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.


 

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  • 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.

2,023 Comments

  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!

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