2017: Issue 1

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the first journal issue of 2017. Thanks for joining us as a subscriber.

The field of narrative practice continues to thrive and this issue contains profoundly diverse papers from very different contexts!

It begins with a paper by Aboriginal feminist, Kylie Dowse, describing her group work with men who have engaged in violence. This is followed by a creative community project, facilitated by Lauren Jones in the USA, using narrative practice to respond to heartbreak. Laurel Phillips then describes a narrative therapy project in relation to chronic pain that took place in Mexico. We’re then delighted to include a paper from South Korea, in which Eunjoo Lee describes the ways she is using narrative practices to assist people to deconstruct social discourses and social conformity in their local context. The final two papers both involve creative work with children. Amy Liu, in Hong Kong, has developed a sparkling innovative approach that involves children learning a new language authoring storybooks. And Jocelyn Lee, in Singapore, describes her group work with children in situations of family violence.

We hope you enjoy this diverse collection. And please join discussions on the new Facebook discussion group that we have create for subscribers!

Welcome again to a new year of creative narrative practice papers.

Warm regards,

Cheryl White


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    Thwarting Shame: Feminist engagement in group work with men recruited to patriarchal dominance in relationship— Kylie Dowse

    Through the eyes of an Aboriginal feminist, this paper documents group work with men who have used violence in intimate relationship. Adapting narrative externalising techniques to scaffold a conceptual support group for Shame enabled men engaged in group work to view responsibility and respect in new ways. The paper considers the role of women facilitators in working with men, and ways the politics of women’s experience add value to group discussion.


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    Responding to those surviving the unchosen loss of love— Lauren Jones

    This paper describes how a community worker informed by narrative practice formed a participatory community group in response to those within the community highly influenced by thoughts of self-harm following the loss of love. This paper highlights the privileging of community members’ uncommon knowledge in finding a way forward. The community’s devalued and subjugated knowledge is used to co-create an artful expression of ways group members are taking care following the loss of love, to externalised regret via a playful metaphor, to acknowledge anxiety in a co-produced document, to co-author a list of ‘growing group rules’, and to recreate a powerful 50th birthday ritual for a group member. Ethical ways of working are explored to guide community practice. The paper posits that a reclamation of faith in uncommon knowledge might be made all the more possible when devalued knowledge is privileged within a participatory community.


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    A narrative therapy approach to dealing with chronic pain— Laurel Phillips

    This article outlines a narrative therapeutic approach to working in collaboration with people experiencing chronic pain. This approach was created in concert with 13 co-researchers who were experiencing, or had partners who experienced, varying degrees of pain. Contributing therapeutic conversations spanned a ten-month period. Outcomes were achieved through the application of various narrative therapy principles including externalisation, mapping the influence of the problem, remembering practices, developing an experience-near definition of the problem, double listening, alternative or preferred story development and the use of collective documents and definitional ceremonies What emerged from this were two themes: The identification, importance and use of personally constructed strategies, and the reduction of pain experiences by addressing self-identified problems that were more pressing than pain. Narrative therapy was successful in helping to re-establish valued ways of living that chronic pain often sidelines. We found that it is possible to reduce experiences of pain by addressing more pressing problems.


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    Conformity pressures: Deconstructing social discourses in the Korean context— Eunjoo Lee

    This paper sets out a narrative approach to deconstructing social discourses in a Korean context, with a focus on pressures to conform. An overview of deconstructing social discourses is presented, and the socio-centric Korean context is discussed. A process map and several tips for deconstructing social discourses are offered. Finally, field application of the map and the tips are demonstrated through case examples of work with an individual and a group.


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    Children authoring storybooks: A narrative approach for children learning a new language— Amy Liu

    For young people from non-Chinese speaking backgrounds who are attending schools in Hong Kong, acquiring Chinese language proficiency can be a significant and anxiety-provoking challenge. When students are not yet proficient in Chinese language, their low estimation of their Chinese language ability can create a vicious circle: feeling incompetent and worrying about language acquisition makes it more difficult to learn. Acquiring an additional language is not merely a linguistic and grammatical exercise, but an affective one. This article explores the use of narrative tools and perspectives for supporting culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) students in Hong Kong with their Chinese language learning. In particular, it shows how externalisation, therapeutic documents (in this case storybooks), Denborough’s (1995) ‘step by step’ process and a search for ‘wonderfulnesses’ (Marsten, Epston, & Markham, 2016) were used with individuals and groups. The article includes accounts of work with an individual and two groups of students. In the first story Alex, a 13-year-old student attending a mainstream secondary school, externalises negative emotions that adhered to the learning of Chinese, thus paving ways to see her abilities. In the second story, a group of three 14-yearold students from a mainstream secondary school externalise ‘strengths’ and ‘resources’ for learning Chinese so that the internal quality of a person was made apparent (M. White, 2007, p. 38). The third story involved a group of five students, eight to nine years of age, from a primary school attended mainly by CALD students. ‘Chinese’ was externalised and became an imaginary friend. This imaginary friend learned from the students, thus making the language less intimidating to approach. Recruited as a carrier and consolidator of the dominant knowledge associated with ethnic minorities, as a local Cantonese speaking person I attempted to maintain a position of being decentred but influential in these stories.


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    Responding to children in situations of family violence: Narrative therapy group work with children— Jocelyn Lee

    This paper discusses a practice innovation: a two-day, one-night group work process conducted with children who lived in households that use violence. The author developed the ‘My Happy Ending’ group work using narrative therapy principles and practices to respond to children in situations of family violence. The children were clients consulting with social workers or counsellors within the social service agency the author works in, Tampines Family Service Center in Singapore. As part of the practice innovation, the author created an original group work curriculum, consisting of the performance and narration of an original fictional story, and several play- and art-based activities. The purpose was to decrease the influence of family violence in the children’s lives and to increase their personal agency in dealing with it, using key narrative therapy practices. These narrative practices included externalisation of the problem, using metaphors, increasing people’s sense of personal agency, scaffolding preferred stories and identities, de-constructing discourses, outsider-witnessing, definitional ceremonies and creating collective documents. Narrative therapy practices were found to be helpful for enhancing children’s sense of agency and diminishing the influence of past and ongoing experiences of family violence and other difficulties faced in their daily lives.