Mindfulness and Narrative Therapy By Ian Percy

Ian Percy offers ways of conceptualising mindfulness that includes, and diverges from, prevailing discourses and practices. While mindfulness can be thought of as a moment-to-moment non-evaluative or nonjudgmental practice, it is also associated with remembering, imagination and ethics in Buddhist traditions. Various purposes and practices of mindfulness are relevant for therapeutic meetings. In this video, Ian will offer a brief guided method that brings gentle attention to somatic experiences before proposing that mindfulness can assist in sustaining preferred skills and the consolidation of desired values and ethics. These expanded applications of mindfulness can be integrated with storied meaning-making.


Ian Percy MSW PhD is a senior therapist, supervisor, consultant, trainer and published author in narrative and mindfulness approaches. He is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker and an Accredited Psychotherapy Supervisor with The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. Since 1997 Ian has taught narrative approaches to social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, psychotherapists, nurses, teachers, chaplains, and occupational therapists. He has given workshops and papers at state, national and international conferences, and received two university awards for academic excellence. In 2016 he was a Plenary Speaker on spiritualities at the 8th International Conference on Social Work in Health and Mental Health held in Singapore. As well, Ian has studied and practiced various forms of meditation, including mindfulness approaches, for 40 years.  His recently completed PhD thesis researched the similarities and differences between therapeutic mindfulness in Australia and Bhutan.

Published September 1, 2017

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Sarah

    Hi Ian,

    I have really enjoyed listening to this presentation. I have attended training on this topic previously and I am beginning to make sense of the information. My intention of revisited this is that I would like to explore this more with parents with babies and young children.

    Thank you for the presentation.

    Warm regards

  2. Jean Marie Pearce

    Thank you so deeply for this meaning making between the body/ soma and narrative. I very much like the idea of how the body is part of the story and thinking about how so often it is left behind.. It is so helpful to link these concepts as I am a beginning therapist working to learn both these ways of having conversation and have them be integrated in meaningful and ethical way. I am interested in hearing more about how you arrive in collaborative conversation at these mindful moments early on in your dialogue with people, without using it as a “expert”way of engaging? I hope that question makes sense, and I’m happy to rephrase if it doesn’t.

    1. Ian Percy

      Apologies for taking so long to respond Jean Marie! I much appreciate your interest.
      Great question about how to transition into mindfulness/narrative. Like narrative questions, there have to be certain conditions before inviting people into these practices. There is a necessary timing and a receiving context. And like narrative therapy questions, mindfulness can be embraced, modified or declined. There is no assumption that attending to somatic expressions of the problem or the preferred will be helpful. Well, there’s a lot more of course :)
      All the best

  3. Jude Mann

    Thanks, Ian, for sharing ways that you are ‘mingling’ Mindfulness and Narrative therapy practices.
    I’m a keen student of both Buddhist-inspired meditation practices and Narrative practices, and I often think they have a lot in common – that my interest in both comes from the same place, a concern for a kind and respectful exploration of people’s local and particular experiences and knowledges. I do agree that Mindfulness and Narrative practices can support each other. In fact, I really think we’re missing something if we don’t enquire about what our body ‘knows’! This reminds me of a couple of workshops at the 2nd European conference of Narrative therapy in Barcelona, 2016, that described ways of bringing together body/ movement and narrative; also of Sarah Walther’s ideas about ‘re-membering our bodies’.
    I’d be interested to know more about how you do the moving back and forth between the somatic and storying, and what effects this has for the person at the centre. Have you, or are you thinking of writing up any accounts of this work?
    Thanks, again. Your talk encourages me to keep on exploring ways to bring mindfulness of body to narrative, and narrative to body.

    1. Ian Percy

      This reply has been a long time coming Jude! Apologies. I much appreciate your interest.
      I am writing on this work and hope to publish in the nearish future. Also I have been offering training for many years on this kind of integration. Please do get in touch at narrativetherapy@hotmail.com if you want to keep in contact.

  4. Emmae

    Thanks for the video presentation on mindfulness. I have been asked to explain mindfulness to those I meet in various grieving stages and also in domestic violence work. I will refer others to this link.

    Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    1. Ian Percy

      I appreciate it Emmae. Please do get in touch again if you have any further thoughts on the presentation or other aspects of mindfulness and narrative practices.
      Best wishes

  5. Ian Percy

    Thanks so much Linda for your interest in the integration of mindfulness and narrative. As you may know, I recently presented with David Pare at the Re-authoring Teaching gathering in Vermont on this topic. I believe this direction fits well with re-imagining narrative practices. I am not sure about questions for the group but here are a few questions I constantly ask myself (there are many others too!):

    In what ways can mindfulness be depicted and what effects could a particular depiction have on the therapist, the person attending and the aspiration for collaborative practices?

    How can mindfulness support narrative approaches and narrative support mindful attention?

    In what ways can mindfulness contribute to understanding the effects of problems, to recognising various shifts in positioning, and to the development of beneficial and preferred storylines?

    How can various discourses and applications of mindfulness and narrative be connected while staying committed to the ethico-politics of practice?

    Hope this is helpful?
    Best wishes

  6. Linda Moxley-Haegert

    We have thought that it would be helpful to bring notice to this video to the Facebook Narrative Practice Group. We have been discussing in our leadership group the idea of re-imagining narrative practices as David Epston has been encouraging and thought of this as an example. Are there any particular questions you think could be useful to give to the group regarding your integration practice of mindfulness and narrative therapy. Thanks for your presentation.

Leave a Reply