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 30 Comments

  1. debbie r

    as a financial counsellor it is interesting to hear about the thoughts around counsellor verses yarning and how it impacts upon people attending.

  2. ShiPing Jiang

    Tileah presents two cases very clearly from her de-centered position to successfully externalize the problems from the people, the clients. Tileah empowers her client by de-contructing her clients’ stories from the perspective of social and cultural context, and re-authoring their stories in co-operative manner, which it demonstrates their co-researcher positioning. The whole presentation is enjoyable to watch and insightful.

  3. Elizabeth Tomlins

    thank you for this message and the content of this presentation.
    Thank you for speaking of Yarning & Shame. As a non Aboriginal mother of Aboriginal Children working in Family Services with Families often disconnected with their history your message provides confirmation and knowledge that will help me in both my work and family.
    I am encouraged to acknowledge my families expertise in their lives.
    Also encouraged by June’s story what great ways to empower those whose lives we work with; Further the man with no name and the writing of hospital notes is so encouraging as I will bring this to my time with families and further encourage them to collaborate with me in writing their story in notes that will be read by others.
    Thank you for another great time of learning.

  4. Sue Phillips

    Thank you Tileah, yes even our language counselling verses Yarning could make a big difference to engagement and hearing their story & understand their perspective without judgement & honouring others’ knowledge and emotional and social wellbeing, also the knowing of shame that impacts with the story told.

    1. Lou Scanlan

      I enjoyed hearing this, thank you Tileah. Particularly how you explored the origins of values of importance, bringing them to the front and connecting them to the person’s strength story. Love it. Thank you.

  5. Jocelyn Phelps

    Thank you to Tileah for a wonderful presentation. I love hearing the word “yarn” used in this powerful way (Americans also have that term). The practice of “translating”, of shifting concepts into language that can be more usefully heard, is very powerful. As coaches we can make good use of this to help clients uncover their hidden or forgotten resources.

  6. Carly Tredway

    This is a lovely presentation that speaks volumes about the power and identity theft of colonisation for Australia’s first people. Without speakers like Tileah, the rest of Australia (all immigrants of some description), we could not know this perspective or the power of a yarn.
    Thank you

  7. Elizabeth Tomlins

    Thank you for these amazing stories and listening to Tileah. What a great way to encourage the remembering of a rich culture and to enable the positive stories to be revealed that allows healing. It helps this non indigenous parent of indigenous children/grandchildren to have tools to build restoration, healing & pride in my family & the wider community I work with. Thanks again

  8. Tamara Lazaroff

    Thank you so much. I love the hopefulness of your talk and way of speaking with people. Honestly, makes my heart feel full and soaring.

  9. Jerome

    I enjoyed this talk linking up many aspects of narrative work. This has helped to label and name what we can do in therapy to build new narratives – namely noticing and highlighting the small acts of standing up to problems. I particularly liked how this was linked to a standing up to more culture-wide injustice and prejudice.

  10. Carolyn

    Lovely Tileah – so meticulous about context ….. again just listening before I come up your way in early November to talk a little to an audience i don’t know .

  11. Dianne M Leonard (Port Macqaurie)

    Good to see and hear you Tileah. I heard you speak of Yarning(counselling),Storytelling, strong story, History, externalizing, Shame, centring people as the experts and honouring others’ knowledge and emotional and social wellbeing. Thank You.

  12. J Louise

    Thank you Tileah for sharing your work. I am hopefully that non-indigenous people in the cities can hear more and more strong stories – it is good for all of us.

  13. Melanie Murad Baldwin

    Thank you Tileah for sharing your story and stories!!! I am inspired to share this video with many friends from both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds. I am currently a PHd candidate and really hope to link via email with you!!! Kindest regards, Melanie Murad Baldwin

  14. Alta Mitchell

    Wow, the story is so similar to my Navajo culture. We still live with a lot of shame, racism, and disrespect in our communities. But, as Navajo people we still hang on to our culture and tradition today and we are still strong.

    Thank you for sharing your presentation.

  15. Jacqui

    The concept of a ‘strong story’ really left an impression on me. What a powerful idea.

  16. nanette langley

    Amazingly inspiring story that opens space for us all to see how colonization still affects indigenous people today. Tileah offers a way through the damage towards an understanding of the reasons why indigenous people are suffering. Then she gives us a brilliant map of how to untangle the yarn that has caused this suffering.

  17. Carolynanha

    Beautiful Tileah, it was lovely to sit and listen to your story about shame and how you questioned it in so many ways. Your practice is so honoring, both in resistance and survival. You are an inspiration.

  18. Clara

    This was brilliant, it pulls together important aspects of what I have learnt already and I really like the story behind the story concept in particular. What a great young woman!

  19. Acknowledging people as “the experts of their lives…” Profound yet simple idea. Great talk!

  20. Alara Cameron

    What an amazing, beautiful and strong young woman. She speaks with such clarity and holds great knowledge and wisdom beyond her years. It strengthens my spirit and fills it with hope to know we have leaders/healers like her with in our communities. Keep up the deadly work sister.

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