2008: Issue 4

Posted by on Dec 10, 2016 in | 0 comments

2008-no-4Dear Reader,

Welcome to this fourth and final journal issue for 2008. As this issue is sent to the printer we are soon to welcome over 400 participants from different parts of the world to the 9th International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference which is to take place here in Adelaide. It has been a momentous year and we are really looking forward to seeing everyone. Some of the papers and presentations that are being shared at the conference will appear in this journal next year.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our readers, friends and colleagues for your kind and thoughtful responses throughout this year. We’d also like to acknowledge the breadth of creativity that is represented in the papers that practitioners are submitting for publication. In the new year we will be announcing a range of new ventures at Dulwich Centre that include greater linking of this journal with our website, the development of a range of web-based training programs, and the launching of a new e-journal.

This journal issue includes a range of papers around the theme ‘mental health and families’. The first paper, ‘Children, parents and mental health’ documents the experiences of those who grew up with parents who were struggling with significant mental health issues. The second paper, by Canadian therapists Ruth Pluznick and Natasha Kis-sines, describes the ways that have taken this project into their own work context and conversations with young people in a children and families mental health service in Toronto. The final paper in this section, by Amanda Worrall who lives and works in central Australia, is on a related theme. It conveys the experiences of a group of parents whose children have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and the skills and knowledges they are using to respond to this situation and to try to bring about changes to the mental health system. These collective projects, based on narrative ideas and focusing on sharing knowledge between family members affected by mental health issues, will continue via our website. We also look forward to publishing papers on the experience of those with mental health struggles who are parenting and caring for children. We would welcome any reflections and/or contributions that readers may have.

The second part of this journal focuses on alternative assessment processes that seek out, not only the effects of problems, but also subordinate stories. Building upon work described earlier in this journal, Lesley Dalyell has developed a narrative assessment checklist which has been trialled within ‘Centrelink’, a major Australian Government Agency.

The third part of this journal describes another collective narrative project based on the experiences, skills and knowledge of women who have experienced grief. As well as including evocative and significant stories, this paper also provides a framework of questions to assist practitioners in their work with women. This project is also continuing, and again we welcome hearing from readers about it.

We would like to acknowledge all those who have contributed to the collective projects described in this journal. All these papers draw on the ideas of Michael White in a range of ways and so this issue of the journal is dedicated to his work.

We wish you well as 2008 comes to an end and we look forward to corresponding in the new year.

Warm regards,

Cheryl White


 

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  • Children, Parents and Mental Health— The Dulwich Centre

    $9.90

    This article presents initial material generated by the Children, Parents and Mental Health Project. It contains a collection of stories from children of parents with mental health difficulties, and serves not only as collective therapeutic document and a document of alternative knowledge about this topic, but also as a source of questions for those working with people whose parent has experienced mental health problems.

  • Growing up with Parents with Mental Health Difficulties— Ruth Pluznick and Natasha Kis-Sines

    $9.90

    This paper documents a project with young people who are growing up with a parent with mental health difficulties. The authors discuss how they are able to employ the narrative practice ‘double-listening’ to stories by the young people – listening not only to the challenges that this experience brought, but also asking about the skills, knowledges and opportunities the young people used to respond to these. This and the other narrative principles that informed the project – such as co-research and ‘enabling contribution’ are demonstrated by the inclusion of a therapeutic document from work with a young man, and a transcript of a conversation with a young woman and her mother.

  • When Your Child is Diagnosed with Schizophrenia: The Skills and Knowledges of Parents— Amanda Worrall

    $9.90

    This article documents work with a group of parents in Central Australia who have a son or daughter who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. The first part of the article collects some of the parents’ reflections on the effects of schizophrenia on their lives and their ways of responding to them, while the second part is a collective document produced with the group about their skills and knowledges. This group work has led to the production of a larger booklet for the wider community, as well as networking and partnering with local community mental health organisations, and advocacy and lobbying of politicians and health services.

  • Narrative Approaches in Centrelink: ‘It’s Those Turning Questions …’— Lesley Dalyell

    $9.90

    This paper documents a narratively-based interview guide for social work assessments used in Centrelink, a major Australian government department. The questions used in the assessment are illustrated by examples from conversations with the young people and their parents consulting the service, as well as reflections from the team of social workers who trialled the interview guide. The paper shows how working within existing governmental frameworks can still lead to conversations with clients that are respectful, generative, and hopeful.

  • Remembrance: Women and Grief Project— The Dulwich Centre

    $9.90

    This article documents the initial stage of Dulwich Centre’s Women and Grief Project, a project based on narrative practice to collect stories, skills, and knowledge of women responding to grief and loss. The article includes a list of narrativelyinformed questions for women to reflect on their experiences of grief and loss, and a heartfelt response to these by a Palestinian woman, as well as responses to her writing by other women. The article also explores the complexities of grief in the context of violence, abuse, or other ‘fraught’ aspects of relationships, as well as socially-unsanctioned forms of grief.

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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