2003: Issue 2

Posted by on Dec 23, 2016 in | 0 comments

Dear Subscriber,

Hello again!

This edition of the journal focuses on the issue of community practice. How can narrative ideas be engaged with in work with communities of people?

The first three papers included here all address this question. The first, ‘The same in difference’, relates to a community of experience: those people who live with physical disabilities or visual impairments. This paper describes the work of the Peer Counsellors of the Irish Wheelchair Association and the National Council for the Blind of Ireland. Their work questions many taken-for-granted assumptions and offers practitioners new ways of responding to the experience of disability.

The second paper, ‘Narrative practice and community assignments’ by Michael White, explores the relevance of narrative practices to working with communities which are facing various predicaments and describes the principles that have informed a range of recent community assignments.

The paper pays particular attention to addressing the psychological pain and emotional distress that is the outcome of trauma, as well as describing the consultation phase and the community-wide gathering phase of these community assignments.

The third paper is by Yvonne Sliep and is titled ‘Building partnerships in responding to vulnerable children: A rural African community context’. This paper documents a project in rural Malawi and describes some emerging principles to assist community workers who are seeking to respond to vulnerable children in poverty-stricken environments.

We are pleased to publish these three diverse papers on the theme of community practice.

The second section of this journal edition contains a paper that we are very excited about: ‘Feminism, therapy and narrative ideas’. This paper, compiled by Shona Russell and Maggie Carey, is the result of considerable collaboration over the past six months. We hope the publication of this piece will stimulate thinking, ideas and conversation. So much so, that we are requesting that readers join us in engaging in an ongoing project around this theme. Upon reading this paper, if you have any thoughts or reflections we would very much like to hear from you. More information about the ongoing project can be found at the end of Shona and Maggie’s paper.

Putting together this journal issue has stretched our thinking and seeing it published is invigorating. We look forward to hearing from you about the experience of reading it and grappling with the ideas contained within.

Warm regards,

Cheryl White,
David Denborough,
Jane Hales,
Dulwich Centre Publications.


 

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  • The Same in Difference: The Work of the Peer Counsellors of the Irish Wheelchair Association and the National Council of the Blind of Ireland—

    $9.90

    This paper describes the work and insider knowledges of the Peer Counsellors of the Irish Wheelchair Association and the National Council of the Blind of Ireland. Crafted from a series of interviews, this paper consists of four parts: ‘History’, ‘Why we are involved in this work’, ‘Insider knowledges’, and ‘Principles of practice’. By questioning many taken-for-granted assumptions, it is hoped that this paper will offer practitioners alternative ways of responding to the experience of disability.

  • Narrative Practice and Community Assignments— Michael White

    $9.90

    This paper describes explorations of the relevance of narrative practices to working with communities which are facing various concerns and predicaments. These explorations have been undertaken in the context of community assignments that have been initiated in response to approaches from communities. In describing these explorations, this paper highlights the assumptions that have oriented our participation in these initiatives and some of the principles of narrative practice that we have found to be of particular importance in them. As well, this paper presents some special considerations in regard to addressing the psychological pain and emotional distress that is the outcome of trauma; discusses the priority given to the development of partnerships between the members of our team and between team members and community members; and provides an account of the structure of the community-wide gathering phase of these assignments.

  • Building Partnerships in Responding to Vulnerable Children: A Rural African Community Context— Yvonne Sliep

    $9.90

    The question of how to respond to vulnerable children continues to confront us in Southern Africa today. This article documents a project in rural Malawi and describes some emerging principles to assist community workers who are seeking to respond to vulnerable children in poverty-stricken environments. A key focus involves the building of partnerships with all concerned.

  • Feminism, Therapy and Narrative Ideas: Exploring Some Not So Commonly Asked Questions— compiled by Shona Russell & Maggie Carey

    $9.90

    In this paper we have been interested to engage with some not so commonly asked questions about feminism, therapy and narrative ideas. So we asked a number of therapists who are engaged with narrative ideas some questions about what feminism means to them, how it influences their work and what feminist issues they are currently grappling with. What followed was an invigorating and challenging process.

    Many of the people we approached expressed that they wished they could spend more time thinking about these sorts of questions. Some people spoke of regret that these sorts of conversations are not more common.

    In response, we would like to invite all readers to become involved in an ongoing project around these issues. In future editions of the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work we will be organising a regular column on the theme ‘feminism, therapy and narrative ideas’. At the end of this piece we have listed a number of different themes about which we would love to hear from practitioners. We hope that the following questions and answers will spark your imagination and that you will then write to us with your thoughts and reflections.

    But first, on with the questions – and perhaps the first one is the most difficult … What is feminism?

1,972 Comments

  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?

    Regards

    Cal Albright
    ED
    Kermode Friendship Center
    http://www.keremodefriendship.ca
    Terrace, BC
    Canada

    • 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.

      CD

  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

    Paul

    • 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.

      CD

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