Beginning to use narrative practices

In this final chapter we take some time to reflect on your learning and the next steps you might take in your journey with narrative practices.  
 
  Here we consider the process of beginning to engage with narrative ideas and practices. In this article Alice Morgan shares some of her thoughts:

Beginning to use a narrative approach

You will have found this exercise within the article for this chapter. We invite you to:
  • Think about just one thing that has particularly resonated for you about narrative ideas and practices that you have been trying to apply more in your work.
  • What would you call the principle or idea? Give it a name. Say something about it – describe what it is about, your understandings of it, in your own words.
  • Give some more details about it, e.g.: When did you first notice this idea or principle in the work? What told you that it was important to you?
  • What are you currently doing that you would say is a reflection of this particular idea, practice or principle? Say a little bit about the times you thought you had managed to apply the idea or principle to your own practice.
  • When you did it, what did you notice? How did it affect, for example:
    1. The conversation you were engaging in at the time?
    2. Your thoughts about yourself?
    3. The other people who were with you?
    4. Your hopes or plans?
    5. Your feelings?
    6. What was this like for you? Did you like it or not?
    7. Did it suit you or not? Or something in between?
    8. Why is it that you give this evaluation? What did it seem to fit with?
Please now share your thoughts and responses with others below!  
 

To join with others in ongoing and further conversations you can visit:

Narrative therapy Facebook communities

For other avenues to learn and exchange ideas you can visit: Training at The Dulwich Centre International Narrative Therapy & Community Work Conferences The Dulwich Centre Email News International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work More detailed online courses in Externalising conversations and Re-membering conversations  
 

Feedback:  Please provide us with your thoughts on how this course was for you or your hopes for future courses! We would really like to hear from you … thanks!  Email dcp@dulwichcentre.com.au

 

Certification Module

If you would like to receive a certificate for completing this course you can do so for a fee of $77. In order to qualify for this certificate you will need to:
  • complete a brief essay about narrative practice (1,000 words)
  • complete a short quiz with a passing grade of at least 80% (the quiz can be taken more than once).
[button link=”https://dulwichcentre.com.au/courses/what-is-narrative-practice-certification-module/”] Click here to take the certification module[/button]  

Thank you for joining us on this journey.

We hope you have found this course helpful in some way!

We hope to see you again soon. 

This Post Has 101 Comments

  1. mara.bennett

    Mark Hayword’s filmed lecture about externalizing conversations and Statement of Position Map 1 was the most impactful for me in this course. The information he provided in the video has really changed the way I work with clients, not to mention his style of delivery was so delightful – I wish I could hear him lecture live or meet him in person. I even printed out the map he provided and have it beside me during telephone conversations with clients so I can ensure the types of questions I ask are aligning with it (e.g., characterizing the problem, looking at its impact, finding out what the person’s ideal resolution would look like (their position) and identifying their values). His examples were so helpful and they have given me a new vocabulary when I talk to clients. E.g., if someone brings up anger, instead of saying “tell me more about what it’s like for you when you’re angry,” I have said things like, “what kind of anger are we talking about here, a boiling hot anger or a slow simmer?” I have noticed clients can really describe it when asked in this kind of way!

    I know I was doing a lot of this before under the umbrella of Person-Centered Counselling, but this has given me a much more detailed vocabulary which has allowed me to be more specific and intentional in my sessions with clients. For example, in the past I would be exploring with clients what their hopes or intentions are for coming to counselling at the beginning of the session, but now I am more specifically supporting clients to describe what they would like to see happen with the challenge they are facing once we have characterized it and started to look at its impact, and this helps us clarify the direction we go in. For example, one of my clients explained she would like for her experiences of anxiety to be more manageable rather than to go away altogether, and to find ways to balance out the anxious experiences with fun. I would have never found this out if I hadn’t been asking her to take a position on it. With that same client, it was great to use her own natural metaphor to help characterize it, too, as she referred to feeling as if anxiety is a trembling leaf, so we used this description to externalize how trembling leaves (anxiety) show up in her life. We could then explore when it’s more likely that the leaves are trembling, when are the leaves still? Have you managed to do anything to slow the leaves down? What is more likely to be happening when the leaves are trembling? And so forth.

    To give this a name I would call it “intentional conversations.” Although I know it is formally called externalizing, for me it relates to being very intentional about what we are doing with our time together – why are we here, how would you describe your challenge, how do you feel about it, what do you ideally want to happen, and what is important to you? I will admit that although it was immediately evocative to me when I listened to Mark’s lecture, I found it really clunky to try to incorporate it into practice at first. I found myself getting more in my head during sessions wondering what the next best question was going to be… however it’s been about a month now and although I am by no means finished my development (I hope to always be developing), I have found that I’m getting more natural at using these kinds of questions with clients. I can see myself noticing when clients use metaphor or descriptive words and being conscious of highlighting those as platforms from which we can direct the rest of the session. I will say that even though it was very clunky at first and I am definitely still learning, I can feel that my practice is sharpening, and my confidence is building.

    Besides that, in the future I hope to use more written word and therapeutic documents. I work with people experiencing change, loss, and grief, so I would like to find creative ways of using writing to explore grief. I plan to do further PD on grief counselling and see how I can coalesce what I’ve gained here with new learnings.

  2. mindmapcounselling

    Hello All,
    Just wanted to share some of my recent applications of Narrative work in practice. I recently completed this introductory course and found it very helpful. I particularly enjoyed the use of therapeutic documents and information illustrating externalizing conversations. In addition to my private practice I also work for a government agency that requires the use of a more medical based model of charting notes. Recently, I was able to satisfy the charting notes but in a more client centered narrative approach. I modified the traditional: Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation (SBAR) medical note into a Narrative Position Statement and therapeutic document. I wrote a letter in first person starting by naming the highlighted client concern, the effects of the problem, my understanding of their position on the problem, and a statement of their values to influence future conversations. Later I was able to share this letter with the client, which was a very rewarding experience for both of us. Thank-you again for the great community of practice on this site and all of the recent learning opportunities!

  3. andrewkilgour

    Hi, Andrew from Newcastle. One of the many things that really resonated with me from the narrative practice approach is the re-authoring of stories. Within the school setting that I work in we are often focused on solutions and practical strategies that address behaviours and challenges to young people being able to engage in their learning and enable them to manage the demands of the school environment. I saw the re-authoring of an individual’s story as a “transformative exploration” of the students experience and capabilities. Instead of trying to convince students to choose from a list of pre-determined strategies to get them back into a classroom with a learning mindset the transformative exploration allowed them to connect to their inner resources and bring into the light and awareness, times, and proof that they were more capable than they thought, and they were more than the way they were viewed by the education system. These transformative explorations were always undertaken within the broader context of externalising the problem and the other steps of the narrative approach however it felt like an exciting new way of connecting to other possibilities and other never thought of solutions. At times it was difficult for young people to come up with alternative stories and I felt inept in asking the right questions, and sometimes I found my self slipping into old lecturing habits. However, one of the things I found myself doing which students seemed to appreciate was making it ok to not have the answers or solutions and just letting students know that things will come to them in time and we don’t need to discover it all right now. I also found that no matter how overwhelmed, down, or upset a student was, and how big the problem might be, students were always able to identify an inner resource that eventually could form the basis of an alternative story. It is still early days and I hope I can build on these practices to better embed them in the way we engage with young people that provides more flexibility in how we can support each student based on their personal stories. I look forward to learning more and building my skills, thank you so much for a wonderful learning opportunity.

  4. Nancy Bell

    Hello, I’m Nancy from Brisbane , Australia. It seems to me that a Narrative approach is almost like shaking off the shackles of old thinking if only we can. I have always tried to work from a Person Centred approach but I have never found it particularly prescriptive; offering at best a gentle theoretical approach. I have often felt as though I am wading through good intentions and sometimes feel that I am only offering that ‘wading’ feeling to clients. Practices which may be long viewed as ‘tried and true’ in the helping professions are challenged by the Narrative which asks so called experts to step aside and allow some fresh air in the room in the form of client self determination. Organisations may need to change their proformas which provide anticipated spaces for expert assessment. I love it all! A Person Centred approach encourages this shift but it doesn’t seem to be endorsed in the same way. Along with the externalisation of conversations, I see these two elements of the Narrative approach as having the biggest impact on me so far. I think I have felt naturally drawn to these ways of working but think I have used some practices of externalisation without consciously linking it to the Narrative approach; mostly just trying to shift blame away from the person who is suffering. Not really naming the problem but certainly trying to contain it in a way that destigmatises the individual concerned. This approach seems to offer a genuinely empathetic way of approaching problems, placing the person as expert, the problem as a problem and the therapist as a friendly guide who may offer some ways for the person to identify and work with their problem in a very constructive manner. I am really hoping to learn more and thanks again for this great opportunity.

  5. rachel.crowe

    Melbourne, Australia.
    I was most drawn to the visual of the dots conveying the different plot lines of our lives – this resonated with me on an individual level, but also on a larger scale and related to the idea of innovative projects which feel like a proactive, larger scale approach to empowering people to take charge of the narratives of which they are a part.
    These aspects of narrative therapy remind me of the saying to ‘own your story’, a concept that I find extremely compelling in education. These ideas could be applied in my role by giving young people a voice and the tools needed to do so.
    I am invigorated by the idea of implementing innovative projects on a school level. Research has compelled the Department of Education in Victoria, Aus, to prioritise “student voice” in public education, recognising its significance in contributing to a school community. I see the value in empowering students to have a say on how things work – choosing their learning tasks, collaborating on problem solving, driving their own goal setting practices; I also see value in extending this further, working with young people on innovative projects and being ‘decentred and influential’ to help them feel empowered about existing plot lines, allowing them to have confidence to construct new narratives in their lives.

  6. rmgarland

    Hi, Megan from Hamilton, Australia here. I’ve been enjoying working with externalising concepts this past month or so, with a couple of the children I counsel in a school context. One of the little fellows has identified “Loudy” as being at the source of some of his problems, but we are working together to strengthen the role of “Kind” and “Happy” in his life. It’s been fun, and encouraging, particularly for a little fellow who has been predominantly seen as a problem kid in the school.
    On another note, I’m very much looking forward to noticing my position as a therapist more in my work, particularly with adults, and to being “brave” in being deliberate about collaboration. This means contradicting the voice in my head that tells me that “they’re paying me to solve their problems”. I know I can do it, and I believe the outcomes will be more effective – the story about Trevor told by Alice Morgan encourages me in this regard 🙂

  7. Isaac Gallaway

    Isaac Gallaway, Yakima, Washington, USA
    The thing that resonates the encouragement to be fellow explorers and listen to the thoughts, feelings, and hearts of those we have the privilege to serve. The ability to give someone power over their own story and to cheer them on is one of the most powerful things on earth – in my humble opinion. It is through relationship that we achieve things of greater capacity than we can on our own – and when we get to use tools that are already natural to us… we can move mountains.
    The imagery that comes to mind when considering the principle of Externalisation is that of a symbiotic parasite. Think Venom from Spiderman comics. When we pull apart The Issue from the human being we are coming alongside, we realize that The Issue gives both power and strength, but at the cost of the individual. The individual, when separated from The Issue, we then discover is a beautiful creation endowed with dignity, honor, and respect who has the power to overcome that symbiotic parasite.
    While my interactions with narrative therapy have only been within the context of the articles on Dulwich Centre’s databases, I have been greatly impressed by the power that is in them and the power they unlock.
    While currently I am primarily in the field of instruction instead of counseling, I find that the keystone habits: Listening, Curiosity, Empowerment, and Peer-to-Peer are cross-transferrable and applicable to my own setting as I engage with students. Even in the short time I have been practicing the reflection pieces associated with this practice, the results have helped others feel heard, understood, empowered, and even challenged by themselves to stick to it because the only one they’re letting down is themselves instead of others.
    I look forward to the opportunity to incorporate these practices further in my life and realms of influence.

  8. susan fagerland

    Sue, Victoria, Australia

    Think about just one thing that has particularly resonated for you about narrative ideas and practices that you have been trying to apply more in your work.

    I am currently doing my placement, consequently, I have not had a great deal of practice, but, I do attempt to externalise the problem, after collaboration, externalising seems to be the next step, once the client has relayed their particular problem-saturated story, I do this by using The in front of Anxiety for example, but I have noticed that maybe I am too subtle, and after reading Alice Morgans Beginning to use a narrative approach in therapy. I will discuss externalising the problem and work on collaborating further with the client. Itemising which are The Problems attributes and which are the person’s attributes will be extremely helpful in utilising externalisation.

    What would you call the principle or idea? Give it a name. Say something about it – describe what it is about, your understandings of it, in your own words.

    To me externalising gives people some space, freedom to talk about The Problem, if a problem is internalised it can be difficult to recognise and find solutions as a person feels under constant threat of making the problem worse, however, having some space through externalisation can allow the person to consider other options available to them, find their strengths and times they have overcome these issues previously.

    Give some more details about it, e.g.: When did you first notice this idea or principle in the work? What told you that it was important to you?

    I discovered narrative therapy through doing my bachelor of counselling and thought what a fantastic idea, I felt drawn to the idea that we can all change out stories if we chose, sometimes this is done via talking to another person and just have that person listen, telling your story out loud, being heard already begins to open doorways, but no one wants to follow another persons advice, so I loved the idea of helping the person find their new story, which has many facets to it rather than a thin line, this increases the individuals ability to learn about themselves and become the best person they want to be.

    The remainder of the question are asking for experience, and as mine is very limited, I am finding them difficult to answer. I am still concerned if I have the correct technique and am applying the general person centered approach, which I enjoy working with, I do feel narrative therapy will help people to understand themselves further.

    This has been an amazing course and has inspired me to further my learning in narrative therapy. Thank you very much for this course I love it and look forward to seeing you all soon

  9. Olena

    The idea which resonated the most for me is externalizing the problem and I definitely apply it more in my work as I see it as very helpful. This idea is very liberating, it can help people to disconnect from the problem, to view it from the side as if it’s not their dear one, but just a separate entity. In my work the most eloquent are the words and feelings of the clients, I see that they like it, because they are not viewed as problematic, they are viewed as masters of the situation who are capable of dealing with the problem.
    I have noticed that I started using more externalizing language and it totally shifts the perspective, which is just a miracle. Of course, I apply it for my life as well and I see the difference, I feel more confidence and power.

  10. Lynn

    I have listened to this course 4 times in the past two years, and every time I listen to it again, I find it inspires some new reflections and connection with my recent clients stories. I believe that Narrative therapy is not only a powerful tool for transforming people’s relationship with their story, it is also a way of living in this world – a confident and positive ways of being, which is “live your own story”. I tried to be a “non-centered but influential” counsellor, but meanwhile, I believe we are non-centered but influential beings in the world.

    I also appreciate how Narrative Therapy emphasis cultural humility, cultural context in story making process. As someone from a multicultural background, I have witnessed firsthand the impact that cultural narratives can have on our sense of self and wellbeing and how it also create conflict and problems for individuals. Therefore, it is essential to be open to acknowledge and honor these cultural narratives while also exploring alternative perspectives and possibilities.

    I am happy to share I had quite a few successful stories where my clients benefit from Narrative work, I am excited to continue integrating them into my personal and professional life. I believe that this approach has the potential to create profound change and healing for myself and my clients. Thank you for sharing this informative and thought-provoking course.

  11. Grace White

    Learning from Dharug Land, Australia.
    My learning seems to build up and out from the dots analogy of possessing multiple stories. I work in structural and systemic advocacy, on a digital story-telling project by, with and for the LGBTIQA+ people with disability community – a community I’m a proud part of. So, not a therapy or community work space directly. In fact, working in co-design and advisory for project work, distrust and un-safety toward service providers is a big theme. Being able to self-author stories for self-advocacy and representation is so important, in a group so often spoken for and spoken over. Sue Mann’s interaction with agency and medical records comes to mind as just one relevant example.

    Shaped and guided by lived expertise, we talk, share and hear diverse stories of ‘managing multiple identities’. Sometimes, being a part of multiple marginalised communities, people have one embraced, and another erased depending on who they’re with. Or maybe all of a person becomes erased to survive the dominant power. These multiple identities aren’t limited to sexuality, gender and disability.

    I often call this managing multiple identities, part of intersectionality. Right now I suppose it’s coming to my own mind as ‘erasing or embracing’ depending on the place. In my work in a story-telling based advocacy and capacity building project, holding space and amplifying the whole of someone – all of these stories a person is made up of and wants to be known as has become a really important theme, something I’ve learned and can relate to myself. I hold enormous privilege as a white cis-woman in these story sharing processes, and that can’t go without enacted reflection.

    A hope of mine is to try and bring what I learn over time about narrative practice into my work in structural and systemic advocacy in disability rights, and system reform. Particularly for the LGBTIQA+ people with disability community, particularly through a human-rights and justice driven framework. Nothing about us, without us and the right to tell own stories and be heard on self-defined terms.

    I’d also like to talk more with the people who are affecting this community, not just those affected.

  12. kanoyes

    Karl, Prior Lake, Minnesota, United States

    For the concept that I wanted to characterize I though of calling “the Levels” but with a minute of thought “the Balance” seems like a better name. I imagined that the client and I are on a see-saw and we are even connected by a large soft rope, the kind that has been frayed so many times at the ends that it has become very soft. The client and I can be at most ease when the seesaw is balanced or in a motion that is cooperative to both of us. There comes a point where from the outside, someone observing us on the see saw, the client and I and the rope and teh see-saw look like some smoothly operating creature or gyrocopter called ‘the Balance”. The Balance works best when we are curious and compassionate about the other. If one is about to fall off, or one is raising themselves too high above the other person, we can feel it on the rope. If one of us falls off, the seesaw stops and the other is thrown for a jolt.

    We could ask questioned like “how do you think the Balance is doing?” And answers could be like, “Ah, I think we hit a rough patch there. The Balance was feeling a bit squeamish in the stomach with all that sudden jerking. But the Balance was doing well when we had those long silences between talking about that issue.” In this way the the client and counselor could see their relationship as a being or an ecosystem that needs to be nourished in different ways. This would all be negotiated out with the client and co-created and only put into place if the client saw that it benefited them.

  13. jtaylor089

    James – Victoria, Australia.
    Think about just one thing that has particularly resonated for you about narrative ideas and practices?
    I resonated with the ‘dot analogy’ whereby each dot represents a potential lineage for another story/ narrative of an individuals life experience and by exploring these more we can ascertain that their life has had so many more rich, positive, and triumphant stories to tell that we can provide an alternate theme for them to form an alternate view of themselves and not feel as if ‘they’ are their distress or ‘stuck’ within a ‘single story’, assisting in them find more of ‘self’.

    What would you call the principle or idea?
    I’m interpreting this as the principle idea of narrative practises – for me the principle idea is to provide hope that their past is not their present, their present is not their future and their future can be whatever determination they find about themselves and how the experience their life. This is done through story and finding alternate narratives that have been forgotten or not explored.
    The theme of narrative practise to me has been the power of story and having an individual express their perspective but also taking into consideration the perspective of others and amalgamating all aspects that can be provided to form a new narrative, which can be done by a range of strategies as identified throughout the course.
    It was identified as important to me with allowing each individual to share their story and have them being the expert of their life experience, with the therapist/ clinician/ support person being an active listener and guiding conversation.

    What are you currently doing that you would say is a reflection of this particular idea, practice or principle?
    I explore this by challenging the ideals of what that individual sees as their reality and try to help them form alternate patterns of thinking/ recognition. This is in the context of hallucinations, delusions, deliberate self-harm, suicide and excessive emotional reactivity where I try and have that person hypothesize of what is, what isn’t, what could be and challenge them to make a self formulation of what they feel they need.
    After exploring it further in this course I will be able to better apply this in a different manner with increased knowledge and understanding that this type of thinking is applicable within my work.

    I am new to mental health nursing and am developing my own style to create a therapeutic alliance and utilise different models of care and psychotherapy practises to form as a ‘complete’ style that I can utiise within a range of various contexts and people.

  14. angie.wiggins

    I have particularly resonated with the visual of the dots and how we make a story from a small selection of the dots that make up our lives. And then connected to that I am drawn to the concept of outsider witnessing and its impact on the thickening or thinning of stories.
    I’d call this principle Re-presenting the storylines we create with our dots and how other people influence our re-presenting… It is about recognizing that our lives contain so so many dots and we can tell a number of different stories with these and that someone else can help us re-tell the ones that are hidden or missed.
    I think I noticed that this was important when I watched that first video and it was like a penny dropped! Or bigger than a penny – a $2 coin! It was like an epiphany! Of course we thick and thin the stories according to how all our dots have joined together and ignore all the others. I think perhaps what solidified it for me was that the driving story is my own. I think I’m a bad driver but that’s only because I have these one or two handfuls of circumstances when it went bad and I’m believing that story more than the 1000’s of dots of good and safe driving I have had since! I also realise how affirming it is for me when I illustrate to people my alternative story and they confirm it. It doesn’t work when they try to tell me what to think, it only works when I have come to the conclusion or epiphany myself and they confirm it. Interesting!
    As I don’t currently practice and so have only been able to apply these things to my relationships it is hard to articulate this bit. However there is an example when I was talking to my sister about dyslexia and through my questions we were able to identify all these scenarios where dyslexia had been able to help her and not hinder her. I think there was an epiphany there. She said she liked that. And personally I really LOVE that process – discovering alternate storylines of a thing or seeing something turn from dark to light. As an optimist I find it really easy to do that kind of thing. I think my struggle is in making sure to de-centre and also to align myself to a persons optimism or pessimism or anything in between. Not be too happy!

  15. heimbignertenor

    Calgary, Canada
    Tileah Drahm-Butler decolonising comments were very impactful. As a Canadian who has sat and heard the stories of residential school survivors I am reminded of not only the trauma but the stories of strength and resilience as well. These stories not only need to be heard in the Indigenous community but also in the settler community so that we stop viewing the Indigenous community as one story.

  16. rob

    Think about just one thing that has particularly resonated for you about narrative ideas and practices that you have been trying to apply more in your work.
    Collective Narrative Practices and Innovation Projects
    What would you call the principle or idea? Give it a name. Say something about it – describe what it is about, your understandings of it, in your own words.
    Identifying vague or hidden values, skills and dreams shared in a group and using these resources to describe mission and plan how to address collective challenges.
    Give some more details about it, e.g.: When did you first notice this idea or principle in the work? What told you that it was important to you?
    I thought it was important as I reflected about how communities work effectively together to accomplish objectives, and the fact that this requires a high level of connection and ownership. By identifying and describing values and dreams that are embedded in the culture of the community, people have a starting point for a new journey together.
    What are you currently doing that you would say is a reflection of this particular idea, practice or principle? Say a little bit about the times you thought you had managed to apply the idea or principle to your own practice.
    I am currently working with faith communities that may be stuck or in need of refreshing their collective goals. I have thought I have managed to apply the idea of collaborative narrative practice when there is unity and enthusiasm about the outcomes. People feel released from collective trauma and disappointments etc., as well as feeling part of the chosen way to address collective challenges, they also that any relevant documents produced describe them.
    When you did it, what did you notice?
    I notice the conversation tends to be animated and enthusiastic when people feel they are being heard at a deep level and making a genuine contribution to the group. In facilitating the process, I felt I was helping the group to express its identity in a way that had not been as accurately articulated before. Participants felt part of it and that the dreams being articulated were genuinely from their hearts, and not imposed from outside or by a few. It allowed the areas of harmony within the group to become visible.

  17. Marisa

    Marisa – Naarm/Melbourne

    Thin or problem saturated stories, re-membering and externalising the problem are ideas and strategies that have spoken to me most from completing this introduction to narrative therapy. I’m a social worker and my most recent role (that I have just finished up with) was working with survivors of childhood abuse going through a legal process to claim compensation. As part of this process they were necessarily required to retell their histories of abuse and trauma and how these experiences have impacted their lives. Survivors would – completely understandably – re-tell their histories as part of this process and inevitably describe themselves as ‘problem-saturated’ and as having been unable to overcome the problems their early experiences of severe trauma and abuse had caused them. In the work I was doing to support these clients – and I wasn’t aware I was using these narrative practice ideas and ‘techniques’ with them at the time – I attempted to support clients to externalise the problem (the abuse and its consequences) as something that happened to them that they were not responsible for and that should never have happened to them wherever possible – rather than seeing the abuse as something that defined who they were and was inseparable from their sense of identity.

    Now that I feel that I know much more about narrative theories and techniques from this course I would like to use them in a more conscious way with my clients in future. My most recent role working with survivors of abuse didn’t allow the time and the space to really provide ‘solid’ counselling or therapeutic support where more of their stories could be explored and clients’ supported to work through them, I would hope to be able to do that with my clients in my future role(s).

  18. Eugene Ford

    I loved the re-membering conversations theory and exercises, and I have been using it in my practise. In fact, I used the exercise soon after learning of it, and it was immediately transformational for the client I was working with. It’s a touching, beautiful exercise.

    Haha! The exercise already has a literal name…but I would put my own spin on it by labelling the exercise as cathartic and transformational. For the client I worked with, she described the process of re-membering a positive relationship from her past as feeling similar to ‘standing in sunshine’.

    I have a personal and professional interest in shame, and I am fascinated by the process of creating a narrative for ourselves and others that stems from unresolved feelings of shame…which of course lead to acting out behaviour, changes to our personal life, and further shame. I love that re-membering a conversation from adolescence, can lead to realizations that someone loved us for who we are, at the same time that someone was shaming us for who we are. I have clients who respond well to the clinical perspective that their beautiful brains are responding acutely to shame, because its more potent, whereas if they meditated on it, the warm fuzzies that come from knowing they were loved, can gradually overpower the pain that comes from shame. In my practise, I have noticed that Brené Brown’s contextualize vs. individualize exercise is powerful accompaniment to re-membering conversations.

    When I’ve used this tool, I’ve noticed an immediately positive response in my clients. In response to one of the modules, I noted that I was concerned that clients would feel manipulated through they use of such a tool…as though they could see right through it. I’m touched and surprised by the level of responsiveness I’ve noted. The client’s comment that she ‘feels bathed in sunshine’ when remembering that she was loved unconditionally by her grandmother, throughout multiple experiences of childhood trauma, was a powerful experience to witness.

  19. Danielle Huntington

    United States, Vermont
    Throughout this course, I have learned many new techniques. While I believe that all aspects of Narrative Therapy are important, the focus for me is externalizing the problem. Working with adults who struggle with both addiction and criminal behavior, they often identify themselves as their addiction or the charges that they have received. I plan to use Narrative Therapy as I encourage people to be able to see themselves outside of the behaviors that they have engaged in. I have started to use this practice and have realized that it is very compelling to see someone recognize that they are not what they have done or what has happened to them.
    I also truly enjoyed learning the map of Outsider Witness. I think that using this Map in group sessions will be powerful for all group members. I have not utilized this yet, however I very much look forward to being able to do so.

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