Decolonising Identity Stories by Tileah Drahm-Butler

This presentation 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 Drahm-Butler is a Durrumbal woman who lives and works in Kuranda, in Far North Queensland.  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.

For more information

Aboriginal narrative practice: Honouring Storylines of price, strength and creativity
by Barbara Wingard, Carolynanha Johnson and Tileah Drahm-Butler

Published on November 27, 2015

This Post Has 33 Comments

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    Glynis Thorp

    Thankyou for sharing Tileah. Narrative therapy fits just so well when working with Indigenous peoples. I am always keen to learn more. Story telling is such an important part of their lives and those who live and interact with Indigenous peoples.

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    More wonderful knowledge and experiences shared on this page. I am learning more about decolonisation practices, and the idea that decolonisation continues today. The presentation about June inspired me to continue to ask questions about how the said problem is truly influencing someones life.

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    Steven Colbran

    Our identity is our story sits so key in the work we do in this space.
    Giving people the opportunity to tell their stories with a focus on the indigenous world view.
    There is such an opportunity to talk and yarn and tell stories with purpose and work through any impacts of problems on people’s lives. Rather than seeing them as a problem themselves.
    Re-authoring is a really interesting concept and valuable experience for all, looking for alternative stories.
    Steven Colbran
    Mackay QLD

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    debbie webster

    Using narrative practice as a decolonizing tool in therapy sessions and valuing the experience of the storytellers is a great way forward and honors the storytellers as owners of their own valued life experiences. This allows for a collaborative approach to therapy sessions.

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    Sandra Owen

    I thoroughly enjoyed and feel grateful for the opportunity to be allowed to hear your narrative i.e. learning journey and appreciate the precious gift of being allowed to hear the stories of others who have been through so much in their journey. In my reflection, I see decolonizing as awesome and necessary to offer empowerment back to their self-worth and esteem. I can only say as an outside witness. It moves me when I hear their fight for justice. I ally with them to uphold their justice journey.

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    Thank you so much for sharing. It is so inspiring for me. I jotted notes while watching the video. People who come to consult me are the expert of their lives and asking right questions to further enrich their stories is so important. I will keep it in mind that while I’m doing the project in community I’m part of it. Thank you.

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    Kate C

    A thoughtful insight into Tileahs’ work and approach. It is heartening to read or listen to these stories where people, through narrative practices may be restored to themselves without the problem. It’s very powerful to consider how impactful this must be for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people in Australia as colonisers have used those damage-centred stories to keep people from finding their strength and resistance.

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    I really enjoyed listening about June. The idea of collaboration and really allowing the voice of the client/patient to be heard is so valuable. Not only as the person placed to offer help, but to the client/patient. It offers a clear invitation to them with respect, no judgement and a recognition of vulnerability and trust being present. I loved the question ‘is it ok that SP impacts you being social/your relationships’ and the time for June to ponder to have that honest moment with herself and say ‘No!’. I feel like in that moment she was able to decide to take control back of her life. It is those moments that are so heart warming and fill you with pride – when the person chooses to fight for themselves and to want to be accountable and responsible for the life they life/want to live.

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    Michele McCrea

    The extracts and videos in this section have been inspiring to me, especially ‘Just Therapy’ and Tileah’s presentation on Decolonising Identity Stories. I now have more confidence and tools to continue and develop the collaborative groupwork I am currently doing with migrant women’s groups in Australia.

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    Lynda Shevellar

    Thank you Tileah for this beautiful warm presentation. I loved your framing of narrative practice as a spiritual practice. I am particularly grateful for your problematising of wellbeing – and the resulting invitation to people to define what wellbeing might mean for them. There is so much richness here to reflect on further. Thank you for your generosity in sharing these ideas.
    Warmly, Lynda Shevellar

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    Mercy Shumbamhini

    I am Mercy Shumbamhini from Harare, Zimbabwe. I have enjoyed the articles on collaboration and accountability in this chapter. I was touched by June’s experience with outsider witness retellings. I have used collaboration and accountability in my work with children and their families and with widows. What I found helpful in this work is the use of the bottom up and non-blaming approaches. I can say that this is not all that easy, it requires an on-going personal reflection and receiving feedback practices from the people who consult with me. I would like to continue learning with the people whom I meet to co-create narrative practices and ideas that respect their knowledges, skills and ways of life that they prefer.

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    Thank you Tileah! I love your language and you make it so accessible. The “Strong Story” will stay with me forever. You make it possible for me to imagine a day when the indigenous people of the Americas will also experience such profound respect for their knowledges and ways of life.

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