Externalizing conversations: Statement of Position Map 1 by Mark Hayward

In this Friday Afternoon presentation, Mark Hayward takes us through Michael White’s Statement of Position Map 1 and how these enable externalising conversations. Within this presentation Mark will also invite you to chart an externalising conversation. Included below are a number of related documents and a powerpoint presentation to accompany this DVD. This Friday Afternoon video is therefore a little longer than the earlier presentations (43 minutes). We hope you enjoy it! And we look forward to your participation in the forum.A transcript of Mark’s video is available here.

Please download the following interactive documents!

Statement Of Position Map Powerpoint presentation
Joe transcript

Further reading (free to download)

Externalising: Commonly asked questions


There is a wealth of literature available in relation to externalising conversations in narrative practice. For instance, within the bibliography on the www.narrativetherapylibrary.com there are 434 listings.

In his presentation, Mark is particularly drawing on Michael White’s work which is clearly described in the book Maps of Narrative Practice.

You may also be interested in the chapter ‘Externalizing and responsibility’ which appears in Narrative Practice: Continuing the conversations.

Published on July 13, 2013

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Hi Mark,

    Thanks very much for this presentation. It was so clear and easy to imagine how I might put it into practice. Easy to imagine but a little trickier to actually do!

  2. Hi Mark,

    From the position of just commencing the Masters program, and being new to narrative practice, I want to express sincere thanks for your SOP presentation. There were many helpful points I took in particular the reminder of the ‘pathway’ (process & questions) and the relationship with the problem, and the value- in -action of the child becoming the consultant on the problem, the many connecting questions I heard, and the relaxed, and meaningful way you described the thoughts going on for you, your reflections on your questions and timing of same, and the relationship to charting the steps in the conversation. This unpacked the Map and charting process and I could relate refreshed to the helpfulness of the process-making me feel more close to it, less afraid of it! I will remember the ‘map in my mind’ comment you made, which connects to a habit I feel is starting to develop already for me in conversation with others, of listening differently, deeply, yet thinking always thinking, with agility -ahead and sometimes from behind -and catching up!

    As my work will involve working in an environment in remote Australia where professionals speak constantly about ‘the bully’ and not enough about same children experiencing trauma, day to day trials of hunger, having safe, engaging environments in which to sit, learn, play, I found your approach to balancing responsibility for actions of a child with working quite hard to help ‘Joey’ find his place/position on the behaviours that upset and hurt others very helpful.Children here seem to equip themselves with a suite of behaviours ready to act out to protect themselves from being offended by another. your talk has prompted more thinking for me about a collective approach to assisting community members (professionals, children, elders, family, parents – everyone) to put some words to the endemic behaviours that exist, affecting people in all generations/life stages and explore ideas, values, actions…

    thanks Mark.

    warm regards

    michelle bates

  3. Hi Mark

    I did enjoy your presentation and the opportunity it provided to refresh and review externalising conversations.

    I was wondering if you ever recruit an audience or other members of a family, team or group to support externalising conversations? ..and how this might or might not support the efforts people are making.

    From also listening to and reading Michael White’s work your presentation reminded me of the responsibility we have to support people across the charting of these territories – and to join in the ‘stretches’ that might be required of us to carefully join with people over the course of these conversations.

    Well I wished we lived a little closer so I could hear more about your work and I’d be interested to know if you create more video guides.

    best wishes

    1. Hi Mark,

      I do agree about the value of family members and others witnessing externalising conversations that can separate people from blame – so often they are productive in eliciting preferred stories which can then be acknowledged by the outsider witness group (OWG). I’ve not done this in a planned way before a session starts – I think I’d find it hard to know where the conversation might take us beforehand – which is less likely, in my experience, with other OWG’s where you’re planning and preparing for responses of acknowledgement.

      I was interested in the ‘stretches’ you mention – were you thinking of Vygotsky, Michael White and scaffolding distance here?

      Cheers, Mark

  4. Hi Mark,

    Thank you for your presentation! I had the privilege to be at the other side of the screen, also editing and I really enjoy it!

    I have some questions that are relevant for me in the discussion of the externalization work and that I would love to hear your thoughts:
    In my experience, so often externalization is -from practitioners working from other metaphors, not narrative- associated with a practice that avoid responsibility for people: “Was the problem not me!”. In my work the experience is completely opposite to this, externalizing conversations promote responsibility. Can you comment on this? Can you share some of your experience about how ethics of externalization brings responsible action?
    The other question is related to the first one. I appreciate your example with bullying very much, but I’d love to hear more about the accountability that practitioners may have in responding to violence actions when working with externalizing ethics. Can you comment a little bit on the idea of categories of identity and responsible actions?
    I really hope to hear more about your ways to engage with narrative ideas as this time it has open new and fresh engagements for me, as David wrote: ‘I found you spoke about this topic in a way that reaquainted me with how elegant, hopeful and innovative’ I’m copying this especially because of the word ‘elegant’, which stood out for me!

    Looking forward,


  5. Hi Mark,

    I enjoyed your talk about the statement of position map. I found you spoke about this topic in a way that reaquainted me with how elegant, hopeful and innovative this practice and the idea of externalising are.

    Also the clarity and thoroughness of your explanation and exploration of this map stood out for me. I appreciated you sharing the example of bullying as I find using the Statement of Position map enquiries and the ideas of externalising can be pretty complex when someone is acting in harmful ways. The conversation was clearly inviting some responsibility but not in a way that shamed or imposed meaning or language…

    So thanks Mark for your particular words and explorations.

    Warm wishes,

    David Newman

    1. Hi David,

      Yes I also find externalising more problematic when acts of violence are involved. I don’t think that all narrative conversations should be externalising and that a decision about this depends on the influence of the original naming and the effects this is having on peoples abilities to take action or their construction of identity.

      Best, Mark

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