2010: Issue 4

2010-no-4Dear reader,

Summer is here and we’re delighted to bring you the final journal issue for this year!

A number of these papers break new ground in the field of narrative therapy.

Over the years we have had many requests for papers that tell the story of narrative therapy practice with families over an extended number of sessions. The first paper in this collection, ‘A child’s voice: Narrative family therapy’ provides just such an example. Other papers in this section provide practice examples of working with Tourette Syndrome and with vocal tics. To our knowledge these are the first papers published on these topics.

The second section of this issue focuses on the use of narrative practices in creative community work initiatives in Brazil and Zimbabwe. ‘Community therapy’ is an influential way of working in Brazil. We are delighted to publish here a paper by Adalberto Barreto and Marilene Grandesso entitled ‘Community therapy: A participatory response to psychic misery’. This paper introduces community therapy to the narrative therapy field. It also describes the ways in which narrative practices are being used within community therapy. In the lead up to the 10th International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference that is to be held in Salvador, Brazil, in July next year, we believe this paper will prove influential. We look forward to hearing readers’ responses and to seeing how different versions of narrative community therapy may develop in different cultural contexts.

We hope that Sipelile Kaseke’s work in using collective externalising conversations about sexual abuse in Zimbabwe will be of relevance to readers who are working with groups and communities, and/or those trying to respond to sexual abuse.

The final section of this issue includes two rigorous narrative therapy practice papers. The first expands upon the possibilities of therapeutic letter writing. The second describes work with parents who are struggling with raising their children. It contains the insider knowledge of parents in these situations in ways that we are sure will be resonant to many.

Once again, this is a diverse collection.

Over the course of this year we have published in this journal papers from Australia, Israel, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Canada, USA, China, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, UK.

In the pipeline we also have papers from Pakistan, Belgium, Denmark, Rwanda, Palestine, Singapore and elsewhere.

As this year comes to a close, we would like to thank you for your continuing support. And please remember, if there is a topic you would like to read papers on, or if you have ideas about writing up your own work, please do not hesitate to be in touch!

Warm regards,

Cheryl White


  • A Child’s Voice: Narrative Family Therapy— Lisa Johnson


    This article recounts an approach to working with a seven-year-old girl in response to a problem that had muted her voice. The narrative practices employed included absent but implicit questions, therapeutic documents, re-authoring conversations, definitional ceremony, and the use of an ‘Anticipated Petitioner’ to support a ‘consulting your consultants’ interview.

  • Narrativising’ a Vocal Tic: The Use of Narrative Therapy in the Ridding of ‘Mr Squeeky’— Miguel Fernandez


    Using the narrative therapy approach of externalising the problem, the author interviewed a ubiquitous vocal tic, called Mr Squeeky, that had afflicted a nine-year-old girl for more than two weeks. Within a week after the first session, more than 90% of the tic had disappeared, with the remaining expressions of it extinguished by the beginning of the third session. At the third session, the tic was brought into the session in an airtight container labelled ‘Squeeky lives here’.

  • Yahav’s Story: My Way of Living with Tourette’s— Ron Nasim


    This article documents narrative therapy with a young man who is dealing with the effects, of Tourette Syndrome, and began to experience thoughts of self-harm and doing harm to others. Through an externalising conversation, a conversation to trace values and ideals, and using ideas of ‘the absent but implicit’, the author assisted the young man to achieve some distance from these problems. Together, they then documented some of the young man’s lifestory as a therapeutic document, and used this to engage in a form of definitional ceremony via the written word.

  • Community Therapy: A Participatory Response to Psychic Misery— Adalberto Barreto & Marilene Grandesso


    This collection introduces ‘community therapy’ which has been developed in Brazil to respond to various forms of social suffering and ‘psychic misery’. The collection includes an introduction to the history, key tasks, and stages of a community therapy gathering; a description of one example of a community therapy meeting; and a brief exploration of how ideas from narrative therapy have been introduced into community therapy practices.

    Note: includes reflections by David Denborough and Cheryl White


  • ‘Standing Together on a Riverbank’: Group Conversations about Sexual Abuse in Zimbabwe— Sipelile Kaseke


    This brief article outlines a community response to sexual abuse in a rural community near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Local community workers developed a culturally-appropriate methodology for exploring young people’s responses to sexual assault in ways that did not rely on individual disclosure or public shaming and, instead, contributed to a collective voice which would question, resist, and protest against sexual abuse. This methodology employed the technique of a ‘personified’ externalisation; one of the community volunteers ‘played’ the role of Sexual Abuse, allowing children to ask about its various purposes, histories, and effects – and ways of limiting its effects in the community.

  • Letter Writing: Possibilities and Practice— Susan Stevens


    This article revisits the use of therapeutic letter writing in narrative therapy contexts. The purposes, types, and content of letters are explored, with examples given of various letters written in different therapeutic contexts. The article discusses how letters can support the various maps of narrative practice, as well as workplace and professional development considerations, such as time pressures and funding considerations, as well as how letterwriting can support learning various aspects of narrative practice.

  • Overcoming Overwhelming— Ross Hernandez


    This paper explores ways to richly describe parents’ skills and knowledges in dealing with problems that threaten to overwhelm their lives, especially in the context of raising children with significant challenges. The narrative practices of externalising conversations, tracing values, outsider-witness conversations, and therapeutic letters and documents were used with parents facing various problems.