Collaboration & Accountability

Narrative practices respect people as the experts of their own lives. As such, our expertise is not in how we deliver ‘interventions’, but in how we provide a context, through a scaffolding of questions, that makes it possible for people to become more aware of their own skills and knowledges and how to use these to address difficulties they may be facing. We have included here a diverse collection of resources about the sorts of collaborations that are a key aspect of narrative practice.  

Amanda Worrall is a mental health nurse in the Northern Territory (Australia). This presentation tells the story of how June and Amanda found ways to use externalising conversations to name and speak about social paranoia (SP). It also describes the ways in which these conversations enabled June to reclaim her life from the effects of paranoia. This presentation was filmed at Dulwich Centre at the International Spring Festival of Narrative Practice that took place from September 21-23, 2011.


Narrative therapy and community work practices engage what has come to be called a ‘Decentred and Influential’ position from which we can work with people. In this extract, Michael White describes this therapeutic posture.

Michael White Workshop Notes

The Four Quadrants
De-Centered Centered
Influential De-centered and influential (potentially invigorating of a therapist) Centered and influential (potentially burdening of therapist)
Non-influential De-centered and non-influential (potentially invalidating of therapist) Centered and non-influential (potentially exhausting of therapist)
It is the intention of the therapist to take up a “decentred and influential” posture in conversations had with the people who consult them – to develop therapeutic practices that make it possible for him/her to occupy the top-left quadrant. The notion “decentred” does not refer to the intensity of the therapist’s engagement (emotional or otherwise) with people seeking consultation, but to the therapist’s achievement in according priority to the personal stories and to the knowledges and skills of these people. In regard to the personal stories of people’s lives, in the context of this achievement, these people have a “primary authorship” status, and the knowledges and skills that have been generated in the history of their lives are the principal considerations. The therapist is influential not in the sense of imposing an agenda or in the sense of delivering interventions, but in the sense of building a scaffold, through questions and reflections, that makes it possible for people to: a) more richly describe the alternative stories of their lives, b) step into and to explore some of the neglected territories of their lives, and to c) become more significantly acquainted with the knowledges and skills of their lives that are relevant to addressing the concerns, predicaments and problems that are at hand.  

In this paper by Sue Mann we examine ways of documenting that draw on collaborative practices, with particular reference to writing medical records.

‘Collaborative representation: Narrative ideas in practice’ | Sue Mann


The Just Therapy Team, from The Family Centre, Wellington, New Zealand, consists of Warihi Campbell, Kiwi Tamasese, Flora Tuhaka and Charles Waldegrave. Their highly respected work, which involves a strong commitment to addressing issues of culture, gender and socio-economic disadvantage, has come to be known as Just Therapy. These practitioners and their work significantly influenced narrative therapy and community work responses to accountability.

Extract from ‘Just Therapy’

This presentation by Tileah Drahm-Butler aims to bring forth conversation on the ways that narrative therapy can be used as a decolonising practice, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and skill in resistance is honoured and talked about in a therapy setting.Tileah is a Social Worker in a hospital setting, currently working in Emergency Department and Intensive Care Units. She completed the Masters in Narrative Therapy and Community Work in 2014 and is passionate about finding ways to describe Narrative Therapy practices in ways that are culturally resonant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  Furthermore, in the work that Tileah does, she continues to learn alongside the people who she meets to create and re-create narrative practices that are culturally resonate, and that are shaped by cultural and spiritual practices.

To view video, please click link below Decolonising Identity Stories | Tileah Drahm-Butler Tileah-Drahm-Butler  
  For Reflection
  In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?   What might make it hard to enter into these practices?   If these ways of working fit for you, what next steps could you take to build partnerships/collaborations in your work?

Please now join with others in reflecting on these questions and other wonderings below! Please include where you are writing from (City and Country). Thanks!

This Post Has 244 Comments

  1. Dyuti

    My name is Dyuti Vaid and i’m a counselling psychologist from India. I have engaged in collaborations in NGO work and most recently in my therapy work. To be very honest, as a beginner therapist i had this hunger of being ‘the helper’ or ‘providing solutions’ or ‘guiding’ my clients and so whenever any client made any reflections on their own and put efforts independently it would immediately point towards my inadequacy for me but i think now i have very experientially also started perceiving them as ‘experts ‘of their own life and i think all my intake sessions begin with building a collaborative space. It was really fascinating to hear to the works given above. One question that keeps coming to me is , is there an extent to which we keep the client as the main author or what is the limitations of the therapist as co-author. Hoping to explore this further.

  2. Chris

    I enjoy this chapter a lot especially when watching Amanda’s video and her work with her client on SP. The work encouraged me to apply more externalising skills on my therapeutic work. I also like the “decentred and influential” position of therapist which reminds me that clients are the expert of their lives and me as a therapist would just provide a space for them to reflect on their experience and make decisions that suit them the most.

  3. jillsummerwill

    I worked in govt social worker across 2 countries, England and Canada and while we always strived to work collaboratively and developed effective collaborative practices, there was always a point were collaboration ended and authorative behaviours resumed. I love that as the collaboration in narrative practice relies so strongly on the person we should be collaborating with that we need to continue with and keep collaboration front and centre to acheive the goals. Everything we know about successful interventions relies on the buy in of the person who wants to make the changes, however we can often bypass a true collaborative process due to time and resource issues, which of course does not lead to the best outcomes, reinforces the old narrative of coertion and is merely a sticky plaster approach.

  4. mara.bennett

    Hello, my name is Mara and I work in Queensland, Australia, as a counsellor for families experiencing dementia. I have facilitated group sessions to explore the ways in which dementia can bring about a grief reaction when we see someone we love change. In these sessions, I would spend time at the beginning asking people to write a metaphoric representation of grief before we started using more concrete language. This was meant to get people thinking creatively and also to allow people to describe grief without the use of “expert” or “professional” language. People would then share their metaphor, and I would always write them down until eventually I had dozens! I would share them in the next group to give people ideas. Some I remember were, “grief is like shards of mirror hung in a mobile,” “grief is like sitting in the eye of a storm,” “grief is like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle strewn on the ground,” “grief is like waves in the ocean crashing over you,” “grief is like walking through fog,” “grief is like being in a dark room and you can’t find the light switch.” It was very powerful and helped us build trust and safety for people to be exploratory because you could write a metaphor without having to say anything specific about your story. Another way I use collaborative practice (without knowing it was a narrative approach) is to listen to people’s stories of dementia and look for when the details contradict the negative cultural discourse that surrounds dementia (one of fear and abject hopelessness), I like to support people to cultivate a dialogue of “living well with dementia” to enable people to see how they can still have a good quality of life and cherish their relationships despite the changes and challenges. I’m so excited to continue this work now that I’ve done this module.

  5. Martin

    Whilst my life-coach workshop isn’t at all medical, I certainly see it as a kind of collaborative therapy. The whole concept of ‘scaffolding’ that Michael White puts forward is definitely a metaphor I will be utilising. By “de-centering” my role in the process, the spotlight falls on the client…possibly for the first time in their life. I do however note Sue Mann’s proviso that not every person who seeks her counsel is instantly on board with the concept of co-writing their own medical history. It’s not just a matter of simply ‘handing the pen’ to the recipient of the therapy. Hence the “influential” aspect of the therapist’s role in Michael White’s quadrant table: we are there with the scaffold poles, along with the nuts and bolts to help connect those poles into a helpful overall structure…but it is in collaboration with the person who has sought our help that the poles are arranged and built (or maybe even deconstructed and re-built into an alternative, more richly-constructed scaffold!). Throughout all of these articles/videos, the overarching theme sees the Narrative Therapist emerge from ‘behind the desk’ to sit alongside the person seeking help (quite literally in Sue Mann’s example) in order to write the account together. This co-authoring of the alternative story seems to me to be extremely empowering for the client. Only intervening if/when the person is struggling to take the next step reminds me of the role of being a ghost-writer for someone’s biography. The role does not involve putting words in the subject’s mouth, but rather trying to draw out their OWN words/personality traits/histories/values etc and transcribing those into a coherent text. Finally, Sue Mann’s practice of having her patients add their signature to the finished document not only brings closure to the process, but again emphasises that ownership of the words remains fully with the patient, and not the rightfully-decentered therapist. It is their story and no-one else’s.

  6. John Hankins

    I’m writing from Colorado, USA. I really like the concepts of de-centerting and influential. At the same time, as a licensed therapist, it can be a constant struggle to set aside the therapist-client structure. This material inspires me to look for more ways to form a collaborative relationship with the people who seek my help. At this point in my life, I find collaboration as part of a supervision group that I am a part of and I have a lot of experience with collaboration in my work in Restorative Justice. I have seen the benefit of this and understand that it is worth investing in to bring more of it into my work.


    Hi, this is Kirsten from Castlemaine, VIC, on Dja Dja Wurrung country. I collaborate with people by asking them to share their strengths and values when we start meeting with one another. I ask them to define what wellbeing means to them, or if they would use a different word. This has been easier to do in workplaces that clearly expect this from their staff – workplaces that expect their staff to take a “non-expert” stance. I work in a public hospital now and I find it more difficult because my approach is quite different from my colleagues. And the biomedical model is still strong in this context.
    I am really inspired by the idea of asking people to participate in the notes I need to record of our session. I am going to start by asking people whether there is something about our conversation that they would be particularly keen to record, and whether there’s anything about themselves or their story they’d like to be described in the notes.
    I work with older people and they often face ageism and ablesim. The work of the Just Therapy team in Aotearoa has me thinking that it would be great to get involved in the local disability inclusion group, or maybe the Seniors Festival, which celebrates older people in the community.

  8. Paulina

    Hi, I’m Paulina from Mexico, and I think I collaborate with others seeing the alternative stories and situating the social contexts. For example, im seeing a guy that every time he tries to express his feelings he got into trouble and people make fun, so we put in context how men in Mexico can express themselves and how he is resisting all that context, and we search how he manage to express them and when we have had a god reaction.

  9. Rhian Holmes

    Hello from Wales. I collaborate with the people I work with and support as a mental health social worker and approved mental health professional. This field of work can be very coercive on times and the way I combat this is by collaboration with people. I feel strongly that I am not the expert in mental health, but what I can bring is a spirit of collaboration to working through problems with people. People are the experts on themselves and sometimes benefit from discussion to bring their expertise to the fore. I write reports and share them with my clients and they have told me to change things I have written sometimes. These has been a positive discussions; when I have not accurately reflected their experience and they have been able to find better words to represent their experiences. They have found by having the conversation it was empowering and helped to guide meaningful discussions going forward.
    I really enjoyed hearing June’s story and felt moved by the transformation of her view of SP and herself. Thank you :-)

  10. Teresa Wheeler

    Hi from England, this was a tricky area to think about as within the area that I work, everything feels very seperate and distinct. I have been fortunate enough to shadow and learn from an amazing psychologist who always remembered to keep the child or family at the centre of everything, and was not afraid to to ask questions in multi-disciplinary meetings about “what does the child want/think” etc. This can be hard at times but I do think is something that we need to hold onto- how are we gathering the voice of a client, how are we sharing it, are they agreeing with what we share? These are questions that I need to continually ask myself, and make sure that I am adhering to. On the occasions where I have been able to co-write up therapeutic notes or assessment reports it has been helpful even just checking out the language with the client or parent as I think this gives them some of the empowerment back, and makes sure it is something that makes sense to them.

  11. zamcing27

    In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?
    I am Zam, and I am from Oklahoma. I entered into collaborations at schools and in my community. It helps me grow and makes more extraordinary things possible through collaboration. When a team of people comes together, there is so much they can accomplish together. It might be hard to enter these practices when people are not used to working with others with humility and when they want to lead and not follow. Depending on the situation, there should always be a balance between being a leader and a follower. As a future social worker, I have worked with many other professionals though internships and at work. I can improve my ability to collaborate by working with teams and being a good follower and leader when needed.

  12. James Rose

    As a writer looking at working in a therapeutic space, I found the idea of collaboration very refreshing and encouraging. We allow our stories to be ‘authored’ by many others in our lives and having that sense of agency in something as central to our journey – especially for those deep in the healthcare, social work system – is clearly very valuable. That sense of having our lives authored for us is, unfortunately, more prevalent for those in lower socio-economic situations, as our systems tends to focus on, and honour, bureaucratic efficiency at least equal to – and sometimes over – basic humanity and kindness. Also, writing, even at this level, can be an isolating experience in itself, so I suspect – and this comes through this piece – that the therapist gains insights and a sense of greater purpose, confidence and connection in their own thoughts and recommendations on the basis of collaboration of this kind. This was a very honest a revealing insight into the humane practice of narrative therapy.

  13. Jocilyn Csernyik

    My collaborations have ranged from personal to professional, each stemming from the mindset of wanting the best outcome for all by way of a harmonious interaction that is productive and allows us to achieve the shared goal. Along this thread, I was so struck by June’s story and the way she not only collaborated with her therapist, but she also collaborated with herself, in a sense, to work towards externalizing SP and managing its impact on her life. I think her story is a perfect encapsulation of the essence of therapy, which is a collaborative effort between the therapist and client in helping the client work towards growth and achieve mental wellness. I think Amanda’s willingness to recognize June as an equal contributor of knowledge and information in the therapeutic alliance was central in helping June. Her ability to be humble and receptive to June’s feedback on support also impacted the effectiveness of the treatment; I’m thinking of when June told Amanda that one of her summative letters of their session did not accurately capture the significance that externalizing SP had on her outlook and life perception moving forward. Amanda could have reacted defensively and tried to justify her writing, but, instead, she allowed June to correct her and re-author the letter to fit her narrative. It seems like a miniscule thing to point out, but I think that act was a drop in a larger pool of June’s journey in re-authoring her effort to achieve power over SP and claim her life as her own.

  14. Sonya Watson

    Hello from New Zealand.

    In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible? I have entered into collaborations in a variety of ways. Sometimes this is begins as a one on one scenario with a client where instead of me dishing out ‘advice’ we collaborate together to externalise the issue and to bring forth the thinking and knowledge of the client. I have also collaborated with other ‘professionals’ working together with the same person to support them.

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices? The factor that makes it hardest to enter into these sorts of practices for me is either my own subconscious agenda or the agenda of my role/who I work for. E.g. for reporting duties sometimes it seems like I need to tick off a lot of boxes for the client. This agenda makes it hard to collaborate because the tick-boxing wants to override the authentic knowledge and collaboration of the person central to the support.

  15. uma

    Hello I am Uma from Alberta, Canada. I really enjoyed this module as it reminds me of what drew me to Narrative therapy in the first place. Being a fairly new psychologist, I sometimes tend to overthink and strategize about what a client might be like or how they might respond in session when going through their file before actually getting the chance to meet them. Reading from Sue Mann’s paper, specifically the part where she states: ” The very last person to see these records or to have any knowledge of what is written in them, is the person who is most subject to the effects of what is written and with the least influence on the way the story is developed”, had me reflect a lot on how little influence the client may on how their story is shared/portrayed except by the client.

    Going into sessions with a client I have not seen before, I try to go in with an empty but open mind so that the client has the room to be the expert of their own story. Thanks for the great module!

  16. Nancy Bell

    Hello, I am Nancy from Brisbane, Australia. Another interesting reflection and some very thought provoking reading. I love the idea of collaborative reporting processes, legitimately removing the ‘expert’ hat and sharing that prized space. More to think on! Retelling stories was an amazing way available for June to rediscover confidence in herself. In my work with frail aged people, retelling throws up a few challenges. Often the client has no remaining or few remaining living peers and familial retelling may be subjective at best and often second hand. It seems to me that the great collaboration for frail aged people is between the therapist and the person in question; the real removal of that ‘privileged expert hat’ and the mind boggling ‘sitting in the gravel’ with the other. Validating the lived experience of the other and recognising the best/most appropriate moments to introduce the ‘wh’ questions to try and elucidate any alternative stories. This may help the client to embrace and believe the best and most honest story of themselves to themselves. I think I have used these practices to an extent but not within an informed narrative framework and as I am gaining a greater understanding of the framework I am more able to locate and validate ways of working. I just love that this approach really reinforces the client as the expert. Many frail aged people feel disempowered for so many reasons, mostly loss at multiple levels. This approach gives so much back to making a person feel whole again. I love it!

  17. andrewkilgour

    Hi, Andrew from Newcastle, Awabakal country. The idea of collaboration sparked some interesting reflections when I look back on all the different contexts in which I have worked alongside people, and the many different rules you are given to direct the way you collaborate with individuals. Across all those different contexts it often felt like I was guided, trained, instructed and sometimes even forced into the way I collaborated with people, however it never really sat right with me. Reading the many stories of how narrative practice has changed the way people collaborative highlights to me the importance of placing the individual as the expert and how we can work with them from a place of social justice where we can push back against the systems that often supported the broader injustices that created the problem for people in the first place. In the education system in which I work, we are highly regulated in the way we collaborate and then report on the learning outcomes of students, however I feel like we could look at things differently using narrative practices, where students are involved in the way we capture their learning outcomes. By developing stronger partnerships with students through these processes where they are highly involved in how they are represented within the education system I feel like we will have more engagement and greater connection to our young people which will benefit us all and create new opportunities to address social injustice.

  18. Oltman Weeber

    Hi Oltman from Melbourne Australia. Working as a recovery coach & mental health support worker.

    Recovery was developed by consumers as a way of describing the personal journey that takes place for people with mental health problems as they work toward a renewed sense of identity, meaning and purpose. One of the principles of the recovery model is partnership, a collaborative approach. In my role I will explore and support the individual in building an interest and commitment to their own recovery journey; by focusing on the strengths and values of the individual and the ways these can be tapped into to support their journey.

    Some mental health conditions make it more difficult for a person to participate. For example, some people experiencing psychosis may not view themselves as having a mental illness. In other cases, a person’s symptoms might be so distressing that they require medical attention. In these situations are disruptive to the partnering relationship and it is more difficult for the person to contribute.

  19. Siobhan

    I really enjoyed this chapter. I think it is important to identify that only the client is the expert of their own lived experience. Although the therapist can assist and facilitate the process, the client is the only one who can make positive progress in their lives. I think this can also be really empowering for the client as they come to a place of realisation and feelings of accomplishment as they come to understand everything they need is already within themselves.

  20. rachel.crowe

    As an educator my opportunities for collaboration generally tend to come more in the form of a restorative sense, where I collaborate with scholars to problem solve difficulties in a learning setting. Education is a much slower beast to learn and grow than the therapy space, so learning the importance of collaborating with scholars and having them be accountable in a more positive way is a relatively recent shift. However, White’s notes on practice being “decentred and influential” really speaks to my setting as well, as empowering students to have “primary authorship” is crucial in my capacity to support them through difficult situations. Sometimes collaborating in this way can be difficult in this space, as the students are stuck with me! They are not making the choice to seek out support from a therapist, my engagement with them becomes a necessity through their actions in the school space. So engaging with unwilling young people can be extremely problematic in this way. All the more reason for them to see me as “decentred” and really deconstruct the idea of educators as authority, build trust and relationships through this collaboration for increased success in my work with them and, more importantly, in their lives

  21. rmgarland

    Hi, Megan from Hamilton, Victoria, Australia here. I loved this chapter on collaboration and accountability. As I read and listened, I found myself reflecting on my journey of people-helping over the past three decades. I can see the excitement I had in the early days, of discovering that I had something to offer people in the way of helping them resolve issues, but I also see my huge errors (as a wanna-be helpful friend, not a qualified helper) in thinking that I was an expert in content and people’s lives. I love the humility required in recognising the dignity of others, in seeing them as the expert in the issues they are facing, and collaborating with them to see them resolve these. This sits well with my journey as a Christian growing in grace and love for others, in seeing the image of God in each person, and looking to see where He is already at work in their story, and where I may get to join in for a small part of that story.

  22. dyc123

    Hello from Toronto, Canada. Upon reading the posts in relation to collaboration and accountability, I think Gill’s post says if for me: that Narrative therapy lends a voice to people by shedding light on their stories to be appreciated and acknowledged for the first time! This reaffirms my desire to continually learn and practice narrative ways of adopting new languages, collaborating with the client(s) on medical reporting, supporting community development, and advocating marginalized groups who are suffering from social systemic injustices due to colonization.

  23. Isaac Gallaway

    Isaac Gallaway, Yakima, Washington, USA
    While I do not serve in the Counseling capacity much, as an Instructor I am constantly looking for ways to engage students and hear their stories. When learning is collaborative, the meaning and influence lasts longer than just pure informational download. Another opportunity I have had through this is the use of Dialogical Preaching when I was serving in the ministry realm. I would give the message, lead in silence, and then let the congregation talk about what they were hearing or felt was brought to the surface. The collaboration of stories was powerful when I learned to be silent and let others both speak and encourage others. The community aspects brought forth great life change that some people loved and other people hated because they had to take ownership for their own stories and not be spoon-fed an answer.
    This is the challenge with this practice – it has to be something that the individual wants. They have to want to dive into their stories and examine their past. For many, this is a realm filled with skeletons and scary monsters that need to be addressed. Learning to be silent myself and only ask questions that allow the individual to describe more is also a challenge as it’s easier to speak at times than it is to listen. It requires intentional humility and curiosity.
    As I continue to serve in the non-profit world and engage with clients through career searching and education, I find that this is a powerful tool in being able to empower people who have been trod down by economics and systems that tell them they’re just growths on the system. This method says, ‘No… you have so much to contribute to the health of our society, economy, and culture! Don’t settle for the prescribed story dictated by others. Write your own!”

  24. mcosta_01

    Meg, Philadelphia, PA – USA

    In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?
    In my work on an inpatient psychiatric unit, I engage in collaboration quite often, whether that be a group collaboration between the patients and I or a 1:1 collaboration. I also collaborate frequently with my coworkers, and I think this is an important collaboration to recognize because without teamwork we would all be at a huge disadvantage. Open-mindedness and a passion for learning are essential for collaborating, but I believe humility is the most important trait one should keep in mind when collaborating with others. Especially cultural humility, because assuming someone’s cultural practices rather than asking can have lasting, harmful consequences on the relationship you have with that person.

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?
    It is harder to collaborate with someone who has no interest in working with you, but is stuck with you anyway. This type of tension comes up where I work because many of the patients are involuntarily committed for a 7-10 day stay with us. When someone is unwilling, but has no other choice to see you for therapeutic services, collaboration quickly turns into compromise. As you build rapport with this person, collaboration usually becomes more possible.

    If these ways of working fit for you, what next steps could you take to build partnerships/collaborations in your work?
    I am starting a year-long internship this May, which is required for me to graduate with a master’s in mental health counseling. At this internship I will have a supervisor, as well as a peer supervision group and a graduate course associated with my internship. I will have many opportunities to collaborate with others on how to help the clients I am seeing and how they can help the clients they are seeing. A major source of collaboration will be between me and my supervisor. Again, humility, open-mindedness, and a willingness to learn will be essential here, as well as critical thinking skills. Just because someone is my supervisor does not mean they have all the answers, so I think it is important to maintain a healthy level of skepticism.

  25. Olena

    For me the collaboration starts with talking with a client, first following them and then guiding, showing that there is another path to explore. At the same time, being not the one who just gives directions, but exploring together.
    There are several hardships as I see them: the psychologist might sometimes think that he/she knows better and sometimes also the clients doesn’t want collaboration, the expectation might be that someone will just solve all the problems for them. Also for the therapist it requires practice, lots of practice to implement ideas into life.
    I think for me it’s very important to listen carefully to the client and ask questions, and to show how important their inputs are, as they are the experts of their lives.
    Olena from Dubai, UAE

  26. Lynn

    I agree with the trainee psychiatrist that the power dynamic between doctor and patient may be a barrier to collaborate, I also noticed the power difference and hierarchy in workplace made it hard for team members to collaborate. I believe it takes many efforts to collaborate with clients, families, team members, especially in an interdisciplinary team. Although there are challenges, it is essential to make collaboration happen for the best care of clients. In therapy room, I feel that if the counsellor acts as an open collaborator in the therapy process, it would be easier to allow clients to take an active role in their own healing. However, it may also work in the opposite way for certain clients as a collaborative counsellor may appear to be less powered and realize that in certain culture, clients tend to work better with an-expert-like counsellor, such as in masculine authoritarian cultures. Therefore, I believe the counsellor should adapt their style to better serving the need of clients.

  27. julianne.gordon

    Hello from Saskatoon, Canada in Treaty 6 Territory.
    This was an important chapter for me and I realize now it was what drew me to narrative practice in the first place. In the past I have struggled with trying to “fix” a person enough so they can survive in broken systems within our society. I appreciate how Tileah Drahm-Butler explores acts of resistance to injustice no matter how small they may seem. I think it can be very valuable to highlight where someone might have learned this from as it can connect them to family, community, or other important people in their life at a time when they might feel very alone. Even if the person they learned it from is no longer around, it can explore how the relationship with that person continues as they carry that value and resistance with them in their life.
    This also has me reflecting on acts of resistance to injustice in my own work. At times, it can be so disheartening to see the lack of change in the broader systems in our society. Exploring my own small acts of resistance gives me motivation to carry on.

  28. susan fagerland

    Hello from Yarra Junction, Victoria, Australia.
    In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?
    I feel I have always been a collaborative person, always asking people where they would like to meet up, as a parent this collaboration grew, as I would check with the children what they wanted to wear, what food they wanted to eat within reason, and what they wanted o do. This allowed them to become independent thinkers while also understanding they had to share and take responsibility for actions. These collaborations were made possible due to flexibilty from me, but also having boundaries in place.
    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?
    If the collaboration is outside your scope, or outside your personal or professional boundaries.
    If these ways of working fit for you, what next steps could you take to build partnerships/collaborations in your work?
    I guess I have always known that I dislike being told what to do, therefore, I think other people do not like this either, generally if I am told what to do, I do the opposite sometimes to my detriment. Hence, I like to ask, or invite opinions and collaboration when I can. Making sure the person I am talking to is playing the lead role in their own life.

  29. jennyheraghty

    hi this is Jenny, Mareeba Queensland
    In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?
    I would often work collaboratively with people when I was doing face-to-face counselling, seating the person beside me while viewing genograms or creating a case plan. my work now is on line or via telephone.

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices? Not having the person in the room makes collaboration more of a challenge, but it can be done by sharing notes and asking if my notes are they want recorded.

    If these ways of working fit for you, what next steps could you take to build partnerships/collaborations in your work?
    I plan to share notes with people when possible and one of my team leaders have agrees that this is empowering and fits the trauma informed scope of the service.

  30. tlcoope

    I am a trainee psychiatrist working in the UK. The power dynamic between doctor and patient can act as a barrier to collaborative ways of working, particularly if legal frameworks are being imposed. A more relational way of working can help to address this, adopting the decentred and influential position described by Michael White. In my current work, the main opportunity for collaboration arises when completing formulations, which are always more powerful if written and shared with the patient or service user. When writing clinical letters, I ensure that the patient has opportunities to question the information described and make modifications or revisions that better fit with their evolving personal narrative of events and ongoing difficulties. This module has been useful in further developing a collaborative approach.

  31. Gill Kenny

    Greetings from Perth where it is cooler today :-) I haven’t collaborated much in a therapeutic setting (yet) but I have learnt the power of sharing in a group setting through my own recovery journey. I can see how frustrating it might be to work in an organisation that is set in its ways and where its employees don’t have a knowledge of the concepts that we are learning about in Narrative Therapy. We will need to be trailblazers if we want to change things for the better!
    I loved Sue Mann’s paper on keeping records collaboratively. Just the simple action of sitting next to her client in compiling the records acts as a powerful metaphor for us all. I had goose bumps when I read about the lady who signed her records with a big signature. That says it all, doesn’t it! Through Narrative Therapy we are giving people a voice, the opportunity to come out into the light and to be seen and respected. Thanks for this inspiring chapter.

  32. Bec Acuto

    Hi everyone, I am writing from Melbourne, Australia, on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation.
    In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?
    My first reaction to this was that i collaborate all the time, but when i reflected i realise that those collaborations are vastly centered around cross-department colleague collaboration driven by a common goal and purpose and not patient/clients.
    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?
    It isnt easy to build connections, it is hard to build trust and rapport to enable true collaboration, to take the time to reflect and critically analyse the process and approach. Working in a hospital everyone wants different things reflected, there is pressure on time spent and that makes the process of collaboration difficult
    If these ways of working fit for you, what next steps could you take to build partnerships/collaborations in your work?
    Sue Mann’s paper really resonates and connects with my work. The first step i will take is to let people know at the start of our interaction that we keep medical records and seeking their input, if they wish to participate and contribute to how they are represented in those records. This quote from Sue Mann will stay with me:
    “Reporting collaboratively in the medical records is for me a practice of respect. It is an opportunity to thicken the description of people’s lives and to take a stand against practices of degradation. Using the words of the people who meet with me, whether they have actively participated in the recording of the record or not, has kept the notion of collaboration present in my work.”

  33. kanoyes

    Karl, Prior Lake, Minnesota, United States
    I was a tutor at the Brian Coyle Center at Cedar Riverside in Minneapolis for a few months.Because I had this experience early in my life, I had to adjust my assumptions to a greater degree. I learned to bridge my experience with that of multiple generations of people who who first generation immigrants. I had forgotten what it was like to learn to read and encounter English for the first time and here I was as much of a student as the people I worked with. I learned words in Somali and Oromo, I learned about cultures and foods. I learned that I had taken many things for granted. They taught me how to be a teacher, how to step back and let their own skills guide them. The exchanges felt very old in an ancient way and very natural.

    Barriers that made it harder to be in the tutoring partnership revolved around economics. Not enough tutors led to burnout and the students were underserved. This is where the political realm that the “27 Just Therapy” essay touches on. At a certain point we would have to work together to change the politics behind neglect and racism.

    Humility and trust are skills and traits that I feel I will carry throughout collaborative work. Listen more than talk. Observe more than prescribe. Recognize more than ignore. It takes a level of energy to always be trying to maintain a position where as, if I can just be, trust in my humble skills, trust in the clients knowledge and motivation, there seems a way that is easier and bonding.

  34. Samantha Hawke

    Toronto, Canada

    When I think about the next steps I can take to build partnership and collaboration in my work I’m struck by the idea of accountability that is explored in the Just Therapy article by Warihi Campbell, Kiwi Tamasese and Charles Waldergrave.

    What must I hold myself accountable to beyond the therapy room? When I ask myself this question, what feels important in how I may build partnership and collaboration in my work is being an active community member within the communities I am working with. Whether as a member myself or as an advocate. To me, building partnership means that I will support, advocate and resist the systemic injustices that are impacting those I work with beyond our sessions together. My job as a Narrative Therapist or consultant doesn’t end when my day of work is over. In building partnerships, I’m building alliances and I must be accountable to those alliances in and outside of therapy sessions. This makes me think of Sara Ahmed’s notion of the Feminist Killjoy. To be accountable to my partnerships and alliances means I will be the one to kill the joy at the dinner when I have to. If oppressive comments are made about race, sexual orientation, gender, class, disability (and more) I will stand up and be accountable to all those who may be oppressed by systemic powers and the on going colonial project.

    The Just Therapy article identifies the accountability work they are doing as being contributing members to social policy research and were able to become the leaders in a poverty measurement project. I will continue to seek out opportunities where I am able to show my accountability. One of my current hope/dream/goal is to work with my local government to advocate for more mental health care funding so more people can access mental health resources.

  35. angie.wiggins

    Thinking about how I do this in my practice – our assessment stage at work is really long and the areas we talk about are broad. I think the process is collaborative because the person totally has ‘primary authorship status’ buuut after reading Sue Mann’s work I feel quite motivated to extend that. I would like to hear the persons story and engage in scaffolding questions but then type up or write up the notes ALONGSIDE the person. And I would love to be asking the questions or giving the opportunity that makes a person suprised and then moved that their story and how they experience it matters. So good!

  36. anapaty

    As It was mentioned in the last reflection video, being accountable and collaborative is something that requires a lot of thought. But I also believe it also requires a lot of questioning and learning. Specially when this activity is being done with a minority group or from a perspective we are not familiar with.

    I believe I have a lot to learn still to be able to conduct a collaborative and accountable session with one of my consultants. I need to practice my reflective abilities in order to connect accurately and helpfully.

  37. Khadigi Mariam

    I am studying Counselling at the moment and this theory has really bowled me over, I feel this is a really good way to work with people and the problems that they are facing and I think about how I would work in this field. I would have to say that the more people are involved in collaboration and working together, the more good outcomes for the community as a whole. Any place in the world where there is oppression and injustices then this is very much the way to in building communities.
    Sydney, Australia

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