2011: Issue 1

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2011-no-1Dear reader,

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.

Warm regards,

Cheryl White,


Showing all 6 results

  • My Practice as Described by Those Who Consult Me— Marit E. Løkken

    $9.90

    Clients’ experiences of conversations with therapists is a crucial issue, but one that is often not directly researched. Marit Løkken embarked on a research project that involved not only asking her clients about their experiences of therapy, but also involved developing the research project, and the questions asked, in consultation with those clients. This article describes this process, includes examples of some of the responses, and includes an interview structured as a definitional ceremony to record her reflections on these responses.

  • Collective Narrative Practice with Rape Victims in the Chinese Society of Hong Kong— Suet Lin (Shirley) Hung

    $9.90

    This article presents an example of collective narrative practice with Chinese women who have experienced rape. In a cultural context where rape is an immense taboo and a source of shame, this group project linked individual women to the collective. The use of the Tree of Life methodology, re-authoring conversations, outsider witnesses, therapeutic letters and documents, and definitional ceremony, has richly described the knowledges and skills of these women which have helped them, and which could contribute to the lives of other women. In addition to acknowledging personal agency, the cultural dimension and social construction of sexual violence was exposed in local language and practice, and the power of dominant discourses was revealed and challenged.

  • The Road Trip— Ingrid Cologna, Rekha John, Tracy Johnson

    $9.90

    The Road Trip is an eight-week feminist, narrative, art therapy group which maps members’ journeys of healing and transformation from the impacts of sexual assault. The authors describe various ‘stops’ and experiences that transpired along the way of the Trip from two different groups that made this expedition in 2008 and 2009. In addition to describing the groups, the authors discuss and include images of various resources that were a part of these journeys, as well as images of some of the art that was created.

  • Re-membering Reciprocal Relationships— Chris Dolman

    $9.90

    Re-membering conversations are one of the key maps of narrative therapy practice. This article explores some interrelationships between re-membering conversations and the principles of Just Therapy, along with the other narrative practices of ‘the absent but implicit’ and regarding distress as testimony, enquiring about personal agency, and naming injustice. This interweaving of theory and practice is shown through work with Aboriginal people in Murray Bridge, a rural town in South Australia.

    Free article

    Bringing Lost Loved Ones into Our Conversations: Talking About Loss in Honouring Ways (a reflection on Chris Dolman’s Re-membering Reciprocal Relationships) by Barbara Wingard

  • Narrative therapy at any age— Dafna Stern

    $9.90

    This article recounts the author’s explorations in narrative therapy in conversations with two centenarians living in a nursing home. Through focussing on the elderly people’s own skills and knowledges of life, externalised conversations about death, and conversations about making contributions to others, new and renewed accounts of life were created, in a context where this might often be unexpected.

  • Special Knowledge and Stories About Dementia— David Denborough

    $9.90

    KAGE, in conjunction with Alzheimer’s Australia Vic, has recently developed a theatrical production in relation to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The show is called Sundowner. 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 about the experience of dementia and the experience of caring for people with dementia in the hope that this will be of assistance to others.

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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