2003: Issue 1

Posted by on Dec 23, 2016 in | 0 comments

Dear Subscriber,

Welcome to the first issue of the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work for 2003. We’re really looking forward to the various publishing projects that we have in store for this year.

This edition consists of three sections. The first contains five accessible and thorough practice-based papers detailing a wide range of narrative practices including: the use of outsider witnesses; letter-writing and re-membering practices within school counselling contexts; working with people who are struggling with problems of substance use; and ways of destabilising the habits of highly effective problems.

The second section contains thoughtful interviews relating to history and healing. Two of these were conducted in South Africa and relate to ways in which Apartheid and Holocaust histories are being engaged with to contribute to healing in the present. The third interview describes the inspiring work of the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York City.

The final section, entitled ‘Voices from Bali’ has been created as a response to the bombing that took place there last year. We have collected the views and perspectives of a number of people who live and work in Bali. It is our hope that these words will remind us of the longer term effects of violence, and that they will draw our attention to the creative and thoughtful responses of the Balinese people.

Thank you for your readership. We look forward to hearing your reflections throughout the year. Your ideas, thoughts, suggestions and questions are what make the process of publishing creative and generative. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on this first issue for 2003.

Warm regards,

Dulwich Centre Publications.

Showing all 9 results

  • Outsider-witness Practices: Some Answers to Commonly Asked Questions— compiled by Maggie Carey & Shona Russell


    The use of outsider witnesses 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 Australia, the USA, Mexico, South Africa and the UK.

  • Using Letters in School Counselling— Katy Batha


    This paper explores the creative use of therapeutic letters in a school counselling context. A number of different types of therapeutic documents are described including letters of introduction and invitation, letters of reflection, letters to keep contact, and letters to summarise co-research.

  • Remembering Meg— Anne Stringer


    This paper describes how a group of young women, in conversation with their school counsellor, found ways to remember and honour the mother of one of their close friends. The paper has been written collaboratively between the school counsellor and the young women involved. It is shared here in the hope that it may offer something to other young women and to other school counsellors.

  • Conversations with Persons Dealing with Problems of Substance Use— Wendy R. West


    This article provides practice-based and narrative-inspired ideas for working with persons who struggle with substance use. The author describes various categories of questions that assist people: to reflect on the ways alcohol, cocaine or other drugs have impacted their lives; to articulate their intentions and purposes in stopping using; to develop skills and abilities for resisting cravings and urges; and to begin to create identities based on new or re-claimed purposes, values, beliefs, and commitments.

  • Counterviewing Injurious Speech Acts: Destabilising Eight Conversational Habits of Highly Effective Problems— Stephen Madigan


    This paper discusses eight internalised injurious speech habits that contribute to the existence and maintenance of problems in people’s lives. The speech habits discussed are self-surveillance/audience, illegitimacy, escalating fear, negative imagination/invidious comparison, internalised bickering, hopelessness, perfection and paralysing guilt. The paper also provides a full discussion on the practice of deconstructing and destabilising these discursive habits. This process includes exposing and locating dialogic habits, counterviewing longstanding problem descriptions, re-remembering aspects of clients’ lives existing outside of the problem descriptions of them, and revitalising possibility and appreciation through therapeutic conversations.

  • Responding with History and Story: An Interview with Joan Nestle— David Denborough


    Joan Nestle is one of the founders of the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York City and has been an instrumental figure in the documentation of lesbian history as well as a highly respected teacher and writer (see reading list below). In this interview, Joan elegantly articulates why she and others chose to respond to the pathologisation of lesbian lives with the creation of history and stories. This interview took place in Adelaide, South Australia. David Denborough was the interviewer.

  • Recreating Our Community – Memory, Restitution and Action: from an interview with Terence D. Fredericks


    In this piece, Terence Fredericks, the Chairman of the District Six Museum Foundation, in Cape Town, South Africa, describes the inspiring work of the District Six Museum. This museum is involved in not only honouring the memory of the community of District Six, from which thousands of people were forcibly removed by the Apartheid regime, but also working with this memory, welcoming people to history, developing meaningful restitution and, importantly, re-creating the community. This piece is derived from an interview conducted by David Denborough.

  • History Shaping the Present: from an interview with Marlene Silbert


    In this piece, Marlene Silbert, the Education Director of the Holocaust Museum in Cape Town, South Africa, describes ways of teaching history that make it relevant to the present. In particular, Marlene describes ways of engaging with Holocaust history that can enable action and healing in present day South Africa. This piece is derived from an interview. Cheryl White, David Denborough and Peter Hollams were present.

  • Voices from Bali: Responding to the October Bombing— Muhammad Arif, Putu Nur Ayomi Janet De Neefe, Sugi B. Lanus Ni Made Marni, Wayan Sarma & Frances Tse


    This piece has been created as a response to the bombing that took place in Bali in October 2002, five months ago. As these words are being written, Australia is preparing to join the USA and Britain to bomb and invade the sovereign country of Iraq many thousands of miles away. Most Australians do not support such a war and are deeply worried about its implications. So too in Bali. Those we spoke to when we visited there last month were unanimous that the looming war in Iraq would bring only further violence and hardship to the world and in turn make the healing of the bombing in Bali much more difficult. The following piece describes some of the ways in which the effects of two bombs in Kuta continue to haunt the people of Bali. As the USA, Britain and Australia prepare a far more devastating attack on the ancient cities of Iraq, a sense of grief visits us. This piece is all about grief, about responses to loss and violence, and about the people of Bali – Australia’s neighbours


  1. Listening to Tileah I was provoked to contemplate my own use of language when working with clients. I enjoy the narrative model of practice and I am aware that for some there is definitely stigma attached to the process of counselling or therapy. I have only had one experience of working with an Indigenous person as a client and I will be sure to look at my use of language. I like the idea of it just being a yarn, it takes the pressure and onus off of the client to do something.

  2. Hello:

    This is Andrea from Toronto.

    I found particularly helpful the discussion in the FAQ around the use of metaphors of conflict and combat. I expect to be working in healthcare settings with critically ill patients and their loved ones (mostly children and parents), and I anticipate hearing them use these kinds of combative metaphors during our conversations. I also anticipate meeting many people who are mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted from “fighting” these problems. I appreciated the comments in the FAQ about combative metaphors, and the suggestions around exploring other kinds of metaphors which may be less conflict-laden and draining on their emotional resources. Thanks again for making this material available!

  3. I have started to use collaboration with clients when I am asked to write a report. I ask clients what they see as the areas of change and challenge of which they want others to be aware. I also at times share my report with the client first to be sure it accurately reflects their experience. In this way they are both acknowledging their ongoing journey and being acknowledged for the work they have done.

  4. Mike here, in London. I too was interested in “We were unwittingly adjusting people to poverty or other forms of injustice by addressing their symptoms, without affecting broader social and structural change.” It’s a really difficult question. I was involved for about 10 years in working with people suffering from homelessness. Sue Mann’s story really rang true for me. One thing I was involved in was a choir for marginalised people, literally helping them find their voices. That, I felt, was useful, and collaborative. But I have always been suspicious of things like distributing left-over sandwiches to people sleeping rough on the street, as if that made it OK for them to be there as long as we give them some stale sandwiches. Or giving them tents or sleeping bags. What message does it send? Even though it may be well-meaning.

  5. Hi, I’m Mike. I work as a couples counsellor in London, England. My main training was 50% psychodynamic and 50% systemic. Narrative work was touched on briefly, for one module, and I am looking forward to learning more. Couples certainly do bring stories, often rather thin stories. “My partner is selfish.” Or “My partner had an affair”. Full stop. That’s all there is to know. Even in happy couples, people seem to get shaped into rather thin roles: this partner is the one who’s good with people, that partner is the one who’s good with money, this one cooks, that one drives. If the relationship ends, they may discover, actually *I* also can drive, cook, manage my money, make friends, I am a complete person.

  6. I think it will be an important part of my practice to investigate with clients which elements of our systems (social, cultural, political, economic) that are contributing to or mitigating their problems and suffering. I was particularly struck by the following sentence from the Just Therapy article: “We were unwittingly adjusting people to poverty or other forms of injustice by addressing their symptoms, without affecting broader social and structural change.” I think it is incumbent upon those of us in helping professions to work with the people we are helping to begin addressing the systemic issues that are contributing to (or creating) their problems. Otherwise, we may fall into this trap of “adjusting people to injustice.”

  7. Hello! My name is Andrea and I am a Masters student in a spiritual care program located in Toronto.

    After reviewing this chapter, I’m reflecting upon the question that was raised: “how do we respond to grief when that grief has been caused by injustice?” and thinking about it in the context of working with seriously ill children and their families in a hospital/hospice setting. Patients and families in that setting also face grief that has been caused by injustice (in the form of incurable illness), and I see how the narrative metaphor can be used to help those families begin to reclaim their own lives in the face of tremendous loss caused by uncontrollable circumstances. I can see how the Articles of the Narrative Therapy Charter of Story-Telling Rights would be tremendously helpful when working with patients and families as a framework for telling and receiving their stories about their lives and their problems.

    For me, the material in this chapter also raises the question of how we can help to facilitate healing in a world where systems are seemingly becoming more unjust and creating deep suffering. My initial thought is that we continue to listen to each other’s stories with deep compassion, and the teachings of this course will help to provide us with new ideas and skills on how to do this.

  8. Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk was incredible. The one line where she said “a single story creates a stereotype. And the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete”. This blew my mind. I am ashamed to have ever participated in the single story belief of anyone let alone whole cultures, communities and countries , continents and so on. I know that moving forward I will endeavour to hear more stories and to encourage others to tell their story. I am about to run a photovoice narrative project to do just this, give a whole community the opportunity to change their stereotype.

  9. “Narrative therapy doesn’t believe in a ‘whole self’ which needs to be integrated but rather that our identities are made up of many stories, and that these stories are constantly changing.”

    I like this, I find it very compatible with my beliefs as a Buddhist. In Buddhism, as I understand it, mistaken beliefs about a solid, fixed “self” are the source of our suffering.

    I work with couples using EFT for couples, and in that approach, there is a big emphasis on externalising the problem as “the cycle that you get trapped in”, and encouraging couples to come up with their own name for it.

  10. Thank you for this. I am a counsellor, and trying to make as much as possible of my notes “in quotes”, that is, writing down things that the clients said. And not my own opinions.

  11. hello

    I the ED of a Friendship Center in Terrace, BC where were mostly target the indigenous population in our city of 12,000. I found your video interesting and something that we may want to try. Havee you been able to to do any follow ups studies to gage the long term effect of your program?


    Cal Albright
    Kermode Friendship Center
    Terrace, BC

    • Hi Cal, thanks for the interest. At this point the only followup has been through conversations with with people who return to volunteer on additional walks or engage with our other programs.

      However, a group of fourth year medical students at a local university have offered to run a pre and post measured study / report in 2020 as part of their studies which should be interesting.

      Let me know if you would like more information.


  12. Thank you for this overview of Narrative Therapy. I am returning to practice after some time away, and these reminders are timely and appreciated.

  13. Hi Chris

    I really enjoyed watching your video about Narrative Walks. My project is based in Blaenau Gwent, in South Wales, Uk. I’m wondering whether I might use such an approach in my work with our Youth Service, who support young people between the ages of 11 and 25. Have you any thoughts on this? Are there any resources available, either free or to purchase?

    Best wishes


    • Hi Paul, m

      Much of my early attempts of the program were with the 15-20 year old age bracket and I found it worked really well. When I recently had an opportunity to run the program again with this age bracket – I extended the finish time so that could spend more time at the stop points and have a fire at the last resting place to talk about our intentions after the walk. This meant that we used head torches for the 2km which added a bit of a sense of theatre to the day. It was pretty cool.

      If you email me on hello@embarkpsych.com I can send you the manual. Or ask any other questions via this page so others might share in the answers.