2008: Issue 2

Posted by on Dec 10, 2016 in | 0 comments

2008-no-2Dear Reader,

It’s been just over two months since Michael White died and we would like to send our appreciation to all of you who have been in contact during this time.

We have held up the printing of this journal issue so that we include within it a special piece of writing by John Winslade and Lorraine Hedtke. John and Lorraine were present at Michael’s final workshop in San Diego. They were with Michael when he suffered a heart attack at a restaurant in the evening after this workshop, and they played significant roles in caring for friends and family from this moment until Michael died in a San Diego hospital a few days later. Their actions of care made a real difference to many people during this time. The piece included here has tried to balance family concerns in relation to privacy, with requests from many people who knew and cared about Michael who have specifically asked to know more about Michael’s last days. It is introduced with a short piece by David Epston.

In a future edition of this journal, we are planning on publishing a specially developed history of Michael White’s work and ideas. We will be developing this over the coming months.

You may have noticed that this journal edition is a little larger than usual. To compensate for the delay, we have tried to ensure that it includes a very rich diversity of thoughtful, practice-based papers.

The first of these, by Yishai Shalif and Rachel Paran, describes work they conducted in bomb shelters in Northern Israel during military conflict. It particularly focuses on creative responses to children living in traumatic circumstances.

The next section of the journal features two articles focusing on a complex area of work – responding to young men who have engaged in sexually abusive actions. Jackie Bateman and Nigel White from the UK, and Kate Hannan from Australia, describe the ways in which they use narrative practices in this context.

In the third section of the journal, Deidre Ikin conveys stories of her work with people wishing to make changes to drug and alcohol use. This paper includes a document created by a mother whose child had been removed from her care. This document, entitled, ‘The Rainbow document’, is an ‘insider’s’ guide for mothers and child protection workers to use to spark conversations in determining when conditions are right for children to return home.

The next paper to be included is by Kath Reid. Drawing on notions of ‘family as a verb’, her paper documents the work of a Queer Families project, which seeks to co-explore and richly-describe diverse meanings of ‘family’.

We would like to take the opportunity to once again thank people for their kindness and support in relation to Michael’s death. We’d also like to mention that the paper by John and Lorraine is an intimate portrayal of Michael’s last days. The authors have done their best to provide a respectful picture. We hope that offering this here will be helpful and relevant to readers. As always, we would very much welcome any responses you may have.

Warm regards,

All of us here at Dulwich Centre.


 

Showing all 6 results

  • Michael White: Fragments of an Event— John Winslade & Lorraine Hedtke with an introduction by David Epston

    $9.90

    We present here fragments, reconstructed from memory, of Michael White’s last workshop. These fragments are interspersed with descriptions of events that took place in San Diego in the days leading up to Michael’s death. Our focus here is not on the medical details, nor on the private family stories, but on the task of recording Michael’s last efforts to teach. Our hope is to play a small part in allowing his words to continue to resonate.

  • Learning from Children and Adults in Times of War: Stories from the Bomb Shelters in the North of Israel— Yishai Shalif and Rachel Paran

    $9.90

    This paper describes a three-day visit to Qiryat Shemoneh, a small city in northern Israel, which was affected by war in mid-2006. The authors describe some of their understandings of the effects of war trauma, including the negative impacts on people’s identities, the isolation of people from others, and the positioning of people as ‘helpless victims’. They then explore how to respond to war trauma and its effects while people are still living under fire. This is illustrated by transcripts of conversations with families and children. Finally, they explore how workers dealing with the effects of war can support themselves during this work.

  • The Use of Narrative Therapy to Allow the Emergence of Engagement— Jackie Bateman & Nigel White

    $9.90

    This paper explores options for engaging young people who have engaged in sexually harmful behaviours, as well as inviting their family members into conversations about responsibility and safety. Several scenarios are provided that explore common themes in this work, as well as some of the diverse challenges that can be present, including denial that the abuse has occurred, how to host conversations respectfully, and how to continue to find entry points to difficult conversations with families and foster carers. The article also details how to develop Safe Care Plans, as well as ‘Helping Team Meetings’, two practices which the authors have found useful in working with sexual abuse committed by children and young people. The article ends with feedback letters from a young person and a family member who were involved in this process.

  • Creating an Alternative Pathway through the Criminal Justice System: Enabling Alternative Stories to Be Heard— Kate Hannan

    $9.90

    This article describes the work of the Australian-based Court Support Program, which offers support to young people who have been charged with committing a crime, or have been a victim of crime. The program helps young people understand the criminal justice system during the three stages of presentencing, sentencing, and post-sentencing. To describe the program’s work in detail, the author presents her work with one young man using a range of narrative practices during each of these three stages.

  • Stories from the Room of Many Colours: Ritual and Reclamation with People Wishing to Make Changes to Drug and Alcohol Use— Deidre Ikin

    $9.90

    In this paper, Deidre Ikin describes her work in The Room of Many Colours, the location of group conversations with people migrating from a life dominated by alcohol and drugs. Drawing on some challenging therapeutic situations, Deidre first gives an account of using a definitional ceremony to respond to a particularly painful account of trauma near the end of one group meeting. She also describes the work of one woman in preparing the Rainbow document, an ‘insider’s’ guide for mothers and child protection workers to use in determining when conditions are right for children to return home. These practice-based accounts are followed by a discussion of ethics and orientation when working in relation to substance misuse and child protection.

  • Dancing Our Own Steps: A Queer Families’ Project— Kath Reid

    $9.90

    This paper focuses on the key narrative practices that informed the Queer Families project, which sought to co-explore and richly-describe diverse meanings of ‘family’, and ways of ‘living’ family. The project explored the history of the skills, practices, hopes, and dreams that family members brought to their versions of ‘family’, and drew on the metaphor of ‘family as a verb’, to explore alternatives ways of doing ‘families of choice’. The article first contextualises the concept of family, deconstructing dominant ‘family’ narratives in western cultures, and historicising the notion of ‘nuclear family’. It then describes the key narrative practices that informed the project, including re-authoring and re-membering conversations, therapeutic letter-writing, and documenting shared community themes. The article then describes the collective narrative practice of sharing these themes with other people to generate ‘re-tellings’ that were then shared with the initial families in the project.

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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