2006: Issue 1

Posted by on Dec 17, 2016 in | 0 comments

Dear Reader,

This journal issue has been quite some time in the making. There have been so many conversations that have shaped the papers that are included here. Focusing this year on the theme, ‘Responding to Trauma’, has meant witnessing more than usual the violence, trauma and abuse that is a part of life for many people. It has also meant coming to know about inspiring work in different parts of the world, from individuals and organisations who are dedicated to responding to trauma in ways that make a difference. Stories of this work are included here. We hope that these stories will spark conversations in your own context and lead to continuing creativity in your own work.

Some of the questions that are considered in this issue include:

•   As therapists, how can we respond when natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, result in hundreds of thousands of people being evacuated to the city in which we live? What role can we play?
•   When working with children who have endured significant trauma, how can we ensure our conversations do not contribute to re-traumatisation? How can we provide an alternative territory of identity for these children to stand in as they begin to give voice to their experiences?
•   What occurs behind the electric fences of Australia’s immigration detention centres? And what can a counsellor do who works within them?
•   How can we remember the life and work of Simon Wiesenthal, who died while this publication was being put together? And what difference can this make to our work?
•   When receiving and documenting the testimonies of those who have been subjected to trauma, violence and abuse, how can this be done in ways that are not re-traumatising and that, instead, contribute to redressing the effects of trauma in the person’s life? How can these testimonies then be used for broader purposes?
•   When working with religious families who have experienced significant trauma, how can text and spiritual practice be a part of the healing process?
•   When working in a context like the Acid Survivors Foundation in Bangladesh, how can narrative ideas assist to unearth and thicken the values that shape our work?
•   When one’s work is occurring in a context of occupation, and the trauma that people are experiencing is not past or post, but is continuing, how can workers respond?
•   How can narrative ideas be used to shape therapeutic gatherings for Indigenous women?
•   How can we move away from thin descriptions of resilience that attribute success to something inside an individual alone, and instead in our work develop rich descriptions of resilience?
•   How can we assist survivors of political violence, war and terror to speak the unspeakable?
•   How can narrative ideas assist us to walk alongside women on their journeys to reclaim their lives from the effects of domestic violence.

The papers included here are from Bangladesh, Israel, USA, UK, The Palestinian Territories & Australia. In the second part of this journal, two thorough practice-based papers are also included. The first relates to work with women with physical differences and disabilities, and the second relates to work with people whose lives are affected by substance use.

It is with a sense of anticipation that we send this collection to you. It’s been quite a process to put it together and we are looking forward to hearing your responses.

Warm regards,

Cheryl White & David Denborough

P.S. We would like to acknowledge the following people who have acted as readers and reviewers of papers in this journal: Norma Akamatsu, Chris Behan, Walter Bera, Pennie Blackburn, Maggie Carey, Anthony Corballis, John Cramer, Saviona Cramer, David Epston, Gary Foster, Yael Gershoni, Andrew Groome, Vanessa Jackson, Zoy Kazan, Natasha Kis-Sines, Tracey Laszloffy, Rick Maisel, David Moltz, Ron Nasim, David Newman, Margaret Newmark, Keith Oulton, Amaryll Perlesz, Amanda Redstone, Colin Riess, Mary Pekin, Ruth Pluznik, Salome Raheim, Bruria Rosenwaks, Shona Russell, Margaret Ryan, Yishai Shalif, Olga Silverstein, Jane Speedy, John Stillman, Gaye Stockell, Manja Visschedijk, Ruth Walter, Kaethe Weingarten, Michael White, John Winslade, Angel Yuen, Jeff Zimmerman.


Showing all 9 results

  • The Tree of Life Project— Ncazelo Ncube


    Looking at the work that we have been doing with bereaved children and communities I realize that part of our problem was basing our practices on the western notions of catharsis, the idea that bereaved children and communities are not given platforms to express their grief and therefore have feelings and emotions trapped deep inside them which need to be vented out. We have for a long time seen ourselves as playing a role in providing the space for trapped feelings and emotions to come to surface. The reality of such expressions, however, has been clearly overwhelming for both the individuals that seek our help and the counsellors’ providing support services. This paper documents a way of working with children using the ‘Tree of Life’ tool which we have adapted through our engagement with narrative ideas. Before I describe this, however, it maybe helpful for me to provide some background information about the work of Masiye Camp which is where we will be using this new way of working.

  • Surviving Juvenile Justice: Imagination, Kindness and a Toasted Sandwich— David Denborough


    This interview with Belinda who spent much of her late childhood within juvenile justice institutions describes her experiences in these places and the ways in which imagination and occasional acts of kindness made all the difference. It is hoped that this interview will be of relevance to other young people who are currently within juvenile justice settings, and to those adults who previously spent time within them. It is also hoped that it will be relevant to those working with young people as it clearly demonstrates the significant differences that caring workers can make. The interviewer was David Denborough.

  • Taking a Journey with Young Women Who Are Subjected to Sexual Abuse within Families— Delphine YAU Cheuk-wai


    For many years in my work setting, I have been responding to young women who have been subjected to sexual abuse. One challenge for me is how to respond to the effects of abuse in these young women’s lives in ways that are not pathologizing or re-traumatizing. Apart from addressing the direct effects of the abuse, another challenge in therapy involves addressing the context of telling and its effects on these young women As an alternative, I think it is important to locate the effects of abuse in the particularities of the broader context of their lives.

  • Working with Adolescents Who Have Committed Sexual Abuse: Establishing a New Place to Stand— John R. Stillman


    In my practice, I have observed children in the process of receiving blanket ‘sex offender treatment’. Children are exposed to numerous stories of other children’s misconduct and are treated as a general sex offender, stripped of any individual identity which could help them to step away from practices of sexual abuse. A central goal of treatment is to reduce the risk of future offences. In order to achieve this goal and for the sake of the children who have experienced abuse, alternative means of treating older children who have perpetrated abuse are needed. This paper will discuss another way of going about treatment which offers these older children something different than strengthening the label they have as sex offenders.

  • Using Michael White’s Scaffolding Distance Map with a Young Man and His Family— Mark Hayward


    This paper addresses the questions: 1. How can people become more knowledged about their lives, more in touch with those problem solving skills and knowledges that even young people exercise routinely in everyday life? 2. How can I render these knowledges visible, significant and relevant so they can form a basis for addressing current predicaments? 3. The gap between the familiarity of their problem experience and the not-yet-known of problem solving knowledges – how is this space to be traversed? 4. In trying to bridge this gap, where should I place my questions? And how should the questions relate to each other? I describe my early efforts to interpret and utilise Michael White’s Scaffolding Distance map.

  • Loss and Letters— Alex Millham and Natalie Banks


    This paper consists of two letters. The first letter is from a therapist to a young woman consulting her about her experience of the therapy sessions they had shared together. The second letter is the young woman’s response. It is hoped that these letters will provide other therapists with ideas for working with young women around issues of loss and grief.

  • Ethical Curiosity and Poststructuralism— Katy Batha


    In this paper, the author explore the idea of ethical curiosity in therapeutic inquiry and the ways in which poststructuralist theories supports her work as a school counsellor. The paper also poses some questions to reflect upon whilst aiming to perform ethical curiosity.

  • Turning Depression on Its Head: Employing Creativity to Map Out and Externalise Depression in Conversations with Young Women— Sarah Penwarden


    This paper explores the counter-effects of creativity on depression, and gives an example of creative narrative therapy strategies in externalising and storying depression in conversations with young women at a New Zealand high school.

  • True Leadership— Wayne Dhurrkay


    This paper consists of a message from a young Yolgnu (Indigenous) man from Gunyangara, an Aboriginal community in North East Arnhem Land, Australia. It has been offered by him as a message to other young people in different communities both in Australia and elsewhere. It is a message about the significance of questioning commonly held beliefs about leadership. It is an invitation to all to take up the responsibilities of caring, kind and thoughtful leadership. By including this story here, it is hoped that readers of this journal will be able to share this message with young people with whom they are working.


  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!