Hugh Fox, UK
People on the courses I teach are always delighting me with the ways in which they interpret these ideas creatively in practice. The ideas and practices remain inspirational to people. One innovative example I can bring to mind is by Carry Gorney. She has used these ideas in a year-long project called ‘Baby’s first year’. She worked with eight young mothers who were predicted by demographic factors to ‘fail’ as mothers. She initially got involved while they were still pregnant. She worked with three colleagues and recruited eight volunteers to home visit the young people. She also ran a group program for the mothers. The whole project drew heavily on narrative ideas, and used video to record sweet moments and interactions between the mothers and babies, records which were then given to the mothers. At the end of the project, they made a presentation about it, including many beautiful images, to the local ‘great and good’ in Sheffield. The presentation lasted for two hours, all the mothers and their babies attended, and throughout not one of the babies cried! This project is currently being replicated both in Sheffield and in a context involving refugees in Liverpool.
Georgia Illiopoulous’ use of the Tree of Life with people living with AIDS is inspirational. A colleague of her’s, Angela Byrne, was so excited on hearing about it that she took the ideas and used them with adults with mental health issues.
In relation to my own particular context, I am now working in a ‘Tier 4’ child and adolescent mental health service for younger children. This is very much dominated by the medical model. My hope here is that narrative ideas might place the children as active participants in working towards the resolution of their difficulties, rather than the current framework of seeing them as subjects for assessment and treatment.