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Welcome to this first issue of the year! It’s always a bit of an adventure sending the first journal to the printer and awaiting people’s responses.
This issue contains papers around a number of themes, first of all ‘Psychiatry and narrative ideas’. We’re pleased to include here the first of a series of papers by psychiatrist SuEllen Hamkins in which she explores the use of narrative practices within her psychiatric practice. This paper follows on from the formation of a group of psychiatrists who are interested in narrative ideas, which occurred in Oaxaca, Mexico at the 6th International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference. The second paper in this issue, also by a psychiatrist, Nacho Maldonaldo, was a keynote at this conference and describes experiences of mental health work within Argentina, Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico. The third paper in this initial section is by Pam Burr Smith and describes an exercise used with groups in a psychiatric hospital setting. It involves the use of humour and novel ways of inviting externalised conversations.
The next section of this journal focuses on ‘Stories from working with men’ and includes two papers, by Mark Gordon and Larry Towney, which were given as keynote addresses at an international summer school of narrative practice that took place at Dulwich Centre in Adelaide late last year. A third keynote from this session, by Art Fisher on ‘Narrative possibilities for unpacking homophobia’, will be published in an upcoming issue!
Two papers on ‘Stories from working with women’ are then included. The first, by Cindy Gowen and Stephanie Paravicini, describes the ways in which young women in a Californian high school are taking a stand against sexual violence. The second, by Shona Russell, discusses the responsibility of therapists to open spaces in conversations with women to examine cultural and social conditions that can easily remain invisible.
The next piece, ‘Was it a girl or was it a boy?’, by Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad, a bi-gendered doctor and family therapist in Norway, then throws into question issues of gender and sexual identity!
Finally, the journal concludes with two pieces that both involve ethical explorations. Bill Madsen offers a training exercise developed to assist workers to examine inadvertent disempowering professional practices that may have negative effects on the people who consult them. A paper by Leonie Sheedy, about the experience of former state wards, foster children and those who grew up in Children’s Homes, invites social workers and other health professionals to come to terms with the history of these professions.
It is a thoughtful collection and we hope you enjoy it. You will also notice that for the first time we have included a new section, Recent News. With so much happening in relation to narrative therapy ideas, we thought we might institute a column which lets readers know of recent events. If you have ideas as to what we could include next time, please write to us and let us know. Thanks!