2007: Issue 4

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2007-no-4Dear Reader,

The year is drawing to a close and we are pleased to be sending to you the last issue of this subscription series. We hope that this year’s reading has stretched and engaged your thinking and assisted in your practice.

To refresh your memory, the first issue of this year focused on the theme ‘New Voices’, the second on ‘Experience Consultants’ and the third on ‘Eating Issues, Transgender Journeys and Narrative Practice’.

Due to requests from readers this issue focuses on ‘Children & young people: Dreams, Responses and Dilemmas’. The first paper, by Angel Yuen, proposes the development of a ‘response-based narrative practice’ to assist children who have been subjected to trauma. The second, by Milan Colic, describes the use of narrative practices to explore the meaning of the dreams being experienced by a young person with whom he was working. And the third, by Jodi Aman, conveys ways in which narrative approaches can assist in linking families together when children/young people are going through difficult times.

Two papers on the theme of ‘Eating issues’ then follow. Ali Borden describes the work of the Eating Disorder Centre of California. She conveys how narrative ideas can be used within a treatment centre to provide opportunities for the renegotiation of identity in group settings. Cari Corbet-Owen then provides a brief ‘exposé of body-worry’.

The final section focuses on ‘Sharing dilemmas of practice’. This is a new section of the journal which we are pleased to introduce. Here, practitioners write about dilemmas they have encountered in their work and how they have tried to respond to these. These are not seamless descriptions of ‘perfect’ practice, but instead honest reflections on the realities of complex conversations. In future issues we wish to regularly publish writings from practitioners who have perhaps stumbled, or struggled with some aspect of practice and then found ways of responding to these circumstances. Both ‘sharings of dilemmas’ in this issue relate to work with men who have been violent and/or abusive. We are pleased to include the writings of Chris Chapman from Canada, and David Newman from Australia.

The papers in this journal originate from Canada, Australia, USA, South Africa. Over the course of this year we have also published papers from Bangladesh, UK, Norway, Vietnam/Australia, Israel, Rwanda and the Palestinian Territories. In 2008 we hope to continue to publish papers from a diversity of contexts.

Your feedback on previous issues

Throughout the year we have been receiving feedback from readers on the different papers that we have published. Recently, for instance, we have received wide-ranging positive feedback on the paper ‘Stories about home’ (2007 #2) by Leonie Simmons about her experiences of being born in Vietnam and being adopted to Australia. This paper is now being circulated amongst organizations and groups working in the field of inter-country and cross-cultural adoption. Due to the feedback we are receiving, we are now working on a DVD version of this paper! We hope this will be available in the first half of 2008.

We very much appreciate hearing from readers with your views, feedback, suggestions and/or critiques of papers that we publish in these journals.

We hope that the new year treats you kindly.

Thank you for subscribing during 2007. We look forward to corresponding with you again in 2008!

Warm regards,

Cheryl White


 

Showing all 7 results

  • Discovering Children’s Responses to Trauma: A Response-based Narrative Practice— Angel Yuen

    $9.90

    Modern discourses of victimhood, which are often present in instances of childhood trauma, can contribute considerably to establishing long-term negative identity conclusions. However, focussing on children’s responses to trauma can aid in conversations that contribute to rich second story development, without re-traumatising children or young people. These kinds of enquiry can focus on children’s acts of resistance, places of safety, and other skills of living. This paper gives examples of therapy informed by this approach, and provides a map of four levels of enquiry for conversations with children and young people which elicit and build upon responses to trauma.

  • Kanna’s Lucid Dreams and the Use of Narrative Practices to Explore Their Meaning— Milan Colic

    $9.90

    This paper presents how the lucid dreaming of a young woman, Kanna, was unpacked in line with the ideas and practices that underlie narrative therapy. It outlines how Kanna’s dream was rendered into a metaphor in order to story events and experiences in her life, culminating in the selection of a new support ‘Team’, and changing what she had come to know as distressing nightmares into ‘lucid dreaming’, in which she was authorised to shape the stories that she now could tell herself in both her sleep and her waking life.

  • Linking Families Together: Narrative Conversations with Children, Adolescents, and Their Families— Jodi Aman

    $9.90

    This paper explores ways of responding to the problems children and adolescents face in ways that include and honour the contributions of other family members. For example, parents and care-givers can be enlisted to help with scaffolding and outsiderwitnessing, as well as providing what the author refers to as ‘comemories’. The paper also discusses specific ways of working with children, such as keeping therapeutic conversations fun, regarding children as ‘story listeners’, opening space for conversations about difficult problems, and using therapeutic documents. How these considerations are put into practice is then documented in three accounts of working with children and adolescents on issues of anxiety, the death of a pet, and a parent’s diagnosis of cancer.

  • Every Conversation Is an Opportunity: Negotiating Identity in Group Settings— Ali Borden

    $9.90

    Therapy within the context of a treatment centre can spread and confirm stories of deficit, or it can be an opportunity in which preferences and skills reverberate within a community and enable preferred reputations to be born. In a group setting, every conversation is an opportunity to negotiate meaning, and every group provides a stage for the performance of identity. This paper describes some ways that we at the Eating Disorder Center of California day treatment program guide some of that performance, including how we seek to take apart assumptions about eating problems and recovery, what is relevant to share, and what people have in common. Our intention is to open space for women to share their experiences as rich and complicated; their preferences as diverse, varied, and dynamic; and at the same time encourage points of connection, camaraderie, and community.

  • An Expose of ‘Body-Worry’— Cari Corbet-Owen

    $0.00

    Concerns about body size and weight have increased in western cultures in past decades. This brief paper recounts how one client, concerned about ‘body worry’ for both herself and her daughter, was able to engage in a deconstructive conversation about body image and diet. Unpacking some of the cultural understandings and prescriptions around these issues provided a foundation for the client to renegotiate her relationship with ‘body-worry’ and restore her relationship with her daughter.

  • Dilemmas about ‘Taking Responsibility’ and Cultural Accountability in Working with Men Who Have Abused Their Female Partners— Chris Chapman

    $5.50

    In this paper, Chris Chapman describes two incidents from his work with men who had abused their female partners in which he inadvertently perpetrated cultural dominance. In one of these incidents, his ‘knowledge’ of the other man’s culture eventually allows him to recognise the cultural dominance; in the other, his ‘knowledge’ of the other man’s culture actively facilitates the cultural dominance. Chris reflects on these incidents in an attempt to reflexively problematise notions of cultural competency and individualistic notions of responsibility.

  • Audience as Accountability?: Dilemmas in the Use of Outsider-witness Practices in Supporting Men’s Anti-violence Projects— David Newman

    $9.90

    This article explores the author’s concerns about accountability when inviting women as outsider witnesses to conversations with men. A practice-based example of working with a man on issues of anger and violence provides a springboard for thoughtful questions about gender accountability, men’s privilege, safety, and ‘non-burdening invitations’.

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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