2009: Issue 3

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2009-no-3Dear Reader

This journal issue breaks new ground in a number of areas.

Part One consists of three diverse practice-based papers. The first is entitled ‘Narrative ideas in the field of child protection’. Within it, Alison Knight and Rob Koch describe how double-listening, outsider witnesses, externalising conversations and children’s drawings, can be used with children and their families in child protection settings.

This is followed by ‘The taming of Ferdinand: Narrative therapy and people affected with intellectual disabilities’. Practitioners have often asked us to publish papers about this topic and this piece by Fiona McFarlane & Henrik Lynggaard is sure to be welcomed.

Part Two considers new possibilities for bringing together narrative practice, songs and song-writing. For some years, music and song have played a part within narrative community gatherings and collective narrative practice. Chris Wever’s paper, ‘Musical re-tellings: Songs, singing, and resonance in narrative practice’, describes how song-writing can also be a part of narrative therapy consultations. Therese Hegarty, in turn, describes the use of song-writing within a group setting with participants who have a history of heroin addiction. Her paper is entitled ‘Songs as retellings’.

Finally, Part Three explores how narrative therapy can be shaped to fit and respond to local cultures. By describing examples of practice from Newfoundland and Quebec, Linda Moxley-Haegett invites practitioners to consider how different narrative practices may be relevant and resonant in different cultural contexts and why.

We hope that you enjoy this thoughtful collection.

Significantly, each paper in this issue is written by an author or authors who we have never before published. This is celebratory to us.

As always, we will welcome your feedback!

Warm regards,

Cheryl White


 

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  • Narrative Ideas in the Field of Child Protection— Alison Knight & Rob Koch

    $9.90

    This paper explores the use of various narrative practices with children and their families in child protection settings. The first half examines how a ‘double listening’ approach and the engagement of outsider witnesses can be used with children who have experienced trauma and abuse. The second half of the paper gives an account of therapy over a number of months, with a family struggling with the effects of violence, alcohol and depression. Externalising conversations were found to be very helpful in allowing members of the family to work together in response to these challenges, rather than working against each other. These conversations were also documented through digital photographs of a child’s drawings on a whiteboard, which were then sent to the family as a form of therapeutic document.

  • The Taming of Ferdinand: Narrative Therapy and People Affected with Intellectual Disabilities— Fiona McFarlane & Henrik Lynggaard

    $9.90

    In this paper, Fiona McFarlane and Henrik Lynggaard, two clinical psychologists from England, show how they engaged with a young woman affected with intellectual disabilities in conversation informed by narrative therapy. They discuss how, after a difficult beginning, they manage to find a way of communicating that engaged the woman and how they involved her partner as a resource to the process. More specifically, they show how they used drawings and modification of language to make questions and narrative techniques relevant and accessible to the person. They end by making some suggestions for how such adaptation could be useful more generally for people affected by intellectual disabilities.

  • Musical Re-tellings: Songs, Singing, and Resonance in Narrative Practice— Chris Wever

    $9.90

    This paper documents the author’s use of songwriting in therapeutic contexts, especially when working with people in prison and the significant people in their lives. These songs fulfil different purposes: to honour survival and resistance and protest injustice; to assist in the re-membering of lives across time and beyond death; and to celebrate and proclaim subordinate storylines. In addition to reflecting on the process of crafting these songs, the profound outcomes they can have for both therapist and the person at the centre of the work, and how to recruit audiences, the author also reflects on some of the ethical and political dimensions of the work.

  • Songs as Re-tellings— Therese Hegarty

    $9.90

    This paper describes a practice of writing songs to record the interviews and outsider-witness responses in a group setting. The participants have a history of heroin addiction and are involved in a stabilisation program.

  • Shaping Narrative Therapy to Fit Local Cultures— Linda Moxley-Haegert

    $9.90

    Many community-minded families in Newfoundland seem to have difficulty with traditional therapies that are interpretative or directive. In a search for a therapeutic approach that might fit better with these clients’ world-views and complement their traditional manner of self-healing, narrative therapy was found. This paper presents one Newfoundland family’s story and the reasons for concluding that certain narrative practices are very appropriate for community-minded families. The author’s move to Montreal, Quebec, and her experiences there, have suggested that narrative therapy using different narrative practices could also be a fit for families who have lost or become detached from a community. A story of an immigrant Italian family is provided.

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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