Collaboration & Accountability

Narrative practices respect people as the experts of their own lives. As such, our expertise is not in how we deliver ‘interventions’, but in how we provide a context, through a scaffolding of questions, that makes it possible for people to become more aware of their own skills and knowledges and how to use these to address difficulties they may be facing.

We have included here a diverse collection of resources about the sorts of collaborations that are a key aspect of narrative practice.



Amanda Worrall is a mental health nurse in the Northern Territory (Australia). This presentation tells the story of how June and Amanda found ways to use externalising conversations to name and speak about social paranoia (SP). It also describes the ways in which these conversations enabled June to reclaim her life from the effects of paranoia. This presentation was filmed at Dulwich Centre at the International Spring Festival of Narrative Practice that took place from September 21-23, 2011.


Narrative therapy and community work practices engage what has come to be called a ‘Decentred and Influential’ position from which we can work with people. In this extract, Michael White describes this therapeutic posture.

Michael White Workshop Notes

The Four Quadrants

  De-Centered Centered
Influential De-centered and influential (potentially invigorating of a therapist) Centered and influential (potentially burdening of therapist)
Non-influential De-centered and non-influential (potentially invalidating of therapist) Centered and non-influential (potentially exhausting of therapist)

It is the intention of the therapist to take up a “decentred and influential” posture in conversations had with the people who consult them – to develop therapeutic practices that make it possible for him/her to occupy the top-left quadrant. The notion “decentred” does not refer to the intensity of the therapist’s engagement (emotional or otherwise) with people seeking consultation, but to the therapist’s achievement in according priority to the personal stories and to the knowledges and skills of these people. In regard to the personal stories of people’s lives, in the context of this achievement, these people have a “primary authorship” status, and the knowledges and skills that have been generated in the history of their lives are the principal considerations.

The therapist is influential not in the sense of imposing an agenda or in the sense of delivering interventions, but in the sense of building a scaffold, through questions and reflections, that makes it possible for people to:

a) more richly describe the alternative stories of their lives,

b) step into and to explore some of the neglected territories of their lives, and to

c) become more significantly acquainted with the knowledges and skills of their lives that are relevant to addressing the concerns, predicaments and problems that are at hand.



In this paper by Sue Mann we examine ways of documenting that draw on collaborative practices, with particular reference to writing medical records.

‘Collaborative representation: Narrative ideas in practice’ | Sue Mann


The Just Therapy Team, from The Family Centre, Wellington, New Zealand, consists of Warihi Campbell, Kiwi Tamasese, Flora Tuhaka and Charles Waldegrave. Their highly respected work, which involves a strong commitment to addressing issues of culture, gender and socio-economic disadvantage, has come to be known as Just Therapy. These practitioners and their work significantly influenced narrative therapy and community work responses to accountability.

Extract from ‘Just Therapy’

This presentation by Tileah Drahm-Butler 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 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.

Decolonising Identity Stories | Tileah Drahm-Butler





For Reflection


In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?


What might make it hard to enter into these practices?


If these ways of working fit for you, what next steps could you take to build partnerships/collaborations in your work?



Please now join with others in reflecting on these questions and other wonderings below! Please include where you are writing from (City and Country). Thanks!

This Post Has 169 Comments

  1. David Clayton

    Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

    I had entered in collaboration during meetings, projects and assignments before. I believe what had made these collaborations possible was the willingness to accept everyone for what they bring i.e., different perspectives, skills, knowledge and life experiences were brought into the conversation. I also think that groups work well, when organically they involve differences. Not when they are pre-chosen to include a rata system.

    I think what could be hard when entering into these practices could be when there is a great dynamic happening, it might become difficult for the leader or facilitator to manage a contrast of personalities or personality conflicts. It might also become harder to measure when accurately trying to adhere to a whole group i.e., we need to make x and y arrangements for someone. Sometimes people default to adherence of the majority over individualising the meeting to meet every singe person’s needs and requirements. I would definitely need to be aware that this could also cause discrimination and probably do what I need to do to meet other’s requirements/support needs.

    I think that it would definitely work in my practice. I am a social worker and usually there are conferences, meetings and other types of group based arrangements involve being able to understand each role in the room, so that goals are met. As well as understanding the sensitivities that are required, so that these events are inclusive.

  2. Steven Colbran

    In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?
    Every day is a new and exciting collaboration that brings value to clients and it has been made possible by being open and transparent with services and clients, as well as a team full of passionate colleagues.

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?
    When one is not accepted or known to the people you want to collaborate with, or when it is a matter of putting the client first and protecting them, collaboration can be an upheaval for the individual.

    If these ways of working fit for you, what next steps could you take to build partnerships/collaborations in your work?
    It really is all about relationships and stories. Being open and just listening, non-judgemental listening, empathy and support.

    Steven Colbran
    Mackay QLD

  3. Kylie Webster

    In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible? Any therapy session that we enter into is a collaboration with the client and is dependent on the client sharing their knowledge of themselves in a meaningful way in order to facilitate self-healing. The client is the expert in their own lives and it is through our collaboration that healing is possible.
    What might make it hard to enter into these practices? It would be very difficult without the valuable input and sharing of their stories of our clients to enter into a truly collaborative approach to therapy sessions.
    If these ways of working fit for you, what next steps could you take to build partnerships/collaborations in your work? This approach can be expanded to include the people that we work with and provide a meaningful approach to truly assisting the clients.

Leave a Reply