Forums 2020-2021 India Narrative Therapy and Community Work Training Program Forum Reflection: Thinking behind practice and post structuralism

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    “The more I learn about psychology the less I can see the world as being black and more as shades of grey.” 

    I remember vividly this snippet from a conversation from one of my lectures as a student and this comes to my mind as I read more and broaden my understanding of the ideas that inform my practice. In this reflection, I attempt to pen a few of the ideas that have stayed with me, that I wish to carry on in my practice going forward. 

    Exposing the ideas of dominant western psychology in counselling 

    This particular reading of ‘Beyond Psychological Truth’ by Chris Wever, captivated my attention. 
    Of late, I have been thinking about the people I work with and the ideas about therapy that are influenced by dominant discourse that they bring with them as well. For instance, the idea of “unburdening” or “finding myself” or “understanding my negative behaviour patterns”. The idea of deficits that has been internalised rather than allowing the injustices to be visibilised. 
    And while I have been observing this language in my sessions, the course has also given me the language of the ways modern power operates, the language to visible the skills and the micro-acts of resistance that people have taken as they traverse their journey. 
    It makes me want to be able to give this language to the people I work with as well, not just through the conversations we have together but through the idea of exposing a different framework for them to think about their lives. I can particularly think of one young adult I’m working with, a 27 year old woman who has experienced multiple instances of abuse and came to me wanting to “find herself”, with whom I would love to bring in discussions about the ideas around narrative practices to offer her the language to find new ways of relating to her self. The idea fills me with excitement at the prospect of the kind of conversations we might be able to have and the possibilities this may offer her for looking at herself and a different way for her to look at the acts of resistance that she has been taking. 

    Bringing in the ‘social’ 

    The other idea that has given me language that I hold dearly is that the “person is not the problem, the problem is the problem, and the problem is social”. 
    In particular, talking about the idea that the problem is social has been very helpful as it almost created a sense of relief for a young adult I was working with. For a long time, this young adult believed that she had a problem of procrastination as she struggled to complete tasks, and the effects this had on her school work and her hopes for herself. As we explored the things that excited her, this young 16 year old, started identifying things that interested her that she was able to do despite the procrastination such as certain school assignments. On exploring what these assignments were, we were able to place her problem in the larger context of the schooling system and how it functioned that was actually aiding to the problem of procrastination, stripping her of the joy of learning. This led us to an enriching discussion about the ideas she had for a schooling system and led her to penning her ideas of what a teacher should do. This distancing of the problem and placing it in a larger context, allowed this young adult to explore her dreams and hopes for the future without procrastination.
    Understanding culture

    Through this last set of readings, I am also reminded of turning a watchful eye inwards to the language I use as well as being mindful to the language that people use so that I don’t impose my ways of working upon those I work with. To listen to the different ‘languages’ that are shared with me. 

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