2002: Issue 3

Posted by on Dec 2, 2016 in | 0 comments

2002-no-3Welcome to this third issue of the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work.

Here at Dulwich Centre, in Adelaide, the first signs of Spring are becoming apparent and we’re all pretty pleased about this!

As we approach our summer, conversations are still bubbling here about the international narrative therapy conference that was held in June at Spelman College, Atlanta Georgia. We would like to acknowledge one more time all those who were a part of creating this event. We’d especially like to recognise the generosity of Spelman College and the African-American community of Atlanta for welcoming us all and hosting us in the ways that they did. We’d also like to acknowledge the Colour Guard of the Keetowah Band of the Cherokee who literally drove across the country to welcome us to the land. It was, quite simply, an extraordinary event. Planning is now underway for the next international conference which is to be held in Liverpool UK in July 2003.

After returning from Atlanta we have been busy preparing this issue of the journal. Over the course of this initial subscription year we are determined to provide articles for therapists, community workers, social workers and other health professionals on a diversity of themes and in a range of writing styles. Subscribers will have noticed that the previous two issues have offered practice-based papers alongside easy-toread interviews and reviews.

We’ve been delighted with the warm feedback we have received from readers about the accessibility and practical nature of previous issues and how the papers are proving to be of assistance to practitioners’ work. This is certainly our hope and we appreciate any feedback that can assist us fulfilling it.

We’ve also received letters acknowledging how moving some of the stories within the previous two issues have been. The themes of ‘The Question of Forgiveness’ and ‘AfricanAmerican perspectives: healing past and present’ provided considerable scope for the sharing of stories from different parts of the world.

This particular issue is based back here at Dulwich Centre. The three papers in this journal focus in on the nitty-gritty practice of narrative therapy and the theory that informs it. The first paper, by Sue Mann and Shona Russell describes in detail the use of some of the maps of narrative practice in working with women survivors of childhood sexual abuse. We hope this paper will be of relevance and assistance not only to practitioners who are working in this particular area but to all practitioners who are trying to put the ideas of narrative therapy into practice.

The second paper is entitled ‘Re-membering: responding to commonly asked questions’. It has been created through a collaborative process, co-ordinated by Maggie Carey and Shona Russell, and involving therapists from North America, Australia, Austria and England. This accessible paper, in question and answer format, seeks to provide clarification about re-membering practices. It will be helpful to those new to these ideas as well as those more experienced. It will also, we believe, be a useful teaching tool.

The second half of this issue then consists of a new paper by Michael White entitled ‘Addressing personal failure’. It is a paper that offers thorough explorations of theory and practice. Detailed thinking about modern power, and how this is linked to experiences of personal failure, is accompanied by moving transcripts of therapeutic conversations. A therapeutic map for use with people struggling with a sense of personal failure is offered, as is an exercise to assist practitioners in becoming familiar with using this map. This paper hasn’t been designed for practitioners who are just beginning their explorations of narrative therapy. Instead, it explores new realms of practice and ways of understanding that we believe will intellectually stretch and inspire readers.

Within this issue therefore, we reckon there’s something for everyone – whether you are new to explorations of narrative therapy, or have been working with narrative practices for some time.

On a practical note, you’ll notice that in this issue each paper begins with a formal abstract. Various libraries have been asking us to do this for many years as it makes their task of referencing individual articles much easier. You’ll also notice that once again this edition is over the 72 pages that each issue is supposed to be! We don’t seem to be able to help this … and we don’t suppose you will mind.

We hope your reading of this issue of the journal, which provides explorations of both theory and practice, stretches your thinking, just as producing each issue stretches ours!


Showing all 3 results

  • Narrative Ways of Working with Women Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse— Sue Mann and Shona Russell


    The following practice-based paper describes narrative ways of working with women survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Through the paper, stories from women survivors are shared. The authors also make links between the work they are doing and a range of commitments informed by feminism and poststructuralism.

  • Re-membering: Responding to Commonly Asked Questions— Shona Russell & Maggie Carey


    Re-membering is a therapeutic practice commonly engaged with by those interested in narrative therapy. This accessible paper offers an introduction to, and clarification of, some of the intricacies of this practice. This paper was created through a collaborative process involving well-respected therapists from North America, Australia, Austria and England. For ease of reading, it is structured in a question and answer format.

  • Addressing Personal Failure— Michael White


    The phenomenon of personal failure has grown exponentially over recent decades. Never before has the sense of being a failure to be an adequate person been so freely available to people, and never before has it been so willingly and routinely dispensed. This paper describes therapeutic options relevant to addressing this sense of personal failure. It also describes the operations of modern power, for it is the rise of a distinctly modern version of power that is associated with the dramatic growth of failure. Offering a map to guide therapeutic explorations in this area, and interspersed with transcripts of therapeutic conversations, this paper then concludes with a ‘failure conversations exercise’ to assist in the development of practice skills.


  1. I’m Clayre Sessoms from Vancouver, BC, Canada, traditionally known as Coast Salish Territories. I acknowledge that my work takes place on the ancestral, unceded, and occupied territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Nations of the Coast Salish People whose relationship with the land is ancient, primary, and enduring. I’m an uninvited settler in what is colonially known as Vancouver. Because my place of work is on stolen land I commit to support a reconciliation, which includes reparations and the return of land. Here I study counselling psychology and art therapy, and I get to incorporate narrative therapy at my practicum placement, a site that provides free counselling services for LGBTQ2S individuals.

    These materials help me to begin to wrap my head around the complexities of narrative therapy. I especially enjoyed learning about how others have used narrative therapy in practical counselling settings.

    I’m moved by how we often tend to hear, accept, or retell the thinnest stories of our lives and the lives of others. I imagine that not valuing the richness of an individual’s diverse range of stories, perhaps, it has been much easier to cling to tired old preconceived notions about others, which can cause undue harm.

    I’m left thinking about the TEDTalk by Chimamanda Adichie about the dangers of accepting a singular story of someone else, rather than leaning in and committing to understand the wholeness of that person’s narrative.

    I look forward to continuing to learn. Thank you to The Dulwich Centre for providing this accessible forum. <3

  2. in what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?

    As a peer worker most of my work was entering into collaborations with young people. I would use curiosity to further inquire into their experience, and looking back wow these narrative practices would have been amazing to use in our youth group discussions! We would use art mostly in telling stories. Many of the young people heard voices and saw characters only they could see. They would enjoy painting these voices, externalising the character, giving it a name and talking about the story and nature of the relationship between the voice and the character. I also enjoyed illiciting these stories, as I could tell they would begin to separate themselves from the voices, allowing for guilt and shame to reduce.

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?

    The one difficult way of entering into these practices was the note writing. The managerial culture of my last workplace meant it was not considered good practice to have clients sit with us to write notes. In fact most clients probably were unaware that workers did regularly make notes each time they had contact with the centre. We were a strengths based centre that thrived on person centred practice. I think there is a bit of a stereotype that note writing is quite clinical and removed from person centred practice, hence a certain avoidance of bringing up notes in front of clients.

    If these ways of working fit for you, what next steps could you take to build partnerships/collaborations in your work?

    I definitely believe I could continue to use art to help young people tell their alternative stories. In mental health many workers draw thin conclusions of clients – bipolar, poor attachment, violent, with even their strengths really talked about in third person. It would be great to start drawing peoples strengths out with the use of story telling, so that clients can start to own their strengths, rather than have clinicans cherry pick these out.

  3. Thank you to Tileah for a wonderful presentation. I love hearing the word “yarn” used in this powerful way (Americans also have that term). The practice of “translating”, of shifting concepts into language that can be more usefully heard, is very powerful. As coaches we can make good use of this to help clients uncover their hidden or forgotten resources.

  4. These stories are amazing examples of what we can discover when we hold onto our “beginner’s mind” and remember that the other person (client, patient) has the information and understanding, not us. We talk a lot in leadership development about “co-creating” and I think this is a beautiful example of two very complementary roles: the person who has the story and the person who helps to explore and shape it.

  5. I like the idea of narrative – there is something about giving people the power to create a narrative, rather than simply appearing in a story told by someone else. Within the narrative metaphor, I especially enjoy the fabric metaphor – the idea of strands. These may touch each other, or not, may go well together in tone or color, or not. But again, there is some power in creating and weaving the narrative.
    In my own work with coaching and leadership development, I find that the emphasis on narrative(s) helps make things more tangible, and therefore brings them to their true scale, instead of letting them take on imaginary and unclearly described proportions.

  6. I love this. Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger. Such a powerful sentiment. Sometimes through trauma, it is hard to access the words that really encapsulate that experience – though using the written word does help us access those hard to utter parts of our memories … in those cases though perhaps the story we tell ourselves is not one that makes us feel strong in the first instance – so finding a way to tell that story in a way that focuses on the strength of surviving to tell that story is just amazing!