2011: Issue 2

Posted by on Dec 3, 2016 in | 0 comments

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


Showing all 7 results

  • 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.


  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?


    Cal Albright
    Kermode Friendship Center
    Terrace, BC

    • 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.


  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


    • 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.