Isabelle Laplante and Nicolas de Beer, France


Michael White was an exceptional teacher. One of his great skills was to make connections between social work and philosophy and pedagogy, and the development of important concepts in the practice. Personally, he gave us the curiosity and the excitement to explore further European philosophers and French and Italian historians and begin to make relevant connexions. These European thinkers give light to and confirm reflections and actions of Michael White, who is now himself inscribed in a steady line of philosophers.

We are very much into research and development and keep exploring, teaching, and working further with different possibilities:

  • narrative identity and ‘time and story’ from P. Ricoeur and identity reflections developed by F. Varela
  • comparing the work of French and Italian historians with the dominant story (great history) and preferred story (small history) – J. Revel, G. Levi
  • we have worked different ideas, from thinkers such as Korzybsky, Bateson, Dilts, Vygotsky, and White, to formalise a meta-map that Isabelle presented in Brighton last July
  • rediscover the exceptional narrative work of Marcel Proust on curiosity, details, and experience and on the position of narrator and narration
  • continue the reflection initiated by Art Fisher about the ideas of Ricoeur, Hume, and Derrida.

We share these researches, reflections, and practices with all our students. We also translated Michael White’s last book to help spread his ideas in French-speaking countries.

The world of professional and workplace coaching is an emblematic context to practice narrative practices, because coaching has a political dimension. Modern power is really present in companies, and salaries are vehicles of this power. Externalisation practices are really relevant with teams in companies – they can provide a way to address cultural issues that occur in contexts of power in ways that not blaming of management, or cause problems for workers.

Last but not the least, we now have a 10-day training event twice a year and a summer workshop, so more French practitioners are being trained in narrative ideas.

(To read articles about narrative therapy in French, see Dulwich Centre’s French narrative therapy resources page. For more articles in French, and to find out more about narrative therapy in France, visit Isabelle and Nicolas’ website)

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