2009: Issue 4

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2009-no-4Dear Reader

As this year draws to a close we would like to thank all those who have contributed to the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work during 2009. This includes all the authors, reviewers, the editorial team, and, of course, those for whom this journal is produced. Thank you for your interest in narrative ideas.

This journal seeks to be a forum for the discussion, circulation and renewal of narrative therapy and community work practices. Over the course of this year, we’ve been delighted to publish papers from Australia, India, the UK, USA, the Palestinian Territories, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, and New Zealand. This issue also includes authors from Brazil and Colombia/USA. The ‘community of ideas’ that is engaged with narrative practice continues to grow. So too does the creativity and diversity of practice.

This issue includes another diverse collection of papers. In Part One, Ninetta Tavano describes a ‘parent-teen conflict dissolution map’ based on the work of Michael White. Janelle Dickson conveys how she used the Tree of Life methodology in rural Australia as a gateway to other maps of narrative practice. And Nikki Evans shares ‘a mother’s tale’ of therapeutic story writing.

In Part Two, three papers explore ways in which people ‘make new homes’. Katie Howells discusses the use of metaphors of home within her narrative therapy practice in Singapore. Michael Boucher recounts a narrative gathering which took place with refugees in New York State. And Viviane Oliveira describes how she has used the Team of Life and a range of other collective narrative practices with Brazilians living in Sydney.

In Part Three, Marcela Polanco and David Epston offer tales of travels across languages. This collaboration between an apprentice bilingual translator / narrative therapist and one of the originators of narrative therapy, describes how, as narrative ideas migrate cultures, these crossings can enrich, acculturate and diversify narrative practices. This is an exciting theme and in coming years we hope to publish more about this.

Thanks again for your interest in narrative ideas. If you have suggestions for future themes or articles, please let us know. We are delighted to publish creative work from practitioners who may not have written before. If you have a story from your work that you think may be of interest to others, but don’t know how to go about publishing this, we would also be interested to hear from you.

Finally, it also seems to relevant to mention here that the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work is now to be listed in the distinguished SocINDEX with full-text worldwide database.

Wishing you well from all of us here at Dulwich Centre.

Warm regards,

Cheryl White


Showing all 7 results

  • Parent–teen conflict dissolution— Ninetta Tavano

    $5.50

    This paper describes how Michael White’s ‘conflict dissolution map’ can be used with parents and adolescents to assist in ‘dissolving’ conflict in narrative therapy sessions. The author explains how the practice of ‘repositioning’ is combined with definitional ceremony and outsider-witness practices to create conversations that allow family members to re-engage in ways that are based on acceptance, care and respect.

  • The ‘Mighty Oak’: Using the ‘Tree of Life’ methodology as a gateway to the other maps of narrative practice— Janelle Dickson

    $9.90

    This paper describes using the ‘Tree of Life’ narrative therapy methodology with a young man who was experiencing bullying, and had himself engaged in anger and aggression. This thorough account of narrative practice shows how a ‘stand-alone’ methodology like the Tree of Life can be a ‘jumping off’ point for using the other maps of narrative practice, including re-authoring conversations, re-membering conversations, definitional ceremony, and therapeutic documents. In this way, the ‘Tree of Life’ methodology provides entry points to other narrative conversations and practices, which blend into each other and complement each other for an effective therapeutic engagement.

  • From print to e-books in therapeutic story writing: A mother’s tale— Nikki Evans

    $9.90

    This paper describes how narrative therapy provided the background for developing a resource for troubled children and young people. The resource, Eloise’s excellent experiment, is the result of combining the professional with the personal as the author and her daughter used their storytelling, writing, and illustrative skills to tame ‘The Worries’.

  • Narrative work and the metaphor of ‘home’— Katie Howells

    $9.90

    This paper explores how homes – both as physical places and as metaphors– can be taken up in narrative therapy practice. The author first explores various meanings that people attribute to the concept of ‘home’, and then outlines some options for the relevance of the home metaphor to various maps of narrative practice. The paper then recounts three examples drawn from practice: first, re-authoring conversations with a couple leaving one way of living, dominated by addiction, to reclaim another; second, the documentation of the skills and knowledges of a young woman working to ‘stay close to home’ in dealing with anorexia; and, finally, a remembering conversation supported by the metaphor of home with a woman wanting to review her husband’s membership of her ‘club of life’ following his infidelity.

  • Finding resiliency, standing tall: Exploring trauma, hardship, and healing with refugees— Michael Boucher

    $9.90

    This document records some of the traumas and hardships faced by refugees living in Rochester, New York. Along with the effects of these hardships, the document also records the accomplishments that refugees have made, and how refugee communities resist the effects of trauma and hardship, as well as what sustains them. Finally, the document records some things the refugees wanted people working in social services, as well as members of the broader community, to know about refugee experience. This document was prepared using methodologies and ideas from collective narrative practice, including collective narrative timelines, collective narrative documents, ‘double-listening’, and recruiting audiences.

  • Team Garra: Using the Team of Life to facilitate conversations with Brazilians living in Sydney— Viviane Oliveira

    $9.90

    This paper outlines an application of the ‘rites of passage’ and ‘migration of identity’ metaphors from narrative therapy and community work, in conversations with Brazilian immigrants in Australia. The author also employed the ‘Team of Life’ methodology, which was highly culturally-relevant, given the Brazilian people’s love of soccer/football, as well as the ‘narrative timelines’ methodology and ‘definitional ceremony’ map of narrative practice.

  • Tales of travels across languages: Languages and their anti-languages— Marcela Polanco and David Epston

    $9.90

    This paper is a collaboration between an apprentice bilingual translator/narrative therapist (Marcela) and one of the originators of narrative therapy (David). Studies of translation and bilingualism offer interesting and useful contributions to the renewal of narrative therapy. As narrative ideas migrate cultures, these crossings can enrich, acculturate, and diversify narrative practices. At the same time, considerations of bilinguality or multilinguality can influence our practice within languages. The example of therapeutic practice that is offered illustrates how narrative therapeutic conversations can move between and across multiple namings of people’s predicaments. In this process, understandings need not be ironed out, as often happens in monolingual conversations. Instead, multilinguality puts names in play as transitory constructions, susceptible to renewal or reinvention.

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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