Critical Thinking

In this chapter we take a look at the ways critical thinking can contribute to our practice. Narrative practices invite us to be curious about where our ideas come from and their effects. Here we look at some of the theoretical assumptions of narrative practice, ways we can strengthen our critical thinking, and how this can influence our work.

 


 

Critical does not mean destructive, but only willing to examine what we sometimes presuppose in our way of thinking, and that gets in the way of making a more livable world”

Judith Butler reference

This paper by Mary Heath begins by defining critical thinking and setting out a personal history of the author’s journey toward becoming a critical thinker. Some dimensions of critical thinking are outlined, together with questions which might allow readers to apply them to specific contexts.

Critical Thinking | Mary Heath

 


 

An invitation to talk about privilege from Salome Raheim

The relations and practices of power that influence our lives are often invisible to us. If we do not proactively look at how relations of power operate to create advantages for some and deny these advantages to others, it hinders our work as therapists and community practitioners. Without examining the operations of privilege, we are unable to see the circumstances that create constraints on other people’s lives. We are unable to appreciate their daily efforts to work and live in the context of these constraints, or to resist them.

Furthermore, we are unable to see how our lives are made easier. We think that the ease with which we are able to operate in the world is the norm and become oblivious to the fact that everybody’s life is not like our own.

What is more, unless we routinely examine the operations of power and our place within these operations, we fail to notice how we are liable to inadvertently impose our expectations, our cultural ways, our ways of thinking, on the people with whom we work. These impositions tend to diminish those who consult us, and they are destructive to the good work that we wish to accomplish.

This examination and deconstruction of the operations of privilege improves our practice as therapists and community workers. It is only when we recognise what people are up against that we can notice and invite people to richly describe their stories of resistance. It is only in examining the operations of privilege that we can become more aware of the potential for our practice to have negative consequences of inadvertently marginalising and diminishing people’s lives and subordinating their stories.

This work has a particular resonance for those of us who are from marginalised groups. Examining the operations of power and privilege renders visible the constraints upon our lives. It helps us to understand that these constraints are not due to individual deficits, group deficits, or cultural deficits. The problem is not located within us. This lessens the influence of shame and makes resistance more possible.

In the following pages, we have enclosed a range of exercises that we hope will assist in exploring these issues further.

Please open this new page to read on.. : An invitation to narrative practitioners to address privilege and dominance

 


Narrative Therapy and Community work are considered Postmodern and Post-structuralist in theoretical orientation. Here Leonie Thomas helps us make sense of what this might mean and focuses on a few areas of Post-structuralism while offering some answers to commonly asked questions.

Leonie Thomas Post-structuralism Reading


 

 

For Reflection

What does ‘critical thinking’ mean to you?

 

How might your practice be different on account of your engagement with these materials?

 

Do you have any stories or sayings that keep you connected to ‘critical thinking’?

 


 

Please now respond to these questions in the forum below! Please include where you are writing from (City and Country). Thanks!


This Post Has 127 Comments

  1. Veronica Figarella

    I believe critical thinking requires being a constant observer of what is happening to me, and to the person who is consulting, during a therapy session. I feel encourage to be even more open to the ways a person feels about telling their story and being even more careful about the objective the person wants to achieve in a consultation. This material on privilege has helped me to be even more observant of my reactions, or lack of them, to people´s problems and concerns, and has inspired me to be more open and compassionate in my sessions.

  2. Anita

    Critical thinking is understanding through a lens that is informed by an open and genuinely curious mind.
    The project on addressing privilege and dominance was insightful and provocative and really made me examine the words power and privilege deeply, both as an individual and a professional. Just being cognizant of critical thinking , privilege and understanding the context of narrative therapy in post structuralism is helpful to introspecting about who you are as a therapist and is bound to change you in some way.

  3. Mercy Shumbamhini

    I am Mercy Shumbamhini, from Harare, Zimbabwe. I appreciate Mary Heath’s article on critical thinking and I liked the inclusion of her own story and personal experiences. For me critical thinking is about having an open mind, open heart and open will. It is the ability to listen to others without judging them, the ability to download past patterns and ideas and to see the world with fresh eyes and wonder. Critical thinking has made me reflect on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. Coronavirus has not only harnessed a new sense of solidarity in our world today but has also exposed social structures and hierarchies that place marginalized populations/societies/communities in harm’s way. From the project on addressing privilege and dominance as a practitioner, I feel that I am invited to co-create with others a warm and caring community where everyone feels accepted and at home. Thomas Leonies’ article on Post-structuralism is very significant and it challenges me as a therapist to question the taken-for-granted ideas and assumptions in my society.

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