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G’day. It has been a tumultuous start to the new year with floods and cyclones in Australia. Earthquakes in New Zealand, the devastation in Japan, and people’s uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. We hope you and your family and friends are safe wherever you may be.
Welcome to this first issue of the International Narrative Therapy and Community Work for 2011. We continue to receive thoughtful and innovative papers in relation to the use of narrative practice in differing contexts.
This journal begins with a ground-breaking approach to therapy research which has been developed by Marit Løkken in Norway. We commonly receive questions about how research into therapy effectiveness can be conducted in ways that are congruent with narrative therapy principles. We believe this is one such example. The paper also includes moving descriptions of the ways individuals and families are reclaiming their lives from the effects of problems.
Two papers then follow about working with women who have experienced sexual assault. Feminism was one of the formative influences in the development of narrative therapy. It is therefore significant to be including here two papers informed by feminism about working with groups of women. The first, by Suet Lin (Shirley) Hung, describes work from Hong Kong. It details the necessity for facilitators to respond to themes that emerge in the course of collective practice. It also explores realms of cultural and gendered meaning. The second paper, by Ingrid Cologna, Rekha John, Tracy Johnson, describes an eight-week feminist, narrative, art therapy group which took place in Toronto, Canada.
The third section of this issue includes a paper by a white Australian therapist, Chris Dolman, about his work with Aboriginal families who are experiencing grief. The complexity of seeking to develop a ‘just therapy’ in this context is explored, and the use of re-membering conversations are highlighted. A reflection is then included from a senior Aboriginal narrative practitioner, Aunty Barbara Wingard.
Then follows a section on narrative practice and older age. There is relatively little literature available about the use of narrative therapy with older populations. Dafna Stern works as a social worker in a nursing home and has recently come into contact with narrative practice. Her paper ‘Narrative therapy at any age’ describes some of her key learnings as she endeavours to put narrative ideas into practice in this context.
Finally, we are pleased to include a moving document entitled ‘Special knowledge and stories about dementia’. KAGE Physical Theatre Company, in conjunction with Alzheimer’s Australia (Victoria), has recently developed a theatrical production in relation to Alzheimer’s and dementia. The production has been developed through a series of community forums in which collective narrative practices were used to elicit, richly describe and document special knowledge and stories about dementia. This paper includes insider-knowledge from the Alzheimer’s Australia (Victoria) advisory group in the hope that this will be of assistance to others. It has been compiled by David Denborough.
This journal issue is another diverse collection, with papers from Norway, Hong Kong, Canada and Australia. We hope you enjoy grappling with the ideas and traversing the stories that are included here and we look forward to receiving your feedback, reflections and ideas for future issues.