2006: Issue 4

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Finding ways to respond to those who have enacted violence and abuse against others has long been a challenge to the field of family therapy and community work – and it continues to be. This journal issue explores some of these challenges.

It begins with interviews with Nancy Gray and Amanda Reddick, and documents from Afro-Canadian communities in Nova Scotia, Canada. These pieces describe individual work, group work and community engagement, and convey how a team of workers, from differing cultural backgrounds, are working in partnership with local communities to respond to men’s violence.

These pieces are then followed by an interview with Tod Augusta-Scott, also from Canada, about his work with men who have enacted violence in intimate relationships.

Then the journal changes tack, with a paper from New Zealand by Julie Sach entitled ‘Conversations in groups with women about their experiences of using anger, abuse & violence’. Talking about women’s use of anger and violence is a complicated topic, and we hope to invite you into considering these complexities.

The final paper relating to responding to violence is by Mimi Kim, a Korean-American woman, and founding member of Incite: Women of Color against Violence, an organisation in the USA which is committed to addressing violence against women while also questioning and challenging the violence of the state. Mimi’s paper ‘Alternative interventions to violence: Creative interventions’ poses significant questions and dilemmas about ways forward in addressing family, intimate and other forms of interpersonal violence.

It is a thoughtful, challenging and hopeful collection of papers and we look forward to hearing from readers about your views, perspectives and stories on these issues.

The second part of this journal consists of a paper on a different, yet similarly important issue – ways of understanding and responding to drug and alcohol ‘addiction’. The paper ‘Deconstructing addiction & reclaiming joy’ consists of extracts from discussions on the Deconstructing Addiction League E-list. It includes correspondence between members, theoretical and practical considerations, celebrations, a virtual interview and definitional ceremony, as well as the first story in what is hoped to become an archive of practices of joy and connection – free from substances. It is, we believe, a joyful and rigorous piece. And again we look forward to your comments.

As this is the final journal issue for this year, we now look back over 2006. It has been a full year. Perhaps the paper that has attracted the most attention and enthusiasm has been ‘The Tree of Life’ by Ncazelo Ncube, published in the first journal issue of the year. Since then, it has been taken up and applied in a wide range of contexts and countries, and we continue to hear delightful feedback about it. As we send this edition of the journal to the printer, a number of us are about to travel to Uganda to meet up with Ncazelo and her colleagues who are now trying to support local workers in responding to the violence that has been occurring in that part of the world.

Thank you for your readership and support during 2006. We look forward to joining you again next year!

Warm regards,

Cheryl White

Showing all 7 results

  • Responding to Men’s Violence: An interview with Nancy Gray


    In their work with men who have enacted violence against their partners, a team of workers at New Start, in Halifax, Canada, draws upon the metaphor of ‘migration of identity’ to assist men to move away from violence and domination and towards different forms of masculinity. In this thoughtful and reflective two-part interview, Nancy Gray describes some of the key ideas that inform their work. The first part of the interview conveys how the migration of identity map and the re-authoring conversations map can be put to work with men who are violent. It also conveys some of the unexpected discoveries that emerge as a result. The interviewer was David Denborough.

  • Documents of Knowledge About Violence from African Nova Scotian Communities


    Members of North End Halifax and East Preston, two African Nova Scotian communities, have been meeting together to talk about violence and ways of addressing it in their context, and in their ways. Included here are key documents that have been created from these conversations.

    These include:

    •   ‘Some key knowledge and ideas about violence in African Nova Scotian communities’ from women representing North End Halifax and East Preston
    •   ‘Principles in relation to responding to violence in African Nova Scotian Communities’
    •   ‘Men speaking out to prevent abuse’ & ‘A Brother’s food for thought’ from the men of the communities of East Preston and North Preston.

    These documents have been circulated throughout the communities to spark further conversation and action on these issues.

  • Caring about Violence and Our Communities— Amanda Reddick


    Developing meaningful partnerships and relationships between workers responding to violence and communities affected by these issues requires considerable care and thoughtfulness. In this piece, Amanda Reddick describes some of the thinking that is informing the community engagement she is involved in and the histories upon which this is based.

  • Talking with Men Who Have Used Violence in Intimate Relationships: An interview with Tod Augusta-Scott


    Tod Augusta-Scott works with men who have used violence in their intimate relationships. This interview considers a number of key themes in this work, including ways of inviting men to consider the effects of their violence; ways of exploring expressions of shame and remorse; the importance of developing alternative story-lines of respect and responsibility; approaches to group work; and the use of documentation. The interview also provides Tod with the opportunity to reflect upon his own work practices and performance of masculinity. The interviewer was David Denborough.

  • Conversations in Groups with Women About Their Experiences of Using Anger, Abuse and Violence— Julie Sach


    This paper considers gendered constructions of anger and how women’s experiences of using anger, abuse and violence may be shaped by these. It also examines the contribution of difficult life experiences like trauma and abuse in shaping women’s anger responses. The article describes an evolving approach to group work with women that seeks to address some of these complexities.


    Free article:

    Talking About Women’s Violence: An editor’s note


  • Alternative Interventions to Violence: Creative Interventions— Mimi Kim


    Are the solutions to violence against women and children to be found via state interventions – through the police, prosecution and imprisonment? Or are alternative, grassroots, communitybased responses required? These are questions being asked by many women of colour in the USA. Creative Interventions is an organisation based in Oakland, California, which seeks to empower families and communities to resolve family, intimate partner and other forms of interpersonal violence. It is hoped that this piece will spark conversations about ways of supporting community initiatives to address violence against women. Practitioners and community members working on similar issues in other countries are invited to contribute their ideas and stories.

  • Deconstructing Addiction and Reclaiming Joy— The Deconstructing Addiction League


    This paper consists of extracts from discussions on the Deconstructing Addiction League E-list. It includes correspondence between members, theoretical and practical considerations, celebrations, a virtual interview and definitional ceremony, as well as the first story in what is hoped to become an archive of practices of joy and connection – free from substances. This collection also demonstrates the ethic of community that is central to the League’s work.


  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!