Narrative Therapy Charter of Story-Telling Rights by David Denborough

G’day and welcome to this Friday Afternoon on-line launch of the Narrative Therapy Charter of Story-Telling Rights. David Denborough works at Dulwich Centre and Dulwich Centre Foundation and this Charter is part of a broader project in relation to ‘narrative justice’ that Dulwich Centre Foundation International is currently engaged with:

* When meeting with people whose problems are the result of human rights abuses and injustices, how can we ensure we do not separate healing from justice?

This Charter proposes a framework for considering storytelling rights. We hope it will spark discussions about the rights of people who have experienced trauma/social suffering in relation to how their stories are told and received. We invite you to discuss this Charter with us, with friends, with colleagues, in your organisation and elsewhere. You may like to endorse this Charter or offer suggestions, changes, and or additions. Welcome to this Friday Afternoon discussion!



Further reading:

A human rights approach to psychotherapy by Khader Rasras

A framework for receiving and documenting testimonies of trauma by David Denborough

The Narrative Therapy Charter of Story-Telling Rights has been inspired and challenged by the work of the:

* Just Therapy Team from New Zealand
* Reclaiming our stories, reclaiming our lives project
* Ibuka: the national genocide survivors association of Rwanda
* Treatment and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture in Ramallah, Palestine

The Charter is based on narrative principles of responding to trauma (see Michael White, 2004; or Trauma: Narrative responses to traumatic experience).

For discussions about human rights discourse see:

Gustavo Esteva & Madhu Suri Prakah (1998) Grassroots Port-Modernism: remaking the soil of cultures. London: Zed Books.

For information about narrative therapy responses to trauma see:

Michael White (2004) ‘Working with people who are suffering the consequences of multiple trauma: A narrative perspective.’ International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, 1:45-76. Reprinted in the book Trauma: Narrative responses to traumatic experience.

Published on February 25, 2015

This Post Has 28 Comments

  1. I believe Article 2 of the Story-Telling rights by David Denborough, “Everyone has the right for their life to be understood of what they have been though…” and Article 4 that speaks of everyone having the right to be free from having problems caused by the trauma, suffering and injustice located inside them, as if there is something wrong with them is very significant as I feel that as humans we can be very judgemental towards others. “The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem.” This reminds me of what David Denborough speaks of in his book “Retelling The Stories of Our Lives,” as a “Critical witness.” As a friend, family member or therapist we can cause significant damage if we agree with how the person sees themselves or go along with what the person (perpetrator) or event that affected them says. If we do this, then I believe we are de-humanising and disempowering the individual, rather then being an “Acknowledging witness,” in which we acknowledge their pain, knowing we can’t provide justice, but we can listen for the multiple stories in their story, and listen for ways they responded to and overcame the problem and what we have learnt through their story.

  2. I am particularly struck by Article 1, “Everyone has the right to define their experiences and problems in their own words and terms.” I live in the U.S., where counseling is typically billed as an hour-long session. So there is this sense of being rushed. Also, when we visit our doctor or even list symptoms at the hospital, there is that sense that we have to list symptoms succinctly and get to the point faster than our individual cultures (I’m originally from Ireland) have trained us to do. The result is that we and our clinician miss the story or under-appreciate the context of the story in the name of expediency or a quick-fire, or easy-fit diagnosis.

  3. Article 4 stands out to me quite prominently. “The person is not the problem; the problem is the problem.” It can be very difficult for people to see this when they are sharing thin stories; however, emphasis on the hidden events or thick stories gives hope that this can change. I am also a firm believer that the client should be able to share their stories on their terms; this is a powerful way from them to connect to the meaning and for the therapist to connect to them. Building a relationship in this way is important.

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