Documents & Audiences

Posted by on Jul 7, 2015 in Uncategorised | 154 comments

Narrative practices have a rich history of creating and sharing documents and engaging audiences. Here we look at a number of different ways of doing this!

Image from Shaun Tan’s book – The Red Tree

One of the early defining characteristics of narrative therapy was the creative use of documentation or the written word.

In this video presentation, David Newman describes the ways in which he is using living documents with young people in an inpatient ward.   

Further reading:

Here is an earlier paper by David Newman describing his use of the written work within narrative therapeutic practice: Rescuing the said from the saying of it by David Newman



This paper illustrates how we can use four different categories of document. Examples of each of the following documents are offered and the author also shares some of his experiences, dilemmas and learnings in creating therapeutic documentation.

Letters recording a session

Documents of knowledge and affirmation

News documents &

Documents to contribute to rites of passage

Using Therapeutic Documents Hugh Fox 



Ncazelo Nucbe-Mlilo is a Zimbabwean psychologist and narrative therapist living and working in South Africa. Here, she introduces the ‘Narratives in the suitcase’ project which seeks to use journey metaphors and creative documentation to assist child refugees.

This work is inspired by the work of Glynis Clacherty and The Suitcase Project (see link below). It also draws upon ideas from Sherri Osborn.




In this paper we read responses to the following 8 questions.

1. What is meant by the term outsider witness?

2. Why is it important for there to be witnesses to preferred stories?

3. What is the history of these ideas and ways of working?

4. What are definitional ceremonies?

5. What sort of responses do outsider witnesses make?

6. What are some of the common hazards of outsider-witness practice and how can these be avoided? Do you have any helpful hints about these?

7. What are the different contexts in which outsider-witness work takes place?

8. What do you enjoy most about outsider-witness practices?

Marilyn O’Neill, Hugh Fox, Gaye Stockell, Anne Schober, Jeff Zimmerman, Emily Sued & Dirk Kotzé all provided material which Maggie Carey, Shona Russell compiled and which David Denborough’s editing and writing brought together in the following article.

Outsider Witness Practices Paper 




For Reflection


What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?


Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?



Have any of these questions got you hooked? Have you got another question you would like to pose to those joining you in this online learning? Please let us know below! Please include where you are writing from (City and Country). Thanks!



    I enjoyed hearing David Newman’s thoughts on “Rescuing the said from saying it.” We often use this principle in our work with informal caregivers for individuals with a diagnosis of any form of dementia. When we first make contact with these individuals/families, we typically send our information regarding the specific form of dementia diagnosed as well other information we believe would be helpful for this specific family. We also suggest that no more than 2 of these documents be read at one time and that this reading take place before 6 p.m. as we have heard from other caregivers reading more than 2 items can be overwhelming and sleep can be difficult if this information is read too late in the day.

    I find this practice relates to Hugh Fox’s use of letters to his clients; many clients have told us that it has been very helpful to be able to review these documents, much like Hugh reviews, through his letters, what has happened in session with his clients. We have always taken these steps from a practical/informational perspective; I think it would be very helpful if we started doing this with our clients from a relational perspective as well.


    I loved the information and suggestions included in Carey and Russell’s paper on outsider-witness practices. There are a number of principles that I want to share with colleagues!!

    This statement by Hugh Fox particularly resonated with me on both personal and professional levels: “Narrative practice is founded on the idea that the stories that we tell about ourselves are not private and individual but are a social achievement.”

    I recently underwent a complicated hip surgery and have seen a myriad of medical professionals through this process. As I met with these various individuals, it was important to me that these professionals thought well of me and considered me to have reached “social achievement.”

    Professionally, I am thinking of the wide variety of clients with whom I interact and how I often sense they wish to be considered to have reached “social achievement.”

    It is my hope that I can create a non-judgment environment with clients in which they feel they have reached “social achievement.” This goes back to the tenet of “the person is not the problem; the problem is the problem.” I also want to create this type of caring environment for myself, within my own stories as well.

  2. This 3rd module of the introductory course has explained many things I didn’t understanding before in my more casual reading about Narrative Therapy.
    *Using Living Documents for “Assisting people to find their language through the language of others” is an idea that would work great with the youth I work with. They are not accustomed to creating original work, they use the internet to find ideas for any academic assignment and prefer to have a “correct” answer that already exists instead of trying to think of unique solutions with their own set of knowledges. I think that by having a living document with other youth who have contributed to it readily available for them to peruse, would help scaffold their own voices. I think seeing how what others wrote helped them would reassure them that their writing about their own skills and knowledge and experiences will not be for nothing: it will help other too.
    *I think I will try to encourage the students to create a text like this, perhaps about how they got through bullying, or how to navigate social media in a healthier way, or whatever concerns they think would be best addressed. Reading “Holding Our Heads Up: Sharing stories not stigma after losing a loved one to suicide” was a heartbreakingly beautiful example of sharing skills and knowledge used to get through painful experiences.
    *I never thought of writing letters to recap a session, and I like this idea, especially the reminder that we need to negotiate how the letter will be used so it just doesn’t remain unopened or in the garbage.
    *” The Narratives in A Suitcase story” was great, as I mentioned in comments on the previous module, I am very interested in the relationship between NT and Arts Therapy. Metaphors reminds me a lot of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (which I am NOT well read on yet), is there a connection between ACT & NT too? Taking the suitcase metaphor further by Mapping of the Journey and having a Story Circle (which brings in outsider witness practices right?) ensures their stories are truly enriched and thickened and help others as well as themselves.
    *Finally, I knew nothing about Outsider Witness before. I always believed “It takes a village to raise a child”, and I guess, as is quoted at the end of the article “It takes an audience to solve a problem”. I will need to practice this much more, as I never thought of therapy in this way (I’m new to counselling) but I love that it creates accountability, creates a link to “real life”, that the preferred story becomes more authentic, gets us out of our head, and gives a feeling of being helpful.
    Leah, Canadian in Cairo.

  3. The different mediums of documentation reminds me of the various mediums of community storytelling – which is narrative therapy in a group setting. The incorporation of outside witness within this process makes documentation even more potent. I really love this idea of documentation for it will serve as a positive reminder. This is especially important when the person is having a crisis or is experiencing a trigger.

  4. I found the practice of outside witness amazing and powerful when have someone with similar experience and witness the therapeutic process. I believe that not only the person consulting therapy being helped in the process. The outsider witness is being helped too, that may further strengthen their beliefs. Amazing

  5. This section made me understand the great benefits i received from taking my family to the Bouverie Centre in Melbourne for family therapy. In the sessions i had there i was at first very surprised by sitting in a room in which there were five therapists behind one-way glass in another room as i talked with my family to one therapist in the room with me. The feedback i received from the therapists gave me a tremendous amount of energy and i felt very loved in a way i had never experienced in therapy. It was such a support and somehow an honour to be the focus of so many people’s attention at one time. I went for four sessions and came away with new ways of thinking about my family as well as pointers for how to re-imagine my history in a new positive light.

    I also found the suitcase project very inspiring and am thinking of how to adapt it to the people i work with in the “disability” field. Many clients come to the centre who have very limited ways of expressing their individual stories or any way to communicate what their lives are beyond the centre in which they find themselves. Small books that are sometimes made of “who they are” are usually treasured with great pride by the clients who show eagerness to have that focus on themselves and to be able to share that. The suitcases would provide a tool to develop that reservoir of information in a more sensory, more delightful and hopefully enjoyable form in opposition to a “book” which sometimes seems depersonalising and formal, almost negatively bureaucratic.

  6. As an AOD Clinician offering counselling sessions for those with substance dependence issues, the Certificate of Abstinence or Reduction can be utilised to acknowledge their efforts and achievements. It might be possible to change the colour of the certificate depending on the number of days of their maintenance of abstinence or reduction.

    The idea I got from this lesson is that I could create documents for my clients or encourage them to keep the journal of their change and include other people surrounding them. I would have to discuss matters in relation to confidentiality and organisational policies, however, can offer the chance to my clients at least.

  7. As I work on-line, as part of the relationship building with my clients, I set each of them up with a private facebook group with me. It’s their space – they use it in a variety of ways. Some use it to outline their situations and the work they wish to do with me, before we meet for our first session. It is also used to post session summaries, I do the summaries initially, but as the client becomes more comfortable and confident, they begin to post their own summaries. I find it a useful tool to see what resonated with the client. The clients can also use this to post memes or articles, I also will also post things I think are useful or supportive. I find it helps the client to feel ‘held’ in between sessions. They can also reach out in times of crisis. The comments I have received have been overwhelmingly positive – one client who had been working with a psychologist for years prior to working with me noted she felt more accountable. She was aware of the work between sessions and continued to work on things, whereas before she had walked out of the session and forgotten about what was discussed til the next session.

    I wasn’t following a theoretical framework when I decided to work this way. It was reassuring to go through this module and find one.

  8. This chapter was enlightening for me as it bought clarity on the importance to where the outsider witness/es are pivotal in ensuring insight for a written narrative to be a true reflection and where support is on track to nurture positive outcomes. Also the positive aspect where written documents can help in so many ways.

  9. Pedro Betancor, Spain.
    What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?

    In my context, working with people with Schizophrenia, I guess that letters could be the most relevant and resonant aspect to use. Different types, showing who they are, what they want, welcoming or saying goodbye.

    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?

    Watching the video about “Narratives in the suitcase”, an idea came out to my mind related to psychomotor activities. Usually, I work using techniques that make the clients write, paint, cut and paste, and use their psychomotor skills, but I didn’t realise until now that this can be used to create their “Narrative Stories”. The video was revealing to me.

  10. Astrid from Amsterdam. Although I have used session notes with counselling clients in the past succesfully now ideas come up in how to rephrase parenting agreements we draft more focused on intention and recognition than just focussing on agreements made and potentially even a news document that could be shared with the children. Also the suitcase work may be done in a varied way when working with children of seperated parents, it will be interesting to see if we expand the metaphore of a new journey after separation into one where the children feel much better packed.

  11. I’m amazed at how much success patients attribute to the therapeutic letters. They consider it to be equal to 3 face to face visits or 70% of their clinical success!

  12. My name is Joy and I’m currently living in the Wheatbelt, WA.
    I find documentation and outside witnesses really interesting and an important part of Narrative Therapy. There are so many different types of documentation but I find in current reflection that the ability to have something tangible to come out of the sessions to be a potentially very powerful tool. Even a small document produced in conjunction with a client can then lead to something that is a good reminder but also something that can be revised and edited as goals and circumstances change. Or even as a reminder of how far someone has come.
    As for the outside witnesses, I feel like I still need to dive deeper into this and understand more about their role. I see the benefits of bringing others in to support and encourage but I also see potential struggles if those being brought in are not understanding or willing to participate in positive ways. I’m also wondering about this in an Aboriginal context but hopefully that will be covered in the Aboriginal Narrative Therapy course. Definitely more to contemplate and explore here.
    I’m continually encouraged by the flexibility of this practice to be able to be molded into different contexts. From David Newman’s use to living documents to Ncazelo Nucbe-Mlilo and the suitcase project. Each of these is documentation but done in a way that is beneficial and appropriate to their own contexts. I’m excited to start exploring some of the ways to work this into my current context.

  13. Singapore

    HOME is a shelter where foreign workers find refuge while claiming for lost compensation/ unfair dismissal. While enjoying free meals and board, they unfortunately have no legal status in the country, are subject to curfews, and restricted from employment. This all adds to a deep sense of displacement, and many lose their identity while caught in the bureaucracy and the waiting.

    That time could be put to use in creating documents which witness their resoluteness to fight for what they believe is rightfully theirs, and thickens their own story – often centered around love and sacrifice to provide for their families.

    These could be artistic endeavors (like the suitcase), song or poetry – shaped during their commitment to patient endurance of due process. Those documents may also function as an alternative kind of ‘outsider witness’ to encourage others who later come into the shelter under similar circumstances.

    Produced during the time and space of their agonizing wait, the document serves as a permanent marker which validates their existence in an otherwise transient place which will often forget them after they are gone.

  14. Hi, Cordet from the UK again. I am finding that these new ideas are coming more quickly, and it is reminding me of practices that I have been involved in. I love the letter writing idea, and this is not something that I have used, but I am considering getting students to use to themselves, about their own learning. There are so many thoughts from this module – I loved the creativeness of the suitcase, and the simultaneous metaphore of journey and narrative, and the careful way in which this seemed to develop alternative stories for those in the workshops. I am also inspired to do more group work, as I can see that these group connections might be exceptionally validating.

    Finally, I would like to comment on the outsider witness paper, which I enjoyed, having worked in reflecting teams, but was interested in its extension to use lots of different people who might have similar experiences. Again, I was intrigued by the connections, but also a little struck by the skills that may be required in order to manage disclosures in this way. The balance of this is something that I will continue to reflect on.


    What forms of documentation…

    Right now, I am inspired. Realising that being flexible and adaptable to the individual or group using this brilliantly obvious methodology is where its power lies. The ‘suitcases’ being a great example of this adaptation. Taking what is offered, and drawing the best out of it to help with what needs to be achieved. All of this info is relevant to the therapeutic alliance, and a very worthy vehicle to ease the journey of empowered healing, forward movement and growth… (Creating a lotta peace too!!!)

    Are there particular ideas or practices…

    My toolbox has increased.
    The use of documents that can be constantly referred to, daily reinforcing the chosen desire to be accomplished can be used in a 5 minute session on the street with a stranger (if pen n paper is on hand), through to a fully blown counselling session.
    Powerful stuff!!!
    I guess that I’ve realised that I am an outsider witness even without importing an outsider, and reading the hazards to being an outsider witness cuts close to bone of being an effective listener, so it’s not so much as what I would draw on, but the changes that have taken place in my being from the exposure to this work; influencing my future.
    Thank you!

  16. Jerusalem, Israel
    In my work with adolescents an overriding theme has been, ‘People don’t get the real me’. In narrative terms, ‘people only see this theme of my life, which has come in and taken over my life’. The message of, ‘I really want the ‘real me’ to be seen by others and for the ‘real me’ to connect with others’ has been an underlying message. As such the concept of documents has really resonated with me as a way of helping a client facilitate connection of the ‘real me’ with others, in a way that is not confrontational and can be done on their terms. In particular the idea of a Document of Circulation really struck a chord of allowing the ‘real me’ to share with others something that may not know about me because of an alternative theme.
    Letter writing has also been something that has resonated with me, especially as something to use in a case where a client moved to another country. Giving him something in a tangible form that allows me to share my thoughts of the meeting is for me showing, showing the client that you made an impression on me and that even when we’re not sitting with each other, I have thought about you.
    I am fascinated by the concept of outside witnesses. This is something that I really want to incorporate into my work. The idea that we can bring non professionals into the room in a non-judgemental way, purely to hang out with the emotions of another and explain the impression that these emotions have made on them is phenomenal. For me the biggest thing in a therapy room is opening the terminals of connection, in directly teaching a person the power of connecting with others in some way. Outside witness allows them to feel what it is like first hand. I am excited to explore this more.

  17. I was really inspired by Ncazelo Nucbe-Mlilo’s project called “Narratives in the suitcase.” She expressed how dominant stories of children as being “reckless,” “hopeless,” “good for nothing” can be limiting and very thin understanding of their lives. Through this project, it seems that these children were able to reconnect with their hopes and dreams, to become more aware of their skills and knowledges, to reflect on where they came from and where they are headed, to keep memories of family members close and their values, and to consider their future steps in realizing their dreams. I find all the questions asked in this video very useful for rich story development. I also believe that sharing stories, drawing pictures of their journey, and witnessing each other stories with facilitator can be very powerful experience that validates and acknowledges preferred identities and alternative stories.
    I think that using therapeutic documents can be very useful in endurance of alternative stories and preferred developments. I agree with Epston that, “…the words in a letter don’t fade and disappear the way conversation does; they endure through time and space, bearing witness to the work of therapy and immortalizing it.”

  18. Newman’s idea that spoken word can be a complex process of expression resonated with me. He mentions complexities and nuances, such as eye contact and pauses that are demanded from talking. Many individuals may find writing a more accessible form of therapy (rather than ‘talk therapy’). Newman’s point about written word being accessible for young people exemplifies this. Verbal expression may be less accessible for a young person who is navigating a problem in their life, along with understanding and developing their identity. ‘Juggling’ these aspects of growing up may better be expressed and interpreted through writing. I wonder whether talking about problems can create another problem? I suppose written word can be a way to truly hear others’ voices.
    Nina, Sydney, Australia

  19. Hello All;

    It is Shane again from Western Canada. Regarding the documentation I found the Documents of Knowledge to be particularly interesting. I can visualize the development of this type of document fitting well within the typical 50 – 60-minute therapy session and how it could be used to bolster client strengths. I visualize this as a therapist suggested but client lead activity which because of its collaborative nature could be used to strengthen the therapeutic relationship. Perhaps making it a useful action before engaging with more painful/challenging issues (Note: If anyone has insight on the validity of this idea it would be great to hear).

    Aside from the use of the Documents of Knowledge, I am intrigued by the various ways that outsider witnesses can be used to assist with re-enforcing developing narratives. Particularly the outsider witness approach of being more attuned to an individual’s preferred identity that emerges from the story they tell. Then engaging with that person in a manner that re-enforces that preferred identity, by sharing with the individual how their preferred identity has/had a positive impact on yourself. This will take some practice to incorporate into day-to-day communication but I’m excited to try.



  20. Hi Ann here from Ireland. I am not currently working in the area of therapy but I am mentoring. I find the outsider witness practice really helpful. It reminds me that the therapist and the outsider witness is not there to ‘solve a problem’ but to actively listen and and make links to our own lives. I have a lot to learn and I am really looking forward to continuing the course and reflecting on my own history and maybe even documenting some of my own personal stuff.

  21. What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?

    I loved the idea of a little card that you can put in your wallet or bag and look at when you need to remember your strenghts! And of course the outsider witnesses. I work more and more with witnesses around my client, and it is very powerful.

    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?
    I will write letters, for sure! In fact, I just realized how frustrated I was for not having received any feedback from my own therapist, many years ago….So, yes, I will offer that gift to my own clients.

  22. The outsider witness role in Narrative family therapy is pivotal as this enables the “thickening” and “validation” to the stories and difficulties expressed by the family.
    So glad I was involved years ago in Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Suffolk, England.

  23. Hi all, this is Alireza from Tehran, Iran.
    I really believe “Rescuing the said from the saying of it” enlightened me to make more documentation about the persons who come to consult with me. Writing records of the session as a letter can be a fascinating idea, I will try. I am convinced to reflect my ideas about the session and what I will hear across the talk will help people to take another point of view in their hands. This kind of therapeutic document will help them, not only in externalizing the problem but also to gain the sense of importance for the counselor. I mean, such letters can make them to know that they are important for the counselor why he/she is thinking about them, even in the absence.

  24. Hello, my name is Jade, and I’m a student in Spiritual Care & Psychotherapy based in Toronto, Canada.

    I absolutely loved the concepts presented in this chapter, and it sparks ideas of the many creative ways documentation can be used across a variety of settings.

    In particular, I do arts workshops and hope to eventually practice psychotherapy with the LGBTQ2SIA+ community here in Toronto, and I think the idea of “rescuing the said from the saying of it” is particularly resonant for me, working within (and being a member of myself) such marginalized communities that have experienced trauma.

    I find the idea of outsider witnesses especially empowering, as I tend to gravitate towards a peer-based, communal approach. I feel that outsider witnesses are a valuable tool I’d love to incorporate that into my future practice.

    The “narratives in a suitcase” project was especially poignant. After reflecting on everything in this module, it inspired me to think up ways I can incorporate documents into my work right now with the LGBTQ2SIA+ community, and in peer mental health support. I love the idea of tailoring the sorts of documents to the culture and life situations of the folks who create them. There is so much potential! It makes me think of “zines”, which are a popular form of expression in the Queer community here, where young people put art, poems, words, and instructions of self-care in a booklet, then self publish it to distribute to others who share similar experiences of sexuality, mental health, oppression, and trauma. I think it would be really neat to integrate collective narrative documents of these sorts with the medium of “zines”! When I get a better handle on narrative practice, I might like to try this.

    Thank you for providing this fantastic course— it gives me so much hope for the future, and I’m looking forward to diving into the next module.

  25. Greetings to all

    Feeling enriched by this chapter, and I love the engaging way of the conversations presented here, both in writing and on video. Reading/watching material presented in this personal way, makes studying these topics quite effortless, though I love it that the information provided is sometimes quite elaborate.

    The suitcase metaphor appealed to me, and I will keep that one in mind when talking to my colleague about our work with migrants ho experience marginalization here in the Netherlands.

    Also I liked the outsider witness practices and the emphasis on celebrating the clients live through acknowledgement of how preferred narratives have moved and enriched the witness.

    Thank you !

  26. Cheryl Penn, South Africa.
    The absolutely soulful images of Shaun Tan, lends credence to the notion that documentation is not just about writing and/or speaking, its also about producing images as documentation, no matter how naïve or unformed they may be. Stencils are easily made for those who feel they cant paint and the surprising thing is how individual each glyph is, as much as handwriting. Glyphs can also be so loaded and they offer immediate visual nudges which are often increasingly more emotive than words. Words, sometimes hastily written and written ‘the same’ are visually quite one dimensional in accessing creativity in order to solve problems. Further, I have also found that people are quite reticent to share written words, as though committing them to paper gives the emotion a notion of guilt – ‘what if someone else found this and read it’, whereas a glyph can actually have great meaning for the maker, allowing it to sit in the public space without giving the viewer too much information. Documentation in any format is a very valuable tool in therapy as the articles have expressed.

  27. In my current role, there is a large demand for administration and care coordination documentation and correspondence to be regularly sent. It has at times provided oppoopportunity to adapt this towards a more personalised and individual theraputic letter. I feel challenged to do this, yet affirmed by David’s words on the power of written language. I often spend lengthy periods trying to find the exact words or expression to articulate the right tone and meaning within correspondence to clients. The idea of inserting reflective questions to keep the collaborative spirit alive within correspondence.

    Wellness and Safety Plans are a tool I already use as a planning document, and they can be documents of knowledge or documents for circulation. I’m frequently looking for more ways to make these documents more client-centred and a process where they feel more engaged and better understood, rather than just a document that needs to be completed.

    In previous roles, I have utilised a peer worker as an outsider witness. This was a really effective use of a person with a lived experience in engaging clients and initiating deeper conversation about people’s experiences of managing their mental health. This resource is not as freely available in my current role, and it has left me aware of the value of an appropriate and skilled outsider witness.

  28. The absolutely soulful images of Shaun Tan, lends credence to the notion that documentation is not just about writing and/or speaking, its also about producing images as documentation, no matter how naïve or unformed they may be. I have devised a system of easily made stencils to depict emotion (I don’t make them, they are made by class participants), which as immediate visual nudges are often increasingly more emotive than words. Words, sometimes hastily written and written ‘the same’ are visually quite one dimensional in accessing creativity in order to solve problems. Further, I have also found that people are quite reticent to share written words, as though committing them to paper gives the emotion a notion of guilt – ‘what if someone else found this and read it’, whereas a glyph can actually have great meaning for the maker, allowing it to sit in the public space without giving the viewer too much information.

    Cheryl Penn
    South Africa

  29. This was a very interesting section. I will be making efforts to integrate outsider witnesses in upcoming sessions for sure as i do see the benefit of it. Our work involves a team approach so often outsider witnesses are formal supports such as other counselors, professionals etc. Finding informal witnesses may be challenging as often in our cases, the family all contribute to the client’s thin descriptions and are not seen as outsider witnesses. I think one thing to possibly discuss is changing the family’s role to that of witness which would then assist then in reframing and redefining the thin descriptions as well. Sorry thinking out loud 🙂

  30. This was very thought provoking. The outsider witness idea still seems a bit scary and difficult to me! But I love the idea of a letter summarising the work done together, and also a collection of documents of knowledges, I could imagine starting with something like that. Carmen from Sydney Australia.

  31. This is Paddy Farr again from Eugene Oregon USA. I have a few thoughts. In David Newman’s paper and talk above, he posits that therapists should recenter therapeutic discourse on the written word as a potential path out of common pitfalls. Newman work reminded me of Jacques Derrida’s recentering of the written word over the logocentrism of speech. From the letters of authors, explains Derrida, comes their death and life through the object. Moving out of this symbolic Death, I recalled the work of Judith Flores and Silvia Garcia on the testimonio with torture Survivors of the Pinochet regime. Together, the therapist and survivor would create a document as testimony against the regime wherein the survivor would tell the story of their torture. The death of the author becomes their immortality over the death of the regime.

  32. I love that clients get to ‘take home’ the therapeutic process, and it’s potential for ‘endurance.’

    The suitcase documentation is such a wonderful idea. I will be looking for ways to utilise something like this in the future.

    When I worked with teenage girls rescued from the sex trade, we had them document their life & transition with a map similar to Ncazelo Nucbe-Mlilo’s ‘Journey map’. At the end of several sessions of hard work, our girls asked if they could hang their beautifully coloured Life Paths next to their beds. Even though their histories were full of betrayal and sadness, they felt victorious and hopeful with their beautiful pieces and outcomes. We covered origins, places visited, places they still want to go, milestones achieved, storms (we externalised these times / events), ways they came through the storms, goals, possible obstacles ahead & ways to overcome those barriers, gifts received, ways they hope to grow, and areas they want to contribute to… We emphasised skills and knowledge learned, survival kit, core values, circle of support and obstacles overcome — all significant contributors to an overarching positive perspective of themselves and their future. We had also documented the ‘Tree of Life’ with them, so there were some repeated reflections.

    I am now working in a high school context, supporting 16-year-old boys as they document their journeys… Their reflections and discoveries have been both heartwarming and powerful. We are encouraging them to focus on character strengths and overcoming. The creative / sensory space is an enjoyable and non-threatening way to engage them in sharing their stories, processing their feelings, and projecting their forward choices. They have learned new things about each other and themselves. And will also have something to take home with accomplishment and pride.

    I have been so encouraged by the therapeutic benefits with this form of documentation.

    I appreciate how Esperance Munyarugerero mentioned that they brief the audience beforehand.

    (AJ — Sunshine Coast, Australia)

  33. Queenie from Manila Philippines here.

    I found the tip of using a document as a reminder extremely helpful. The case where the lady carries a small card in her wallet and reads and rereads her alternative story is particularly useful. Too often, people leave the counseling room happy and relieved, but are not able to continue this in their daily lives. Having a document to remind them would be most helpful. I immediately thought of a friend who would benefit from this practice.

    I also like the Narrative in Suitcases example. Children often find it hard to express their inner thoughts and creating a document which shows their hopes and dreams is a wonderful way to overcome this challenge. This is something I hope to apply in a similar way in the future.

  34. Finding out more about the different types of documentation as mentioned in Hugh Fox’s article has opened my thoughts on how I can apply this to my current work place practices. I seek to further explore the usage of “document of knowledge” for future clients as it provides them with physical evidence to refer back to in challenging times.

  35. I found this chapter very interesting! This, because of the usage of the therapeutic documents, in counselling context. At the same time I was reading this chapter, I was reading other book too about this same topic, and in it I found very interesting statements about the using of documents in therapy, and how this idea was brought to the narrative practices.

    The mind idea is that documentation always has been an importan vehicle to ”add” seriousness and respect to human deals and relatios. For instance, when a couple get married, a document is considered very importan to legitimize the union. When a lawyer comes with an arrest order to someone house’s the situation becomes more intriguin , and at last, if I buy a house or a car, I will want a ”paper” that states this good is mine.

    Coming back to our talk, it is very intelligent how authors of narrative practices noticed that, and included that way of legitimize into the counselling context. I like a lot how this way of work can improve therapeutic process, cutting the number of sessins used to deal with people’s problems.

    On the other hand, the way of working with audiences is wonderfull! I liked a lot the quote saying: Within witness audiences people may be seen in their own terms! I found further more interesting the analysis laying under this witness practice. Not replicate the relations of power people may come with, instead looking always out for the unexpected outcomes in order to thicken stories.

    I also loved how the outsider witness practices document give hints on how to procced within the usage of this practice, and ways in how ”not to”: Not applaud, one of the most important, I think.

  36. I am writing from Vancouver, BC in Canada. I find many of documentation practices interesting, particularly the documents of knowledge/authority described in the Hugh Fox paper. Reading about narrative practice has been fascinating as a whole because I find it encapsulates what many of us instinctually do in daily life to cope anyways, but contains it in documents that can be used and looked at repeatedly. I think the idea of carrying a document of authority around like Anita did could be very helpful. The points that were documented struck me as similar to the things we try to tell ourselves all the time when we are trying to create a change in our lives, but when it is only what we’re telling ourselves there is so much room for shame to take over. I thought writing it down and having it onhand at any instance would be a great way to stay on track and remember our intentions for a shift in identity or lifestyle.

    I love the idea behind documents of circulation as well, because I think so many therapeutic modalities are so individually focussed that the impact of community is left up to chance. The idea of circulating documents of intention about one’s identity is a lovely idea but I am curious what would happen when they are not met with understanding, which I am sure happens all the time. I am curious to learn of some of the methods used in helping individuals to cope with that.

  37. I’m writing from Colombo, Sri Lanka. In my context, songs and rituals have a great importance in social life. Although I get the impression that they often focus on the hardship rather than the skills and knowledges, this chapter helps me acknowledge the opportunities of using songs and rituals for documenting knowledge and skills and creating thick stories. While reading the examples of documents, I was wondering whether any skill that someone mentions how they deal with a problem is useful to document. I understood from this chapter that the skills are not judged by the therapist or narrative practitioner. Is that accurate? Does that mean that I might support skills even though I might think that they are not effective skills to handle a problem?

    I really enjoyed reading the paper on outsider-witnesses. The questions that can guide the outsider-witness are very helpful to keep track of what is relevant to listen for. I particularly like that this practice enables a more collaborative approach as the witness might learn as much as the storyteller. I can imagine that this feels very empowering to the storyteller. I will definitely try to integrate reflecting teams or outsider-witnesses more into my work.

    • Dear Johanna,

      It’s good to hear from you. Sometimes people name skills that are helpful in some circumstances but not others, sometimes they name skills that are have both positive and negative effects … so care does need to be taken in relation to fully exploring the effects of various skills. But yes you are right, within narrative practice we are not the judge of this … we create contexts in which those most affected by problems and how people are responding to them are making the ‘evaluations’/judgements’. I don’t want this to sound simplistic though as sometimes we need to be really aware of all the people being affected by a certain problem or a particular skill that is being mentioned. We also sometimes hear a number of different skills people are using and deliberately pay more attention to some rather than others. I hope this makes sense. And I hope all is okay there in Colombo. I am writing from Lake Kivu in Rwanda!

  38. What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?
    I really enjoyed the idea of documents being used as a rite of passage. In my experiences talking with people, it can be easy to identify a problem, speak about it, move away from it and realize they don’t have to identify with it, but the last step- changing themselves so their problems permanently leave- to be the most difficult implementation. By outlining this necessary step towards total health, using a document as a rite of passage, I believe, can be very helpful in that it gives a clear and precise path to change and growth.

    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?
    I will definitely be using the idea of laminated letters for patients to read as well as the aforementioned rites of passage documentation.

    • Hi there, my name is Sue and I work in schools with children and families in the UK. The people I work with had already authored recordings of any sessions/meetings. Now I can understand more of how the written word can be there in a different way for people. I think that I was biased by my past negative experiences and now I have gained more courage by listening and reading about these possibilities and this opens up a different future which I want very much to apply wisely.

  39. My name is Glen. I live in Newcastle, Australia.
    What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?
    I think letters recording a session might be most relevant and resonant. I can see much more potential in this concept than I could before. For example, I believe that with a collaborative spirit, putting aside 10 mins of the meeting, inviting a person to summarise their ideas, strategies, attitudes, skills and so on, that they / the family judged to be relevant and worthwhile (e.g. managing the effects of a problem, or constitutive of alternative / preferred story developments), these could be hand written by the person (a family member) or me. Another aspect that represents a shift for me is to include one or two questions in the letter / document that the person / family judge to be interesting and promising for them to think further on. In the past I had provided people with a summary (of content / points) but I had not invited conversation around what questions they / the family would judge interesting and useful to think about afterwards.
    Another idea I have is that concepts such as ‘documents of knowledge’ and ‘letters recording a session’ very much overlap, without there being clear lines distinguishing them. I am an avid reader of poetry and enjoy dabbling in writing it too. I perceive that some people may be interested in writing their own poems in sessions. For example, an older person was married to a woman for 55 years, he was showing me photos of his wife and the images and themes could flow naturally into verse, rather than take prose form, or some combination of the two. It’s not something that I would decide beforehand one way or another, it would be something that unfolded in the meeting in consultation, guided by what the person or family judge to be helpful.

    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?
    In addition to the thoughts above, I have an opportunity to work with colleagues seeing families. Reading the “outsider –witness practices: some answers…” (Maggie Carey & Shona Russell) with its ideas regarding “metaphors of resonance and transport” was great for me. It was so nicely balanced with the “Hazards and what to avoid” and “Hints” in a practical way. I made some handwritten notes as I studied this and it has energised me to share my notes with colleagues at our lunch time meeting on Friday. I have found outsider-witness / reflecting team consultations with families to really provide something “extra” by way of help that the “therapy as usual” could not do. I’m paraphrasing one of the hints here, “Link what I am saying about my histories of life to the important things the client / family has said” and “refer to the values, hopes and dreams that the person / family has spoken about”. I enjoyed and appreciated these useful hints to keep the focus on the developments that could be constitutive of alternative / preferred stories.

  40. Brian from Sydney, Australia here.

    Love love love these two concepts!

    As a school psychologist, using documents of circulation to friendship groups and rite of passage documents for year 6 and year 12 could be fantastic.

    Peers, parents or trusted teachers could be used as outsider witnesses to great therapeutic effect.

  41. I really enjoyed reading Hugh Fox’s writing. I have been thinking that my cat’s vaccination certificates are important documents in my life as I provide a safe and caring home for my cat in difficult circumstances such as living on Centrelink benefits below the poverty line. I prioritise providing good food for him and making sure he has a flea treatment each month. I prioritise being affectionate and not abusing or neglecting him. Perhaps I am like the mother with schizophrenia who struggles to find evidence of my goodness and competence in circumstances of vulnerability where I fall down, fail to achieve my values, struggle with hatred and self hatred, embarrass and humiliate myself and live with experiences of repeated failure and rejection. Perhaps my cat is an outsider witness as he sits by the bathroom door each morning when I have a shower. HE offers unconditional love and acceptance – he counters my self loathing of my now middle aged and chronically ill and over weight body. I am also thinking of many institutional documents which counter my preferred identity as I struggle with repeated experiences of rejection and failure and related self loathing, anger and fear that robs me of the times when I succeed or achieve a sense of confidence and competence. I have accumulated many negative documents which speak of repeated failures and aberrations like high levels of anger and non compliance and homelessness as evidence of mental illness and drug addiction and disability and impairment. My journey lacks documents. Being homeless has led to loss of education certificates from University and TAFE. I held on to a document revoking a CTO as if this was an achievement. I remember this process and achieving preferred outcomes with drug treatment regimes involved skills in self advocacy and keeping calm that I never thought I possessed. Experiences of loss also involve loss of documents such as drivers licences and passports. Another outsider witness was my Royal Commissioner Counsellor where a small space opened where I could tell preferred stories of my life – and also seeing a narrative therapist who was also an equine assisted therapist. But institutional power is vicious and brutal and those spaces of witnessing, growth and healing disappeared so quickly in the retribution from various persons in my past like a psychiatrist who has power as an authority on who I am despite having not seen me for ten years. I am thinking of documents of poverty like Centrelink documents and prescriptions for what I call poverty pills that disfigure and incapacitate – and what about AVO documents. I have listed a lot of authority documents with harsh judgments and authority language of pathology. As I rail against these documents I have written protest letters to authorities like politicians calling for both systemic and structural changes and acknowledgment of the unsaid and for changes in my identity. I am now reminded of other outsider witnesses like a priest who suggested that I shine a light on the evil that I encountered in my life – and of churches and religious workers who offered unconditional welcome and hospitality and refuge and sanctuary-or the shining lights of a country town bearing witness to my suicide attempt ten years ago.

  42. What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?

    With being reflective, I would have to say my last/closure session with clients is not always up to the standard that I would like to provide. It can be more about feedback and administration due to organisational constraints with time then therapeutic, therefore I really like the idea of writing a letter prior to the end of session and providing it to the client during the session. I feel their is more thought involved with a written letter, then saying goodbye and thank you verbally. Furthermore I agree with some of the comments below, for clients it gives them something to keep and take home, a memento of their time in the service and maybe how much they have achieved/moved closer to their goals of recovery.

    • I like this idea! I think clients would like to have a summary of the work done together. (Carmen, Sydney Australia)

  43. Hey,
    This is a wonderful chapter, documentation is a good tool, but in my context, it can’t be applicable for all, i can’t write to uneducated people who don’t even know to read or write, but for the educated ones it is very good for them to share their experiences, troubles, skills, etc. it helps the one sharing it, and also those receiving it! And it also feels good for a client to receive a comforting message from the therapist.
    For the outsider witness, we somehow do it here in Rwanda, with an approach called “community approach”, where we treat people in their communities, so in the therapy some community leaders and other influential people in their community are invited, but there are first briefed.
    so, thank you for awakening me about the documentation i am going to begin using it, either by email, hard letters, and even whats-app for young people can help.

  44. I thoroughly enjoyed this lesson, I love the idea of creating a document of affirmations to help remind ‘Storytellers’ of their values, dreams and hopes. Documents and Audiences will be a very powerful tool I will want to use in the future.

  45. Yes, I love the idea of letter writing and have since introduced a letter writing component at the end of certain sessions where clients are invited to write a short letter to themselves of something they wish to remind themselves of after today’s session. Clients have told me that they love that part and that looking over the letters have been very helpful. One client even named her collection of letters her “Bible”!

  46. I really enjoyed this module especially the use of letter writing as a session of counselling can be forgotten about very quickly but a ‘concrete letter’ can always be referred to. Great that it as client backing in that a letter can have the efficacy of 4.5 sessions. A client may come in with a thin story but a letter can thicken the story and give a more comprehensive description of a person. My work at CASA together with some work at ERH would benefit from this letter writing process as together with other documents such as those of circulation it “drives a preferred story for a person”. I think that the use of Documents and Audiences is a very empowering way of working with clients.

  47. I am particularly drawn to the use of therapeutic letters. I can see how they could extend the benefits of the therapy session well beyond
    the limits of the hour. I also enjoyed hearing about the knowledge and skills documents, including the use of a journal completed by clients who are finishing therapy. This is something that I routinely discuss with clients but I suspect that the act of writing solidifies the observations & I am sure that others would be interested. This is something that i plan to adopt.

  48. “…a short document is better than no document at all”

    Documents I use would range from Consent record, referral record, family history, medical records, counselling and assessment records.

    In some way the above mentioned documents would include “The hidden multiple layers of therapeutic documents …… drawing out that there are a multiplicity of things being ‘rescued’ in the practice of therapeutic documentation:
    • people’s actions themselves,
    • their accounts of their actions,
    • the meaning they give these accounts
    • the recording of these actions, accounts and meanings,
    • the meaning they give this recording, and their reflection on this recording as an action in itself,
    • the act of circulating these recordings and their meanings,
    • the meaning they give to this circulation,
    • the action of people’s responses to the documents, and the meaning they give to this,
    • the meaning these responses have for the people who the documents are about,
    • their actions in responding to the responses …
    • and so on.

  49. This section was difficult for me. I don’t think it is an easy task to locate an audience for so many marginalized communities. I would like to have heard more about how to overcome or find creative ways to find and audience for those who need it.

    But the idea of an idea of inviting an outsider witness and audience is powerful and I understand how powerful that impact can be..

    (New York, NY)

  50. “The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem”. These words of Michael White have become well-known within the field of narrative therapy.

    If you are in difficulty never be ashamed to ask for help. (

  51. I love the idea of having documents of knowledge and affirmations, and sharing them with people they trust. I have used both pictures and contracts with a great amount of success with children and adolescents. Looking forward to including more documents in my practice with them.

  52. I’ve used letters to a small degree – as well as documents of knowledge and skills. But what really got me interested was the Narratives in a Suitcase. I also use butchers paper and invite participants to draw pictures – without words – to communicate meaning.The reasoning behind this is that pictures and symbols require the person or group at the centre to explain to the wider audience (outsider-witnesses) the meaning behind the pictures and symbols. I am now intrigued as to how to capture written words alongside the pictures and what they mean.
    I’m also wondering how social media e.g. Facebook, Instagram, etc., provides opportunities for me to offer a preferred identity and get almost instantaneous authentication through ‘likes’ and ‘comments’. Is this a medium that I could explore in working with people? The mind boggles with where this conversation might lead to 🙂

  53. I see the value of outsider witness and documentation as preserving knowledges. People exist in the social realm. Their values, beliefs, knowledge, ideals, assumptions, problems, concerns etc. all exist in the presence of the social so it makes sense that the social would be helpful and beneficial for making changes and checking on personal perspectives. As individuals, I think we are lomited in scope when we try to do things alone no matter how tempting. Connecting with others can expand our experience and minds into more dynamic and robust realizations. However, I work in a college where trying to find outsider witnesses are limited. There are only 3 of us and only one day a week where our schedules overlap to get other perspectives can be difficult. I dont have much access to others who might be sufficient for this task. This may take some time.
    Documentation is a tricky one. I have heard various perspectives from not putting too much information as it can cause problems if the courts get involved. I think I might try to write some closing letters to people to finish off the school year. I have also heard of the rights of passage certificates. I think that could be important for some, but I am not sure all people would appreciate it. I prefer to add as much as I can remember what happened during previous sectikns as I forget. I will consider all that I can to help our people out.

  54. I enjoyed the shared documents of skills to ask for help very good. I have many clients with avoidant personality attachments, who struggle with asking for help, and this piece of work, would work very well for them to develop that skill.

  55. Thank you for this section – it was very helpful. Here are my answers:

    What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?

    I like the idea of documenting exactly what has been said and going back over that to give the person sharing their story the opportunity to hear it again from a different source.

    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?

    I love the questions that outsider witnesses are to keep in mind when listening to narratives. I want to keep those questions at the forefront of my own mind as I respond to and witness the narratives I come in contact with. I also loved the tangible reminders of the narrative process and the creative ideas for bringing the stories into the here and now.

  56. I was incredibly moved by the Suitcases Project that was spoken about. It has challenged me ask myself questions about my life choices and journeys and to reframe them in more self-loving ways. Dominant ‘thin’ stories seem to abound and I feel that my task right now is to thicken and enrich my definition of self. It feels exciting and expansive.

  57. Hello Course Colleagues

    Drawing on Ricoeur, Geertz and White, Newman’s article is insightful and vivifying for me. The notion of a “living document”, almost a self-ethnography, where the “said” is rescued from the “saying” to evoke active interpretation within a co-authoring therapeutic relationship speaks to my own practice with teachers and community elders.

    I also appreciated what Julie has offered in the previous post (Thank you). How are we as co-authors to insert and enunciate the experiences, stories, knowledge, understanding of school-based actors, back into the stream of personal history, culture/sub-cultures, time and discourses where “meaning can persist”, understood and shared. This is exquisite as a conceptual, phenomenological and practice-based backdrop to situate the narrative therapeutic processes of documenting and witnessing.

    Nucbe-Mlilo’s comprehensive presentation was particularly insightful for me – Narratives in a Suitcase – and the work among street children again speaks to my own work in urban contexts and communities in grasping and responding to the physical, emotional, phenomenological and narrative experiences of street children. The “narrative documents” in the suitcase invite the “journey” metaphor to draw out significant relationships; personal skills and strengths; problems and challenges, position and vision, values. It was especially important to notice how much the children relied upon the trust of civil society institutions in re-configuring their narrative identities, institutions which so often fails them.

    The “Outsider-witness” article provided crucial insights for me. For example upon reading how White had drawn upon the work of Myerhoff to develop structures and practices of “definitional ceremonies” in NT, I was drawn to my own practice of using the work of Ricoeur and Testimony (Memory, History, Forgetting; and, Hermeneutics of Testimony) to invite and “re-member” excesses of meanings, often not available in the mere telling of narratives, but available more when witness-practices and testimony-practices are conjoined as narrative therapy encounters in respectful settings.

    There are so many gems in this chapter to draw from…

    Thank you

    Munir – Vancouver, Canada

  58. I have been very interested and inspired by the idea of Living Documents as a method by which stories, skills and knowledge are shared, even when the spoken word has become too daunting a medium for some. The concept of “getting our own language back through the language of others”, of which David Newman speaks is one which I feel I myself have experienced at certain points in my life, without really being mindful of the process taking place; to be guided, reassured and encouraged by the shared stories of others; their ‘living documents’, is an idea which fills me with hope and ambition for the various ways I might use it in future professional situations.
    As a teacher I have often used letters as a way of sharing with my students their own stories which I have witnessed them ‘tell’ in my classroom, using their own words or the observations of others in their group to witness the journey they take over the course of a school year. It has been a way of honouring and valuing the milestones reached and lessons learned that could not be communicated through exam grades or reports. I look forward now to extending this methodology into the therapeutic context.

  59. Lindy here from Heathcote, Victoria. I loved the practices described here, and look forward to following up consultations with a letter documenting especially the preferred stories heard, and in such respectful ways. I was especially challenged to avoid ‘applause’ as it can be a form of judgment and set people up to strive to live by my standards and values. I currently work in peer support for mental wellness – something I believe in deeply, and learning that becoming a Narrative Therapist would still enable me to facilitate a form of this often through outsider witnesses is highly encouraging. I am also inspired by the power of metaphor in The Suitcase Project – such a creative way to help children recognise their own internal resources and values, and to remember them! A really great session.

  60. (Writing from France)

    In this chapter, some parts were really pertinent to me, as I could link them to my professional experience. Others were less relevant to me, even if I can imagine situations where they would be relevant to other people.

    I already use some kind of “Letters recording a session”, from time to time. However, it’s not very common among my peers, and I sometimes wonder whether or not it’s a good initiative. Your documents show that other professionals are happy to use it, which strengthens my confidence on the topic. Thank you.

  61. Hi I am writing from Coffs Harbour NSW Australia.
    I found the outsider witness article was brilliant in raising my awareness of the fact it is essential to understand the importance of an outside witness, another person being able to enrich and add to the version of an individual persons recollection of a story that they may have previously blocked out of their mind. It gives a completely new and different perspective to help the individual.

  62. Living documents are proven to be powerful to reminding people of their strengths and remind of accomplishments

  63. Writing from regional NSW, Aus. I found this week very encouraging and a breath of fresh air in regards to a totally different aspect that I had known little about prior to the session.
    I really enjoy the creativity behind narrative therapy and how open to interpretation it is based on the presenting client’s needs. I enjoyed the suitcase metaphor as I believe that it is straightforward and something that my younger clients would resonate with.
    I also enjoyed the outsider-witness reading. I believe that this could be extremely helpful with the young clients that I see where it can be difficult to involve families. With further development of my skills and introduction to others on the team I believe we could see this style of therapy flourish in our workplace.

  64. This session was very useful. I use therapeutic letters in my practice but this approach to documenting through writing letters as a possible ongoing dialogue is very useful. I also like the journey mapping and banner making in the suitcase project and will utilise something similar in group interventions.

  65. Hi, I am writing from Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia.
    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?
    The narrative suitcase really resonated with me as I work with people who have suffered severe trauma and who are often stigmatised by the general community. The dominate story often leaves the clients feeling hopeless and helpless and does not let them see beyond the trauma they have suffered and the way others see them. Using the narrative suitcase would allow my clients to capture their stories and see their strengths, who has been a support for them, what has worked for them previously and what causes them to return. I think this tool would work for all age groups, genders and situations.

  66. Hi from Sydney, Australia.
    I wonder about writing letters based on conversations. It will be important for me to consider how to have conversations that will mean these letters are read, instead of ending up in the hall drawer.
    One idea that really stuck out was around David’s caution in documenting Maree’s and Beth’s reflections and knowledges around self-harm, where the documents could be experienced as negativity or criticism if read by members of the care teams in their lives. David was also sensitive about avoiding centring himself as the ‘only understanding one’. These reflections demonstrate an explicit reflective practice around ensuring that the young people continued to have quality, supportive relationships with their team. At the same time, I was struck by David’s way of viewing their communication about their needs in the relationship as essential too.
    In addition, I was hit by the notion of “avoiding applause” in answer to question 6, “Hazards of outsider witnessing”. It would be valuable to pay close attention to when I am applauding a client, because I think being perceived as patronizing/judgemental is a significant risk in my practice. I also believe it would connect me to my own values and the meaning of my life experiences by considering, when someone discusses their experiences, how I am moved, touched, encouraged, or inspired by their story.

  67. This has been my favourite week so far! I love the idea of letters, how powerful to encourage and bear witness in the therapeutic context in this way, definitely this is something I will be using!

    • Writing from Wagga Wagga Australia. Within my context of practice, letter writing is the more resonant type of documentation that some clients (adults) could find useful, particularly around a position that the person has taken in relation to an externalised problem and their future self and story telling in the form of art for both adults and children. Writing is not for every person due to their commitment and time, but certainly this chapter motivated me to use these practices more often.

  68. Hi I’m writing from Melbourne, Australia. Letter writing sounds like a fantastic way for the person to have ongoing access to the gems of the counselling session, and I think it could be workable in my context.

  69. Hello from British Columbia, Canada! I really appreciate the idea of using letters to record a session. So much content is explored during therapy and it is difficult to recall all of the key aspects and learnings that arise. In my personal therapy experiences, I recall leaving sessions and thinking to myself, “There was something really useful that I wanted to share with my husband but I just can’t remember what it was”. In the role of myself as therapist, I have also experienced re-visiting a prominent theme from the previous session and the client looks at me blankly- not recalling the context. Although I see immense benefit in using letter writing as a component of therapy, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed at the idea of an additional component to fit in outside of the counselling hour. I recognize that this is a logistical issue, but an important one to consider when simultaneously being mindful of ‘burnout’.

  70. I am from Whitby, Canada and I am a Child and Family Therapist working in private practice. From the information in documents and audiences, the client letters appeared to be important for healing and the validation of client struggles. I often do letters to client in a closure session but have never implemented during the course or treatment which I feel I will try. I also have not included reflective questions to the client in the letter, which I think I will now include as a way to support their continued growth.

  71. I really enjoyed watching D. Newman’s presentation about the “skills and knowledge documents” that he uses with the young people he work with in the psychiatric unit. His explanation of the impact of said words and the necessity to use them carefully really resonated with me. Collecting in writing his patients’ ‘skills and knowledge’ to deal with specific situations is a fantastic way to value his clients abilities but also to help others to find their own language through the language of others. The example he gave about the young boy was heartwarming.

  72. Living documents is a great idea not only for others, but also for ourselves… I just had the thought of how often I forgot of my own wisdom… I used to know how to do things, how to deal with trouble, how to handle myslef. In times of stress and pressure I tend to forget the things I once knew and things that were important. So my idea is that making the documents of skills and knowledges is not only a great help for others, but also for myself, to help me remember that I can, in fact, deal with problems in my own way.

  73. Great thoughts. I believe in the power of having others witness and ‘see’ you in life. I have often with one off sessions made a summary of what we have talked about and sent it through to the person as a record for them to look back on – I think I will look at doing this more and also possibly to introduce it in some way with my longer term clients.

    I am getting creative and thinking about ways that outsider witness can be used with groups of women that I work with in a variety of ways 🙂

  74. Now this was very interesting. Again, i think, this opened my creative understanding to so much more metaphors. The suitcase metaphor is amazing. I thought of people also caring with them so much “photos” of hurt and trauma…would’nt it be awesome to help them so that the make the choice themselves to remove there from their suitcase of life and live inside a new reality. The outsider witness program, i have use before, especially with parents of children. Just this morning i was seeing someone that blocked out all the positive things in their history…but through and outsider witness, they could hear their story being told…and it was ‘n good story…totally different from which the client would only remember. i am really blessed by this material.

  75. What do you like most about Outside Witness?
    At first when I heard about this idea I must admit was pretty sceptical. I think because I was thinking of the therapist and client as a private space and to bring in more people would be complicated but as I begin to learn more about the outside witness I begin to realize it is actually quite therapeutic for the client. To hear someone else’s thoughts about your own live is powerful. Quite often we don’t hear positive affirmations in our day to day life. So this is an opportunity to use a person who is close to the client is a way that gives more value to the client’s story. I am a bit nervous in using this but I think in time it will become second nature. Thanks

  76. 1. What is meant by the term outsider witness?
    Someone who will bear witness to your story. For example, in the context of the classroom, the outsider witnesses can be the other class members who listen when a workshop participant reads out their story. In the context of therapy, it can also be another family member, for example, parent or sibling.
    2. Why is it important for there to be witnesses to preferred stories?
    Outsider witnesses make the story ‘thicker’ by their presence. They may be an active participant (such as a family member, who is familiar with the story already) or they may have no knowledge of the story. However, those who have no knowledge of the story can also help to ‘thicken’ the story. For example, class participants may then share stories of their own experiences of a particular incident.
    thank you – this lesson was particularly helpful.

  77. Hi im H from NSW. I am just sitting with all these wonderful ideas and thinking about how to apply them to my practise. I have recently created a document with children, using art. They each creates a visual representation of what they wanted to say, which had a particular theme and healing intention. They could put their name on it if they wished and it was displayed.

  78. I am writing from Europe.

    The use of outsider witness seems very appealing to me, especially when used with patients; it can give them a confirmation of their preferred identity and story. Also this method allows them to get asked deeper questions about their narration. It also allows the patient to hear their story told by another person. The outsider witness practice can be applied among patients suffering from different types of disorders or other issues. I was immediately thinking about patients suffering from Eating Disorders.

  79. Talk about lightbulb moment, Hugh Fox through his article Using Therapeutic documents has provided me the opportunity to really challenge my relationship with a client, and my idea of the clients relationship to therapy. By challenging the ownership of case notes, or written representations of the clients story was incredible. “Of course” I state, why had I not thought of that myself, I believed that I was operating from a client first stand point – apparently not. Love that this has hit me in the face, and made me look at the concept of ownership/control and concept of expert/victim. Great stuff.

    I love the use of outsider-witnesses. The support and connection to the declaration of a persons preferred story or identity by outsiders appears to be very productive. I particularly like the idea of having outside witnesses that have walked similar journeys being part of the process, being an additional resource to draw on to remain on the path of the preferred story.

    fantastic chapter, continue to be loving the learning.

  80. I found Narrative Suitcase to be extremely informative and adaptive to my work – a practical approach to developing an alternate story

  81. Hello, this is Lucia, from Madrid, Spain. I found very interesting this whole chapter, but what I’ve really found useful (and I will start using right away, with clients and groups I work with) are the letters for recording sessions. I love writing letters and I think it’s a graet way of not forgetting anything. Al the other documents are really useful too, but the other one I’m going to start using right away is the Documents of rite of passage. It’s been a while that we’ve been thinking how to mix the rite of passage in our group sessions and this chapter has really inspired me. Thank you!!

  82. The Suitcase Project stands out the most for me, since it is a powerful way to engage clients in a reliable source of self-expression and acknowledgement. The use of art made for creative stories that offered a deeper meaning of people’s lives. The letter describing the session seems like a wonderful way to conceptualise the clients story.

    Being able to create a concrete document helps to make the stories real which can have a transient effect on clients. I like the outsider-witness practices and definitional ceremony structures and how they can be used in various contexts. I was fascinated by the roles that outsider witnesses play on the narrative adventure

  83. Something in each, deepened my need to immerse self in the poignant yet inspiring stories shared and the creative ways in which narrative therapy gave voice, gave life, gave hope to the experiences yet to be re-storied.
    Stories of the ‘Suitcase Project’, David Newman’s presentation and the Outsider-Witness are extremely powerful ways of thinking, engaging and working with clients.
    How to implement the latter when issues around confidentiality/protecting clients privacy pose challenging in practice – sit in my own question box as does the great concept of letter writing/documentation – a wonderful empowering way to work with clients. Thank you for the eye opening learning journey.

  84. I’m writing from Calgary, Canada.

    I have used the Tree of Life exercise with coaching clients in the past and found it helpful. I love the idea of documents of knowledge and am going to introduce the idea of a book of knowledge that can be shared forward in my next group session.

    I’m also really interested in using certificates. So many of the people I work with are struggling with long-term issues, and recognizing their successes and unique outcomes seems like it could be really valuable.

  85. I am looking forward to trying out the Tree of Life program as it looks to include aspects of documentation and audience.

  86. I am hooked by David Newman’s clear illustration of living documents/collections of letters and especially sharing of documents – a whole new way of connecting /communicating with people and in turn people learning new skills of Recognition and Meaning.
    I loved the example of a living document ” What we can say back to despair “.

  87. “Hello” from Nova Scotia, Canada! 🙂

    Working with the elderly in the comfort of their own homes, allows for so many layers of narrative practice to unfold. My work aims to bridge the gap between Isolation – & – Community, as well as its effects; Loneliness – & – Meaningful Connection. I feel that the use of documentation, especially “Documents of circulation” in the form of lasting Legacy Projects (combining expressions of ART and WORD) will provide a great source of self-expression and acknowledgment for my clients. Representing meaningful ideas/stories that a person wishes to explore as well as pathways that connect that story to a supportive audience. I feel that this form of documentation will richly contribute to connecting people around shared intentions and values.

    The use of “Living Documents” has proven to be such an empowering outlet; evident through the stories shared as well as through personal experience. This course teaches of the many examples of peoples stories living on in the lives of others. I have been blessed to be part of an 8-session workshop offered here in Antigonish, by Nancy Gray and Cathrine Chambers through the “Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre”. Together they created something very special. Nancy received training through the Dulwich Centre and does amazing work, providing ground for people to transform their lives through the context of narrative therapy. The workshop’s focus was on “Mapping and Exploring Self-Care through Art, Mindfulness, and Spoken word”. It was through the process of creating and sharing a “living document” that we were able to have an audience and gain a sense of recognition and meaning to the alternative stories and preferred landscapes we’ve been exploring. I now have a tangible collection of the women’s art and words to refer back to and enjoy for years to come. These living documents truly do provide a lasting pathway to our alternative stories and sense of shared connection.

    Much gratitude to all of the authors and presenters involved in providing such insightful material for this chapter as well as to fellow course participants for your personal reflections!

    Warm Wishes,

  88. G’day from Busselton, Western Australia.

    Unfortunately I was unable to watch the digital media for this lesson for some reason, although I found Hugh Fox’s review very easy to follow the theme of using therapeutic documents. I believe that letters recording a session should be available to both a referring doctor and the client.

    Recently I had seen a Psychologist for a crisis situation that was effecting my well-being, and when the session had been “summed up” towards the end, vital points were missed or misinterpreted by the therapist. With the hindrance of time and money, I didn’t argue these points, although came to the conclusion that the particular therapist might not be the one for me. I also wondered what she was going to pass on to my GP.

    In this instance at least, a letter explaining the session may have the potential to be changed if the therapist misinterpreted the clients story, and be aware of the communication processes between the therapist and the GP, as therapy should be conducted with transparency for ethical and trust-building purposes.

    When I start practicing myself, I believe that this initial letter is a must, and I would like to incorporate more documentation to assist in reminding people of their own alternative story.

    Thank you again for this opportunity, Cheers, Shane

  89. I live on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia, Australia.

    I believe all of that which has been presented in this Chapter (especially the different ‘tools’, strategies and creative ideas) provide great opportunity and flexibility that enables individuals preferred ways of communication and needs to be more appropriately and successfully met. I can see how these respect, value and build the client/interviewee’s “sense of autonomy”, empowerment and ownership of his or her experiences and healing. In a way that is: safe, building his or her capacity in taking control of their choices, life and future while protecting their Spirit. The information and ideas provide Practitioners with opportunity to broaden existing creativity (stimulate the creative juices as the saying goes) in creating new ‘tools’, problem solving strategies or ideas. Ncazelo Nucbe-Mlilo’s “suit case” idea and strategies (which I am thankful for) are great stimulation for developing further creative ideas. I am touched by the depth of commitment, determination and endurance shown in supporting the children in working towards achieving a better future and life they are each seeking.

    In terms of the “Documentation” component:
    *I can relate to the issue raised in one of the recent comments regarding Court Subpoenas of client/interviewee documents as evidence.
    *I have worked with people of varying ages, and Documentation is a method that can be adapted for use with different ages and cognitive abilities, especially as a visual tool and “trigger” for memory recall e.g. the phrases to assist an individual to remember and stay on track with the desired changes, while at the same time assisting in changing old unwanted/negative/damaging thought patterns to new positive ones.

    I’m loving this learning opportunity

  90. This aspect of NT has validated and helped me understand further the negative impact of certain documents that are used in mental health (in medical contexts) and schools. I have had a number of clients distressed by use of a school’s ongoing record (it exists in the classroom across years) which documents a child’s ‘bad behaviour’. It also helps understand parents distress at documents which describe and label (and emphasize) mental health and behaviour problems for the purposes of acquiring funding. I find it disheartening that these methods and protocols continue.

    I have created posters with children which label and depict through drawings, coping strategies or strengths, that we have identified in sessions together – children enjoy sharing these with parents and peers, and to keep for review in the future (which subsequently is reported to be helpful to them). Also the use of ‘coping cards or power cards” are a kind of document which help children through using words to access their knowledge and coping.

    Overall this material has helped emphasize in my mind the importance of respectful language and communication as adjuncts in therapy with children, as feedback is the norm to caregivers – also re-affirming that documents are so useful – as I often spend lengthy amounts of time writing emails to parents to enhance the work, and sometimes feel this is more useful than the session with the child.

  91. The ‘Narratives in the Suitcase’ mode of documentation and expression particularly resonated in the space that I work in, which is a culturally diverse one. What I think is really integral about this practice is that it is exploratory and interactive, and I can see this as an empowering journey for people inquiring all about their relationships, possessions and environments. In the Central Australian Aboriginal context I work in, perhaps a ‘suitcase’ wouldn’t be so relevant, but the concept of using some sort of sculpture, maybe something more culturally appropriate, seems like it would work really well. Creativity is such an important component to this documentation, and many of the Aboriginal people I work with communicate and express themselves through their art. In this way, we could move away from trying to assimilate people into our modes of engagement, and allow them the safe and supportive space to autonomously to explore it themselves. I also think that there are amazing reflective and activating questions that this mode of documentation can support the exploration of, and to connect people to what they have created in their suitcases/sculptures. Some of these include: What is it that you are in pursuit of? What values do you carry along? What are important memories of family? How have you preserved these important things as you have journeyed along? What skills have you used to hang onto these things? and Why is it important to you?

    In the Outsider Witnesses article, I found that the discussion of specific practices to avoid a point of critical reflection in my work as a practitioner. These included; avoiding applause, attending to alternative stories, consciousness around how much I am talking and getting carried away with my own storm, and never to impose values. I have reflected on how sometimes these practices are considered natural, normal and appropriate and actually how they can create a very harmful and damaging experience for the people we work with such as communicating judgmental messages or reaffirming power imbalances where we are “entitled” to judge the actions of the people we work with.

  92. I am commenting from Wisconsin in the United States. Like many others have mentioned, I found myself struck by the reflection that therapists keep well-detailed, organized case notes but it is really the person seeking the therapy who could most benefit from having much of the information. Working in an outpatient setting, I find that many of the people I meet with have very busy lives and often hear that their therapy hours are sort of respites for them. Letter writing and documents of knowledge have the capacity to help them find their way back to this respite when they need it most. Working in a rural community, I was also struck by the collective documentation methods described. I am wondering about adapting this to be used in an outpatient clinic setting. Being a rural community, many people describe feeling isolated from one another due to geographical barriers and stigmas.

    Last– one of the programs that our agency offers is a comprehensive teaming approach– an individual in the program may interact with many helping professionals and supportive others such as their therapist, a preferred teacher at school, a parenting educator, a family member, a psychiatrist, child welfare worker, friends, religious leaders, mentors, etc…. we have even had probation officers be asked to join teams before. I think that this lends itself well to the outsider-witness approach and is something I would like to start incorporating in the teams that I am involved in.

  93. What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?
    As I work with refugees, I found Glynis Clacherty and The Suitcase Project particularly relevant to my practice. Due to language barriers – I find that art and play therapy are versions of documentation or expressive mediums that resonate with these individuals. Through this creative expression, they are able to tell their stories, acknowledge trauma and work toward a sense of safety, meaning and connection.

    As all of the clients I see are from refugee backgrounds and have made long and arduous journeys to a foreign land, I feel that using the suitcase metaphor may be empowering in acknowledging their resilience, identity and sacrifices.

  94. I am logging in from from Manitoba,Canada.
    I really like the writing notes in form of letters. I am not sure I could intergrade into my current practice as the “official document” but am interested in learning how the individuals I work would respond to this.
    I offer Dignity Therapy to patients I work with during the end of life. Dignity therapy involves an interview about life history, and then turning this into a legacy document for patients to gift to their loved ones at the end of life. this story telling helps patients to define and refine what their ultimate story is. In my experience this has been a very rewarding process for both the dying patient the loved ones.

  95. I am sharing from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia.

    In grief work documentation is often used in the form of Memory Books are created by the person who is grieving to to tell the story of the person they have lose; in the form of programs that are used to record a ritual the grieving person has created to honor the person they have lost (to create closure to the experience of having that person in their lives); and also in the form of letters addressed the the person they have lost describing how they are feeling and telling the person who has died how the person writing the letter is adapting to life without them.

    Outsider witnessing could be used to offer the grieving person an opportunity to tell the story of the person they have lost and have their grief witnessed, acknowledged and honored.

  96. For me, I think that I will need to think about this particular part of Narrative Therapy a lot more. In my practice, I have previously been hesitant to write/co-write and sign documents with the client. Documents of achievement or knowledge frighten me a little, particularly when holding in mind if notes are legally requested. In those cases we are presented with the difficulty that a signed document by us as clinicians may hold implications in court (e.g. “William is a good father and loves his children” being used in family court as evidence to retrieve children from Child Safety). As I said, it is something that I need to think more on before I start using in session.

    In regards to the outsider-witness, I believe that it will be useful later in therapy, but historically, I have tried to encourage persons in session to approach those they wanted to share the information with on their own volition and share the information themselves and then reflect back in session on how they went. In this way I hope to avoid clinician dependence and build the clients independence and pride, however I can see how that may be a more harsh and hard process compared to the outsider-witness pathway. The exception to this is parents attending sessions with children as, in this case, the parent is the main attachment that has the power to help facilitate the flow of information.

    As I have said, I will have to think more on this lesson and whether it will fit with how I can provide my interventions. It may be that I can get the client to self generate and sign these documents themselves and use me as a sounding board and to use me as an audience to the experience. A very interesting concept though.

  97. Some of the things that resonated with me were, regardless of the form documentation takes, to ensure ‘recognition’ ie. using language that represents the unique voice of the participant, but also translate the spoken word so it is ‘perusable’. The suitcase metaphor was extremely powerful and set me to think about other creative metaphors for practice. The idea of sharing these documents resonates with my work in therapeutic life writing – making stories available for others to gain benefit, and the concept of allowing others to add to the document would make for an excellent group exercise to thicken the life stories of others.
    The materials on outsider-witness practices were very thought-provoking and allowed me to consider how involving outsider-witnesses in the life writing process may lead to a deeper exploration and recording of alternative life stories. Narrative therapy and life writing align as both are working with stories and both ultimately have an audience.

  98. As I reflect on written documents that I have created with clients I recall a report I wrote for a client (who had suffered hideous childhood trauma) to the institution responsible for his care at the time,. When I showed it to him for his approval before I sent it he wept and said that it was so validating to have someone understand that he had suffered, that I really got what he was telling me and this showed him. I feel I had forgotten the power of this document and Hugh Fox’s article has reminded me, I am grateful.

  99. I found the description of outsider witnesses to be most helpful, particularly the questions one of the witnesses used to keep themselves focused. Also, adding the examples of documents into his article “Rescuing the said from the saying of it”, David Newman clearly illustrated the variety and depth with which we can help people express their thoughts and share those thoughts with their care team.

  100. I loved the Suitcase Project and think this may be useful to our work with former refugee communities, in helping them to identify and express their strengths and hopes for their future in Australia.

    I also found the outsider witness article very helpful in terms of raising my awareness of the value of acknowledging people’s stories as they seek to define their preferred identities

  101. I loved the Suitcase Project and think this may be useful to our work with former refugee communities, in helping them to identify and express their strengths and hopes for their future in Australia.

    I also found the outsider witness article very helpful in terms of raising my awareness of the value of acknowledging people’s stories as they seek to define their preferred identities.

  102. What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?

    From the time I was introduced to Narrative Therapy and through my coursework, readings and research on it, one of my biggest concerns is the documentation. I find myself concerned that I may become so wrapped up in keeping track of what a person is saying to me that I may miss very valuable information. I have found this chapter to be most helpful in opening my eyes not only to different methods of documentation, but also to encourage me to stay focused (the questions listed by the ‘outsider witness’ as a way to keep them focused during a session is very useful) and to know I will need to make time to review what I’ve written, adding anything else of importance as soon after the session as possible. I’m hopeful that over time and with practice, this will no longer be a concern.

    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?

    I loved the suitcase and feel it may be very useful in working, not only with children, but those who yearn to explore their childhood as well.

  103. I loved the Suitcase project, such a potent way to engage children (adults too, if need be) in an expressive rendering of hope and faith.

    The act of generating documents crystallizes the significance of making real or concretizing personal experience which may sometimes feel ephemeral, or might be relegated to the realm of the imagination (where someone will feel/be made to feel that they’ve magnified the problem).

    It is heartening to see how many roles outside witnesses can play in the narrative journey. This ‘Greek chorus’ feels like a microcosm of a functional family and/or community that provides a powerful support along the path to healing.

    Thanks for all these thought-provoking clips and resources!

  104. I am interested in the Suitcases metaphor and plan to use an adaptation of it in my professional supervision sessions with supervisees.

    I like the concept of Outside Witness practice and have used it in a simplified form with children, such as having their teacher and/or parent witness the child’s explanation of “the problem” and their plans for change etc. A similar process often happens in group work where group members support each other and are witness to growth and progress. However, I would be cautious about confidentiality and the possible future relationship / well-being of those involved if considering introducing service users to each other.

  105. There are many types of documents that i think that would be relevant depending on the client. I have written letters to younger clients using their own words which they have loved and treasured, however i really like the idea of collaboratively writing case notes and rescuing the words that strengthen and build their preferred story. I also like the idea of turning what was said into a poem with young adults who feel they don’t have a voice or choice in life.

    I bought a scrap book many years ago as a live document for children to write how they overcome their hurdles in life however, i find that kids just want to be included and have their page, rather then see how other kids have overcome their hurdles. I think it makes them feel important and apart of something special.

    In the future i will definitely draw on the Narratives in the suitcase project. I think the journey metaphor not only fits with child refugee but would also be helpful for children who have had a difficult beginning where i can help them to rescue the ‘good’ along a path that they have mostly seen as gloomy.

  106. Hi,

    It took me a long time to appreciate people’s desire for getting certificates after participating in theatre- and arts-workshops I am facilitating. However, in the last year I have started transforming these certificates into pictures or drawings we made throughout the workshop with the possibility of writing ‘messages of love and kindness’ on the backs. I have experienced it as a very connecting and empowering way to end a workshop, but not close a community – and it resonates a lot with me when I read about certificates prepared for ‘the rite of passage’.

    Also, as I am working a lot with people who are marginalized, silenced, ignored or stereotyped in dominant stories, re-writing and owning ones’ stories has become a powerful tool – and so has publishing, respectively performing. In the jorney of creating alternative and supportive stories, I am sure the idea of the suitcase as described by Ncazelo Nucbe-Mlilo can and will be very helpful. In addition, I loved to read about outsider witness-practice. I haven’t thought about my workshops in this way, but we do a lot of storytelling and listening with compassion, so I’m excited to enrich these sessions with the ideas and possibilities of outsider witnesses.

    Thank you!

    Julia from Kathmandu, Nepal

  107. In my field of work working alongside women and children who have experienced and been traumatised by domestic and family violence I found ” Narratives in a Suitcase” a very inspiring tool. In fact I had many years ago volunteered in a Mapping Journey session as part of my Bachelor’s studies. Although at first I felt quite ” naked and vulnerable” as this was done witnessed by my class mates, I found it a very powerful “journey” of my life at the time.In fact remembering back to the time and ” My Journey”, some of the main goals and dreams have come true, although at the time they felt distant and out of reach. I also remember some of my class mates in tears as they heard my story and contributed by encouraging me overcome challenges I faced. Great tool to use as a process. I love how Ncazelo Nucbe-Mlilo describes ” Everyone has a suitcase of one kind – suitcases are important in life”

    I was also inspired of Hugh Fox’s “using therapeutic documents”, especially ” Letters recording a session”, which I endeavor to write to a women I support in her process of escaping domestic and family violence and reclaiming her identity.

    What I captured out of David Newman’s presentation which guide me to reflect on my own ” narrative approach” are: skills of LISTENING, skills of EDITING and most importantly – skills for COLLABORATION.

  108. This section of the material really got my excited and thinking about documentation in ways I have NEVER thought before. David Newman’s video as well as his article is really inspiring; and transformed documentation from a workplace requirement to a powerful, creative therapeutic tool. Thinking about the “creative range of Documentation’ has a head spinning a bit.
    What forms of documentation might be most relevant in your context? Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings wit people
    There are three relevant forms of documentation that I found in this section that I would like to play with in my own practice:
    a) The idea of letters recording sessions and how David highlights how this method ‘honors how people would want to be talked about’ which I think I can easily lose sight of and case notes before a required portion of my job rather then another layer of the therapeutic process.
    b) The ideas Hugh Fox presented on Documents of Knowledge (something I plan to play with, with a client this week), using them with client who are “in danger of losing sight of their preferred identities” (Pg. 30, Fox).
    c) The Documents of rite of passage as a way of ending therapy and using this is a forum to highlight ‘successfully negotiated transition’. I work with very marginalized clients, who have complicated attachment styles so I am always trying to find ways to make closures a positive for them and have a letter/document to assist in this process and be something at they can keep is powerful.

  109. Deborah, Hong Kong

    The article on living documentation written by David Newman seems incredible useful in working with adopted children. At the end of the article he writes, “I wonder what you would have to say about your use of documentation to link people to their networks, to have significant messages or knowledges as more enduring, to build living double-sided documents around certain themes or in many other ways”. I realize the use of living documents could be life-giving to adopted teenagers, as they often feel so alone despite the fact they are often surrounded by loving parents and supportive siblings and adults. An adopted child may often feel misunderstood, which is understandable as he or she may be the only adopted person within a family unit. Having messages from other adopted teens would be an encouragement, but also a link to someone who truly has walked the road of adoption.

  110. Hi, I’m Susie, from London UK. I work with people who have an experience of psychosis in the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK.

    Using therapeutic documents – I’m struck by the idea that I have an advantage because I re-read the notes before each session! Would my work be more effective if the client got to read these notes each session too? I put a lot of effort into my notes and they’re really helpful for me, can this effort be of more use to my clients than just for future staff who might be working with them? Can they also be really helpful for my clients? Could I easily change my case notes into therapeutic letters? How would this work? To be given to the client at some point in the session? I could try this with a new client and see how it goes? Sounds like he posts the letter after the session. David N talked about emails, could I email therapeutic letter/case notes following sessions? I also wonder if using all my case notes as therapeutic letters will improve my practice in expressing my wonderings about the unconscious in a way that makes sense to the client and is respectful to their experience, and free me up from the ethical worry I sometimes get about this? Important to negotiate about the letters/emails before sending “Where will the letter be kept? When will it be read? How often would it be good to read it? Who should read it? And so on. This avoids what has been called ‘the hallstand drawer phenomenon’”.

  111. I reacently posted a coment on this chapter, but forgot to put what would be the most usefull ways of documentation I could use with people in my own context, and here they are: I this that all of theme are important, but to start I would go for those who describe littles thrives on people’s daily life, due to the fact that this letters encourage people and bring them out with a lot of motivation.

    After, I would go for those who tells people about how they have come to an other state of life, and how they reclaimed their lifes from problems influence. It is a big diploma!!.

    And the futuristic ones: Telling which actions are going to be considered in order to get rid of problem influence.

  112. I found this chapter very interesting! This, because of the usage of the therapeutic documents, in counselling context. At the same time I was reading this chapter, I was reading other book too about this same topic, and in it I found very interesting statements about the using of documents in therapy, and how this idea was brought to the narrative practices.

    The mind idea is that documentation always has been an importan vehicle to ”add” seriousness and respect to human deals and relatios. For instance, when a couple get married, a document is considered very importan to legitimize the union. When a lawyer comes with an arrest order to someone house’s the situation becomes more intriguin , and at last, if I buy a house or a car, I will want a ”paper” that states this good is mine.

    Coming back to our talk, it is very intelligent how authors of narrative practices noticed that, and included that way of legitimize into the counselling context. I like a lot how this way of work can improve therapeutic process, cutting the number of sessins used to deal with people’s problems.

    On the other hand, the way of working with audiences is wonderfull! I liked a lot the quote saying: Within witness audiences people may be seen in their own terms! I found further more interesting the analysis laying under this witness practice. Not replicate the relations of power people may come with, instead looking always out for the unexpected outcomes in order to thicken stories.

    I also loved how the outsider witness practices document give hints on how to procced within the usage of this practice, and ways in how ”not to”: Not applaud, one of the most important, I think.

  113. Hi, there. I think that an outsider witness is a powerfull tool to solve teenagers problems. If you can hear the hidden story in what kids say, they will be able to recognise it, to see the positive part of the situation. If they are worried about the privacy they can do this procese with some teachers they trust. If we build trusting and healthy relationships, privacy won´t be a problem at all. The more we share our problems, the more we notice that many people are suffering like us. And that can open a world to common solutions.
    Written letters have been a great help at school, to encourage kids to improve their performance.
    There is a Cossettini school in Cordoba, Argentina, that has been using an old suitcase with narratives from the students and the teachers. You can feel the school traveling in that suitcase. You can know the school experience by reading what the suitcase shows.
    I´d like to experience a definitional ceremony. It seams to be a very innovative and profound procese.
    Thank you so much for sharing all these to us.

  114. This section certainly has me thinking about necessary useful documentation. I work with families with children with special needs and our organization documents notes on each meeting that are on carbon copy paper, so the parents receive one copy and the worker another. This allows the family much more authorship in their goals and meanings. I am, however, wanting to reflect this authorship even further. I think I need to negotiate much more about what is writen to allow for more generative formats instead of simply checking in with parents after I have created an idea whether the strategy is feasible or makes sense to them.

    Additionally, I work with a First Nations Mikmaq community in Canada. Traditionally a very oral, storytelling culture, I feel like having legal paperwork (such as consent and partnership agreements) and “homework” to be read and tried to be imposing an “expert” opinion coming from me, as opposed to the parents and child. Sometimes I feel like I’m writing a prescription! I am very curious to start thinking about, and experimenting around, how to make the documentation maximally useful, while still holding accountability for myself as a worker. I am also very intrigued by the idea of circulating learning. I feel like this would be a beautiful way to connect parents and bring sustainable hope for support and change in the community. I am also curious how meaning can be circulated in a way that is more in line with oral traditions. Maybe parents could create a collective story that could be performed or a song that can be passed around and lines added to to create something both collaborative, and representative of local strengths, stories and traditions.

  115. These ideas about how we use documentation/the written word within narrative therapy have been on my mind quite a bit lately. I am an MSW student who has recently started a practicum on a narrative therapy team. We are located within a publicly funded health care setting and as such, have specific requirements for documentation. I am keen to include a strong presence of the voices of those who consult me. I am also very interested to explore the usefulness of therapeutic letters, and perhaps creative expression with the written word. I appreciate the presenters’ examples of what they have found useful in their work with people.

  116. I loved this section. The creative range of possibilities for ways to use documentation and outsider witnessing is very exciting to me – just as Phillipa Johnson says in her conclusion.

    Last week, I had to give a presentation to another tutor’s class, and I was pretty stuck trying to think of how to do this. It was the end of their course, and I couldn’t think what I could bring to the class that was new to them. After reading here about documentation, I thought I would try structuring the presentation in a way that encouraged them to think in a particularly personal way about their coursework, and write a kind of personal manifesto over the course of the presentation. This was very much a first effort at doing something like this, for me. I think some students got more out of it than others, and I can see ways I could do it differently next time. But I felt okay about it overall. I got feedback from the other tutor afterwards that she’d been dubious when I first told her what I was planning – but that she thought it actually worked well, and that the personal, reflective aspect made it ideal for their final class.

    My mind is now buzzing with ways I could incorporate some of the ideas from this section in my other work!

    I do find the whole concept of outsider witnessing to be hugely appealing. I was also really moved by the story in an earlier part of the course about the man who had been ‘taken’ by a social worker when he was younger – and how choosing and bringing in an outsider witness who had insight into this from a social worker’s perspective made such a huge difference to the man’s life and story.

    Lastly – I wish there was a ‘like’ button on the comments so I could acknowledge some other people’s comments in a simple way! 🙂

  117. This section reminded me of the wonderful Friday afternoon video from a few weeks ago from Mohammed Fareez that centered around the ‘life certificate’. I thought this was a great way to incorporate narrative ideas in working with grief.

    I have always been a great believer in the power of the written word in releasing emotions. I have kept many journals over the years throughout many difficult times and situations. Personally, I like the idea that someone one day may come across my writing, many people are worried about their privacy, I often suggest writing and burning/ripping up the paper or typing, reading then deleting or sending yourself a SMS message then deleting it. There are also many ways to ‘secure’ a document on a computer.

    I loved the idea of the suitcase and believe that this idea could be used in a lot of different circumstances (with little twists to suit the group). One that springs to mind would be working with inmates both adult and juvenile.

    • I so agree about the therapeutic power of writing. (I got rid of the longest-running panic attack I’ve ever had – many years ago – by writing it out … You remind me that maybe I should try doing that with the lesser anxiety attacks I sometimes have now.) You’ve also inspired me to start listening to the Friday Afternoon Videos …

  118. This chapter had me reflecting on the best way to document appointments with clients. I currently am required to complete case notes after appointments but am deeply considering how letters and documents of knowledge could be incorporated. I also could see the value in living documents which clients could author their experiences, skills and knowledge to be shared with others. I am also considering how the written documents I complete could represent more closely the spoken word of the client.


  119. I liked the concept of documents of knowledge to facilitate rites of passage, specifically the end of therapy. it gives the client further benefit of consolidating all the knowledge and skills developed over the course of therapy in order to share with others in a similar predicament. This meaningful record adds to the book of knowledge and is testimony to the growth and learning acquired. Thus marking termination as an important achievement and not only to be experienced as loss.
    Loved Ncazelo’s Narratives in a suitcase – especially the creative journey metaphors – a springboard for various art therapy directives to facilitate rich artwork and storytelling to bring healing & insight.

  120. I find helpful the document that summarize the session. This is important for variety of reasons: a)assist the person to keep track of what going on on therapy; b) help the person to keep track of the problem and when the problem has no or less influence; c) helps the person to engage in the procese.
    Another practice that has important implications in my context is the recruitment of important people and the practice of resonance. I find this very helpfull because we are use to give moral advice, our own principles of life, etc. The art of resonance is important because it gives voice and priority to the problems and the values of the person.

  121. As a lawyer (until last July!), “documentation” resonated with me and it was exciting to see different ways to document and several purposes in doing so. “Post session” letters, for example, provide a way for the conversation to continue, a mutual conversation/reflection. Where the client co-authors the letter, some power and control are given to the client. There is also some flexibility, including bringing others into the conversation. All great fodder for practice. It also aligned with my practice as a lawyer where I sought to create a space for the client to be part of framing the solution, seeking not to act as the expert unless required.
    The idea of “outside-witness practices” brings me back to participating in reflecting teams as a counselling student and how powerful they were. How wonderful it would be if we could adopt these practices more widely in our lives. It is interesting to ponder on some of the cautions, e.g., “what are some of the common hazards of outsider-witness practice and how can these be avoided” in the paper: and how these are so relevant to our everyday conversations in both our personal and work lives: avoiding applause, stepping out of giving advice, building teamwork, taking care with how much I talk, getting carried away with my own story, taking care in relation to not imposing values, thinking about what to listen for, confidentiality and privacy.
    Brisbane, Australia

  122. The narratives in a suitcase is very usefull for me as an occupational therapist. I work with all kind of materials and in this context I can do this with adult patients. Ncazelo enthousiasm infected me, I could not wait to try it. Afterwards my enthousiasm has growed, also the patients evaluated it as a helpfull session.
    So therefor: thank you Ncazelo.

  123. I am writing from Perth, Western Australia.

    I like the idea of recording a session with a letter and documents of knowledge and affirmations.

    “But the words in a letter don’t fade and disappear the way conversation does; they endure through time and space, bearing witness to the work of therapy and immortalizing it.”

    This quote from Hugh Fox reading really protruded for me and made me reflect on the many times clients have said they easily forgot their conclusions and learnings in a session.
    Often when someone is experiencing depression when negative thoughts are automatic, clients can easily forget to focus on their knowledge, learnings and affirmations.

    I think using documents will also be beneficial for helping clients to identify themes and cycles in their life.

    I am looking forward to using documents of knowledge and affirmations with my client group, almost like a coping card.

  124. This material was all really fabulous. Thank you! In my setting I think I could make more use of letters as in Hugh Fox’s paper, especially after reading that they were rated to be as useful as several sessions. I feel a bit daunted, as I don’t feel that document writing is my strong point but I think it would become easier with time. The suitcase metaphor also seems like a great way to open up hopeful conversations with young people. I would love to be part of outside witness practice but in my setting that would be the most difficult logistically.
    I work in Brisbane, Australia

  125. I found this chapter really mind opening, having the opportunity to think broadly and expansively about documentation and how it can be used to strengthening clients stories. My thoughts were triggered watching Ncazelo Nucbe-Mlilo’s video on ‘narratives in suitcases’ as I work with children who are in a sense also on the move, they are children who are accompanying their mothers to stay in a women’s shelter escaping domestic violence. The stories of these children are often not expressed so I will be putting thought into how through my work I can empower some of these children to re-author their dominant story through the use of documentation. Thank you for the great materials.

  126. I’ve found it really useful to re-engage with the use of Therapeutic documents and audiences and have thoroughly enjoyed this chapter in the series.
    I particularly liked David Newman’s presentation and the idea of using therapeutic letters as the actual file note along with using letters to collaborate with outsider witnesses by asking a series of questions for their input.
    I also found the article by Hugh Fox useful, particularly his ideas in constructing a narrative letter for recording a session, as this is probably the area that I would mostly use letters to do. Also the use of ‘documents of rite of passage’ at the end of therapy provides some great ideas.
    It has certainly left me with a new energy for the use of therapeutic documents and I found Hugh Fox’s evidence for their effectiveness very encouraging.
    Thank you.

  127. In this moment I’m in Newcastle, Australia but I’m from Italy.
    There are two main points that caught my attention in this chapter. The first on a practical level is the “Narrative in the suitcase”. It is a beautiful project that I would like to use with groups of adults. The metaphor of the suitcase and the dimension of the “play” can be a very powerful tool for adults too.
    The second point is the outsider witness practice. I found this practice extremely interesting. In my context, the main practices privilege the one-to-one rapport, in other words the exclusive relationship between therapist and client. The introduction of witnesses in this relationship is a way to make the therapy more effective and to extend its effects, because the entire world of the person can be concretely involved.

  128. I have had some clients who already bring in their own journal and use it to refer to in their discussion during a session. They also write down interesting insights gained in the session and thought-provoking questions that I have asked, that they wish to later reflect on.
    This section on documentation has made me more aware that what is said in sessions can be ephemeral, in that it may become lost in all that has been discussed or may become harder to recall for the client after they have left. Very often I am the only one who has written documentation of their story, their hopes, their intentions, and their insights. I would like more of my clients to leave the session with something written that supports in black and white, the development of the alternative story they are working towards. I am also interested in supporting documentation with photos, either taken or chosen by the client and using these photos as an aid to discussion and to thicken their preferred story.

  129. In a church ministry setting the documentation process could be worked nicely into the program. I can see how other parishioners could participate to help recognize preferred stories.

  130. Good afternoon!
    Thank you so much for providing this valuable learning material.
    I highly enjoy the videos.
    Please find below my answers to your questions.
    Love to all

    What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?
    I find it very useful, too, to work with quotes and metaphors both famous ones as well as the ones co-composed by the client and by me that reflect the content of a session.
    Paintings can also help to document a conversation.

    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?
    Team coaching with the help of reflective teams / outsider witnesses for example
    – to find solutions in conflict situations
    – to generate new ideas
    – to open for new possibilities that did not exist before
    – to give feedback
    – to harmonize relations
    – to promote dialogue
    – etc….

  131. I love how you explain the mapping of problems. I have been pastoring for 30 years, and it is wonderful how this adds to my understanding of the healing process. This fits very well with the religious world view.

  132. I’m really grateful for this course – it’s articulating some practices that are ‘outside of the box’ that I have always thought made sense but didn’t know anyone who was using them – like the letter writing and more creative documentation. I really loved that paper and feel I’ve got ‘permission’ to use these ways of working with others. How often have I seen a teenager or an adult who has been to a counsellor for weeks and when I ask what are they doing together, what have they learned about themselves, they say “I don’t know” – this documentation is something I’ll use more now as I transition to private practice although I’m going to try to use it in my casework more as well. I once made a certificate for a mum who successfully stopped breastfeeding (this had been her goal – to get her breasts back”) and I was overwhelmed with how surprised and delighted she was when she got it in the mail. I’d meant it to be a bit playful but to her it meant so much more.

  133. I believe that the witness of positive change helps to fix the result, which is achieved by therapist and interviewee. It is important to reinforce the progress by letters, plans and documentation of achievements. This allows people to visually assess a progress and stay on the same level

  134. It was such a relief to learn about actual experiences of outside witnesses and peer-to-peer collaboration. I have been inclined towards a similar idea for a few years now but I was moving instinctively, following my intuition, and I know that quite a few colleagues from my home country would disagree with the idea. However, I found that I want to build a (so far) small community where my clients’ stories can be validated, their experiences can be seen, their strength and efforts acknowledged. I am now thinking about a project for Russian-speaking immigrants who, wilfully or not, have moved or are moving to other countries. Immigration in itself is a challenging process that makes you question your choices, values and identity. I feel that having such a community, even if in form of written documents for now, would be of help.

  135. The practice of “Living Documents” in a “healing” process is a new and wonderful concept for me but the process itself is not. While studying Film and Television Direction in Berlin, Germany I read several works from André Bazin. He postulated that us film makers all had a “Mummy Complex” because we sort to embalm the moment be it photography, sculpture or moving pictures. “Rescuing the said from the saying of it” seems to me to be part of that human endeavour/need to preserve. We don’t want our skills and knowledges to fly by and be forgotten. Just as a Filmmaker wishes to preserve and be an outside witness to a scene so too, does a Narrative Therapist endeavour through “Living Documents” to bare witness and preserve. However, it is not only about preservation. As I think of those plasticised cards bearing testimony to a persons skills for dealing with their problems I can see how that plastic comes to life – the person takes it out of their wallet and is reassured of what was and can use it to shape their future – it becomes here and now and very much alive.
    I was very moved from the section about “Narratives in a Suitcase”that said, the children need to know that they have a suitcase full of treasure what a challenging job Ncazelo Nucbe-Mlilo does.

    Let me say how much I enjoy seeing and hearing Phillipa Johnson at the beginning and end of each fascinating module. Feels like I could be there in Australia settling down for a cup of tea in the garden and a contemplative chat.

  136. I am a person trying to make a transition from what is ‘the client group’. Reflecting on Ms Nucbo-Milo’s talk about the suitcase project inspires hope. Lots of issues here with whanau [wider family] engaged in prostitution, for me. And dealing with adult victims of trauma, of which this prostitution one source.

    Tho’ i am well skilled- and experienced out here, in the field, still feeling a sense of ‘not belonging’. Will the teaching and, in part the “narrative community” fill the gap? These settings have not always worked for me… but I increasingly sense the presence of wounded healers within the ranks. And, in a broader sense, the woundedness of all healers… and how this helps… thanks…

  137. The role of the outsider witness is strong and meaningful. When outsider witnesses are those with similar experiences, they are a living reminder that the person is not going it alone. When outsider witnesses relate elements of the person’s story to their own lives, they legitimise the person’s experience, transform the person from victim to expert, and emphasise the “no fault” position of the person in relation to the problem.

    Using documentation such as emails and letters is an excellent way to link people with outsider witnesses who are not physically present during therapy conversations. The use of certificates as documents is fascinating. The recipient may choose to go home and display their certificate in a prominent place which can then invite future conversations around the certificate and what it means, thereby increasing the number of outsider witnesses and enabling the celebration of their achievement to continue.

    The idea that a document can be anything – from an email to a suitcase – is incredibly freeing. I was involved in a project that involved participants of a community-centre-based English conversation class participating in a cooking demonstration for the local community. Each participant prepared a favourite recipe from their country of origin and, with the help of the English conversation class facilitator, told the story of why they had chosen to make their dish, why it was significant to them. Then we all shared the food. Later we made a recipe book from that day, which also included the contributors’ stories. Through this module I now know that the recipe book stands as the documentation of that experience, and I have been able to reflect how meaningful that book would have been (and may still be) for the participants, most of who were recent arrivals to Australia.

  138. While listening to the videos and reading the documents, I was wondering about which form of documentation might be appropriate in career counseling. Working with migrants I have found the “Narrative suitcases” particularly inspiring to tackle a problem I often face in my work. The people I meet bring “tattered” stories with them, many of them experience their life as utterly divided into a “before” and an “after” the journey. This cut is often a profound scar that blocks the development of actions and dream about the future.
    I also find documents of acknowledge and ceremonies as useful tools in my contest.

  139. I have used therapeutic documents in the form of a letter typically given at the end of my time with someone. I have received very positive feedback from everyone that I have written a letter to mostly expressing that they can return to the letter when they feel that they may need some reminders or reassurances of their strengths and resiliency. I now am interested to try other forms of documentation that I have learned in this chapter.

  140. Hello,

    Thank you for another brilliant chapter. I have in the past used letters to children and young people I have worked with as a document of our meetings that is more accessible to them than a full formal report. Lettera also give a very tangible way of reinforcing the positives that have come out of a meeting.

    I really loved the suitcase work developed by Ncazelo and is another resource I will keep in mind to use in the future. I also loved the pictorial my journey and it reminds me of an intervention called MAPS I use here in the UK to explore elements of children and young people’s lives.

    The outsider witness is very interesting work. When I trained (as an Educational Psychologist) we did a lot of reflecting team work and it was very powerful.

    Thank you again for such an interesting chapter and the 3 very interesting papers included. I will look forward to the next chapter. 🙂

  141. In my given context, living documents will certainly be relevant. In a collectivistic society like the one I come from, involving the community in the therapeutic process will not only be welcomed but will also help reduce stigma around the process of therapy. Letters recording the session will also be highly relevant in my context given how therapy is often considered vague and nothing concrete to take away from. These letters will not only serve as reminders of the session but will also become a concrete recording for the client to keep.

    Since my current practice is in a school setting, I have been highly intrigued and fascinated by the concept of Outsider-Witnesses. Knowing how common certain concerns experienced y students are, I would like to start inviting students to be outsider-witnesses. With students, I will have to go over their role clearly and will have to be certain as a therapist of how I want to proceed with them in the session. I was wondering if there are any specific resources on engaging students (middle school and high school) as outsider witnesses?

    Looking forward to the next Chapter! 🙂

    • Hi there Lamia,

      Its wonderful to hear that these ideas have been relevant to you and a little bit about where you might take them!

      Here is a link to a paper which might respond to your question about resources on engaging students as outsider witnesses.. A part of the abstract says:

      “We show how the school counsellor and a selected group of students co‐author a new story through a carefully structured series of meetings, and we use real life examples to show how these changes occur”.
      Keywords: bullying, schools, Undercover Teams, narrative therapy, outsider‐witnesses, definitional ceremony

      I hope it might be helpful in some way to your project!

      Warmly, Phillipa

  142. How wonderful to be able to assist people not only by the spoken word,but by the written word also,something I certainly didn’t get to do as a nurse.The written word is powerful indeed,how many of us are affected by reading a particularly moving story or a beautiful poem? I particularly enjoyed the ‘rescuing of what is generative and meaningful-expressions in speech that are vivid, poetic,hopeful’.Words that can be an aside/a ‘throw away’ comment, and how those words can be rescued,pulled out and emphasised.

  143. In our graduate program, we currently use reflecting teams as outsider witnesses in sessions. Each student therapist must request something of themselves, their co-therapist, the supervisors, and the reflecting team. The materials in this lesson have been very instrumental in guiding what I may ask of the R/T in upcoming sessions.

  144. Wow. I’m really intrigued about using documentation in these creative ways! I have on several occasions realized that I have for some clients, a book of their psychological worlds–their experiences, thoughts, feelings and insights, and that I’m the wrong person to have this record! How does it make sense that I or my organization should have these notes, but the people with whom I’m working do not?

    I’m very interested in the letters, the laminated cards and think I could use them both in my work as a therapist. I’m also really fascinated by the idea of an outsider witness and believe that they could be extraordinarily powerful for people. I’m not quite sure about confidentiality and how that would work here in the US, and I also wonder how it would feel for clients, as its so far from the “norm” here as well. But I will continue to think on this for sure.

    I also really enjoyed learning about The Suitcase Project, as I work with refugees (but not children). I will keep that in my back pocket as well 🙂

  145. I am currently in the process of working on a lyric writing course, working with young people with Mental Health issues. Aside from the lyrics themselves, this section has allowed me to question what other forms of documentation/validation might be possible along the way. I love the idea of a shared book of knowledge where the student can all contribute thoughts to a document that sums up their experiences.

    Also I am looking to work with group therapy in my squash coaching, this feel more difficult to incorporate but I think that a personal document summing up on one side the physiological and technical skills gained, and on the other side the emotional, spiritual and psychological skills would make for powerful reading 🙂

    • Jas your project sounds exciting! You might find David Denborough’s work on community song writing interesting as you embark on this work.. Here he writes that “in some contexts, the written word is not accessible to all, whereas songs and music can include most people in any community. There can be room for everyone to either sing or play the rhythm sticks or hold the lyrics up for others to read during the recording process. And perhaps most significantly, with a good melody, songs can remain in one’s mind, available for instant recall in a way that the written word cannot”. You can find his full paper on Community Song Writing and Narrative Practice here..

      Warmly, Phillipa

  146. I found the practice of outsider witnesses appealing. There is a greater audience affirming the person’s positive narrative. It is so different from intervention in that the witnesses are not telling their story, rather they’re hearing the story of the subject.

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