2009: Issue 3

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


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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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.