Decolonising identity stories

Decolonising practice

An introduction from Tileah Drahm-Butler

Decolonising Identity Stories

Tileah Drahm-Butler discusses how narrative therapy can be used as a decolonising practice.

 

 

Now you can read Tileah’s chapter on the same topic:

Decolonising identity stories: Narrative practice through Aboriginal eyes

This chapter is from the book Aboriginal narrative practice: Honouring Storylines of price, strength and creativity by Barbara Wingard, Carolynanha Johnson and Tileah Drahm-Butler

Closing words from Tileah


This Post Has 28 Comments

  1. Thank you so much Tileah for sharing your ideas so sensitively – it was so powerful hearing you describing ways you have helped thicken preferred stories for your mob and using “yarning with a purpose” to invite the wisdoms of the elders into your lives. Those stories that you are giving audience to certainly encourage individual and collective pride in indigenous heritage and step away from shame and medicalised accounts of people’s lives which are so damaging. Honouring our ancestors and heritage and telling stories in ways that make us stronger resonates for me so much in my own culture as a Jewish 2nd generation Holocaust survivor. Shining a light on stories of resistance and appreciation of family and community has informed so much of who I am today. Allowing individuals and communities to be experts in their own lives and using definitional ceremony to create audiences to these practices is so valuable.

  2. Found this chapter quite powerful too. The concept of “survivance.” So much is laid on us as individuals healing and dealing with mental health issues. I find comfort and space in naming that these are structural issues of adaptation, survival and defiance or resistance. I look forward to learning more about how practically-speaking to yarn with a purpose and affirm in ways that resonate with people. It must take time and delicate holding to shift how we see these things together.

  3. Tileah, I learned quite a bit in your chapter about yarning and doing this work in a culturally appropriate way. I was especially interested in your discussion of shame. In my work as an educator and historian, I often speak to students who feel great shame and label it as such that they have lost their mother language and cultural practices. They feel inferior and less than. Often when I describe the history of oppression and colonization, the ways in which societal institutions (especially schools) made a project out of cutting them, their parents and grandparents, off from our culture, they tell me their shame diminishes because they see it is not “them” who are to blame. The idea of “the problem is the problem; the person is not the problem” resonates do deeply with my experiences as a teacher and historian. Thank you.

  4. Thank you Tileah for providing such important understanding around the experience of therapy/counselling being seen as ‘colonising’, which fails to consider or recognise how the Aboriginal people have been treated and forces them to attend counselling which further reinforces this experience of disempowerment. I’m now able to see the importance of using ‘yarning’ to have conversation which brings meaning-making to their stories, without focusing on the damage-centred story which is based on stereotypes of poverty and incarceration and is often the most accessible to aboriginal people.

  5. Thanks so much Tileah for the yarn about decolonising practice. It had never occurred to me to use the work ‘counselling’ with my clients in Cape York communities for the one of the reasons you had identified: that there is a stigma around accessing counselling. Often in case planning meetings it would be listed as a requirement for parents to attend counselling however I would always organise a time to take the counsellor out to meet the family and when I would introduce them I would say ‘This is ___ they are here to yarn to you about anything that is giving you stress, making you sad or to help understand everything that is going on’. I’d talk to them about how hard it is to be dealing with Child Safety and that it’s important for them to get their family and people like ___ (the counsellor) around them to help them so they don’t feel like they’re doing it all on their own’. I also love the idea of externalising the problem and the shame and exploring when it has and hasn’t been there in the past.

  6. Thank you Tileah for sharing your idea of de-colonised practice, there were some new concepts for me. For people sent for mandatory therapy you suggest ÿarning with a purpose”; and for sitting with people with “damage centred stories”, you suggest giving them the power to determine what well-being means for them. Empowerment as a result of a de-colonised approach allows for political action and spiritual practice.

  7. Thank you Tileah for sharing your idea of de-colonised practice, there were some new concepts for me. For people sent for mandatory therapy you suggest ÿarning with a purpose”; and for sitting with people with “damage centred stories”, you suggest giving them the power to determine what well-being means for them. Empowerment as a result of a de-colonised approach allows for political action and spiritual practice.

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