2007: Issue 3

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2007-no-3Dear Reader,

G’day and welcome to this issue of the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work.

Before introducing the papers that appear in this issue, we would like to thank those readers who offered us feedback on the previous issue Experience Consultants. It seems that the papers in this last issue were very highly regarded by many who read them. We always welcome readers’ feedback. If the papers you read here bring enjoyment or irritation, challenge or frustration, we would be interested to hear your thoughts. Similarly, if there are particular topics that you would like to read more about, please let us know. Thanks!

We’re also keen to hear about your experiences of trying to engage with narrative practices in your own ways and contexts. In coming months, we hope to be publishing papers that represent a plurality of narrative practice. There are many different ways of engaging with a narrative metaphor within therapeutic and/or community practice. We are on the look-out for quirky and diverse forms of narrative practice.

This particular issue of the journal consists of papers from the USA, Bangladesh, Australia, UK, Norway and Canada. The diversity of countries is matched by a diversity of topics.

Eileen Hurley describes her use of narrative documents in work with young men in a US jail. Maksuda Begum conveys stories of her work in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in which she speaks with children with disabilities and their mothers. An alternative intake questionnaire informed by narrative ideas, which was developed by David Denborough in collaboration with Maksuda Begum, is also included.

Due to requests from readers, we have then included two papers about the use of narrative practices in responding to eating issues. Shona Russell describes ways in which narrative conversations can contribute to a deconstruction of perfectionism, while Tracy Craggs and Alex Reed provide a novel account of therapy for anorexia.

The final section of this issue focuses on transgender experience and possibilities for practice. Jodi Aman provides an account of therapeutic work with a young person whose journey to gender belonging involved moving from identifying as a young woman, to identifying as a young man. Julie Tilsen, David Nylund and Lorraine Grieves then combine theoretical understandings with practice examples of conversations with lesbian women whose partners are transitioning from female to male gender identities. While Aya Okumura documents the stories of male to female transgender journeys of getting through tough times. Significantly, Aya also provides a framework of questions that practitioners could use in a range of other counselling or therapeutic contexts. This section is then completed with a reflection by Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad, an influential Norwegian bi-gender doctor.

We hope the diversity of papers within this issue will spark thoughts and developments in your own practice. And we look forward to your feedback and suggestions.

Warm regards,

Cheryl White


 

Showing all 8 results

  • Establishing Non-criminal Records— Eileen Hurley

    $9.90

    This paper highlights the use of therapeutic letters and documents in working with young men in a US jail. Examples of documents generated for and with young men include those designed to summarise conversations, request an audience, bear witness, invite support, link lives, archive solution knowledges, share skills and knowledges, and perform ceremony and song.

  • Conversations with Children with Disabilities and Their Mothers— Maksuda Begum

    $5.50

    This paper from Bangladesh presents an overview of narrative approaches to work with mothers and their children who have intellectual disabilities. In what can be traumatic contexts, this work is based on mothers’ and children’s skills, knowledges, values, and connections. Through the course of both individual and group work, blame and stigma are externalised, and the love and care mothers have for their children – as well as their children’s ‘special abilities’ – are brought more to the fore. This paper also presents an alternative intake questionnaire that can help to diminish the effects of pathologising language, and elicit accounts of care and connection.

  • Talking with Mothers and Children: An Intake Questionnaire

    $5.50

    Developed by David Denborough (Dulwich Centre Institute of Community Practice) in conjunction with Maksuda Begum (Bangladesh Protibondhi Foundation).

    This questionnaire is designed as a supplementary intake tool. It has been developed in recognition of the particular experiences of mothers of children with disabilities. This intake tool has two purposes. Firstly, it enables the counsellor to learn about the particular skills and knowledge of mothers and children that can later become a focus for therapeutic conversations. Secondly, it is structured in a way that assists mothers to get in touch with their own skills and knowledges, and provides a healing way for the counsellor to respond.

  • Deconstructing Perfectionism: Narrative Conversations with Those Suffering from Eating Issues— Shona Russell

    $9.90

    In this paper, I will discuss some of the narrative practices that have guided me in work with people suffering the effects of eating disorders. In preparing this paper, I have chosen to carefully review notes and transcripts of therapeutic conversations that span several years and which trace the journey of Katerina in her determination to reclaim her life from illness. I would like to acknowledge and thank Katerina for her significant contribution to our work together and for her willingness to share aspects of her life.

  • A Service-user and Therapist Reflect on Context, Difference, and Dialogue in a Therapy for Anorexia— Tracy Craggs and Alex Reed

    $9.90

    This article was co-authored by the participants in a therapeutic process which occurred within a specialist eating disorders service in a hospital setting. One of us was seeking assistance in their struggle with anorexia, and the other was a therapist working in this field. In addition to our encounters in the therapy process, we share in common a background in research and an orientation towards postmodern research methodologies. We became interested in how this shared research interest might provide an additional resource towards creating new knowledges and change. Through a process of shared inquiry, we sought to explore, from our different positions, the therapeutic process that we were engaged in by attending to the different narratives that shaped our experiences, understandings and actions. In particular, the influence of the clinical context on our respective experiences of the therapeutic process was examined. Some tentative reflections are offered regarding the potentially fruitful inter-relationship between therapy and research activities, and the transformative potential of this kind of shared inquiry.

  • A Journey towards Gender Belonging: Adam’s Story— Jodi Aman

    $9.90

    This paper summarises the journey of a sixteen-year-old young person who had felt displaced in the body of a somatic girl and now identifies as a young man. This has been a journey towards gender belonging. The information described in this paper was taken from a series of therapeutic conversations over an eight month period. Please note, that the use of pronouns and names within this paper may at times be confusing to the reader.

  • The Gender Binary: Theory and Lived Experience— Julie Tilsen, David Nylund, Lorraine Grieves

    $9.90

    The acronym ‘GLBTQ’ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) is widely used to describe those individuals who inhabit spaces outside of the heteronormative standard. Yet the term ‘transgender’ is often not well understood and may be treated as an afterthought, if considered much at all. This paper focuses on interrogating the gender binary (male/female) which has created the context for gender transgression. Examples of deconstructing questions that highlight the social construction of gender and an examination of therapy with non-trans-identified partners of transmen are offered as ways to apply queer theory in an effort to expose the impact of the gender binary on people’s lives. Reflections from a queer-identified woman on her experiences as the partner of a transman are shared in response to this paper.

     

    This purchase is accompanied by a free article:

    Reflections— Lorraine Grieves

     

  • No Turning Back: Male to Female Transgender Journeys of Getting through Tough Times— Aya Okumura

    $9.90

    Female-to-male transgendered people face many challenges during their journeys of gender transition. These challenges can be all the more complex if transgendered people are simultaneously negotiating complexities of culture as well as gender. But along with these challenges also come celebrations, connections, and community. This paper describes the stories of five Asian and Pacific Islander transgendered women, and offers some questions which narrative practitioners may find useful to help trace the histories of transgender people’s skills and knowledges in moving through their unique journey.

     

    Free article:

    From Gender Dysphoria towards Gender Euphoria— Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad

    This paper is a brief reflection on ‘No turning back: Male to female transgenders’ journeys of getting through tough times’ by Aya Okumura, and ‘The gender binary: Theory and lived experience’ by Julie Tilson, David Nylund and Lorraine Grieves. The author explores some of the effects of transgendered existence on partners and families, and wonders if we can move from concepts of ‘gender dysphoria’ to ‘gender euphoria’.

     

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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