Documenting people’s skills and knowledge

Introducing documentation

Tileah Drahm-Butler

Living in the shadow of genocide: what sustains us

This video is a collective narrative document that honours the skills of  counsellors and assistant lawyers of Ibuka (‘Remember’) which is a genocide survivors association in Rwanda.

Please also read these letters written between Rwandan, Jewish and Aboriginal  counsellors:

Strengthening Resistance: The use of narrative practices in working with genocide survivors

An encyclopedia of young people’s skills and knowledge

In narrative therapy and community work, we try to document people’s skills and knowledge. We do this in lots of different ways! Here is an example of a a recent project that documented the skills and knowledge of diverse groups of young people in many different ways … writing, video and songs!

Encyclopedia of young people’s life-saving tips 

Documents in therapy

Eileen Hurley (USA) tries to assist young people in jails to create ‘non-criminal records’ through narrative documentation.

Establishing non-criminal records, International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work


A booklet of women’s stories

A collective booklet from women who are survivors of domestic violence – a presentation from Natalie Smee


Sometimes songs can play a powerful part in narrative practice. Here’s a song that was generated from a narrative gathering in Narrandera Koori community:

We remember those who’ve left us

Closing words from Tileah

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. deborah dowsett

    this module really resonated with me and I enjoyed so many aspects of what I watched and heard, it even gave me ideas on a different approach in what I do working with those impacted by addiction and mental health.

  2. marlene

    I worked with a community who were living in the shadow of the Apartheid war, on the borders between Botswana, Namibia and Angola during the 1990s and early millenium years. It is so interesting that the young man’s testimony on the video speaks the same language.
    I think the same process is useful for people form other walks of life, wether they have been through a divorce, lost a child or suffered from depression. What I most appreciate about this section, is its raw humanity – we are different, but our pain is the same.

    When we communicate with each other on this deeply honest level, we are able to transcend boundaries and meet in our common humanity.

  3. petronela

    I am currently working at an organization where we do group therapy and we use the Tree of Life methodology. The last part of the methodology is called “celebration” where we hand out certificates to the participants and one of the things that are recorded on the certificates is “Skills and Knowledges” of the participants. clients say their skills and knowledges during the “telling sessions” and we note them and record them on their certificates. We do this so that the clients can always go back to the certificates and remind themselves of their skills and knowledges and we have a hope that the feeling they get will help them to want to do better in their lives and also know that they are capable.

  4. Rhianne

    Rhianne – Brisbane, Australia
    I found the article ‘Establishing non-criminal records’ really powerful. I have worked in the Youth Justice system in Queensland and so have seen the power labels, court reports and lengthy charge sheets. I hadn’t thought about the impact non-criminal, more hopeful documents could have. But it makes sense.

  5. Samara

    This section was so powerful and it was such a honour to be able to read the stories and experiences of different groups of people. A big thank you to everyone who shared and contributed to this section! It was really broadened my understanding of the different ways/forms of documenting people’s skill and knowledge and the impact this can have. Such a powerful tool for highlight resilience, resistance, and strength.

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