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 19 Comments

  1. You are deadly Tileah Drahm-Butler. Seriously, I am an emerging social worker and would like to state your video was very helpful to find my journey. Decolonisation works with being culturally safe to express your true spirit.

  2. I enjoyed Tileah’s presentation and how important it is to separate the developmental theme, such as shame, from the individual. Self-blame and self-shame have the potential to impact on how a person perceives themselves and their opportunities in life. Honouring the resistance of ancestors is a very powerful tool for Indigenous people and seeing this in a positive light, is also enlightening.

  3. Narrative therapy, which can also be called as the yarning, is providing us a space to reduce our stigma and shame to face our problems. They help us externalize the problems instead of internalizing the problems. Its a kind of a good way to be the outsider of ourselves, and let things go. It is thought-provoking for real!

  4. I was deeply moved by the concept of ‘survivance’, how we can both survive and resist and how that is often forgotten in many modern therapy practices.

  5. As an educator and life writing facilitator, This session renewed my daily practice of inviting people to tell their stories from a strength perspective, of examing the layers of other stories that lie behind the stories. I love the idea of decolonizing practices as a journey. Working from a decolonizing perspective, we have to see our practice as entanglements, as continuous moments of arrivals and departures in relationship with other people and their journeys.
    Thank you Tileah Drahm-Butler

  6. I haven’t heard the phrase “decolonising practice” before. I am very grateful to have heard this perspective

  7. I found this section so powerful. Often as an Aboriginal counsellor myself, I find myself reflecting on how it feels to walk in both worlds. I deeply consider my practice and ask myself am I delivering a culturally grounded service or am I being steered by the dominant western discourse? This chapter affirmed to me that decolonising practice is something that is happening daily and through simple acts such as holding space for understanding mob, family, totems and other significant cultural information – this is decolonising practise at work.

  8. Listening to Tileah I was provoked to contemplate my own use of language when working with clients. I enjoy the narrative model of practice and I am aware that for some there is definitely stigma attached to the process of counselling or therapy. I have only had one experience of working with an Indigenous person as a client and I will be sure to look at my use of language. I like the idea of it just being a yarn, it takes the pressure and onus off of the client to do something.

  9. Thank you so much Tileah! I’ve also purchased your book. As a Badimaya woman (Aboriginal), who also happens to be a Counsellor and
    Equine Assisted Psychotherapist, holding supportive space for yarning to occur for not just Indigenous peoples but the wider commmunity is a wonderful space to re-story a problem saturated narrative to one of strength and resilience. Thank you for your presentation.

  10. Thank you Tileah for sharing your experience and knowledge. One thing that struck me was the importance of using appropriate language when working in the community services sector and with Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Using the correct language is important for example, when I support people recovering from mental illness the approach is recovery focused rather than clinical and person centred. Such a helpful video, thank you!

  11. I love the reminder about the lens of “Survivance”. Working in often deficits based systems, it is easy to get swept away from the stories which make us stronger. Thank you.

  12. I absolutely love that Migration of Identity map in the example about Etta. What a simple but powerful visual to be able to reference – and something that can be used in so many scenarios, not just in therapy! Definitely want to learn more about that technique.

  13. I absolutely love the Migration of Identity map that was adapted. So client focused! This seems like the best way to work with all types of folks.
    Also, more to the effects of colonialism…how we understand colonialism and its subsequent effects, definitely changes everything. Suddenly, a person can re-characterize themselves!

  14. From personal experiences if non-Indigenous “Helpers” in therapy do not know the history of colonisation than they could possibly do more damage. It is very important to know the impact of colonisation to better understand the compounded trauma of Indigenous people.

  15. I am interested in how I as a worker facilitate conversation and use/manage my power. I have observed a particular look or shake of the head with an Aboriginal mum who talks to me when things are not going well for her, she wants to talk, but some of her story is not for me. She takes the lead in the decisions on which parts of the story to tell. There is still plenty of room for the double story and this is helpful with the shame narrative.

  16. This is so helpful and will definitely affect my work with people – sometimes an Aboriginal mum is referred to me when her kids have been removed and she is to do a parenting course (Circle of Security) with me…just do the course – get the certificate is what they want. I’ve never just done the course, like that but this teaching here is helping me see even more how ‘damaged’ and how that’s a colonised way of doing things and how she is deemed to have a problem – I always bring it back to the collective, the intergenerational trauma, try to externalise the shame etc..but what is offered here is really deepening my understanding and sensitivity to this area of work.

  17. This is fantastic. Often I feel ill-equipped in terms of how to relate to young people from Indigenous communities who contact me for counselling. Understanding what can be seen as colonised language is such an important first step for me in this course!

  18. I have several issues come up recently in my life that have been deeply entrenched in colonialism … I try now to use narrative as a form of self care and resistance both personally and in my arts practice .. I have also engaged with a narrative therapist

  19. In just one chapter of the book, I have become more aware about culturally sensitive therapies. In particular, asking the client to define their problem and what that means to them was very helpful. I am curious to learn more and to feel more confident in this approach.

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