— Louise Carmichael and David Denborough
This publication describes the use of narrative practices with vulnerable children, young people and workers in a number of different contexts in India. The use of the Cricket Team of Life, the Tree of Life and collective documents, songs and timelines, are each described. These approaches enable practitioners to listen for and elicit young people’s skills, knowledge and alternative stories of identity.