2011: Issue 2

2011-no-2Dear reader,

What a diverse range of articles this issue provides. We are delighted to include here the first narrative therapy papers we have ever published from Greece and from Pakistan.

The issue begins, however, with a paper by Angela Tsun on-Kee from Hong Kong. ‘Overeating as a serious problem and foods as real good friends: Revising the relationship with food and self in narrative conversations’ is the first published narrative therapy approach to working with the issue of overeating.

It is followed by an interview with Elsa Almaas and Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad, from Norway, which explores ways of reclaiming sexual lives after experiences of sexual trauma. This is an issue we have been wanting to publish on for some time. We will welcome readers’ responses.

Two further practice papers are then included: ‘The green bubble:Narrative, time away in the bush, and restoring personal agency after hard times’ by Andy Umbers, and ‘That’s the question: Using questions to help parents to get to know their children and allay anxiety and anger’ by Darylle Levenbach.

The second section of this issue focuses on narrative approaches to working with those trying to revise their relationship with drug and alcohol use. Daniil Danilopoulos, from Greece, provides the paper ‘Rooftop dreams: Steps during a rite of passage from a life dominated by the effects of drugs and abuse to a “safe and full of care” life’. And Muhammad Mussaffa Butt offers the first published example of narrative therapy from Pakistan in ‘Using narrative therapy to respond to addiction: An experience of practice in Pakistan’. Both these papers break new ground. They also demonstrate the ways in which practitioners in diverse contexts are originating narrative practice.

Finally, this issue includes stories from Hazara and Iraqi communities within Brisbane, Australia. These were gathered and shared as part of a collective narrative practice project facilitated by a team from the Romero Centre which works with those seeking refuge in Australia. The paper ‘Unforgettable Voices: Australia We Are Here!’ was edited by Jason MacLeod with Jeniece Olsen, Hassan Ghulam and Sabah Al Ansari.

With papers from Australia, Greece, Pakistan, Israel and Norway, we hope this issue of the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work will provide useful ideas and inspiration for your practice.

Perhaps you may also be inspired to include stories of your practice in future editions. If so, we will look forward to hearing from you!

Warm regards,

Cheryl White


  • Overeating as a Serious Problem and Foods as Real Good Friends: Revising the Relationship with Food and Self in Narrative Conversations— Angela Tsun on-Kee


    This paper tells the story of ‘John’ and the ways in which he has revised his relationship with food and with himself through narrative conversations. It is the first example within narrative therapy literature that documents an approach to working with overeating. The work took place in Hong Kong, China.

  • Talking About Sexuality with Survivors of Sexual Trauma: An interview with Elsa Almaas and Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad


    The following interview focuses on work with survivors of sexual trauma. The reason we approached Elsa and Esben Esther on this topic is that they are trying to bring together knowledge and experience from the sexology field and the realm of queer experience to their work with people who have been subjected to sexual trauma and abuse. The form of therapy that Elsa and Esben Esther engage in is informed more by sex-therapy models than by narrative practices; however, the perspectives they offer on this topic seem very relevant to the readership of this journal and we are pleased to include this interview here.

  • The Green Bubble: Narrative, Time Away in the Bush, and Restoring Personal Agency after Hard Times— Andy Umbers


    This paper describes the use of narrative practices in conjunction with bush adventure therapy ideas in responding to potentially traumatic experience. It outlines the program journey embarked upon by Evolve with young men and families experiencing ongoing effects of the 2009 Victorian bushfires, and ways in which narrative ideas have informed this work. In particular, it takes up the metaphoric idea of alternative territories of identity and explores the ways in which working in an alternative physical environment might assist in uncovering subordinated storylines and restoring a preferred sense of self. Also highlighted is the importance of practices that seek to link uncovered, preferred identities uncovered in an alternative physical environment (the bush) with the ‘real world’ experience of life at home and in the community. Some creative uses of physical metaphor in the bush are presented, as are song and celebratory means of confirming stories ‘outside’ of the effects of challenging experiences.

  • That’s the Question: Using Questions to Help Parents to Get to Know Their Children and Allay Anxiety and Anger— Darylle Levenbach


    When families are caught up in ‘stormy’ relationships, it can be challenging to negotiate a different way of communicating about what each person values. This article suggests a range of questions that parents and young people can use to play the role of an ‘investigative reporter’ and find out about the other’s hopes, dreams, and knowledge. The author provides two examples of these questions – and the process that goes with them – in therapeutic contexts with families in Israel.

  • Rooftop Dreams: Steps During a Rite of Passage from a Life Dominated by the Effects of Drugs and Abuse to a ‘Safe and Full of Care’ Life— Daniil Danilopoulos


    Told through the perspectives of his private practice work, and as a student in a graduate narrative therapy course, this article traces the author’s incorporation of narrative ideas and practice in working with issues of drugs and abuse with a young man in Greece. By drawing on the narrative ideas of the migration of identity, and the absent but implicit, and employing the practices of outsider-witness conversations and therapeutic documents, the author assisted the young man to renegotiate his relationship not only with drugs and abuse, but also with his grandmother, and create a space for new directions in life.

  • Using Narrative Therapy to Respond to Addiction: An Experience of Practice in Pakistan— Muhammad Mussaffa Butt


    This paper is based on narrative work carried out in an addiction treatment centre in Pakistan, with someone who had struggled with drugs for a long time. The use of narrative therapy not only helped the client immensely, but also changed my way of thinking and my orientation as a psychologist. Narrative therapy was not emphasised in our course work on clinical psychology. And during our professional training in the addiction treatment centre, it was not even mentioned. However, the first time I used narrative therapy, I became fascinated by the process and its outcomes. The progress of the following sessions further strengthened this belief in the therapy and we continued with it. In this way, both of us (the client and the therapist) developed preferred stories by which to live and work.

  • Unforgettable Voices: Australia We Are Here! Stories from Hazara and Iraqi Communities of Brisbane: Edited by Jason MacLeod with Jeniece Olsen, Hassan Ghulam and Sabah Al Ansari


    This article describes some significant ways that people with refugee experiences have made, or are making, a new home in Brisbane, Australia. These stories highlight the skills and knowledge of participants from Iraq and participants from the Hazara ethnic group from Afghanistan in relation to resisting oppression, finding safety, surviving detention, strengthening cultural pride, embracing family, teaching and learning, lessening discrimination, and hoping for the future. This article also describes the collective narrative practice project through which these stories were generated and documented. It includes the storytelling and storylistening knowledge that guided this project.