2012: Issue 3

Posted by on Nov 29, 2016 in | 0 comments

cover Welcome to the third on-line issue of the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work which includes papers focusing on work in Hong Kong, Kurdistan (Iraq), USA, Australia and New Zealand!

Part One focuses on narrative therapy with young people. In particular, these two papers explore ways of enabling young people who are attending counselling to link their lives with, and make contributions to, other young people.

Part Two consists of a publication entitled ‘Responding to survivors of torture and suffering: Survival skills of Kurdish families’ which is the result of a partnership between Kirkuk Center for Torture Victims in Iraq and Dulwich Centre Foundation International.

Part Three includes two papers that build bridges between narrative therapy and other approaches. A paper from New Zealand explores how narrative practices can be used to accompany strengths-based approaches. And a paper from the USA makes links between Buddhist/mindfulness perspectives and narrative therapy approaches to trauma.

This journal concludes with explorations from Hong Kong about how teaching exercises and games can be used to introduce concepts of poststructuralism that inform narrative practice.


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  1. The narrative metaphor is created through the linkage of particular events, in line with a particular theme, over time. Emphasising these connections can make sense of events, however by creating a singular dominant story we can flatten our experiences and disempower ourselves by overlooking the variety of stories which exist. Chimamanda’s linkage of power to the single story is an interesting concept that I would like to further explore, as internal and external power relates both to the creation and the endurance of these stories.

    The narrative metaphor encourages practitioners to seek gaps in dominant stories and question what is being told. The concept of thin and thick descriptions is valuable as it directs practitioners to question thin conclusions of the self which are created by dominant, problem-saturated stories. While it makes sense theoretically for therapists to collaborate with clients in re-authoring stories, encouraging practitioners to seek ways to ‘richly describe’ these alternative stories provides direction in practice.

    Sydney, Australia

  2. Thank you for the amazing opportunity. I’m looking forward to learning.

  3. Fantastic. Fantastic. Fantastic.
    Everything about it is just sublimely Fantastic!

    I’m of British heritage but born in Aus, as were some of my Grandparents and have never felt connected to the old anthem. I have been secretly praying for an new anthem, and a new flag for that matter, for our sublime country for Decades now.
    I’m so glad you hear the call of the people and have crafted this master piece!
    I’m going to invite my tribe to join me in singing this with me…..Video it….and send it over.
    I can’t wait to be a part of this change. It’s time!
    It’s sublime and definitely holds all people living on this magical land, Australia, in one container as ONE peoples.
    Thank you!
    Let’s make this happen!!!

  4. Hello fromm Turkey where I currently live with my family. Thank you for this alternative way of learning (wich is so closely related to educationnal innovations). I was being frustrated by not being able to learn Narrative practice within a community and here it is!
    As an expat, I can experiment in my day to day life how our stories about ourselves are constructed -which can be good when the story is positive about our skills “I’m this and that; I do this or that”- and how expatriation/migration can de-construct this main story. It is a challenge for a lot of expats to accept to change their stories even tough their new life demands it. I accompany them in this new path. The alternative story is like a new gem found inside you.
    Years ago, I personnaly experimented it when someone, by a few questions, changed the way I was seing my life and made me feel as an author to my life and not anymore as the victim of it. Also, I can see a lot of commun points with NLP and hypnosis which are also my tools and frameworks when coaching.

  5. I found the reading “Listening for more than one story” particularly interesting and very practical. I like the idea of making a list of the effects of the trauma in order to demonstrate that these issues do not define the individual but instead are effects of the trauma they have experienced. On the flip side making a list of the stories of resistance/healing/reclamation is a nice positive way to round it off. Both lists give the counsellor opportunities to explore further with the client. Looking forward to implementing this into my practice.

  6. What struck me was the reference to indigenous practitioners from Just Therapy. I had the honor of hearing representatives from Just Therapy (and purchasing their book) years ago here in Canada I believe in Calgary. I was struck that this was just starting to be part of their conversation in the 1980’s how far we have come – and how far we have to go – in terms of de-colonization and honoring the stories and profound wisdom past and present of indigenous peoples throughout the world (including Canada, Australia, and NZ)

  7. Love it and would love this to be our national anthem. I have shared and am going to continue to share this with others. Thank you!!!

  8. This is fantastic! A really powerful message for kids to grow up with

  9. Thank you so much for writing this article. Your wisdom surrounding the illness narrative being about the person with the illness and, (in this case, me),and the relationships between the family and the “medical professionals” providing the treatment,has left me in a place of isolation, anger, sadness, terror and all the varied nuance of emotion in between. This journey has been a very lonely one trying to get the help I need after a bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Even though I distracted myself by staying busy with work and school, my mind-body-spirit completely fragmented and broke down without my permission. I’ve been left in a space of despair. My providers post surgery have been dismissive at best, and arrogant, condescending, and rude at worst.

    I’ve gotten through many traumatic situations in my life and I’ve always been able to come out on top. After dwelling in the chaos narrative for months, I am finally at a place where I am moving into a healthier quest narrative . My plan is to use this pain as a purpose so other people who have surgery causing adhesion’s, and constrictions in the soft tissue or (fascia), don’t have to deal with this type of reductive, authoritative, and frankly , quite ignorant and harmful type of treatment.

    Warm Regards,


  10. i would take out the word And before honouring the dreaming…its not an add on it stands on its own…will sound better and makes the stepping into dreaming clearer.
    Other than that tiny adjustment, i feel this is extraordinary…i want the tshirt. I want to help

  11. This makes my heart sing with happiness. Please,can this be our new anthem

  12. I’ll be singing it this way from now on.

  13. This was very thought provoking. The outsider witness idea still seems a bit scary and difficult to me! But I love the idea of a letter summarising the work done together, and also a collection of documents of knowledges, I could imagine starting with something like that. Carmen from Sydney Australia.

  14. This makes me proud to be on this precious land! Go the change!

  15. Kind and spiritual- brings peace to my heart
    Congratulations I am guessing this wasn’t created in a day. A lot of thought has gone into this. Peace be with you.

  16. Our Anthem as it should be…love it !

    Thank you to everyone involved in pulling it all together so beautifully……it’s made my day.

  17. This an awesome anthem, the words have the meaning that is appropriate to all Australians. The best national anthem I have heard with heartfelt sentiments. I would certainly stand for this. We need the words to be published online so they can be reproduced. I will certainly take this to my children’s school with a request that it be used.

    • Hi Mandy, We’ve added the lyrics above and there is also a link to a printable pdf of the lyrics!

  18. Kutcha you have nailed it!!!

  19. Oh my! Words that actually make sense on so many levels….. And resonate very deeply! Please lets change it!

  20. can you add a link to a transcript so we can print it out for practice and Australia Day 2019 – if we can’t quite change the date for 2019 – at least we can tweak the anthem

    • Done 🙂

  21. Goosebumps here ❤️ Well done to the lyric writers! This is what I would happily sing, what would move my heart every time. Surely most Australians would agree?

  22. This makes sense. It speaks to what the country/nation is and should endeavor to be. It’s current but would speak to future generations of Australians. I live in the USA but would be proud to sing it and hear it sung. Its sentiments would instill a noble purpose in those who sing as citizens and stewards of the Australian continent.

  23. I love this version. I want to learn the lyrics and sing this. They are meaningful and suitable words for our national anthem.

    I wish we’d all simply start singing this.

  24. Love the anthem. I refuse to sing the current one as I have never agreed with it. Would sing this one.

  25. Mark, this talk was freeing to me. I don’t measure up with society’s norms and have been feeling like a loser. Now I am starting to see that as soon as I find my own truth, there is no need to adapt or live up to something. I am an ok person right now!!!

  26. The best possible Australian anthem we could possibly have. I love it and have shared with everyone I know. I would be so proud to stand for this anthem!!! Well done

  27. Your video has really made an impression on me, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Your reflection about weaponized positivity and the neoliberal admonishment to “do something” in the face of hopelessness for me really highlights the paradoxes of engaging in activism in late stage capitalism. We have weoponized positivity on the one hand and the way we are expected to respond is often to demonize (or weaponize!) hopelessness… like your sister said, in all that it is the capacity to see people as they are that is lost. As you guys wrote in your letter to Dr Ford”: What’s clear has been the value of “holding on to integrity”, of acting despite knowing the result might not be what one hopes for. Sending lots of love and solidarity from Santiago, Chile.

  28. Hi, Nicola here from Perth, Western Australia.

    Which resource in this chapter particularly caught your attention and why?
    I really liked the way Mark charted his externalising conversation. He noted that he spent more time on the earlier steps of externalising and that these were necessary before step 4 (the ‘values’) could be truly addressed.

    What sort of problems could be externalised in your context?
    As an audiologist I tend to work with specific problems (for example hearing loss, tinnitus, hyperacusis and misophonia) but Auditory Processing Disorder is my speciality. Children are brought to my clinic for a range of reasons but ‘poor listening behaviour’ is usually one of them and some kind of label is usually mentioned e.g. a parent may say ‘I was the same when I was a kid and I always thought I was stupid and I don’t want that label for my child’ or ‘we’re not sure if he is autistic or a bit deaf or he has an Auditory Processing Disorder’ or ‘we’re not sure if he’s just naughty or he really has a problem’ and so on. In fact, one of the difficulties of working in Auditory Processing is that has been stigmatised to some degree by various people because we’re working with parents who are occasionally accused of ‘label shopping’ for their children. I am deeply keen to find skillful ways of having these conversations with parents and children in ways that externalise the problem from the child, and conversations with children where they can label the problem themselves and de-centre the problem from themselves.

    What difference might this make? I think for many of the children I see, they undergo multiple assessments and understand there is a problem of some kind and are at very high risk of internalising it. I always check with parents if they’d like me to discuss test results with the child involved or with the child in the waiting room, and most choose to have the child involved. I think it is critically important that I find ways of explaining test results that externalise the problem from the child and give the parents and very importantly the child some space from the problem.

  29. This is Paddy Farr from Eugene Oregon USA. For me, in order to define critical thinking, I first have to look at the etymological roots of ‘critique.’ The word ‘critique’ has a direct connection to the crisis, or from Greek κρῐ́σῐς (krísis). In Greek, κρῐ́σῐς (krísis) means:
    Decision, determination, judgement
    Trial, sentence, accusation
    Quarrel, dispute
    turning point or decisive point of disease progression
    It is from this that Marx posits the capitalist system, because rates of profit fall with the rising rate of production, has an internal contradiction thereby forming the engine of historical materialism. However, in Marx’s view of crisis, it is not only “turning point or decisive point of disease progression,” but also the engine of critique that provides the materialist view the funds for developing a revolutionary force. It is as such that critical thinking becomes revolutionary but in a postmarxist poststructuralist work this moves beyond a mere class analysis. In the work of Outlined by Salome Raheim, the binary between bourgeois and proletariat become one intersection within the overall structure of dominant narratives. Hence, the binary of rich and poor requires the addition of a multitude of addition lines that intersect class at key moments: race, sex, gender, ability, education… Critical thought becomes the theoretical movement pressing grand narratives to the brink of destruction, toward the abolition of oppressive conditions without positing an end point. Here, negativity becomes the force that moves the world. This is what critical thought means to me.

  30. This is Paddy Farr again from Eugene Oregon USA. In this module, I was particularly struck by the importance of what Michael White termed decentered and influential practice. The explanation through the four quadrants seemed to restate his quotation from the previous module that solidarity “is constructed by therapists who refuse to draw a sharp distinction between their lives and the lives of others, who refuse to marginalize those persons who seek help, by therapists who are constantly confronting the fact that if faced with the circumstances such that provide the context of troubles of others, they just might not be doing nearly as well themselves.” The deconstruction of binary relationships between clinician and patient through decentered and influential practice this brings the importance of solidarity to light as a social-political relationship between two subjects, an intersubjective becoming. In just this way, the decolonization of identity stories by Tileah Drahm-Butler becomes the flowering of subjectivity as an agent act of resistance. Decentered and influential, the relation of clinician to patient becomes a shared story of struggle.

  31. This is Paddy Farr from Eugene Oregon USA again. One of things that drew me Narrative Therapy and one of the things I see reflected in the readings above is the strong connection to solidarity and decolonial practices. Here in the US, we have just gone through the national holiday Thanksgiving, a holiday which the dominant narrative portrays the pilgrims as giving thanks for what we have by stuffing ourselves with turkey and sugary sweets. Yet, beneath this narrative is the history of colonization and slavery where white colonists have stolen land and lives in order to create the nation as it exists today. Doubly ironic is the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, people across the nation fight (quite literally resulting in riots and assaults) one another in shopping malls for the best Thanksgiving deals on Christmas presents. My family is bicultural and biracial, and we take part in an alternative: the National Day of Mourning wherein we fast followed by Buy Nothing Day wherein we break our fast and get together as a family. We, along with many of our loved ones, take part in this as a protest that builds an alternative to the dominant grand narrative of manifest destiny by pointing out the connection to genocide that these holidays forget. It is practices like these, the building of collective narratives through solidarity, that I see related through these modules.

  32. This is Paddy Farr again from Eugene Oregon USA. As I read through the various projects and writings in this module, I was reminded of what drew me Narrative Therapy: the focus on anti-oppression politics and critical theory through story. I was reminded of my earlier work in the anti-violence movement through social-political-community organizing for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, discrimination, hate violence, police brutality, migration trauma and prison slavery. These efforts culminated in art and protest by and for survivors in Tucson Arizona USA where the stories of survivors became the narrative basis for political action. In my current practice, I have integrated writing and song about the loss and struggle involved with drug use, homelessness and psychiatric survival into the formation of punk rock music therapy. Every week we come together as a collective to play punk music as reminiscence, to write punk rock music about our past and to transversally eliminate the boundaries between clinician and patient. This module was especially important for me to re-realize the importance that the narrative has on my work.

  33. This is Paddy Farr again from Eugene Oregon USA. I have a few thoughts. In David Newman’s paper and talk above, he posits that therapists should recenter therapeutic discourse on the written word as a potential path out of common pitfalls. Newman work reminded me of Jacques Derrida’s recentering of the written word over the logocentrism of speech. From the letters of authors, explains Derrida, comes their death and life through the object. Moving out of this symbolic Death, I recalled the work of Judith Flores and Silvia Garcia on the testimonio with torture Survivors of the Pinochet regime. Together, the therapist and survivor would create a document as testimony against the regime wherein the survivor would tell the story of their torture. The death of the author becomes their immortality over the death of the regime.

  34. Wow, to find a free online course for Indigenous Narrative Therapy is fantastic! I look forward to learning more!

  35. This is Paddy Farr again from Eugene Oregon USA. Here are some thoughts. As I began reading the explanation of externalizations in the FAQ, I made the prima facile connection to psychodynamic externalization as a defensive mechanism wherein problems are posited to occur from outside the self. In Vaillant’s view, this is a more adaptive defense but still beneath higher defenses such as sublimation. In psychodynamic work, this can be used as a phase of ego building wherein the individual becomes more capable of adapting to conflicts. However, this view has always struck me as potentially victim blaming, and as I worked on through the chapter, I found the notion of externalization more and more closely aligned with my own analytic work. For me, in both Clinical work and personal therapy, the externalization of trauma and oppression from internal conflicts has provided a means for pointing out the impetus of the problem as beyond and outside the mind. I was doubly affirmed as I listened to Mark Hayward describe the importance of focusing on responsibility, or what I have always thought of as accountability, as different and distinct from the externalization. Both are possible and necessary within clinical work: the problem is the problem and yet the person has the capacity to transform.

  36. My name is Paddy Farr from Eugene Oregon USA. Thank you for this course! This is amazing! I have a couple of thoughts.

    The constellation of points, a few of which are plotted within the narrative, explained by Jill Freedman and Gene Combs of Narrative Therapy Chicago, brought up thoughts of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno’s concept of the constellation where ideas are to objects as constellations are to stars. Thus, the narrative which is formed through the plotted points becomes a narration only after the narrator has developed the construction. The narration is only one of many that can be developed by the constellation just as a constellation in the heavens could just as easily have been constructed with a different combination of stars to form a different picture.

    When Alice Morgan writes that “I have tried to explain, narrative therapists think in terms of stories – dominant stories and alternative stories; dominant plots and alternative plots; events being linked together over time that have implications for past, present and future actions; stories that are powerfully shaping of lives,” I am struck by the parallel of Narrative Therapy to the work of Jean-Jacques Lyotard. Where Lyotard focuses on the end of the grand narrative in his “Post-Modern Condition,” Narrative Therapy seems to have the potential to complete that work on the individual level. Thus, to deconstruct the dominant story means to restructure the stories which arise from beneath the dominant narrative.

  37. This is fantastic. Often I feel ill-equipped in terms of how to relate to young people from Indigenous communities who contact me for counselling. Understanding what can be seen as colonised language is such an important first step for me in this course!

  38. Given that I am working in a Centre Against Sexual Abuse this was a very informative video and I know I will be able to utilize some of these practices in my work with women who have experienced sexual abuse, developed a mental illness because of the abuse and now have the further stigma of mental illness and/or addiction. I will be able to work with women on preferred identities and in this look at ways that they are re claiming their lives from abuse. Acknowledging that I am a male I will be rigorous in the way I approach my work as I no doubt will have my own biaises.

  39. I have several issues come up recently in my life that have been deeply entrenched in colonialism … I try now to use narrative as a form of self care and resistance both personally and in my arts practice .. I have also engaged with a narrative therapist

  40. I believe in this so much… that we are our own experts in our stories by telling our stories we empower ourselves in a culturally appropriate/safe way and is really important for our people to be heard.

  41. thank you for your lovely welcome I am a proud pakana woman/mother/grandmother/artist/mentor I work with young Aboriginal people at risk with in the education system

  42. The exercise of telling our story is political, and has a sense of justice. Returns the ability to have control over life and its course. It is a very powerful exercise and necessary mainly in cases where there has been abuse. I find the material presented in this course very beautiful and useful.

  43. Hello from QLD! I am currently studying counselling and find myself drawn to narrative therapy for many reasons – the way it can empower people with many different life experiences.

    I work with young adults and through many conversations with them it seems social media is a source of joy and despair – so one of my interests is in this area.

    The stories we tell of ourselves on social media has a huge impact on our identity – how we may see ourselves, how we want others to see us, or how they interpret us.

    Many of the dominant stories of our lives are shared or cemented in social media which do not allow for complexity – it is so easy for people to be viewed in one way due to comments, photos and similar posted online.

    I wonder if this single sided presentation is what we as a society are taught to offer up – to provide a clear identity and direction in life. With so many influences and pressures for people to act a certain way, be on a certain path by a certain age, perhaps the single story is a way to gain a sense of control over who we are.

    Narrative therapy will allow us to understand all of our skills, successes, and stories, rather than define ourselves by one.

  44. Thanks to each one of you for your words. It is very good to be able to access this virtual training space as a person interested in narrative practice and in having a critical view at the discourses that colonized us.

  45. Externalising allows the problem to be de-centred from the client. This allows some freedom from the problem, to enable the client to view the problem as separate to them and examine it’s varying affect and influence on their lives. It is important for therapists to take care in these externalising conversations to allow clients to describe and name the problem for themselves, and also to externalise positive virtues the client has described in their lives. This allows a means to richly explore and describe alternative storylines. It’s also important to be aware of not incorporating this approach into other humanistic psychology approaches but recognising it as a separate post-structural approach.

  46. Thanks for sharing. It is a lovely thought, that a story is told then retold in a positive and stronger way that builds.

  47. Great introductions, looking forward to hearing the content 🙂

  48. Hi, Nicola here from Perth, Western Australia. A narrative to me means the telling of a story which occurs over time. A metaphor is a literary device where you refer to one thing by mentioning another, and by doing so you compare one thing to another or draw attention to their similarities. So to me, the narrative metaphor is where we refer to one’s life or identity as a story. What does this make possible for me personally? Something that struck me was in Michael White’s interview he mentions a young man telling his story to a social worker, who then recounted her ‘take’ on his story. This allowed him to relive his experience from another viewpoint with another set of possible interpretations and emotions – how powerful. And when a narrative therapist listens to someone’s story (the problem-saturated one), they are listening to the ‘untold’ story…the exception…the anomaly…the strong story that is invisible to the teller at that point. By encouraging the storyteller to go into detail about those anomalies the storyteller tells (and hears through re-auditorisation or listening to themselves) another side to their story, some threads to their story that are hopeful and counter to the problem storyline.

  49. Lovely to hear each person’s welcome – we are all so unique!

  50. Having worked in Aboriginal Communities in Urban, rural and remote contexts, David’s mention of the Palestinian inspired work around “Justice is a form of healing and healing is a form of justice” resonates strongly.
    The internalising of the colonisers dehumanising language is something so apparent in the intergenerational trauma here. It appears Narrative Therapy may be helpful in giving us ways to tell and live inside new stories and possibilities without being re traumatising. “As people begin to inhabit and live out the alternative stories, the results are beyond solving problems” – I love this! Thank you for giving this information so freely!
    Looking forward to learning more.

  51. Very excited about Narrative Therapy and using it in my work place.

  52. Fantastic initiative that will allow me to apply for the Masters.

  53. The Introduction of Sugar is a great example of how to use externalization within group work and how to reduce if not end with feelings such as blame or shame. I did really enjoy the video in which the depression is represented by a black dog and I think it creates a pathway on fighting stigma introducing the idea of separating people from their problems (“The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem”).

    Working within the mental heath services
    I feel there is so much work to do within the field of personality disorders. Starting to externalise problems and behaviours could bring new approaches and new ideas in the way we engage with people.

  54. Hello,
    Just wondering when I will know if I completed the course successfully.
    Many Thanks

    • Hi Emer,

      Thanks for your question! We have passed you essay onto our tutors and will email you the essay feedback and certificate once it has been marked.


  55. What does ‘critical thinking’ mean to you?
    Critical thinking to me means objectively trying to understand an idea, or a concept, taking into consideration the context of how it can be interpreted from my own experience and point of view and being able to explain it clearly to others around me.

    How might your practice be different on account of your engagement with these materials?
    I have become familiar with the post-structuralist way of thinking and considering about ideas over the years and have tried to implement this way of understanding when talking about such broad topics as privilege. It has opened understanding not only in me, but those around me who I have engaged in conversation with.

  56. In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?

    Working alongside people in anyway, in my opinion, is a form of collaboration. Specifically though, my form of collaboration as a physical fitness instructor involves working with people in a one-on-one setting as well as in groups to achieve their optimal physical health, which can often encompass mental health as well.

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?

    Willingness- whether it be on part of the therapist or instructor or the patient/client, both parties must be willing to accomplish their intended goals, otherwise it becomes something other than a collaboration. Rather it becomes a stratified structure where one person has more power over the other.

    If these ways of working fit for you, what next steps could you take to build partnerships/collaborations in your work?

    Be open to create more relationships with people in the community in order to open new pathways to collaboration.

  57. Hi!
    I´m Cristina and I’m writing from London.
    I love this course, Thank you for sharing all these materials.
    Narrative metaphor is a beautiful way of understanding human beings as a whole (history, values, culture, life events, abilities, skills…). I have been working in mental health settings for a while and sometimes you can find people seen as a single story. Brilliant the conference given by the novelist Chimamanda Adichie about this and how single stories can participate in the creation of stereotypes.

    It is really important to encourage people to tell their own stories and to help them find alternative stories that might help them overcome life difficulties.

  58. I love that clients get to ‘take home’ the therapeutic process, and it’s potential for ‘endurance.’

    The suitcase documentation is such a wonderful idea. I will be looking for ways to utilise something like this in the future.

    When I worked with teenage girls rescued from the sex trade, we had them document their life & transition with a map similar to Ncazelo Nucbe-Mlilo’s ‘Journey map’. At the end of several sessions of hard work, our girls asked if they could hang their beautifully coloured Life Paths next to their beds. Even though their histories were full of betrayal and sadness, they felt victorious and hopeful with their beautiful pieces and outcomes. We covered origins, places visited, places they still want to go, milestones achieved, storms (we externalised these times / events), ways they came through the storms, goals, possible obstacles ahead & ways to overcome those barriers, gifts received, ways they hope to grow, and areas they want to contribute to… We emphasised skills and knowledge learned, survival kit, core values, circle of support and obstacles overcome — all significant contributors to an overarching positive perspective of themselves and their future. We had also documented the ‘Tree of Life’ with them, so there were some repeated reflections.

    I am now working in a high school context, supporting 16-year-old boys as they document their journeys… Their reflections and discoveries have been both heartwarming and powerful. We are encouraging them to focus on character strengths and overcoming. The creative / sensory space is an enjoyable and non-threatening way to engage them in sharing their stories, processing their feelings, and projecting their forward choices. They have learned new things about each other and themselves. And will also have something to take home with accomplishment and pride.

    I have been so encouraged by the therapeutic benefits with this form of documentation.

    I appreciate how Esperance Munyarugerero mentioned that they brief the audience beforehand.

    (AJ — Sunshine Coast, Australia)

  59. I am sitting here with my jaw somewhere on the floor. Actually it fell several times as you spoke. First it was about activism. Never thought of myself as one, I am a ‘follow the rules’ kinda person all along, as I wanted to be ‘good’. Well, I think I’m at an age where I could gladly say, am not anymore! I had grown up being told that my elders knew better. That “medicalised & sanitised” terms of suffering hides the human sufferings and injustices. I know that I’ve been getting rather annoyed when someone is immediately dismissed as PD (personality disorder) as though that explains why we can treat the person a certain way. Like it’s strange for a person to be in despair after being physically and mentally abused for the last 30 years??

    Your other self-care idea as the breakdown of our resilience, as it’s not just a personal responsibility of not being able to take care of ourselves, so hence burnout. I love what you said “Burnout denies that it’s social structures of inequity and social injustice that harm all of us.” Butting our heads against discourses, norms… I was falling off my chair laughing so hard when you said you drank water and did yoga, but doing those have not built one housing unit in your city 🙂

    I’d write more, but these are the two that I thought I’d share with you. Hearing you, have firmed up my belief in doing more of what I have been doing, to connect more deeply with the people who come to see me, to get to know their stories, their actions of fighting against injustices and norms that have caused harm to them. To continue doing those “immeasurable outcomes” because they do matter.

    • I was so excited tripping over myself (obviously my typing is much slower than how the words/thoughts were popping into my heads!). I wanted to share that two things really struck me. One, the idea that mental health or people’s experiences have been neatly squeezed in a box by mental health diagnosis; and the other, about selfcare being a collective care. Thank you so much for this.

  60. In just one chapter of the book, I have become more aware about culturally sensitive therapies. In particular, asking the client to define their problem and what that means to them was very helpful. I am curious to learn more and to feel more confident in this approach.

  61. The power of the written story read back in the person’s own words. No assumptions or interpretations – just written as it was said.

  62. I enjoyed hearing all the welcome stories.

  63. Thank you. I am a Navajo living on Cree land in Canada. I appreciate you sharing the article on grief. It is true, we as Indigenous Peoples experience a lot of losses. It is sad because it is driving our people to addictions , suicide, abuse of themselves and others. Many are ending up incarcerated. I believe ceremonies and our own ways of spirituality and our stories will heal us and help us recover from our losses.

  64. I love this stuff – it’s standing up to and challenging the predominant voice of colonisation that we all too easily wear inside whether we like it or not

  65. I’m writing from sydney, australia. I can see the value in using these externalising conversations to reduce shame, and therefore open up the use of the imagination in finding a solution and understanding. I work with women with drug and alcohol issues and they experience a lot of shame which can make it hard to see solutions. Thanks for a fantastic course!

  66. I’m writing from Sydney. I loved Chimamanda’s talk and it made me think about how we naturally make connections between the thing someone has just said, and some pre-existing idea in our head, without necessarily checking whether that is appropriate. I like the way this approach doesn’t define people as one thing or another, both can be true and many other things besides. I found the charter very empowering. Looking forward to the rest of the course.

  67. Queenie from Manila Philippines here.

    I found the tip of using a document as a reminder extremely helpful. The case where the lady carries a small card in her wallet and reads and rereads her alternative story is particularly useful. Too often, people leave the counseling room happy and relieved, but are not able to continue this in their daily lives. Having a document to remind them would be most helpful. I immediately thought of a friend who would benefit from this practice.

    I also like the Narrative in Suitcases example. Children often find it hard to express their inner thoughts and creating a document which shows their hopes and dreams is a wonderful way to overcome this challenge. This is something I hope to apply in a similar way in the future.

  68. I am really interested in how Michael White places the work of family therapy in relation to narrative therapy. His emphasis on the importance of considering the ‘problem’ of the individual to be related to all family members and that of the community. His linkage of family therapy to feminism was surprising for me, as I have never made such links between the two approaches before. The stories and interviews opened up a new school of thought within my personal and professional practice framework.

  69. Hello,
    The Mt Ego Self-help community project was particularly of interest to me as I have not thought about linking narrative practices to social and economic development before. The steps which the project offers the community are also very practical. It is astonishing to find out how we can work towards empowerment and establish self-determination of social groups and community using this technique.

  70. Finding out more about the different types of documentation as mentioned in Hugh Fox’s article has opened my thoughts on how I can apply this to my current work place practices. I seek to further explore the usage of “document of knowledge” for future clients as it provides them with physical evidence to refer back to in challenging times.

  71. Hello ,

    I found this chapter very interesting. Externalising problem is something we often think about doing but may not necessarily understand the reasoning behind or know how to do it effectively. The chapter, especially the video delivered by Mark Hayward offered an effective and descriptive explanation of this and allow me to apply them to my current and future practices.

  72. Hello everyone,

    My name is Minh Thu. I am in Sydney. Learning about what Narrative Therapy is has been very helpful. I especially like the work of Alice Morgan in her book, What is Narrative Therapy. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to understand more about this technique. Alice offered simplistic explanation in how this form of therapy may look like in counselling and community development. The case examples were also extremely helpful. I believe using and/or keeping in mind such technique would be extremely useful as it empowers the individual/group people we are talking to and allows us to look at the problem as separate from the individual/s.

  73. Thank you for the information … Islamic and good Australians … they help open up our country with their camels…may God bless us ALL…

  74. Even though my story remains part of my lives, my lived experience, I don’t have to live out or from the ‘old’ pain story, I can create a new story encompassing the strengths and learnings from my lived experience. Once I create the new story that facilitates healing opportunity I can then practice living out that new story until it becomes the dominant story line and the ‘old’ story gradually has less influence in my life.

  75. Nakkiah Lui made a impression on me in a talk once when she urged the audience to always, every day, check our privilege. I still think about that a lot.

    Lucy, Wollongong

  76. The Shame Mat is certainly something I would like to incorporate into my work place in dealing with children and families, in a positive way for children to open and acknowledge their identity.
    Unfortunately most families I work with will not openly disclose they are of First Nation descent, until I acknowledge that I myself am.

    There is still a sense of shame for some families that is hard to break down that barrier.

  77. Looking forward to the course, and putting it into practice in my school.

  78. Which particular ideas or stories intrigued you?
    I really enjoyed reading Cheryl White’s transcription of a conversation Michael White had with a patient regarding losing a button on his pants. I thought the idea of being on a level playing field with someone seeking treatment went a long way in humanizing the patient and giving them the opportunity to provide help in a situation instead of just seeking it.

    Why do you think these things stood out to you?
    I think it is because of the idea that when in a patient/therapist dynamic there is always the idea that one person has everything going correctly in their lives and the other person is looking for help from the other in order to accomplish that as well. It can often create an imbalanced relationship and cause the patient to rely on the therapist for every problem in their lives. Thus making it much more difficult for a patient to improve.

    What from these histories would you like to take with you into your future practice in some way?
    The aforementioned idea that the therapist is also a work in progress just like the patient and that it is a collaboration between both to improve each other’s lives together. Yes, the therapist is there as a guide, but maybe not as someone who knows it all. By having this type of dynamic I believe it creates an atmosphere where additional healing can be achieved instead of slowed down.

  79. I am glad to enroll in this course.

  80. I Like all the introductory stories. Looking forward to the course. Thanks to Aunty Barbara and Dulwich for making it available

  81. This is such a fantastic idea,and an opportunity to learn how to do this in practice.

  82. Narrative Metaphor is clearly depicted by Morgans analogy of driving . This gives a clear picture of relation of negative and positive events in framing our life story. The connecting dots metaphor of Jill Freedman gives a clear picture of framing of our dominant theory.

  83. It is so valuable to be reminded again of the power of privilege. One can slip so easily into sustaining the narrative of privilege, without questioning it or its impact on others. Sue, Canberra, Australia

  84. I think we do the same thing with individuals who have heard voices. We tell one story, we give them one label and when they try to tell theirs we say they are “delusional”. It’s important to hear everyone’s story and what they are experiencing in their own words.

  85. Looking forward to this course! I live and work in Whitehorse, Yukon and we have some similarities over here 🙂

  86. I’ve noticed with adolescents in particular, a tendency to talk about “my depression” and “my anxiety” as if they were talking about inherent traits they possess that make them special. It becomes their identity, and they tend to seek out others who also take a diagnosis on as part of their identity. It’s almost second nature to externalize problems with younger children because it’s necessary to use metaphors, stories, and play in therapy. I really found all of the examples given quite useful, and I love how externalizing problems can naturally reduce shame.

  87. Hello all!

    I’m Adam and I’m writing this from London, UK.

    I think it’s brilliant that such a comprehensive collection of resources have been pulled together in one free online course – so thank you to the Dulwich Centre! I’m sure many people have and will continue to make use of it and help to spread the word about narrative therapy.

    In terms of contributing to the discussion about the narrative metaphor, I think this and narrative approaches more generally can be so effective because it is something we can all relate to. People are natural story tellers. It’s something that makes us human. It has been a part of our make up for tens if not hundreds of thousands of years and most of us, one way or another, have been engaging with language, and therefore narratives, from a very early age.

    I think the narrative metaphor can be an effective tool for building on the stories people bring into the room. It can provide a way to explore the more ‘problem saturated’ narratives and reframe them to develop richer, more balanced alternatives. It’s a process and approach that spikes my interest and I am curious to learn more as I work through the course.

    I look forward to reading through other comments on here and hearing your thoughts.

    All the best,

  88. I really like the Tree of Life documents, particularly the reflection on our roots, skills, directions and relationships. I can see myself using this activity in a my current context working with young people, who often, with their limited life years, can get so engulfed by their current dominant story as its presence has sometimes been for a large chuck of the lives. I can see you people responding really well to the reflection on their roots and the distances and directions they have come already in their lives.

  89. I am a psychologist that has received lots of training in using narrative approaches in addressing multiple problems. I recently became more vested in wanting to acquire more skills and knowledge around supporting people struggling with effects of drug misuse/abuse and other addictions. I am grateful for this body of work that you are freely sharing with people like me.

  90. This section made me think about how often young people introduce their problem to me using medicalised or psychology language. “I have anxiety” is probably one of the most common things that young people tell me in our first meeting. Usually the young person has been told this or has done their own research and is trying to map their own experiences onto this medicalised or professional model. From my experience with young people, this process alone seems to cause helplessness and sucks any sense of agency the young person has over these experiences.

    These resources, particularly Sugar, really made me reflect on the ownership of language and the role that I as a therapist play in providing a platform where the young person’s language takes a primary position. As I think about this, I’m wondering about how this matches up with messages the young person receives from other players. For example, schooling and education sometimes encourages a passive position to learning and creating understanding. Depending on how strong these messages are in the young person life might determine how readily they engage in the ownership of the language we use.

    • I’ve noticed with adolescents in particular, a tendency to talk about “my depression” and “my anxiety” as if they were talking about inherent traits they possess that make them special. It becomes their identity, and they tend to seek out others who also take a diagnosis on as part of their identity. It’s almost second nature to externalize problems with younger children because it’s necessary to use metaphors, stories, and play in therapy. I really found all of the examples given quite useful, and I love how externalizing problems can naturally reduce shame.

  91. I was really drawn to Aunty Barb’s story for a number or reasons. There is a clear parallel to the injustice experienced by Aboriginal people and the injustice that Maori in NZ have experienced as a result of Pakeha (white people) domination. Too often, their grief from their loss of culture, goes unacknowledged.
    I’ve often thought how uncomfortable it must be for some clients to come to our centre and sit in a room they’re not familiar with to share their stories. It was so lovely to hear of Aunty Barb sitting with her young client to ‘tell stories under the trees’. Why do we need to call what we do ‘counselling?’ Just the name of it suggests that we (counsellors) are in a dominant position.
    Like the Aboriginal people, Maori also hold onto their loved ones who have died.Aunty barb talked of a gathering of Aboriginal families where they were encouraged to find ways of remembering that made it possible for people to see themselves through the eyes of their loved ones. This is a powerful way for people to remember stories and memories and to shift how they currently see their lives.

  92. Thanks so much for putting this course online and sharing it freely. The idea of narrative therapy is really resonating with me as very important.
    Things that stand out are the danger of a single story, the way we choose (and allow others to influence) our dominant story, the need to curiously be attentive for evidence of an alternative plot to our lives.
    I think these ideas will be very helpful to me personally, but also to those I work with, in remote parts of the NT.

  93. How would you describe the narrative metaphor?
    In my mind, the narrative metaphor is this perfectly chaotic bubbling fluid. Each crew and valley makes the next and at any one moment there is a dominant peak. I enjoyed reflecting on my own dominant narratives and the role that my own development and journey, in particular the connections to people and places, has played in bringing a particular story to the surface. I also liked reflecting on this metaphor as a global concept, that our stories in relation to others is just a story, nothing more, and one of many. I like the space for flexibility and accomodation this allows for.
    Thinking in this way gives me a sense of hope in relation to some major political, social and environmental issues that I care deeply about. It removes a sense of finality and indisputable truth. In my practice, it gives me a way to give my clients the space and power to be the ones to make these changes, on their own individual lives but also on this broader social scale.

    Lucy Wollongong

  94. Aotearoa, NZ
    Critical thinking for me is the belief system of the practitioner engaging in practice and how this may then influence our client relationship.
    A reminder to remain the naive enquirer with safe and honest supervision.

  95. Aotearoa, NZ.
    As a social worker working collaboratively means that I work broadly to identify issues and become involved in social justice matters.
    What makes it hard is the privacy act and funding issues that create silos.
    I am always interested to network and build relationships and try to think out of the box.

  96. The Narrative metaphor for me described timelines and themes of events that link and often reinforce together a persons story.
    Thinking about stories in this way i reflected that there is scope for creativity to utilise perspective such as using small figures, asking someone to read or interpret out story etc

    • Cheryl Penn: Artist/writer/lecturer/motivational speaker, South Africa. As an artist who is engaged in workshops/lecturing dealing with art tools/subject matter to access instinctual creativity and conceptual thinking, the narrative metaphor is vital in understanding what underpins peoples approach to any sort of creativity and/or creative thinking. Narrative Therapy is essentially the power of story telling to personally understand identity, problems or a particular life view. Thin, or for that matter ‘thick’ stories are particular sorts of information and experiences which govern the way we see things. Nudges towards a new/richer plot are used to encourage a far more generous version of information about our lives than we currently experience. A story told through experimental art and/or through written words gives the narrative physical evidence. To speak is to verbalize and to realize, but to paint and write using the same narrative nudges somehow makes reflection more meaningful (in my experience!). Narrative Therapy has definitely enriched my course material in that it gave me the tools to uniquely connect art and therapy.

  97. Brilliant, I work for Danila Dilba in Darwin, I am a white male social worker, I work for one of D/D’s health clinics in the Darwin CBD.
    The importance of men being able to “yarn” with each is so important, as is older men who can fit into the role of mentors for younger blokes.
    These videos are fantastic, bravo to everyone involved in these interviews.

  98. Hello! I’m writing from the Philippines

    I found the video with Mark extremely helpful. The way the questions are phrased to enable us to go through the Statement of Position map, the sample responses to a client’s narration — all these were good concrete examples on how I might use externalizing when talking to others.

    It also struck me how open and non-judgmental we must be when facing and talking to the person with a problem. This attitude is a must to be able to do the statement of position map well.

    • The easily stated summary of externalizing the problem by giving it a particular look/feel/texture/color/shape is very visual. It again reinforces the idea that putting a name to, or creating some kind of visual glyph (eg the black dog) externalizes and acknowledges the problem without invalidating it in anyway at all. When looking at a problem, people mostly see the person – in a sensory manner (sight) and so by externalizing the problem, one creates a new visual space for IT to operate in. By giving the problem a ‘look’, the person can more easily respond to the problem in the third person and thereby gain a more objective view to a mostly subjective issue. This externalization can provide a more intimate position on the problem. Even using the + or the – symbol as a drawn visual aid and spider diagraming the positives and negatives can nudge further understanding of their position. Should the person draw/paint their own version of the problem, it belongs to them and this artistry prevents the therapist from being the primary author/artist of the problem. Even the use of the chart by the person together with the therapist provides a readable diagram for both parties. Colors can represent notions/emotions very effectively.
      Cheryl Penn, Durban – South Africa

  99. The narrative metaphor to me highlights how each person can embody various ways of being and acting. We are not just one ‘person’ we are able to tap into many different characteristics depending on which storyline we are following. By recognising and developing our many stories we can become more empowered.

  100. Sue from Canberra, Australia. Loved the Mount Elgon project with its focus on reliance and strength. How empowering for this community to be able to speak their hopes and dreams and then work towards realising them.

  101. I’m from New Zealand. My role involves working in therapeutic ways to support change within families. Although we hope to see change take place within communities it may take decades before significant change can be seen. I was really struck by the enormous potential when whole communities are involved in working towards change. The collective sharing of knowledge and skills has enormous strength. This was reiterated for me by the wonderful use of a bundle of sticks to show that each stick is so much stronger when brought together into a bundle.
    The Tree of Life and the Mt Elgon Community Project resonated for me in the way they brought together the past, present and future. I loved the way a “rich textural heritage” was created in the Mt Elgon project by asking the people where their hopes and dreams had come from; who had passed them on.”Raising heads above the clouds” is something I will use in my work.

  102. The narrative metaphor, as I understand it at this point, is the notion that people digest their reality and understand themselves and others through story. It is also the understanding that, for a reason that is not yet completely clear to me, we tend to cling to a single story. Maybe it’s easier? Maybe the single story is a powerful well-structured one that is clear to us? Maybe it was born out of urgent necessity for sense and provided comfort through its internal logic, a calming simplicity which one is naturally reluctant to let go of? Maybe it was reinforced by people who were meaningful to us? Based on this understanding, the narrative metaphor encourages us to pay attention to this story’s periphery, to listen for divergence, for complexity that can be used to thicken the plot or create new stories. It is also a tool that gives us the opportunity to take a step back and recall that we are not only the main characters of our stories, but also their storytellers, writers and editors.
    The dominant stories I tell me about myself are often quite rigid and severe. Inviting the narrative approach into my thinking gives me the possibilities of agility and playfulness. It enables me to listen to softer stories that I may already be trying/wanting to tell; stories that are not heard because they haven’t been given the space, time or attention they need to be fully told. It invites curiosity and creativity into my personal storytelling, and reminds me that memory, reality and truth are not set in stone. They are shaped by the voice and tone I use to tell them, by the circumstances in which I allow/invite them to emerge, by the words and structures I choose to tell them through, and by the roles and dominance I give certain elements (characters, events, etc.) within them. The narrative metaphor gives me the possibility to continuously challenge, create and get to know myself by experimenting with the ways in which I interpret my life.
    I’m writing from Ramat Gan, Israel (:

  103. I was a member of ANTaR Victoria and tried to get Federal Parliament to change the lyrics.Letter back from Malcolm Turnbull saying no.
    Also had meetings with the AFL and I believe we can win them over to sing the new lyrics at Dreamtime.

  104. Having commenced a Masters of Counselling which is based in post-modern epistemology and therapeutic approaches which are embedded in the this epistemology. Clients as the expert in their own lives – Just as they have the glue to become stuck, they also possess the solvent to become unstuck.

    What I find liberating about Narrative Therapy is it’s focus on engaging in conversations which are collaborative and non-pathologizing. I enjoy the process of listening to client language and stories and deconstructing dominate narrative – thickening stories.

    • The narrative metaphor, as I understand it at this point, is the notion that people digest their reality and understand themselves and others through story. It is also the understanding that, for a reason that is not yet completely clear to me, we tend to cling to a single story. Maybe it’s easier? Maybe the single story is a powerful well-structured one that is clear to us? Maybe it was born out of urgent necessity for sense and provided comfort through its internal logic, a calming simplicity which one is naturally reluctant to let go of? Maybe it was reinforced by people who were meaningful to us? Based on this understanding, the narrative metaphor encourages us to pay attention to this story’s periphery, to listen for divergence, for complexity that can be used to thicken the plot or create new stories. It is also a tool that gives us the opportunity to take a step back and recall that we are not only the main characters of our stories, but also their storytellers, writers and editors.
      The dominant stories I tell me about myself are often quite rigid and severe. Inviting the narrative approach into my thinking gives me the possibilities of agility and playfulness. It enables me to listen to softer stories that I may already be trying/wanting to tell; stories that are not heard because they haven’t been given the space, time or attention they need to be fully told. It invites curiosity and creativity into my personal storytelling, and reminds me that memory, reality and truth are not set in stone. They are shaped by the voice and tone I use to tell them, by the circumstances in which I allow/invite them to emerge, by the words and structures I choose to tell them through, and by the roles and dominance I give certain elements (characters, events, etc.) within them. The narrative metaphor gives me the possibility to continuously challenge, create and get to know myself by experimenting with the ways in which I interpret my life.

  105. Loved the Sugar illustration. This could equally be used to work with depression or anxiety. Found it judgemental and empathic and externalising allowed the separation of the person and the problem. Very powerful.

    • I have just finished reading the article on “Sugar”, which was written so well I could imagine Sugar standing in front of the group, growing stronger, diminishing, and talking in language that the people could understand and relate to. She offered a way to talk about the problem of diabetes that allowed her audience to see it as that–a problem that exists but also that there are other ways to think and talk about the problem.

  106. What strikes me is how inherently non-judgemental and compassionate this approach/technique of externalising the problem is. The clip with Mark Hayward was helpful for me in understanding how this happens. I would like to say that without embodying non-judgement/acceptance/unconditional positive regard (which no study can teach), though, the technique (and all techniques) would be rendered unhelpful and meaningless.. Perhaps there’s room to be open about one’s judgements/reactions in a sensitive, respectful, therapeutically helpful way within this approach? I no doubt will learn about that! Robert – Gold Coast, Qld, Australia.

  107. So freeing to come to the realisation that we are not what we have been told we are – by our family, society, key people in our lives.. And how we can choose different realities to build our sense of who we are.. broadening our consciousness.. Seems a very powerful approach, orientation, and way of thinking & being. How much kinder can we be to ourselves and to others when we stand in this space?

  108. At the end of her introduction Philipa said “..as always take your time”. I really heard it this time and it was certainly important for this chapter.

    There was so much to process in such a small number of words. Particularly as I am doing this alone at the moment and the chance for proper discussion will not come soon. I feel a bit psychologically paralysed by all of the ideas to consider in relation to privilage. Having others to discuss it with seems vital in order to be able to pull it apart into digestible amounts.

    It pervades many areas of my life I am sure and will require much concentration in many situations to explore and find different ways to mitigate it. (Dublin, Ireland)

  109. The narrative metaphore is a way, Narrative practice work, that in the first way tries to add arguemantation, provided for the people cunsulting rather than for an institution, to the main plot of the people’s stories. In this particular way, what this metaphore tries to do, its to enrich people’s stories, in a way that they ‘catch’ a newer perspective about what’s happening in their lives.

    this metaphore warns us about the danger of a single storie telling: Enclousure, struggling, get bogged, presure, an so on. Thats why this therapy works to desolve this matters, and pushes away all, to increase stories and open endings.

  110. The Sugar story was amazing. What an insightful way to set up a safe environment for people to ask questions and gain an understanding of diabetes. I also loved the Balck Dog video.This was a great visual aid to support an understaning of externalising a problem.
    I found it really helpful to work through the transcript of mark’s conversation with Joey, particularly the way Mark dropped back a level when Joey was not yet able to indicate his position. I’m from Whangarei in New Zealand

  111. Hi, Alex Here, From Mexico

    The thing that i find most fasinating is how Michael’s White ideas developed through out time to end up being one of the most interesting ways of dealing with people’s problems. It is quite amazing how through the sharing of ideas with his partner David Epson everything came together to build this way of seeing people and their problems.

    Specifically, what I like the most is how they both changed the whole game in how other psychologic theories and practices treated with ‘patients’, and how they used to see their lives (phatologizing their life with ”inner concepts”).

    Instead, they noted that, within cultural contexts, power relationships, narratives of power,gender biases, racial and socioeconomical views, most of the people’s problems coulded be deconstructed, ending up in the frase: ”The person is the person, and the problem is the problem”. In other words, watching people as something separeted from the problem.

    Such a relief!

    In general, I find all of the Michael´s White work and ideation as a very important bundle of ways of treating with people, their conditions, and their problems. A way of including them into the conversation and a way of acknowledging their experience.

    Thank you very much.

    I look forward to get to know more of the practices included into the narratives approaches as I read through the chapters.

  112. My name is Ivan Alejandro Rodriguez Santarriaga, and I’m From a City in Mexico named Juarez!

    I really liked this Narrative Therapy Chapter because of it’s Community projects. I specially engage with the ”Little by little we make a bundle” paper, because of the personification the facilitator made about HIV and Mr. Care, to create an ongoing conversation with the participants struggling with those health conditions. It made me think on how can I apply this way of dealing with serious problems in my context and community, leading me to the conclusion and desire of working with drug related problems.

    In my community, located in Mexico, the drug related problems inbetween young people are constantly prevailing, many times because of a lack of work and educational opportunities, so, in this regard, translaping the Little by little we make a bundle ideas into the context of problematic drug use and abuse is appealing to me: Externalizing the ”Drug consumption” and personifying the ”willingness to leave the drugs”! I think that in creating a conversation and a safe place for young people to express their concerns, likes and dis-likes about drug use, and peripheral things that sustain the usage may be a very good idea to try to analyze new possibilities in to how to relate one self to life…

    Alex From Mexico

  113. I found this chapter very interesting! This, because of the usage of the therapeutic documents, in counselling context. At the same time I was reading this chapter, I was reading other book too about this same topic, and in it I found very interesting statements about the using of documents in therapy, and how this idea was brought to the narrative practices.

    The mind idea is that documentation always has been an importan vehicle to ”add” seriousness and respect to human deals and relatios. For instance, when a couple get married, a document is considered very importan to legitimize the union. When a lawyer comes with an arrest order to someone house’s the situation becomes more intriguin , and at last, if I buy a house or a car, I will want a ”paper” that states this good is mine.

    Coming back to our talk, it is very intelligent how authors of narrative practices noticed that, and included that way of legitimize into the counselling context. I like a lot how this way of work can improve therapeutic process, cutting the number of sessins used to deal with people’s problems.

    On the other hand, the way of working with audiences is wonderfull! I liked a lot the quote saying: Within witness audiences people may be seen in their own terms! I found further more interesting the analysis laying under this witness practice. Not replicate the relations of power people may come with, instead looking always out for the unexpected outcomes in order to thicken stories.

    I also loved how the outsider witness practices document give hints on how to procced within the usage of this practice, and ways in how ”not to”: Not applaud, one of the most important, I think.

  114. Hola/ Hello Friends Of DC!

    Well, my coments about this Map on externalizing conversations are: It’s great to see that there are some practices that allowe people to take distance from what they call their problems, specially when it’s been soo long since they have been strugguling with them.

    At the same time I Could say that the efects of externalizing are great! Because they provide a point where to ”pull” to an other places: richer stories!

    In an other book I read that the questions we make thru externalizing conversatinos are called ”relative influence questions” because they try to find what are or were the effects of the problem, what are the present of the problem, and where do we want to go regarding the problem.

    Also a very good point I can find here, it’s also the chances we have to separate ”Qualityes” and to find out how they were created.

    Thank you Dulwich Center

  115. The concept of the narrative particularly resonates with me. I’m a social worker who is counselling veterans and their families. They come with stories of trauma and fractured relationships but what I see is strength and resilience. Seeking alternative and thickened stories will help to illustrate their inherent strengths and resilience.

  116. I was inspired today to read of the ‘stand’ taken by Primary school student Harper Nielsen:


  117. I found the role play of ‘sugar’ very enlightening and something that can be used in many situations. It takes the focus of the individual to see the problem as a live entity.

    This could work well in OCD particularly pure O.

    Having OCD as a separate entity from themselves may invite them to recognise the problem is not them.

    The mapping of conversation was also insightful to enable me to expand conversation. Also to be mindful of the questions I am asking clients that they may not be ready for, it allows me the opportunity to create the space where clients can reflect and gain their own insight.

    It was very much a relief to know that within narrative practice, perpetrators of violence in whatever form are given the space to take responsibility for their actions and its impact.

  118. What made it for me in this chapter is the notion of poststructural way of thinking. It is very important to be at the look out for ways of speaking that better describe peoples experience at the therapy room, and I think that the externalized way of talking has come to fulfill this neccesity.

    I deeply find appealing the notion that our identity is shaped by other differente factors such as family background, historical and social contexts (that are completly moveable, or at least more than those ”inner self components”) rather than the ”inner and fixed personality”.

    This notion, is in many ways liberating, specially in those cases where a heavy tag has been putted. Alchoolisim, Drug addiction, Poverty, and so on.

    In terms of critical thinking, It is to me spotting the advantages that a statement said for a person in power puts him/her in to. Also, looking for the intentions that might be hiden on a discourse, and seeing the ways in which I may be able to separete me from the undesireble effects.

    I’ll be always in the look out of ways I may be contributing to spread privilage and relations of power, even though I know it is a work that has its difficulties.

    Alex, from Mexico

  119. It is certainly hard and difficult to have this kind of conversations as a natural way. It is true that most of the people in this post-modern world is looking to have a good and confortable live, specially when the social system is constructed with that pourpose. Study a degree and you”ll have better job opportunities than if you don´t study any of this school degres. So, it is hard, specially for profesionals like me (psychologist) and many others not to enjoy ourselves in the privileges the schoolar and social system its been putting into our heads since they exist.

    But I also understand that our responsability as profesionals, and highly educated people, to take into consideration the other peoples’ life conditions in order to try to push in a way that favors them in ways otherwise they wouldn´t.

    I don´t know how I am sounding with this text, but I consider my self a person who is always considering how all that I’m saying may be affecting the people sorrounding me, taking in consideratio also their life conditions. Even a friend how may not be doing as well as me in a profetional career, for instance if he/she is not able to pay for a cup of coffe that I’m able to pay for, either I invite my friend the data at the coffe shop, or if I consider that my friend would feel offended, I may offer or suggest going to an other more-at-their-capacity cofee shop.

    It is very joyfull thinking in this matters of privilege and power, as a individuals, and always trying to make the best for our friends or family members and people in general in order to make them feel good with themselves and creating an enviroment where respect is always present.

    Alex, From Mexico.

  120. Hi from Dublin,Ireland again. I enjoyed thinking about collaborating as I was reading this chapter and was particularly struck by Sue Manns reflections and practice change in relation to writing in peoples notes. I used to write in a set of shared notes and I understand how alienating it must feel to people to have a set of notes about them that they cant look at whenever they like or contribute to in a meaningful way. This was very refreshing for me and something I would consider trying in the future. It was also interesting that not everyone showed an desire to write collaboratively in the notes.

    I also found the detail of Amanda Warrall’s communication with June about SP very enlightening. It was interesting to see how to June realised what she valued and how this in turn led to discovering new ways of managing SP.

  121. Using Externalising with clients has enabled them to create a separation between them and the problem. Within that space they have been able to connect the dots they had previously not been aware of. Allowing them to recall other layers of their story.

    This process has enabled me to listen and ask questions in a different way, to be a witness and support to clients on their journey to recovering themselves. It has also given me the vocabulary to widen the conversations within the therapeutic space.

  122. Hello everyone,
    My name is Joanne and I am currently based in Townsville, North Queensland. I work as a social worker at a women’s centre and have an interest in narrative therapy as way of helping people recover from trauma, particularly domestic violence and sexual assault. I recognise that I am very early in my learning journey but already finding much that resonates such as the continual reinforcement of the dominant narrative metaphor (or story) in our lives and how it can be changed by applying different lens or perspectives. Also,the comment about externalising the problem and the solution is sometimes not the personal.

  123. Hi there,
    My name is Celine and I come from Sydney. I have come to the Dulwich Center to learn more about and familiarise myself with the healing conversations of narrative therapy. I am a trained counsellor and psychotherapist and I am currently doing an undergrad in Psychology.
    I find Narrative practice a very powerful method of retelling and reinterpreting our life experiences. I loved Alice Morgan’s text. For me part of the power of narrative therapy is the ability to change our overused and often unhelpful story lines when reliving past experiences. Why are these narratives still running and what purpose do they serve us or our clients? Introducing and exploring new narratives can have such a powerful effect and challenges us to think differently about ‘the problem’. Thinking of stories in this way makes me realise that there are other narratives, gaps in storytelling, strengths and positivity within the self talk of clients struggling with particular issues and that the current narrative is not the only story that makes up this experience. There are in fact several narratives from which we can grow and learn – returning power to the client.

  124. Hello, I am a Clinical Psychology registrar who works across a diverse population. Narrative practices fit well with my way of looking at the world. Life is not a single linear path. A metaphor I often use is that our lives are like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The pieces ultimately fit together but as we build the puzzle, pieces seem to overlap or be missing, or sometimes turn out to be in the wrong spot or the wrong way round. As a qualitative researcher I believe individuals to be the expert in their life, that the perspective of an issue or situation is the truth for that person at that time, and that it is possible to have contradictory views at any one time.

  125. I am writing from Vancouver, BC. I have really enjoyed reading about collective narrative practices, and I think my initial reaction to it says a lot about how rare this kind of work is in therapeutic work. I think the idea of communities banding together and sharing their resources of healing with one another to be beautiful, and I kept being struck by how little work it would be for the therapist to allow these groups to share with one another. In the past I worked at a school with autistic children and the approach was so directive, that the idea of taking a step back and allowing people to share with one another instinctually gave me a feeling of slight anxiety, as if I should “be doing more.” I think this says a lot about how we are trained to lead the therapeutic process, and although how directive we need to be varies between contexts, this reaction confirmed what some of these training sections have been saying about the agenda of the therapist and how it can stifle expression and exploration for the one in therapy.

    I can speak from personal experience about the power of collective narrative practice as well, although I did not realize until now that I have been a part of one of these practices. Years ago I was asked by my therapist to join a panel of adolescents and young adults who had grown up in high conflict divorce households, and the event was attended by psychologists, therapists, lawyers and judges because they wanted to hear experiences from the child’s point of view. At the time I imagined this experience to be about helping the field, but I remember even without going with the intention of therapeutic growth how beneficial it was for me. It was a place where my experiences involving pain and confusion had value for others, and that knowledge provided a very profound feeling of validation and respect in my experiences. This knowledge gives me a sense of hope in using collaborative narrative practice in the future.

  126. I am writing from Vancouver, BC in Canada. I find many of documentation practices interesting, particularly the documents of knowledge/authority described in the Hugh Fox paper. Reading about narrative practice has been fascinating as a whole because I find it encapsulates what many of us instinctually do in daily life to cope anyways, but contains it in documents that can be used and looked at repeatedly. I think the idea of carrying a document of authority around like Anita did could be very helpful. The points that were documented struck me as similar to the things we try to tell ourselves all the time when we are trying to create a change in our lives, but when it is only what we’re telling ourselves there is so much room for shame to take over. I thought writing it down and having it onhand at any instance would be a great way to stay on track and remember our intentions for a shift in identity or lifestyle.

    I love the idea behind documents of circulation as well, because I think so many therapeutic modalities are so individually focussed that the impact of community is left up to chance. The idea of circulating documents of intention about one’s identity is a lovely idea but I am curious what would happen when they are not met with understanding, which I am sure happens all the time. I am curious to learn of some of the methods used in helping individuals to cope with that.

  127. I am in Dublin, Ireland and I enjoyed reading about the Tree of Life projects and was interested that it could be used so effectively with adults and children. The importance of the forest appealed to me as a way of highlighting the value of our community and family and friends. One of the biggest difficulties people often face is a feeling of isolation and feeling they are not alone can be very healing. Using the roots to help explain why the person is where there are allows their story to be heard but it becomes clear that this is only one piece and there is a lot of room for alternative stories.

    I was also interested to hear how songs were being used to strengthen people and their stories. Music is so powerful and we given its potency we don’t use it enough to help us to feel understood and less isolated.

  128. Hello, my name is Athina. I come from Greece, Ioannina. I am teaching at the university. I have also worked in parents’ counselling. I’am also ivolved in teachers’ personal and professional development, recently in terms of narrative practices. I really enjoyed narrative metaphor chapter of this online course, so thank you for this!
    I think of narrative metaphor as a whole paradigm of thinking, feeling and acting. Stories can be a significant resource through which we can make contact with the language of our inner lives and the context within which they are shaped.
    Storytelling encompasses past, present and future. It can be a vital “tool”, permitting a more enriched understanding of ourselves, our lives and organization of our experiences. It reinforces critical thinking, dealing with feelings, exploring and revealing alternative stories, discovering our strengths, taking action and reclaiming our rights and our lives.

  129. Hello, I am Kirsten, writing from Melbourne Australia. The resource that most struck me was Aunty Barbara Wingard’s story ‘Introducing Sugar.’ There was a playfulness to the interaction she had with the community of Aboriginal people, and I had a sense of why people engage so well with characters. It is fun – it connects us with our long history as storytellers. I also enjoyed Mark Hayward’s presentation – especially the delight he took in figuring out which questions to ask next.

    In my context, as a mental health practitioner, the problems that could be externalised are the problems that people might start out calling ‘low self-esteem’ or ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety.’

    I think it would make a difference to rename and characterise these problems, because many people hold a view that their problems are part of them. Because of this, change seems like an impossible task. Having space between the person and the problem would help folks to understand why the problem is a problem, what supports and lessens it, and what steps could be taken according to someone’s own position and values.

  130. I will be sending this through all social media and work distribution lists. I would love to put this on my phone so I can play it to other Australians throughout my journey.
    I would vote for this as our National Anthem in a heartbeat!!

  131. Externalization create space between people and the problems they have in their lives, which creates a huge amount o relief. I have seen clients blaming themselves for the issues and got trapped in the trouble without being able to jump out of it and view it from a different standpoint. Also personify the issue really inspires, I think it will be particularly helpful when working with young clients. I also really appreciate the attitude shared in the end that we are exploring the experiences with our client together. We don’t adopt the position of expertise, but rather standing in a curious perspective to help them explore different ways of viewing their live

  132. When I think about what I have learned about narrative therapy in this course, two aspects come to my mind: one, which seems to be the foundation, is an attitude of critical thinking. This means to me encountering myself and other human beings with an open heart, with compassion and with the knowledge that everyone’s experience is different and influenced by many social, political, historical and other contexts. This is a principle that I feel very much commited to. I am developing this attitude or way of life through my nonviolent communication and mindfulness practice. I can see various effects of this practice in my professional and personal interactions with others, especially as it helps me to listen with empathy and care.
    The second aspect is the therapeutical skill in which I see myself as a co-researcher who supports the author in developing thick descriptions about themselves while leaving the authroship with the author. Here, I really like the method of externalising and, in my context, of outsider witnesses. I am a community worker and rarely work with individuals/clients. Therefore, some of the tools (e.g. therapeutic letter) seem weird to me and I will figure out if and how they could be useful in my work. But, in the work with communities which have experienced traumatic events, I can see how bringing witnesses to the stories can bring about change. This is something I would like to experiment with.

    I’d like to thank all who made this online course possible and shared their valuable experience and thoughts with the intention to enlargen the community and create collaborative spaces for growth and learning. I am also grateful for the many comments I was able to read which helped me understand some of the ideas better and see the diverity in which the content could be understood, relfected, summarised, paraphrased and translated. Thanks to all!

  133. This is Johanna from Colombo.
    I really loved this chapter, thank you!

    My previous understanding of ‘critical thinking’ was very much determined by a structuralist approach meaning that logic and objectivity played a major role in thinking or assessing my or other people’s thoughts. However, I resonate much more with the poststructuralist view that focuses on the experience and context of people’s thoughts. As others already commented, critical thinking means to become a child again that looks at the world with curiosity and blank pages to fill. It probably doesn’t mean I need to be blank, but it invites me to become aware of the lenses through whih I look into and at the world. What really caught my attention was a word by Mary Heath on safety. How can we transform our concept of safety in order to enable more loving interactions with ‘the other’? How can we protect ourselves less and collaborate more?

    I also really enjoyed the writings on privilege. I have experienced some of the restraints personally and it used to make me angry to hear them as I am longing for more people to understand how much power and privilege contributes to the violence and inequality we see in this world. Reading this collection of things people say in their defense reminds me that it is challenging to talk about power and privilege especially since it is a phenomenon that cannot be approached from an individual perspective although it is certainly individuals who benefit or suffer from it. This helped me to be a little bit compassionate with people who I experience as defensive in relation to the discussions on power and privilege. I haven’t gone through the questions yet but I am planning to gather a few people to regularly meet and discuss them. So I am very much looking forward to that practice!

  134. Reflecting on the reading material and video’s watched I have been made more aware of while a person is sharing their story to look for ‘ Acts of resistance’ and ‘Personal agency’ in their stories and to get them to give more detail to where they may have got this from. I have a guide to use now when dealing with indigenous inmates who have lost a love one. What stood out for me was getting the person to tell me their thoughts on how they may have contributed to the life of whom they speak about. I think this would benefit the person, as they are in prison isolated from family and can have feelings of shame, not being able to attend the service. Creating the space for the person to see by talking about the positive effects they have made to another person’s life and becoming more aware of their own identity, would be very powerful to use with indigenous males.

  135. While reading ‘Strengthening Resistance – The use of narrative practices in working with genocide’ I admired the work of the Rwandan trauma counsellors, assistant lawyers and the Dulwich team in their workshop. Sharing stories from other communities like the Aboriginal people from Port Augusta and their stories, stories of resistance and survival. One quote from ‘A message from Ibuka to the Port Augusta Aboriginal Community’ which I found very powerful and really resonated with me so I have chosen to end this paragraph with it.

    We want to say to you that we are together with you in sorrow. Your sorrow is our suffering.

    Reading Aunty Barbs message of support in the Dignity and Pride, Strengthening Resistance (pg36), to be able to sit and listen to my elders share their stories, their art and dances empowers our mob. Joining with others in dance, song and laughter – when you have lived through genocide, revelling and enjoying life has new meaning. As with my culture our people have endured feelings of despair and hopelessness. I felt pride and privilege as she talked of our ways of resilience and resistance. As an Aboriginal woman, I have listened to the stories and I still watch in our modern times the continuance of systemic oppression. How we have survived genocide and overcome generational traumas through love of our culture and peoples. I’d like to share a quote that was shared during a work meeting last week by one of our non-indigenous staff “They buried us in the ground but they didn’t know we were seeds” I found this quote to be profound as again it demonstrated how our parents, grandparents and great grandparents have suffered overwhelming sorrow, terrors and pain and loss, and of our resilience to keep moving forward.

  136. I had heard of the Shame Mat and the purpose behind it. Which led me to using it in when I facilitated my Positive Futures Program for indigenous men. When first using the mat the participants were a bit hesitant, but after using it a couple of times the men were comfortable using it before each session. The outcomes I have seen since using the mat have been positive. The men have been more open in talking about the reasons why they commit domestic violence on their partners. There has been more disclosers and exploration into behaviours, feelings and consequences of their actions. Since using the mat I have found that they are more engaging, and want to participate in the program. Also very accepting of being challenged around there offending behaviours, I believe the use of shame mat has enabled this to happen.

    On many occasions over the years I have questioned myself, why do I keep fighting for positive outcomes for my people. Through the reading it made me think and become aware that I am not alone in this fight and there are many more indigenous passionate people out there doing the best they can and fighting on not matter how many times they have been disappointed , they get up and continue on with the fight. Kerry has shown this through her ability to overcome adversity and strength to become one of the respected leaders of her community. By telling her story through using poetry as a form of therapy she has found a way to move forward even in her darkest hours. I will take from the reading that we all have struggles through life but we have to find the strength to overcome these hurdles. This reading has given more than ideas I can utilise in work practice. It has given me a new outlook into my life and the reason why I am passionate about the field of work I have chosen to do not only for myself but mainly for outcomes for my people.

  137. I resonate a lot with all the efforts described to work more collaboratively with communities or individual clients. It is good reading about the success stories as they open up the space of what is possible. I am wondering though what challenges people face during these efforts? In my own experience with working collaboratively I have seen quite some resistance and been lectured many times. So, I would enjoy also hearing some of these stories and how people deal with resistance.

    In the recent years I have become more and more aware of the issues of power and privilege and how I may perpetuate violence through my actions, words and thoughts. The past chapters on narrative practice have reinforced my desire to estbalish a decentered influential posture that allows for the author to discover knowledge and skills and leaves the authorship with the author. I feel a little impatient and nervous with regards to the posture and the informed not knowing as it requires intense and continued (spiritual) practice and still there are many situations to come in which I will not manage to adhere to these principles that are so important to me. So, I am hoping to find and build community that will help me along this path.

  138. (Calgary, Canada)
    I am going to ‘think outside the box’ here and not follow the question guidelines, but instead share some thoughts (cheeky, I know, I just can’t help myself)

    Critical thinking is a topic that is frequently on my mind, particularly when hiring, coaching and training new staff members. I find that often individuals struggle with thinking outside the box and when they are able to do so they are challenged with presenting their differing ideas in a way that is respectful. This is something that I am thinking about as we look closely at how my agency recruits, hires and coaches our new team members.

    I appreciated how this concept was related to privilege and power and that these two elements greatly influence one’s ability to be uncomfortable and think critically. Learning to sit in the ‘discomfort’ to agree or disagree with others and yourself is definitely a challenge as it can require a great deal of humanity and humility, both are traits that traditional western education often “school” out of us along with the idea of “professionalism” (not wanting to be seen as incompetent.) I see these challenges with individuals who have recently graduated from degree programs. Thinking critically however; perhaps there is a problem with how I am eliciting feedback from these individuals, given my power in my role.

    Often a question I ask myself is “what am I NOT seeing here?” it encourages me to take the perspective of the ‘other’ and expand my view. I will add “It’s enormously difficult to discover how some of your most deeply held beliefs had led you into wrong choices” (Brookfield, 2012, p 57) but I will add the disclaimer that “wrong choices” can be substituted with “not the best choices.”

  139. Hi there!
    I particularly enjoy the collaborative approach both in the relationship among ‘therapists’ as well as between ‘therapist’ and ‘patient’ modelled by Michael White and David Epston. Therefore, I really like the idea of being a co-researcher rather than establishing the duality of therapist and patient. I am wondernig what practices have worked for others to reach the state of ‘informed not knowing’?

  140. Many thanks for this video. I supervise several groups of fabulous Case Workers who are all to aware of the games ‘insults to attachment’ and ‘trauma’ have played in the lives of their young clients. I look forward to sharing information gained from this video with the Case Workers during our up-coming supervision sessions.
    Strength be with you as you continue your work

  141. I was struck by Mark Hayward’s conversation with Joey. It was interesting to see how he worked with Joey to establish his position about the bullying as it was not easy for Joey to find the words. A lot of time was spent on establishing a common understanding of what the bullying looked like. It felt important for Joey to have his say about this.

    I found his discussion about balancing the persons responsibility and not defining the person by the problem thought provoking. At work, I have found being able to separate the person from the problem to be very helpful in particular with children who often feel powerless in situations.

  142. (Calgary, Canada)

    In a previous role where the main part of my job was to develop assessments for families experiencing homelessness and create and coordinate services, I would collaborate with the families in authoring their own story. I would use a variety of tools to spark conversation and elicit information from the families about their perspectives of their lives; historical, current, hopes and dreams, what services they thought might fit for them etc. Occasionally co-authoring stories through assessments and service plans could be challenging, particularly when families had a very different truth of their experiences than anyone else involved (often when there was significant and pervasive mental health diagnoses.) It was difficult to strike a balance between presenting the family’s truth in an honest way that would also resonate with professionals (without alienating the professionals delivering the services before they even began serving the families.)

    Continuing to expand tools being used may make collaborations such as this work better. Finding creative frameworks and tools to assess from that vary from the typical western frameworks being used could better support this process. As an example, using the First Nations Medicine Wheel to better understand a person’s life experience may be a more relevant tool to spark conversations with someone who resonates with that understanding of life.

  143. The Shame Mat invented by Aunty Kerry Major and Aunty Dolly Hankin is a tool I want to incorporate into my practice. Immediately I thought of the wall, a common description my clients’ use in describing their journey to find work/employment. For instance:

    “All those skills I have to learn, it’s just a wall that is too high to climb” or

    “There is a wall between me and that job and I just don’t know how to break it down” or

    “You tell me about these skills or bricks as you put it that I can use to build a path but I see those bricks as something to break down not build up”

    Where the woman at Murri Court Woman’s Group “wiped” the shame away, I’m thinking of clients stepping over a small brick wall, one metre by half a metre, polystyrene or something, with a tagline such as: The first step is the hardest, or something similar. I’m looking for a physical action of commitment.

  144. (Calgary, Canada)

    I very much appreciated Aunty Barbara Winegard’s perspective on silent crying and the dangers that this can “eat away at a persons spirit.” So often vulnerability has negative associations instead of being understood as a means to heal. I’m also thinking about how males in particular are often socialized to not be vulnerable and how this can contribute to a variety of issues, such as domestic violence.

    I will definitely be using the analogy of silent crying as a way to talk about pain and grief in my work moving forward. The imagery is impactful and may lessen perceived vulnerability of the emotions that lead to silent crying, by some.

  145. A reflection on Re-membering Practices by Cheree Morton

    Saying Hullo Again (White 2016, p. 95) resonates with me. I am often yarning to clients who have lost a family member and the hullo again metaphor strikes a chord with me as I am sure it would with my clients as each of them are finding ways to deal with the loss of a loved one in their life.

    My client stated that she was feeling depressed because she had a lot of sorry business over Christmas and lost her sister/cousin (In Aboriginal culture we describe our cousins as our sister/cousin or cousin/sister which is culturally respectful and honouring). I thought about the hullo metaphor and began asking her re-membering questions. I first began to have a discussion with her about externalising the depression explaining that the depression she was feeling was outside of who she is, separate from her, she looked confused so I continued with the re-membering questions with her.

    After yarning with her about Aboriginal people being spiritual people and discussing the way we often carry the people we have lost with us (Wingard, B 2001), we also had a yarn about honouring our people who had passed away and that it was ok to do so if she wished, (Wingard B 2011), She began to elaborate saying, “our family who passed away are always with us, but I still feel lost without her”.

    I said, “How does the loss make you feel’?

    She said, “Isolated, worrying all the time for my children”

    I said, “If your sister were here now, what do you think she would say about the way you are trying to deal with her passing and about the worrying you have for your children”?.

    She said, “I don’t know, I guess she would want me to be the best Mum I can be to my children and to stop worrying for my children”.

    I said, “What would your sister say about you as a mother to your children”?

    She said, “She would say I am a good mother, a caring loving mother”,

    I felt my re-membering questions began to fade so I started yarning with the kids about their attendance at school, one of the children was a brilliant artist, I said to her, “would you draw me a picture or a painting that would describe the feelings you are having that stops you from returning to school and show me next week when I come over for a visit”? She said, “Yes”, as she enthusiastically nodded her head. As I left the family home, the mother, said, “Thankyou sis, I feel so good”

    As I was driving back to my office I began thinking about the following week when I meet with the family again and how I could continue the re-membering yarns with the family as I could see that they resonated with them and the family began to open up because my clients face lit up when I asked her questions about her sister/cousin.

    I was also reminded of another conversation I had with a client.

    She described the frustration she felt with family members who were interfering in her relationship and how her x-partner had let her down. She began to describe herself as a failure as a mother because her relationship “failed”, she further explained, she moved into a new home, applied for domestic violence order because her x-partner was abusive toward her and transferred the children to a new school.

    Sometimes in Aboriginal culture, when you marry or have children with an Aboriginal man or woman you often take on the whole family, Aboriginal people often have this joke with one another, in our family we do. We are very family orientated and sometimes this can feel like a hindrance for people who are not aware of the bond we share with our Aboriginal families.

    I began to explain the club of life to my client, I further explained that there are good and bad people in our club of life and we can sift out the bad people who don’t serve us or our families well and keep the good people in our club of life, those who make a positive contribution to our lives” (Russell & Carey, 2004 p.47).

    I said, “How does the failure make you feel”

    She said, “Debilitating”.

    I said, “if you were to name the failure, what would you call it”?

    She said, “draining”

    I said, “If you could see yourself through another’s eyes, and see how you moved house to a safe environment for your children, you applied for a domestic violence order and you left the abusive relationship, what would you say about that person”?

    She said, “I would say that that person was a good mother, a mother who put her children first, strong and resilient, a person who could do whatever she wanted when she put her mind to it”.

    I said, “would there be a name that could describe that person”.

    She said, “yes, strong woman”

    I again felt my landscape of enquiry began to dwindle but when I reflect back on my conversation with this client I could see the potential for a sparkling moment and re-authoring of the the thin description my client had of the failure.

    Having a yarn with those who’ve passed away (Johnson 2018), I began thinking about our ancestors and how important it is to keep their legacy alive, to honour them. I thought about questions I could implement with clients who often speak about their ancestors with sadness and mourn at the loss of them and other family members.

    I reflected on questions such as those described in the Remembrance: Women and Grief and Loss (Denborough, Pitcher, Leibeherr & Hedtke 2011), with particular focus on three themes, the cultural, the spiritual and the legacy questions. Some questions I reflected on were;

    “Are there any things about our ancestors who have passed away that you would want to carry forward in life for you and your family’?

    “Do you think our ancestors had cultural ways of responding to grief and loss that would be significant to you’?

    “As you deal with the grief and loss of your ancestors, culture and language, can you think of ways our ancestors would want us to engage spiritually and culturally to keep their legacy alive”?

    What questions did the readings/videos raise?

    The following is more of a thought rather than a question or a dilemma. Aunty Barbara Wingard (2001) talks about how Aboriginal people sit in silence because of the loss of a loved one is to painful to speak about. I find the Aboriginal people in my community have forgotten how to honour their loved ones who have passed.

    Re-membering conversations give our people, our families permission to talk about their loved ones who have passed in respectful and honouring ways, thereby keeping the spirit of the loved one who has passed away alive because their spirit is our spirit.

    Our ancestor’s voices weren’t often heard and as a result Aboriginal people can sometimes feel like they are not heard, that they don’t have a voice, maybe that’s why they are silent. I’ve named this, “silent tears behind a bottle” because too often drinking is how some of my people choose to cope with grief and loss.

    Some Aboriginal people in my community have forgotten how to grieve a lost loved one, re-membering conversations help us to honour them and to sit collectively and celebrate them as their spirit lives on in us and through us, their spirit is in the land, the trees, the rivers, oceans and the animals that often visit us from time to time to let us know that they are near.

  146. I was deeply moved reading how people face their loved ones, who are going through hardship, with so much love and care. And I am mourning that so many (young) people all around the world are facing hardship due to the effects of patriarchy, colonialism and other social, political, economic or cultural inequalities. I was pleased reading about so many different innovative projects and I am still listening to the Friday Talks. As I am also working with communities, I have a better picture now how collective narrative practice can be used in commmunity work.

  147. I’m writing from Colombo, Sri Lanka. In my context, songs and rituals have a great importance in social life. Although I get the impression that they often focus on the hardship rather than the skills and knowledges, this chapter helps me acknowledge the opportunities of using songs and rituals for documenting knowledge and skills and creating thick stories. While reading the examples of documents, I was wondering whether any skill that someone mentions how they deal with a problem is useful to document. I understood from this chapter that the skills are not judged by the therapist or narrative practitioner. Is that accurate? Does that mean that I might support skills even though I might think that they are not effective skills to handle a problem?

    I really enjoyed reading the paper on outsider-witnesses. The questions that can guide the outsider-witness are very helpful to keep track of what is relevant to listen for. I particularly like that this practice enables a more collaborative approach as the witness might learn as much as the storyteller. I can imagine that this feels very empowering to the storyteller. I will definitely try to integrate reflecting teams or outsider-witnesses more into my work.

    • Dear Johanna,

      It’s good to hear from you. Sometimes people name skills that are helpful in some circumstances but not others, sometimes they name skills that are have both positive and negative effects … so care does need to be taken in relation to fully exploring the effects of various skills. But yes you are right, within narrative practice we are not the judge of this … we create contexts in which those most affected by problems and how people are responding to them are making the ‘evaluations’/judgements’. I don’t want this to sound simplistic though as sometimes we need to be really aware of all the people being affected by a certain problem or a particular skill that is being mentioned. We also sometimes hear a number of different skills people are using and deliberately pay more attention to some rather than others. I hope this makes sense. And I hope all is okay there in Colombo. I am writing from Lake Kivu in Rwanda!

  148. Which resource in this chapter particularly caught your attention and why? The black dog video was really helpful in the way it was gentle in explanation. The narrator described a range of situations and progressions of depression, while consistently externalising it as something that was with him, rather than of him.

    What sort of problems could be externalised in your context? As a practitioner in a high school, a range of issues can be externalised such as problematic behaviours, negative self-perception in relation to achievement, and of course mental health issues.

    What difference might this make? I have already found that externalising student achievement and separating it from the self is helpful to students, who then produce much better reflective essays and identify ways to improve their work, as opposed to seeing themselves as incapable, or “a C student”…

  149. Story telling has always been a powerful vehicle for teaching and learning. When I was introduced to the idea of seeing how my own personal story was connected to the archetypal stories of old, some how it redeemed my personal suffering. Each time I look back over my own life I see that I adjust and rewrite it according to what lens I am looking through. For me Narrative Therapy is developing this idea. How to of discover other aspects of our life’s story, that will enhance rather than diminish us.

    • Kia ora koutou katoa, hello to all. My name is Kirsten. I grew up in Rotorua, New Zealand. Now I love in Melbourne, Australia. I am a writer and occupational therapist. After exploring these materials I feel really excited to journey onward! I am thinking about how it is not just what we do as people, but the stories we tell and are told about the “doing” that influence our wellbeing. After listening to the interview with Michael White, and hearing his story from practice, I thought about how open and attentive narrative practitioners must strive to be – in order to hear the events that don’t fit with people’s dominant storylines. When it comes to dominant stories, it seems like we are often such convincing storytellers and such willing listeners! I am feeling some compassion for my elders who imparted damaging and limited storylines to me in early life. I don’t think they had much more available to them. I would love to be part of assisting people to see what else might be available.

  150. Hi, my name is Nic – I am training to be a Guidance Counsellor in Queensland, and am Hard of Hearing myself. I have heard ‘narrative therapy’ a bit in my studies so far, and have come here to learn more, as I am beginning to shape my own approach to counselling. Some key things have emerged from this chapter that I have really engaged with such as the ‘not knowing’, empowering and client-directed approach. My personal goals as a counsellor (and a teacher) align with these ideas in that I believe that clients are the experts of their own experience. This comes from my own experience as a person with a disability – it is irritating when I am told what my experience is (instead of being listened to). I am excited about learning more!

  151. My name is Glen. I live in Newcastle, Australia.
    What does ‘critical thinking’ mean to you?
    Constructive questioning, asking myself questions about things that I have taken for granted, particularly what I believe and “know”, stopping to consciously think from another perspective and generative alternative perspectives. I particularly enjoyed Judith Butler’s point about placing findings and evidence in their context. On one hand, critical thinking and questioning is creative and enjoyable. On the other, it can be tiring and, at times with professional colleagues in meetings, I have wondered if I’m the only one willing to question myself and the ‘shibboleths’ of current psychology practice… Oh dear, I’d better stop at there.
    How might your practice be different on account of your engagement with these materials?
    Therapist as expert can be so comfortable and familiar, at times it’s like an “addiction” and part of that addiction is that I still think at times working in that mode can have useful a (though much smaller) place, I just wouldn’t want to be doing it unquestioningly, but taking seriously post-structuralist ideas and how everyday practices of power can be so pervasive, I’m very conscious what consequences could follow, e.g. reinforcing my own privilege and inadvertently taking a therapist-centred position. Central points for me include: keep front and centre that people are experts on their own lives and circumstances, my own ideas and contributions to therapy conversations are the product of history and culture (not a privileged ‘truth’) and to actively seeking to create conversations in which operations of power (e.g. institutional and historical factors, gender bias, normative expectations regarding sexuality and so on) and associated restraints are better understood or I try to make these a little more visible.
    Do you have any stories or sayings that keep you connected to ‘critical thinking’?
    The corny old cliché that ‘knowledge is power’ comes to mind. Another key word here is ‘privilege’. This chapter has done a good job showing that knowledge, power and privilege go together. It’s not so much a saying but I am reminded of the distinction between a small t-truth of perspective and a capital T-Truth, which I now see equivalent with a structuralist claim to knowledge. As tempting as it is to think I can arrive at a capital T-Truth, it’s more useful to see knowledge / truth as a product of culture, history and an ‘at-this-moment-in-time’ perspective, inevitably a ‘small t-truth’, of which there are always going to be complementary ones. I am also reminded of a Sufi teaching story about two guys who go to a sage / Sufi teacher, each tells his story and asks for the sage to declare for the truth of his claim, after each has spoken the sage says, “you’re right”, then one of them says, “Wait, we can’t both be right”, the sage replies, “You’re right”. This story underlines for me that the sage had seen both perspectives and a larger perspective as well, and in my thinking about the story the sage doesn’t feel that he / she has to be pinned down by being “right”. It’s not about “right” or “wrong” anymore, it’s about your point of view.

  152. My name is Glen. I live in Newcastle, Australia.
    Solidarity and a de-centred stance are the two ideas / concepts that resonate at this moment as commitments and intentions. One aspect of Solidarity for me is an ‘ironclad’ commitment to people who seek my assistance that “the problem is the problem”.
    An aspect of a de-centred stance for me is a commitment to people being the expert on their lives and it is only the person seeking assistance (the young person K) who can describe what living with this problem is like and to say what his position (or positions) is (are) in relation to it. These are K’s stories to write, not for his father or I to foreclose in some way on what one or both of us believe should be the narrative arc of the stories. I respect K as having authorship.

    This is a question I will think about further. One recollection is work I did over twenty-five years ago with a man (I will call him “J”) who was struggling with the effects of cocaine, alcohol and gambling addictions on his life. We had reached a point where our conversations had not seemed to make much difference and J conveyed that he was in a ‘dark place’. Somehow we stumbled into his relating a story to me. A friend had told him when he went through the turnstile at the racecourse that he was given a pumpkin in place of his real head. From there we talked about “Mr Pumpkin Head”, what it said and what its urges were and so on. We laughed – at last! I had no idea at the time that it was an externalising conversation. Back then I did not know anything about narrative ideas and practices. Perhaps I have been trying to recreate the influences of Solidarity, a De-Centred Stance and Imagination in my work each day that people consult with me ever since “Mr Pumpkin Head”…

    A recent example comes readily into my thoughts. I have in mind work I have been doing with a young person, who I will call “K”, who is about 10 – 11 years of age and his father. We reached a point when it looked like the work of the past six meetings had just “conked out” and had come to nothing. I encountered the effects of Frustration and how it extended its invitation to me. It says things like, “I’ve done all I can”, and worse! “The parents have shamed this kid… And he (K) has internalised a representation of self as bad…” and so on, a range of statements based on structuralist assumptions, with internalising attributions. When the Frustration gets me in its grip, I can feel the influences of Hope and Imagination draining away.
    I ‘started again’, made inquiries from a curious, ‘entering the territory for the first time’ stance. The central features of the problem emerged anew and its influences, which seemed to become apparent more clearly than before. I recalled Mark Hayward’s ‘statement of position’ synopsis. I inquired with K regarding what living with the problems (the Anger and the Guilt) is like for him. I have written this question down and given K & his father a copy of this. I have asked K to consider this question between the end of our last meeting and our next meeting.
    I think the young person and his father noticed that I was very much present for them and present in an imaginative and ‘poetic’ way at times too, which is something that I have always tried to do but it would likely be ‘intensified’ in this last session. I found it a more refreshing and creative experience. Mostly it would be positive because I perceive that people appreciate the efforts I am making. Perhaps sometimes it could be negative. When people use metaphors to describe their experience I might get ahead of them a bit too much and I need to stay as ‘experience near’ to people as I can. However, I do not anticipate that the people consulting with me would likely experience any ‘negativity’ as such. I perceive that they would experience me as both compassionate and optimistic. Overall, “Yes”, it definitely suits me. The main reason is because I would like ‘my therapist’ to be informed by the same or similar commitments and intentions.

  153. Hi there!

    My attention was caught especially by the Black dog video and the Sugar story. It visualised in a very clear and persuading manner what it means to externalise a problem. I also liked the idea of finding an experience-near description of the problem as I can see how it leaves ownership with and acknowledges the specific experience of the person. I’m thankful for the questions given as examples to further help the person separate themselves from the problem. However, I am wondering how people with traumatic experiences are able to work with the questions and self-reflect in such a way about their experiences or themselves. What other more playful and less cognitive methods could be helpful to externalise problems?

    What sort of problems could be externalised in your context?
    In my context, the problems of social, political and economic exclusion and discrimination could be externalised. I am worried though that seeing the context might not ease the hardship as the context is unlikely to change. So I am curious about the next step. And I am also wondering if I would use same techniques if I work with groups rather than individuals.

  154. I did love this chapter in plenty of parts. For one side, I did love when it poped-up the text of ”Just Thereapy”, which includes some of the ideas I been thinking about early this and the past year related to the ”Resilience”. In my conutry it seems that many psychologyst have tilted them selves into expresing and commenting about the ”’resilience” in ways that highlight it as a desirable quality to develop as a person. It keept my attention that very few are currently considering positions where external factors are golden-key to band things and descriptions that happen around people, families, and other social settings. It resonated heavily with me, because of the frustration it may cause for families in consentrating themeselves in conversations -in the therapy room- where everything pin-point the to them as responsible for they misfortunes.

    Also, I loved how in the presentation the speaker Trileah Drham-Butler developes externalized conversations to address the presense of shame and guilt in people’s lives.

  155. I did love this chapter in plenty of parts. For one side, I did love when it poped-up the text of ”Just Thereapy”, which includes some of the ideas I been thinking about early this and the past year related to the ”Resilience”. In my conutry it seems that many psychologyst have tilted them selves into expresing and commenting about the ”’resilience” in ways that highlight it as a desirable quality to develop as a person. It keept my attention that very few are currently considering positions where external factors are golden-key to band things and descriptions that happen around people, families, and other social settings. It resonated heavily with me, because of the frustration it may cause for families in consentrating themeselves in conversations -in the therapy room- where everything pin-point the to them as responsible for they misfortunes.

    Also, I loved how in the presentation the speaker Trileah Drham-Butler developes externalized conversations to address the presense of shame and guilt in people’s lives.

    Great Chapter

    • Chihuahua, México

  156. My name is Johanna, I’m a peace activist. I often work with people who have experienced war or experience long-term social, political, economic, and/or emotional exclusion as individuals or groups.

    The idea of narrative metaphor resonates a lot with me and connects to similar ideas that I appreciate in other fields like restorative justice or nonviolent communication. In particular, the idea that we shape our own identity by the stories we tell about ourselves. What I believe about myself is based on which story I pick to describe myself. In my understanding, the narrative metaphor acknowledges the diversity of experiences we make thus the diversity of different, colourful, ambiguous, soothing, distracting (to name just a few) stories we can tell about ourselves. The art, which narrative therapy seeks to support, is to establish openness and curiosity in my heart in order to be able to develop thick descriptions of who I am as well as to see the other person’s multiple stories rather than judging after the first single story that I perceive. I understand it as an invitation to see me and others beautiful with all the aspects that are part of life. And here comes the second part that I appreciate which takes the interdependence of humans and the wider context into account. I do not exist in a vacuum. How I pick the stories that I choose to be my single story is also determined by family, culture, society, history, politics etc. As a member of a family, community, or society I thus also share responsibility in having set the conditions for a person to tell a story about themselves that might not be contributing to life. In my context, I enjoyed reading the Charta and the important aspect of enabling persons who have experienced traumatic events to contribute to others’ lives (I am not sure if that was part of the first chapter or I read it in another book on narrative practices that I am reading parallelly).

    I am curious to learn more about the use of narrative therapy for social change processes.

    And I also would like to share my gratitude for all the comments here which have inspired me. I enjoyed reading so many different descriptions!

  157. I would like to send my deepest thanks to all of the Men and Elders who contributed and shared their knowledge in these insightful films. As a woman who is privileged to work with families in the local community it has greatly increased my understanding of the experiences of men whose voices and worldviews are often overlooked in working with families due to a range of social and cultural reasons. Through sharing your stories you have enabled me to be more mindful of the important role you play in the lives of not only your families but building stronger communities. Thank you.
    Human Services Worker

  158. Which particular ideas or stories intrigued you?
    David Epstein’s ideas regarding co-research and an ethnographic imagination were intriguing. Michael White, so characteristically, explains the importance of solidarity with people who are seeking assistance. Solidarity is such an important principle to live by. The old adage about ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you’ comes to mind. In other words, I want “my” therapist to have solidarity with me, so I believe that I (as a therapist) should have solidarity with people seeking my assistance.

    Why do you think these things stood out to you?
    Co-research and ethnographic imagination stood out because they provide a perspective that is both practical and a fresh perspective. I perceive that these concepts, when brought to life (as David does so well), emphasise how unique each person and family are. David’s (and Michael’s) approaches to conversations can be playful too, so there is great scope in these concepts as well.

    What from these histories would you like to take with you into your future practice in some way?
    Solidarity stands out as a deeply humanising component of the work with people who come to see me. My training is in psychology and while there was training in counselling skills and person centred therapy, it did not bring to the fore a concept like solidarity. This is one that I will treasure. Thank you.

  159. In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?
    I have used the practice of collaborative note taking previously, though not with Narrative practice specifically in mind at that time. I was influenced by solution focused ideas, with the central emphasis on cooperation. I would pause 10 minutes or so before the scheduled end time for the meeting. I asked people what were the points that came to mind which they wanted to me to write down in a summary. I conveyed points that I recalled too, asking if these were something that they would like added. The main focus was to list ideas and strategies that people had used which they had found practical / useful. I photocopied the notes, giving one copy to the person seeking assistance and keeping one for the record.
    Looking back, what made it possible was having the initiative to engage people in a cooperative way. The feedback from people was positive and it encouraged me to keep doing it for a while.

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?
    A psychologist that I was working with at the time talked with me about not giving clients notes or records, as they (the clients) might use these as part of a formal complaint against me / the psychologist. This had an intimidating effect on me. It took me to a frightened place, where I took on features of what has been termed “defensive practice”. I did not question what I had been told. It might not even be accurate from a complaints process or legal standpoint. With hindsight I am able to think more independently when professional colleagues sharing opinions of this sort.

    If these ways of working fit for you, what next steps could you take to build partnerships/collaborations in your work?
    I plan to reinitiate a practice in session of collaboration / consultation regarding what people would find helpful to have written, such as naming the problems, its effects upon lives, aspects of their lives which stand outside the influence of a problem, their skills and knowledges, unique outcomes and the history of these, their position in respect of the effects of the problem, and one or two questions they would like to consider further (e.g. that encourage a person / family to thicken an alternative story).
    Given my previous experience, what seemed to make the difference was that the work had respected that people were already competent, bringing skills, resources and ideas, it was a more energising and creative relationship “space” and I sensed that people (well most people) appreciated this.

    • In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?

      I’ve entered into collaborations in different ways, in my professional and private or personal life and a lot in between. It’s been possible for me when people want to work together with me, sometimes sharing knowledge and skills, maybe this won’t always feel equal even though it might feel fair.

      What might make it hard to enter into these practices?
      For me feeling judged would make it hard to enter into collaborative practices.

      If these ways of working fit for you, what next steps could you take to build partnerships/collaborations in your work?
      I have just started planning some workshops with a headteacher for parents to have opportunities to meet together with me if they want.

  160. I am writing from Dublin, Ireland and am enjoying reminding myself how pervasive and persuasive stories are. In particular, it demonstrates to me how limiting and potentially damaging diagnoses can be.

    Like many others, reading and watching here has allowed me to reflect on my own biases and where I have allowed myself to be captured by the single story and also where I felt uncomfortable about a story but allowed myself to be persuaded to accept it (working in mental health). I hope that I can start to become much more aware of it now as this way of viewing peoples lives makes the most sense to me at present.

    I am also curious about how the insights that we have gained through narrative thinking might influence parenting in general.

    • Hi everyone, my name is Sue and I work in schools with children and families in the UK. I am enjoying finding ‘new wings’ and new ways of using language through the narrative metaphor to de-centre/quest for space and potential. I find this is both a challenge and a ‘homecoming’. I feel a commitment to learning more in every day practice and hope to be able to meet up with practitioners in the UK when possible .

  161. Beautiful.

  162. David Epston’s interview really captured my attention – in particular his explanation of how an ‘ethnographic imagination’ is central to his approach to co-research. A quote which stood out for me was: “To be able to assist people to know their own knowledge is still a considerable form of expertise”. What this reminded me is that, just because many of the underlying principles of narrative therapy feel intuitively in-line with my own values and preferred ways of working with people, I shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that it is easy to put into practice!

    Aunty Barb Wingard’s account of her work also really stood out for me. In particular the descriptions of how she has supported people to make explicit links between justice and grief which is very powerful.

    The transcript of Michael White’s conversation with the man in a secure mental health ward also jumped out at me. It got me questioning the explicit and implicit training I have received about avoiding bringing myself into the conversation. I was impressed with how he shared his own vulnerability in that moment to authentically engage with the ‘patient’ as an expert/equal. I also acknowledge the concern raised by a contributor below that talking about your trousers falling down might feel unsafe or inappropriate for some clients but I feel the uderlying principle he modelled is very helpful.

    • Which particular ideas or stories intrigued you?
      The solidarity and the respect of vulnerabilities.

      Why do you think these things stood out to you?
      Because I need to adapt this solidarity appropriately for each person with whom I am working. I need to be solid with the light-heartedness as much as with the deadly seriousness of each person in their situations. And I am interpreting lightheartedness sometimes according to its sense of still being alive even though such serious stuff is going on or has occurred.

      What from these histories would you like to take with you into your future practice in some way?
      I would like to take the sense of being able to connect with the unspeakable, not to disassociate or be distracted, to stay present with the person

  163. Hi to all my name is Tara-Lea; counselor located in Northern Territory Australia. Very much enjoyed exploring the applications of narrative metaphor. I really likes the idea of finding events that do not fit with the dominate theme, and clients ‘loading’ these events up with meaning – to create and play with these alternative themes – as they become visible. The idea of being curious around the foundations and steps that came before really grounds the new theme. It was really very lovely in high lighting how much choice and agency we have in re-authoring and authoring our own life.

  164. I was particularly taken with the community conversation with Mr/Mrs AIDS and Mrs/Mr CARE. I love how the concepts were externalized and personalized in a culturally sensitive and appropriate way. I can see a great deal of applicability in a community setting (potentially even incorporating some ‘process’ in address community dynamics such as discrimination) but also in more micro practice. I’m thinking about potentially exploring the role-play idea in therapy with children in acting out concerns, such as, “naughtiness” or “trouble” and interviewing the child or parents while they play “trouble” or “James without trouble.”

  165. I’m an Assistant Psychologist working in Kent, South-East England. I first came across narrative therapy approaches while working with older people, and I have always been keen to learn more about it.

    A basic explanation of the role of a therapist is that they are able to listen to a person’s description of their situation, and help them to see the’outsider’ perspective on the situation, offering alternative explanations. Too often, I think, we can take control of the therapy room and remove some of the power from the client, coming to conclusions ourselves and offering these to the client as solutions. Narrative therapy is necessarily more collaborative, with the therapist retaining some of the detective role, but giving the client more agency in their role as story-teller.

    On a global and political scale, we are forever being reminded of ‘The danger of a single story’. Listening to Chimamanda Adichie, I thought how lucky I was to have been brought up so open-minded, but while reading about thin description I realised just how many single stories I hold about my friends, my family, and myself. Are the stories we give about who we are multi-stranded, positive and empowering, or are they limiting and bland? I’ve noticed that I often give a very thin description of myself, and when I don’t have much to say I start to think that I must be very boring!
    It struck me that it must be very hard to know what to say in your first meeting with a therapist: in this situation, maybe the thin description is a very good starting point.

    I’m looking forward to the next chapters!

  166. Hello there, I am hailing from Calgary, Alberta Canada.

    This segment really had me thinking about how refusing to be informed by one story is an act of protest, protesting that a person can be deduced to a singular thread. I am seeing parallels between narrative and Non-Violent Resistance (NVR) in that exploring other story lines is an announcement that the individual, family or group and the therapist are no longer willing to accept a one-dimensional view. I find this concept very liberating and can see an immense opportunity for empowering those who have been dis-empowered by being seen in one way.

    Through this, I can see how narrative can really lend itself to being combined with multiple modalities and frameworks in an effective therapeutic intervention. I am looking forward to exploring how this looks as I move through this course.

  167. I feel that only privileged people would talk about privilege and I think sector workers have a lot of shame about the privilege that they have and the downplay it or play up their marginality. I used to struggle a lot with shame about apparent privilege but I lost my privilege when I was incarcerated. Privilege for me is something to be cherished not to be ashamed of. Like when I was returning to Melbourne one night on a train and I sat with kids from the country and relised even though I was living in a rooming house I was in fact privileged as I experienced so many opportunities. Privilege involves cherishing going for a swim this morning.

    • What does ‘critical thinking’ mean to you?
      It means remembering to be conscious of as many of the relevant innate prejudices and biases at macro and micro levels. It reminds me to question my own background and journey through my life and how this may influence my thinking.

      How might your practice be different on account of your engagement with these materials?
      It might be more reflective and more rooted in evidence-based research. It might be more open to examination of where concepts and ideas originate.

      Do you have any stories or sayings that keep you connected to ‘critical thinking’?
      Sometimes I ask myself am I “dancing to a drum”!

  168. I share a similar background to what Mary Heath recounted in her reading – coming from a small country town where intolerance and structural injustice for Aboriginal and migrant families was accepted as the norm. My own journey with critical thinking has been incredibly life-giving, and I can pinpoint key times in my life where I was immersed in intentional communities who taught me to value critical thinking and critical, intentional and meaningful engagement with the world. Being critical of myself and my role in my community is a strong value of mine now, and something I always want to be promoting in my life and my personal and professional circles.

    In my work with Aboriginal Australian young people in and out of custody, critique of oppressive systems as the breeding ground for recidivism and ongoing maladaptive behaviours is essential – these kids’ presenting mental health issues have not emerged from a vacuum and their ongoing contact with often punitive and shame/blaming systems often create more barriers to recovery. I try to be critical and both macro- and micro in my work with clients, but also have to work with my team to provide education and encouragement for workers in these punitive systems to understand the systemic influences on each young person’s behaviours and needs.

  169. It sounds like externalizing is a practice that supports aligning with the client and walking beside them as opposed to looking down upon them. As stated earlier, the therapist is not the expert but more of a guide who is as interested as the client, in discovering what props up the problem and what gives it legs.

  170. Great! This “we are in together” and all other tips are really fantastic! O=Not only people with certain disabilities need help from family, friends, but also I think this is relevant for all human beings.

    After all, who can say that their are away of waves of life? Thanks to these young people!

  171. Is there an idea or project that stands out to you most at this time?
    I really enjoyed reading and learning about the project involving the Tree of Life.

    What about this idea or project has sparked your enthusiasm or curiosity?
    I thought the idea of placing the past, the present, and the future together on a Tree of Life design would make it clear where the children are and where they wanted to go. And having this design in front of them could only be beneficial. It seems to me, and I have done this myself as well, that most people can tend to float through life without much of a plan nor a record of what they have learned and how to implement that into their lives for the future. By laying it out in this way, it might help the children strive towards a goal to better themselves. And whether they reach that goal is beside the point. It is the heading of a direction that is beneficial.

    In what ways might you begin to experiment with these ideas or methodologies?
    I might try to create my own Tree of Life for myself for the previously mentioned reasons as well as encourage those around me to do the same. And then see if there were any effects on the person’s as well as my own growth and development.

  172. Hello everyone. My name is Brenda and I’m a hospice palliative social worker living and working in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada. My work with residents is within a limited time frame. I am able to engage the dying and their families/friends in narratives about who they are and what they have done within their beautiful lives. My greater work with narrative therapy lies with the bereaved and circumstances surrounding their grief. Thank you so much for providing these videos, forums and materials to draw from. I’m looking forward to continuing in this free on-line course.

  173. My name is Nyirinkwaya Serge, from Rwanda a small country in East Africa, also known as the country of a thousand hills! I was moved by hearing your wonderful stories on ways of being uncles, mentors, dads, grandfathers and friends.

    I am married and a father of two daughters and one son. Your words were so inspiring for me as I always seek to be a good dad and mentor for. Beyond that, my professional work involves engaging with communities to provide psychosocial support to vulnerable children and young people. One of the difficulties we encounter is to engage men when in our traditions, child care is mostly attributed to women. So, what you are doing is really unique and admirable, and If you allow me that, I will use your examples as a contribution to how men can find ways of working with children and not be boring!!

    I liked the Ngukuthati Men’s Shed T-shirts and words that “suicide is not the answer”. I am very sure that this will have a strong impact on the young people you are trying to support. Your initiative reminded me of a personal story where I got support from men that belonged to a same community-based organization as my father before he died.
    I lost my parents and siblings when I was 16, during the genocide against Tutsis that bloodied our country in 1994. My father refused to involve himself in the genocide, so perpetrators from his community came and killed the entire family. I was also injured but could survive. In the period that followed the tragedy, although I did not have suicidal thoughts, but whenever I got through hardships, I would wonder why I survived as if I wished to have died with others.

    There was then this man Daniel, that was a friend of my dad, they belonged to the same community-based organization, supporting young girls with vocational skills. Whenever Daniel met me, he would ask how I was feeling, how I was doing at school and if he could be of any support. We did meet only three times in the period I was going through hard times but those were real sparkling moments. He gave me hope, support and reasons to believe in life. Daniel died in 2002 but what he did for me, the steps I could achieve from his little support are still memorable. When I heard about your initiatives, I thought about Daniel. I think I would call you the “Daniels” of the young people you are trying to reach out to in your communities. Your messages are so powerful and I can tell you that what you are doing now will have a long-lasting positive affect in ways you cannot imagine, even when you will be no longer alive to see it. The story of my Dad and Daniel illustrates this.

    Some of the stories on being a role model for children, being patient with them, talking to them in a non-degrading way, keeping links with kids no matter what, spending good time with them, the desire to offer them the best so that they can see a good future, all this resonated with what my community needs to strengthen. I wonder what children and young people in your communities would say or feel when hearing or watching these films! Can you think about that? Surely, they would be proud of their dads, uncles, grandfathers…!

  174. Hi all!
    I’m am located in Sydney, am currently completely my masters in psychotherapy and work with youth within the community setting. I have an undergrad in psychology and a dip in art therapy.
    I am so excited to do this online course and am hoping to deep my knowledge of narrative therapy and develop some skills to use with clients. I would also like to use narrative therapy with in art therapy processes.
    Walking along side our clients from a place of not-knowing as we support re-construction of their story from thin to thick and rich understanding, sounds like a valuable way to serve others in times of difficulties.
    I can really see this being a beneficial process for individuals from all walks of life at all stages of life, particularly within times of crisis and depression. I also picked up so hints of solution focused therapy and jungian psychology.

  175. Brothers from the Aboriginal way of being uncles, mentors, dads, grandfathers and friends film series. I have been blessed to get a chance to watch your conversations on film from the your amazing project. My heart was really opened as I heard men of different ages and experiences discussing what is important to aboriginal men in Australia. As a Black man in the United States your conversations remind me once again that the experience of colonization and the harm it does to our communities is not unique, but also the resistance to colonization and harm is also not unique. In fact the clearest message I heard from you in the films is the importance of resisting and holding on to culture and community strength. I was particularly happy to watch and listen to Shawn Major in the films talking about his work with young boys and it reminded me of how important re-membering and re-connecting to nature, community, traditions and values is for our mental health and well being. I also smiled and cried some as I listened to the young men discuss racism and segregation and shared in the experience that I think we Black folk have of using humor to soften our experiences of racism sometimes. I resonated so much with what seemed to be the overall message to me that it is important for us to learn as men to live in peace in the Western world with our own culture. Our cultures are our road to remaining healthy and surviving for the day when we will know complete liberation. Thank you brothers again for this wonderful series of conversations with the men of your communities.

    Makungu Akinyela
    Ph.D., LMFT
    Licensed Couple and Family Therapist
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA

  176. My name is Glen. I live in Newcastle, Australia.
    Is there an idea or project that stands out to you most at this time?
    A couple of months ago I completed a two day training course on the topic of domestic and family violence. Following this I invited staff from “Caries Place” (Domestic Violence and Homelessness Services in the Newcastle and Hunter areas) to come to a meeting at my place of work to talk with us about their services. Two women from the service did a good job providing information and valuable education about the link between family violence and homelessness. The projects that I read about in the on-line course very much reminded me of the work of the staff at Carries Place. What really impresses itself on me is the overlap between narrative ideas and the philosophy of Carries Place having to address patriarchal social structures, and have politics in mind. One of the staff mentioned “fighting the good fight”. The work that they are doing (and the sheer scale of it) on such a tiny budget is humbling for me, indeed.

    What about this idea or project has sparked your enthusiasm or curiosity?
    My professional training is in psychology, which tends to localise problems internally. I find it refreshing to keep in mind that serious problems such as domestic and family violence have their linkages to power structures and social inequities. In particular, giving women a safe place as an option seems so common sense but it takes the advocacy and courage of these women to make it happen. I perceive that there is so much inertia in our community regarding these issues.

    In what ways might you begin to experiment with these ideas or methodologies?
    One thought I have is that I am more sensitised to power and the possibility of violence in partner and family relationships. It is one of those topics where the more I understand, the more I am able to perceive. I much more often suggest to women to consider their experience from the point of view of domestic and family violence. I perceive that the conversations with women have changed toward a more practical, grounded basis, in addition to empathic support. There is so much more to understand in this area of work…
    Another aspect of this chapter that resonated for me was “Songs as a response to hardship and trauma”. People seeking assistance have related to me that particular songs were important to them and a couple of people have brought in their guitar and sang their own compositions. A person who is consulting with me at this time has written a whole book of poetry that describes his encounters with alienation, marginalisation and despair. These are so important for people and honouring their creative expression is a great part of the work that I have the privilege of doing.

  177. The concept of co-researching mirrors something that I’ve had in mind for the past couple of months – the concept that therapy is 50/50 and to not work harder than your client.

    The genesis of this concept (or rather the conditions that lead to it) was my psychological training where I was expected to plan each intervention, administer it and have a quantitative improvement post-intervention. It’s easy to see how this creates an imbalance in the relationship and focuses the sessions on on symptom reduction or increase in functioning.

    This lead to a lot of anxiety in me and a restlessness in therapy to always be ‘doing’ things. As I finished by training, practicing more independently and getting better at co-researching problems with clients, the changes were palpable. Therapeutic conversations felt less twitchy and flowed better. Clients exuded more calmness and power and I felt much more relaxed and in the zone.

    It’s still something that I struggle with, but it feels like it’s a concept that has embedded into my practice. I feel it is a great encapsulation of narrative therapy and social work – that two heads are better than one and that all our stories are worthwhile and deserve to be told.

    • From the UK
      Think about just one thing that has particularly resonated for you about narrative ideas and practices that you have been trying to apply more in your work.
      Identity and identity migration
      What would you call the principle or idea? Give it a name. Say something about it – describe what it is about, your understandings of it, in your own words.
      I would call it “route” acknowledging its potential to find a way and have lots of different ways and still be there as it sounds like ‘root’ and may sprout as well.
      Give some more details about it, e.g.: When did you first notice this idea or principle in the work? What told you that it was important to you?
      I noticed this especially when I was studying Shiatsu and learning the theory and practicing with my fellow students and eventually people from the general public. I think this was when I reconnected in a different way with my own body and its memories. This prompted and enabled me to attend a year’s training course on trauma.
      What are you currently doing that you would say is a reflection of this particular idea, practice or principle? Say a little bit about the times you thought you had managed to apply the idea or principle to your own practice.
      I am currently exploring and sharing some concepts of identity in relation to mental heath and the impact of torture and abuse.
      I think I managed to apply this to my practice both by seeking support for myself and sharing support with individuals and a particular family group.
      When you did it, what did you notice? How did it affect, for example:
      The conversation you were engaging in at the time? I noticed a sense of relief and that the conversation became wider ranging and included more ‘not knowing’
      Your thoughts about yourself? I am learning more about myself and others
      The other people who were with you? They said I’d heard them.
      Your hopes or plans? I hope to continue to develop this further through research, reflection and practice on both a personal and professional level and I plan to do some more training when/if this is possible.
      Your feelings? With support, I have been able to have my feelings and to find these strengthened my resolve. The kindnesses shown to me deepened compassion and enlivened my processing.
      What was this like for you? This was like a re-connection with my past identities that came to help me out and introduce themselves to what was going on. Did you like it or not? Yes
      Did it suit you or not? Yes Or something in between?That too
      Why is it that you give this evaluation? Because this is what I found in answer to these questions this morning. What did it seem to fit with? It seemed to fit with the situation that is the most difficult and challenging to me at the moment.

  178. Another mind-blowing chapter!

    – I love the idea of the influential, de-centred sweet spot – reminds me a bit of the concept of flow.

    – I love how, again, something seemingly intellectual and pretentious like critical thinking is re-framed as something warm and humanistic. Reminds me of how clinical formulation is really just telling someone’s story with a bit of a critical thinking perspective.

    – Have always wanted to get my head around structuralism – what an incredible summary. I think of the fixed vs growth mindset concepts as well as the neuroplasticity stuff – the hope for change at any stage and age.

    Brian from Sydney, Australia

  179. Wow – so many light bulb moments in this chapter!

    – I love how the whole approach came about from such an incredible relationships – the concept of partnership as creating a context for creativity is so powerful, and the perfect metaphor for therapist/client relationship.

    – I love how the approach draws from so many sources – philosophy, politics, social change, anthropology. I feel this eclecticism is necessary in order to address the rich tapestry of humans and their difficulties – something I feel was missing in my psychology training.

    – I love how irreverence, humour and a kind of punk rock attitude is built into the DNA of the approach – not being afraid to have your pants down is very important!

    Brian from Sydney, Australia

  180. My name’s Jen – I’m a mental health clinician in a State forensic mental health team working with Aboriginal Australian kids who are in and out of custodial care. My clients all have significant levels of complex developmental trauma and have been viewed as ‘problems’ their entire lives. My clients have also experienced high levels of institutionalisation, which has served to deeply internalise messages of themselves as only their offending behaviour.
    Externalising is both crucial and problematic in this professional context. As Mark noted in his example of Joey, externalisation must be carefully used in discussions about problem behaviours that harm self or others. It is a difficult line to walk in utilising externalisation to challenge deeply entrenched and internalised narratives about themselves (“I’m fucking useless, everyone says so”) while also supporting the kids to take ownership of the consequences of offending behaviour in a way that prompts motivation for change.
    I particularly found steps 3 and 4 of the slideshow interesting and something I want to incorporate into my work more – supporting clients to examine their views/values around problems in their lives as a motivator for change. I like the focus on clients as experts and authors of their lives, including where they want their lives to be going. For a client cohort so dependent on systems, it’s important to promote as much sense of empowerment and choice as possible!
    Looking forward to what else I will learnt throughout this course.

    • My thanks to the many contributors. My name is Sue and I work with children and families in schools in the UK I am finding this online resource encourages me to question and reflect on my practice whilst also offering support and structure to keep safe whilst experimenting/exploring.

  181. Wow, this was a big start for me. I am a teacher, not a social worker or therapist. I spend a great deal of time getting to know students, the changing social structures within the school and the social dynamics of the youths that I work with both as a community and individually. In my position I think that the narrative metaphor is a practice that would allow students to discuss their concerns or hardships more openly, without fear of negative impact. It highlights the importance of the story we tell of ourselves and the power it can weld. Chimamanda Adichie expresses how dangerous and misleading a single story can be, one that youths are so very good at telling themselves. This practice allows opportunities to gather more information, build new meaning and then consider renewed pathways that young people can take ownership and control of for themselves.

    To be able to think about stories in this way, opens opportunities to develop strong positive relationships with the students, as it creates authentic communication allows empathy and compassion to develop and builds trust with the students, which can be a critical factor in assisting them on their journey. There is a focus on positive education or strength based learning in my school and this would link into these focuses as the narrative would allow students to acknowledge when they have operated at their best, shown strengths such as perseverance or overcome different levels of adversity. I feel that this practice has the potential to celebrate our youth, acknowledge their struggles, seek justice (a high priority with the age group I work with), and look to the future in a positive way.

  182. For the first time in my life goosebumps and all stood to sing what should already be our National Anthem, I am encouraging my kids to learn the new Anthem, I going to approach our school and request permission to sing our new Anthem. I’m not sure what else I can do besides sharing on Facebook every morning until everyone I shares their views.

    • Me too,amazing words.This should be the anthem.I would be a proud white to stand for this version

  183. What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?
    I really enjoyed the idea of documents being used as a rite of passage. In my experiences talking with people, it can be easy to identify a problem, speak about it, move away from it and realize they don’t have to identify with it, but the last step- changing themselves so their problems permanently leave- to be the most difficult implementation. By outlining this necessary step towards total health, using a document as a rite of passage, I believe, can be very helpful in that it gives a clear and precise path to change and growth.

    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?
    I will definitely be using the idea of laminated letters for patients to read as well as the aforementioned rites of passage documentation.

    • Hi there, my name is Sue and I work in schools with children and families in the UK. The people I work with had already authored recordings of any sessions/meetings. Now I can understand more of how the written word can be there in a different way for people. I think that I was biased by my past negative experiences and now I have gained more courage by listening and reading about these possibilities and this opens up a different future which I want very much to apply wisely.

  184. My name is Glen. I live in Newcastle, Australia.
    What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?
    I think letters recording a session might be most relevant and resonant. I can see much more potential in this concept than I could before. For example, I believe that with a collaborative spirit, putting aside 10 mins of the meeting, inviting a person to summarise their ideas, strategies, attitudes, skills and so on, that they / the family judged to be relevant and worthwhile (e.g. managing the effects of a problem, or constitutive of alternative / preferred story developments), these could be hand written by the person (a family member) or me. Another aspect that represents a shift for me is to include one or two questions in the letter / document that the person / family judge to be interesting and promising for them to think further on. In the past I had provided people with a summary (of content / points) but I had not invited conversation around what questions they / the family would judge interesting and useful to think about afterwards.
    Another idea I have is that concepts such as ‘documents of knowledge’ and ‘letters recording a session’ very much overlap, without there being clear lines distinguishing them. I am an avid reader of poetry and enjoy dabbling in writing it too. I perceive that some people may be interested in writing their own poems in sessions. For example, an older person was married to a woman for 55 years, he was showing me photos of his wife and the images and themes could flow naturally into verse, rather than take prose form, or some combination of the two. It’s not something that I would decide beforehand one way or another, it would be something that unfolded in the meeting in consultation, guided by what the person or family judge to be helpful.

    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?
    In addition to the thoughts above, I have an opportunity to work with colleagues seeing families. Reading the “outsider –witness practices: some answers…” (Maggie Carey & Shona Russell) with its ideas regarding “metaphors of resonance and transport” was great for me. It was so nicely balanced with the “Hazards and what to avoid” and “Hints” in a practical way. I made some handwritten notes as I studied this and it has energised me to share my notes with colleagues at our lunch time meeting on Friday. I have found outsider-witness / reflecting team consultations with families to really provide something “extra” by way of help that the “therapy as usual” could not do. I’m paraphrasing one of the hints here, “Link what I am saying about my histories of life to the important things the client / family has said” and “refer to the values, hopes and dreams that the person / family has spoken about”. I enjoyed and appreciated these useful hints to keep the focus on the developments that could be constitutive of alternative / preferred stories.

  185. My head is spinning as I spent the afternoon reading Freire as I listened to Silvia Frederici. It was a real treat to engage with these difficult and immense challenges. Lots of big names. Like Deleuze and Guattari who critique the tree and offer up a rizome instead. The tree of life has come under a lot of criticism but perhaps I will do one as a document. Rolnik. I really like the resistance Freire offered to normalisation that is so much a part of neo liberal global capitalism. It is an instrument of repression and violence. I was struck by the repeated references to food production , consumption and impoverishment – and practices of collectivism. I think I was struck by a kind of jump or leap that was being made from the private self to the collective and community – or the commons. And I found Reynold’s resisting calling out about community, activism and respect. I struggle socially and therefore I struggle with respect and self respect – and it is manifest in community hatred and self hatred. Perhaps this is in fact more common than I think – many struggle with falling short, falling down, back sliding, relapse and going against their values. I think I would like to work on a document about this. One area I struggle in is private housekeeping – a labour the Frederica critiques in terms of collective work and gender – and may I add disability, racism and poverty. I really liked Freire’s critique of charity as I engage with a number of so called charities to meet basic needs like food and clean clothes. The labour of reading has me thinking about cooking -communal cooking, but also reducing waste, and fanzines about yoga and being involuntary, and to keep drawing. I struggle with the falling down of anger – a kind of stuckness but it is social as I rage against being disadvantaged and being excluded and marginalised an oppressed – and I struggle and resist the oppressive power that my anger encounters like police and mental health workers and exclusions from community organisations and school. That kind of anger is pathologized and now we have the regulation movement that seeks to regulate with evangelical zest as in yoga in marginalised settings and equine assisted therapy for delinquent students. I often also get angry in therapeutic settings and it leads to rejection or exclusion. Try as I might – I have not had much luck with narrative therapy but as stated those spaces to socially enage with and resoist personal problems that are hard can be small and the openings to hope and healing close as fast as they open – and when we find these sanctuaries or refuges we as often encounter violence and repression. I like the way Frederici talks about political violence and repression and the impoverishment of numerous communities around the world – and since the intervention options in Aboriginal remote communities are limited. Their artists – many women – are now working under slave like conditions. And once more I stir up Frederici’s critique of labour and gender and marginalisation as slavery in the global economy.

    • re: #13: Art Fisher and Nancy MacDonald

      Hello, I’m Sue from Essex, UK and I found listening to this radio show on your site was inspirational. I particularly liked the way they talked about starting off and how they came to be where they are now. They recognised their privileges and what more needs to grow without becoming overwhelmed or disheartened, staying with the project.

      • In what ways might you begin to experiment with these ideas or methodologies?

        I’ve been experimenting for a while and now I want to liven up reflective practice with other agencies’ staff.

  186. Brian from Sydney, Australia here.

    Love love love these two concepts!

    As a school psychologist, using documents of circulation to friendship groups and rite of passage documents for year 6 and year 12 could be fantastic.

    Peers, parents or trusted teachers could be used as outsider witnesses to great therapeutic effect.

  187. I love the concept of the experience-near description – beautifully humanistic and person-centred.

    In a school counselling context, learning difficulties could be a useful thing to externalise – a way of relieving the significant shame and self-stigma that students experience.

  188. Hi, my name’s Brian and I’m a school psychologist from Sydney, Austraila.

    The narrative metaphor strikes me as an incredibly intuitive way to understand so many aspects of human psychology – the construction of meaning, cognitive schemas, cognitive attribution to name a few. I love how natural it feels, and how we can use concepts that people are already familiar with to re-frame thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

    These concepts provide a framework to explain these concepts to children and adolescents, and the potential to design engaging and creative interventions.

  189. I really enjoyed reading Hugh Fox’s writing. I have been thinking that my cat’s vaccination certificates are important documents in my life as I provide a safe and caring home for my cat in difficult circumstances such as living on Centrelink benefits below the poverty line. I prioritise providing good food for him and making sure he has a flea treatment each month. I prioritise being affectionate and not abusing or neglecting him. Perhaps I am like the mother with schizophrenia who struggles to find evidence of my goodness and competence in circumstances of vulnerability where I fall down, fail to achieve my values, struggle with hatred and self hatred, embarrass and humiliate myself and live with experiences of repeated failure and rejection. Perhaps my cat is an outsider witness as he sits by the bathroom door each morning when I have a shower. HE offers unconditional love and acceptance – he counters my self loathing of my now middle aged and chronically ill and over weight body. I am also thinking of many institutional documents which counter my preferred identity as I struggle with repeated experiences of rejection and failure and related self loathing, anger and fear that robs me of the times when I succeed or achieve a sense of confidence and competence. I have accumulated many negative documents which speak of repeated failures and aberrations like high levels of anger and non compliance and homelessness as evidence of mental illness and drug addiction and disability and impairment. My journey lacks documents. Being homeless has led to loss of education certificates from University and TAFE. I held on to a document revoking a CTO as if this was an achievement. I remember this process and achieving preferred outcomes with drug treatment regimes involved skills in self advocacy and keeping calm that I never thought I possessed. Experiences of loss also involve loss of documents such as drivers licences and passports. Another outsider witness was my Royal Commissioner Counsellor where a small space opened where I could tell preferred stories of my life – and also seeing a narrative therapist who was also an equine assisted therapist. But institutional power is vicious and brutal and those spaces of witnessing, growth and healing disappeared so quickly in the retribution from various persons in my past like a psychiatrist who has power as an authority on who I am despite having not seen me for ten years. I am thinking of documents of poverty like Centrelink documents and prescriptions for what I call poverty pills that disfigure and incapacitate – and what about AVO documents. I have listed a lot of authority documents with harsh judgments and authority language of pathology. As I rail against these documents I have written protest letters to authorities like politicians calling for both systemic and structural changes and acknowledgment of the unsaid and for changes in my identity. I am now reminded of other outsider witnesses like a priest who suggested that I shine a light on the evil that I encountered in my life – and of churches and religious workers who offered unconditional welcome and hospitality and refuge and sanctuary-or the shining lights of a country town bearing witness to my suicide attempt ten years ago.

  190. I find Narrative Therapy a very exciting way to work as it fits with my beliefs with regard to not pathologising people and not blaming the victim but working with people in a non – judgemental way that locates the problem outside of themselves and therefore works against self blame. The approach I utilise the most is the thickening of a person’s story so that clients who think they have never been able to cope are able to identify that so many times they have been able to do this. I would like to employ writing letters to clients as I think,(the evidence indicates this) that they would be able to have this letter to remind them of the positives that came out of a counselling and how they have been able to do many things in their lives despite the ‘thin narrative’ they have internalised. Though I have always tried to think about power and privilege in a relationship I am now more acutely aware of this and will be more reflective and think about power and privilege in a deeper way.

  191. This has been my favourite module so far with all articles being of interest. Mary Heath’s article with the influences of her own childhood and how they were challenged at university was very interesting and illustrated how despite the ‘shell’ of a decent middle class existence the experience is still alive with racism. Its look at the Dimensions of Critical Thinking was enlightening,very comprehensive and thought provoking. The series of articles about power and privilege again linked personal experiences to structural issues and as with Mary Heath’s article illustrated the invisibility of power and how in an era of an attack on political correctness a discussion about the insidiousness of power can easily be shut down. The final article on post structuralism was encouraging as you could see how this perspective lends itself to Narrative Therapy. In terms of my own work helping people who have been sexually abused this module highlights how personal issues such as sexual assault are often silenced by power,(churches and other institutions) together with what voices are heard and what are silenced.

  192. The article on Collaborative Responsibility: Narrative ideas in practice was of particular interest to me as I work as a Hospital Social Worker where the language of the expert is privileged and much though we are supposed to work in a client centred manner this is often very difficult because of time constraints and accountability that goes upward to management and not outward towards the client. Working quickly is valued but this often leads to ineffective, superficial work that is hardly empowering to the client. This article emphasised partnership and not assessment with the power language of the supposed expert being replaced by a common and richer language based on the context of a persons life. Also important was the story of June the person with Social Paranoia and how the Outsider Witnesses were touched by her story and how this was empowering. In both these stories it was again apparent how the ‘thickening’ of the story helped clients and how alternative, ( and more hopeful) stories are always present. This was underlined by the final video where Indigenous voices were heard and how shame stops people from enjoying fulfilling relationships, entering employment, accessing services – where the narrative of damage is so powerful instead of the narrative of strength and hope that so many other stories can tell if the therapist only allows them to be told. All these approaches will benefit my work as shame is present with sexual abuse, people’s stories with regard to sexual abuse have often been silenced and they do have many strength/survivor stories.

  193. With respect to externalizing problems rather than objectifying and oppressing people as problems, I find that these spaces are small and that openings to liberation and insight close over before a new story where the person is not the problem gets enough traction to flourish. I find that externalizing is hard in the face of oppressive systems like the mental health system where the person is always the problem. I experienced that process of externalizing when I undertook Equine assisted therapy and when I went through a Royal Commission process. But personally I always encountered back lash from the system and sustained healing has eluded me.

    • Hi Fiona, i’m interested in how systems work too, especially mental health in the UK. i am encouraged by a story Michael White tells about a social worker who went against the system in response to a child. Have you come across this? I wouldn’t have known about MW’s work with people or the Dulwich Centre and narrative therapy until a week ago when I heard through staff working with a young person diagnosed with ‘complex trauma’ sectioned in an adolescent unit. I am wondering if there are any other exceptions in the mental health system. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some more somewhere that I don’t know about yet.

  194. Hi, Alex Here, From Mexico

    The thing that i find most fasinating is how Michael’s White ideas developed through out time to end up being one of the most interesting ways of dealing with people’s problems. It is quite amazing how through the sharing of ideas with his partner David Epson everything came together to build this way of seeing people and their problems.

    Specifically, what I like the most is how they both changed the whole game in how other psychologic theories and practices treated with ‘patients’, and how they used to see their lives (phatologizing their life with ”inner concepts”).

    Instead, they noted that, within cultural contexts, power relationships, narratives of power,gender biases, racial and socioeconomical views, most of the people’s problems coulded be deconstructed, ending up in the frase: ”The person is the person, and the problem is the problem”. In other words, watching people as something separeted from the problem.

    Such a relief!

    In general, I find all of the Michael´s White work and ideation as a very important bundle of ways of treating with people, their conditions, and their problems. A way of including them into the conversation and a way of acknowledging their experience.

    Thank you very much.

    I look forward to get to know more of the practices included into the narratives approaches as I read through the chapters.

  195. Hi, my name is Glen. I live in Newcastle, Australian.
    Which resource in this chapter particularly caught your attention and why?
    The concept of charting, with the four components (if ‘components’ is accurate), roughly from my memory: 1. characterising and naming, 2. (connections, I cheated & I looked that part up) and effects of the problem, 3. (experience and) position (regarding the problem) and, 4. Values (why?) The numbering could imply a sequence though and Mark Hayward pointed out that the conversation itself mostly moves all over the place, rather than following an orderly sequence.
    Why? Because I have tried externalising a number of times and it had gone well usually but occasionally it hadn’t turned out quite as anticipated. Recently, a seven year old and his mother gave me feedback that I had “lost” them and was trying to externalising a problem as part of the conversation with them. In retrospect I had gone too fast. I had missed the component of (experience) and position completely! Mark suggested that if a person (family member) is not making sense of a position question, it is useful to revisit characterising and naming and (connections) and effects of the problem. I feel a bit embarrassed, it seems obvious now. That’s learning!
    What sort of problems could be externalised in your context?
    There are a huge number that could be seen through this lens. I ones that I am greatly looking forward to are diagnostic labels (e.g. anxiety disorder). I think the challenging part is asking questions that encourage the person seeking assistance to see themselves as expert on their experience, rather than expecting or looking to a professional (i.e. in this instance, me) so much for ‘strategies’ [or solutions / answers?].
    What difference might this make?
    My experiences, albeit limited so far, is that it brings refreshing imagination and creativity into the work. I found that people often naturally talk in metaphors and metaphors are woven into our language anyway, it provides a much more flexible and interesting way of working with people. When the work is going well, it can be exciting to help people bring out their own ideas, skills and creativity.

  196. Great though sad to read, (due to the extent of the trouble) how Aboriginal people deal with grief. Also great to hear about the rigour that has gone in to this sort of therapy from Michael White and David Epston. Though many times I have been told that we are client centred the notion of solidarity that Michael talks about asking workers to truly think how they would cope if they had the lives that some clients have had really struck me as genuine and something that I truly believe in. The story with regard to Sam was particularly good at how a simple act can level the playing field. In general the humanity of both Michael and David was inspiring.

  197. In what ways might you begin to experiment with these ideas or methodologies?

    I like the idea of using songs in a therapeutic context, Instead of asking the client how they are feeling, I may ask them what song resonates with their current feelings? or ask them to find a song for homework that fits their current mood.

    Music is very powerful and I believe it is a very underrated and innovative therapeutic tool. I really enjoyed listening to the songs that people had created as part of their recovery or response to a certain action.

  198. What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?

    With being reflective, I would have to say my last/closure session with clients is not always up to the standard that I would like to provide. It can be more about feedback and administration due to organisational constraints with time then therapeutic, therefore I really like the idea of writing a letter prior to the end of session and providing it to the client during the session. I feel their is more thought involved with a written letter, then saying goodbye and thank you verbally. Furthermore I agree with some of the comments below, for clients it gives them something to keep and take home, a memento of their time in the service and maybe how much they have achieved/moved closer to their goals of recovery.

    • I like this idea! I think clients would like to have a summary of the work done together. (Carmen, Sydney Australia)

  199. Hi, my name is Glen. I live in Newcastle, Australia.
    Describing the narrative metaphor… How to start? One possibility is that there are many ideas that can contribute to it as a concept. One idea coming to mind is it is a metaphor suggesting that as humans we make meanings out of experiences through our stories. There are so many experiences in life that one story cannot ever encompass its meaning in a definitive or final way. I think the metaphor suggests that we can hold a perspective in which life experiences can be understood through multiple stories that overlap, which allow for ambiguities and contradictions. Another idea is that the metaphor reminds us to be respectful of our common humanity, as our stories are created in contexts which are personal, historical, political, cultural and social. An idea that I find appealing in the metaphor is the encouragement it provides for us to make a place for creativity, imagination and playfulness in our lives. Also, to look for previously neglected aspects of experience that could be drawn on for other stories, or alternative stories, of our lives. I perceive the metaphor suggests that we can try to story and re-story our lives in ways which are respectful, enriching and affirming of ourselves and each other. I would best stop here and move on to the next question…
    Thinking about stories in this way makes possible more possibilities, it encourages me to stop and reflect (as I am doing now) about story creation as an act by a person in time, located in place as a narrator (a character/s act), making a narration (making meaning/s), with a narrative (events and characters put together in a plot of a story). My intuition is that it is an act which we are immersed in constantly, and another is the act of reflecting on it at the time which allows us a better opportunity of respectful, affirming, vital and enriching stories. It encourages me to reflect on my own stories as these inform what and how I understand my own experiences and how I perceive the experiences of others, indeed, my stories could at times inform how I misunderstand or perhaps fail to perceive aspects of the experiences of others. I am drawn to the idea to hold my own stories tentatively (e.g. heavily influenced by culture, and my place as a professional with ‘expertise’), as these could be limiting, to remain curious and patient! If I am thinking that I understand someone’s stories and I “get it” (understand), it is better to pause, reflect, offer my perception/s and thoughts / ideas and invite comment. I think it makes possible for me a listening and perceiving from a perspective that is very respectful and also aware of my limitations.

  200. Hi, I’m Bernadette from Vancouver, Canada and I’m a Spiritual Health Practitioner (or sometimes called a Hospital Chaplain!) working in a downtown Vancouver hospital.

    I would describe the narrative metaphor as one which is open to all manner of interpretation and am reminded of the story (ancient parable!) of the “Six Blind Men and the Elephant” as each describes what they experience. Each describes what they perceive to be the fullness of the animal yet each is describing a completely different interpretation of component parts of a far greater whole. (Check out YouTube – Natalie Merchant (The Blind Men and the Elephant) who sings this ancient story to wonderful upbeat music!)

    I loved the short video clip of the “dots” and in my work with patients who suffer from mental health illness I have often shared when speaking to ‘meaning making’ how we can connect the sacred dots of our lives. It helps to visually see the many MORE dots that are there which we have not considered and how rich a life we live and how different we can interpret our life as we so choose. It opens my eyes to my own “story” which I speak to in the singular and helps me realize there are many more and how life is multi-storied!

    Listening to other people’s stories is what I am privileged to do each day in my work. However, I love that through this online course I am challenged to continue to listen to the ‘gaps in between’ or the events NOT part of the dominant “thin” story and to visit these events with my patients to explore together and help co-author an alternative story. As was so aptly coined “There is a TAPESTRY of stories” in us all!

    Thank you Dulwich Centre for this course!

  201. Hello,
    I’m an occupational therapist writing from Hobart, Tasmania.

    How would you describe the narrative metaphor?

    As we go through our lives, we create memories and events. We link these memories and events into our stories, our way of viewing the world and our own identities. When stringing this story together, we can often miss the complexity of memories, focusing on the key moments that ‘fit’ within the paradigm of the story. The narrative metaphor involves looking at all these memories, those told in our stories and those that which we tend to ignore to create a richer story which represents our lives more holistically and creates new possibilities.

    What might thinking about stories in this way make possible for you?

    As an occupational therapist I have seen people link elements of their identity to create a learned helplessness, where they I identify that because of having a disability they are unable to participate in activities. Setting goals can be difficult as the client does not acknowledge that there is possibility for change. I see that by supporting a client being able to re-examine their lives and identify, it creates space for hope and setting new goals.

  202. Thank YOU Mark…this talk really resonated with me and the angst I’ve felt in performing social work duties throughout my career…it always felt just a little bit smug of me to suppose that I could understand, ‘help’, guide or problem-solve with clients. I also felt that the more direct the service work I did the more ability I had to be able to really have a glimpse of the other person’s reality and view…and how they coped with their realities. Wonder if this could be taught in social work, medical, therapy and nursing course work to remind us what the ‘helpers’ bring in their ‘tool kit’?

  203. Hello again from Melbourne, Australia!
    Critical thinking for me has components of analysis, evaluation and lack of bias. I would agree with Judith Butler’s definition of deconstructing presuppositions – as a therapist this is an integral part of self-reflection for me.
    I have often invited clients to critically analyze or deconstruct a “problem concept” with me. I find this to be collaborative and use it as an opportunity to help them develop a new skill which I hope they will use even after therapy to find solutions or reframe their stories.

  204. I’ve been interested in Narrative Therapy since I first learnt about it in my undergraduate degree, and have now come across it again in my postgrad. I’m a domestic violence counsellor in Perth, WA, and am drawn to the externalising aspect of Narrative Therapy as a way of working with women who have experienced DV. What strikes me about this therapy is that human beings tell stories all the time without even being aware of it, and that in therapy this is particularly notable. The concept of dominant stories and the meanings (often negative) attached to those makes a lot of sense. Being aware of and drawing attention to all the other stories that are often subservient can create new understandings and perspectives, which I believe, can empower people to see themselves and the world in a different and more helpful way.

  205. Which resource in this chapter particularly caught your attention and why?

    I really enjoyed reading the excerpt on Sugar. I found it to be particularly interesting because of the approach taken to explain an issue through the use of characterization and externalization. By separating people from their issues by creating a character out of it, it tends to allow people space to begin a healing journey instead of falling victim to the idea that they are the illness and therefore inseparable.

    What sort of problems could be externalised in your context?
    I would say procrastination would be a good problem to be externalized for me. When I have something to do and I don’t do it, I tend to identify as someone who procrastinates. I am a procrastinator.

    What difference might this make?
    By externalizing it I would be able to see better that it is something in which I find myself doing sometimes but it is not who I am- and therefore it would be much easier to change.

  206. i understand critical thinking as the willingness to integrate new and revised perspectives into our ways of thinking and acting.
    so thank you for this chapter, we all need critical thinking but also be able to control how we share our critical thoughts, sharing them in a way which is constructive.

  207. The chapter was very interesting, i am impressed by the fact of inviting patients to join the therapist/other health care providers in forming words and the telling of the story that would go in their medical records.

  208. Writing from Italy

    Which resource in this chapter particularly caught your attention and why?

    The resource that most caught my attention was the piece by Aunty Barbara Wingard entitled “Sugar”. What struck me was that she was really paying attention to the community she was working with, and that narrative supported her to do this.

    What sort of problems could  be externalised in your context?
    I am not currently working in a therapy context, but I do work with people as a teacher. I think that in the context of education, it can be automatic to see problems as part of the student, and not even be aware of thought process. Just noticing this as a teacher is quite significant. I think the stories teachers have about those they work with impact the learning space. Noticing this tendency could be a kind of externalising. But a more practical example might engaging with problems connected to ideas about not being able to do certain things.

    What difference might this make?

    In a teaching context, drawing attention to these sorts of beliefs and making them more visible could support students to take their learning into their own hands, and to explore different ways of engaging with themselves within their learning experience.

  209. When I watched your video so much stood out to me. One thing was when that fella spoke about how peoples journeys are/were dictated by postcodes. When I heard this I thought of my Great Grandmother and Grandmother Linda and Mary Lunn (Mary’s married name is Butler). They were stolen from Kalkadoon country and put on Palm Island. I understand our postcodes change, or in many of our peoples circumstances- have been forcibly changed! But when I hear this I also think of meeting my people at another postcode – The 2016 Laura Aboriginal Dance festival. I think of the significance. I think of how it meant to meet my people. Watch my dances, my songs and hear my language. As I write this I am trembling with emotions and pride is surrounding me! I think of how my ancestors put this in place for us to reconnect across different postcodes.

    An image that comes to mind is one that is evoked when the video shifts to the township- I wonder what that country looked like prior to invasion? Before the concrete smelters. Before the houses. Before the monstrosity that is the mine digging my country up and generating foreign income without paying rent to land owners. I picture the landscape, the sounds, my people, the climate. I picture Kalkadoon people on Kalkadoon country.

    Something that also stood out was the denial stories that fella spoke about. The denial that injustices occurred. The denial that injustices have contributed to inequality. This stands out because within my work, I evoke my ancestors acts of resistance, protest and survivance to ensure these denial stories are told, heard and responded to. I work hard to ensure accountability and collective action is enabled through education of the denial.

    I hold an obligation to my people to do this. The “domino” effect metaphor is a deadly way of explaining the impact of the denial. I think of the phrase “blacks to the back” Our people are not merely “shame” or “shy”. The shyness/shame has been socially constructed. There’s a history to this. That fella explained this when talking about our people being made to wait at the back of the shops, ignored, disregarded and yet somehow walk out of there feeling good? Even to this day, a lot of our people carry this “domino” effect and are reluctant to go to the front of rooms. Unfortunately, the movement that commenced the dominos falling is not spoken about- it is denied. I know that I have been reluctant to stand at the front of rooms. But, through my grandparents stories, your stories, our stories the movement that started the dominos falling are told.

    I can stand up the front. My kids will too because our stories are alive and passed through generations and across postcodes.

    I have never been to my country. However I see it in my dreams and through this video. Thank you for sharing. Thanks you for reminding me to stand tall. Thank you for delivering this message across postcodes.

    Justin Butler of the Kalkadoon nation.

  210. Howdy, I am Jake from the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia.

    I heard about the Dulwich centre at Unisa when I was studying to be a social worker and I was shocked to find out it was soo close to home for me.

    How would you describe the narrative metaphor?

    Multiple Untold stories with a world of possibilities with new outcomes, solutions and endings. Chimamamnda’s ted talk was very eye opening to me and showed that different stories have different impacts. I found it quite interesting how people perception of a culture can be made by watching a world vision aid of poverty in Africa.

    What might thinking about stories in this way make possible for you?

    I’d like to think looking past the diagnosis or “label” and seeing the person through other stories that may or may not be untold to be very therapeutic and strength focused. Maybe finding some untapped potential or resources in the process.

    In life we can use different lens to take photographs, surely we can do the same in therapeutic counselling.

  211. How would you describe the narrative metaphor?

    For me, the narrative metaphor can represent and support the bringing into consciousness of the diverse experiences and capacities we have as humans. Most of the time, we identify with narrow perceptions of who and how we are in the world. These perceptions are not always ones we have chosen. Our society often forces us into narrow ideas about who and how we are and can be. This makes it difficult for us to imagine ourselves in a way that connects us more to ourselves, to others, and to cultural contexts and histories. The narrative metaphor works to draw awareness to the thin descriptions that inform how we relate with ourselves and our communities, by highlighting unacknowledged moments of survival, triumph, creativity, capacity, and by facilitating a space and a relationship in which new descriptions and stories can safely take place.

    What might thinking about stories in this way make possible for you?

    Thinking about stories in this way helps me to see the everyday ways in which I create myself, and the effects of the “self” I create. This awareness means that I can check in to see which stories benefit me in terms of the relationship I have with myself, and in terms of the ways in which I relate with those around me and the world in general. As a woman with significant privilege, the stories I create about myself can mean that I turn a blind eye to realities that make my life easier and the life of people experiencing marginalisation harder. This contributes to the maintaining and strengthening of systems of oppression. Paying attention to my stories, developing rich and dynamic stories can support me to shape myself so as to develop truer connection with the lives around me, and thus with my own.

  212. Hello,
    I am Esperance from Rwanda.
    Thanks a lot for sharing with us the history, the collaboration and strong partnership of Michael and David which brought out this interesting narrative approach is very impressing.
    The part of Barbara of telling our stories in a way that makes stronger impressed me, i found in it another strategy of coping with grief.
    I again enjoyed the part of continuing conversations, it helped me realize the importance of creating a kind of camaraderie with one’s client.

    Thanks again

  213. ‘I’ve always thought of myself as doing research’ a quote from ‘Anthropology, archives, co-research and narrative therapy an interview with David Epston’. I really like this concept, to help people co-research ways in which to change their relationship with any problems they maybe having. A bit like watching the TV show, ‘This is Your Life’ the only difference being we are co-researching the past, history, stories, problems.

    Adelaide, South Australia.

  214. Hi Grace, I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation. I am a Murri just learning Narrative Therapy and I want to thank you for working within a de-colonised framework. I loved hearing you tell the story of Lenny and the boy who liked to go hunting. These stories reminded me of when I worked in Central Australia, my son told me about the time he was traveling home on the school bus a 35 km unsealed and extremely bumpy road. When one of the boys (aged 10 or 11) saw a goanna on the side of the road and yelled to the bus driver to stop so the Aboriginal boys could hunt it down, which they did successfully. My son was invited back to help cook it in a fire at the back yard to eat for tea. These stories are rich in their diversity and when one comes from a de-colonised stance, we see the story of traditional culture at work as opposed to dangerous, cruel or in other words, non-indigenous world view based on how you think the world should be.

  215. Hi everyone,

    How would you describe the narrative metaphor?

    To me, the narrative metaphor is a way of hearing, understanding, and contextualizing how people see themselves in the world and how they present this idea to others. It’s a way of living life in the depth of narrative and being able to differentiate characters, settings, plots and timelines in order to reveal a clear picture of who we are, where we are, and if need be, how to change these things.

    What might thinking about stories in this way make possible for you?

    I found the section about hearing multiple stories very interesting. I, along with many others, have been guilty of hearing only one thin interpretation of a person and making judgments based on these interpretations. This is clearly not the entire story and should not be the basis of how we see people and events in our world today. I am going to take that into consideration when talking with people throughout the day and hopefully begin to have interactions with people layered in a far more rich understanding.

  216. Hey,
    This is a wonderful chapter, documentation is a good tool, but in my context, it can’t be applicable for all, i can’t write to uneducated people who don’t even know to read or write, but for the educated ones it is very good for them to share their experiences, troubles, skills, etc. it helps the one sharing it, and also those receiving it! And it also feels good for a client to receive a comforting message from the therapist.
    For the outsider witness, we somehow do it here in Rwanda, with an approach called “community approach”, where we treat people in their communities, so in the therapy some community leaders and other influential people in their community are invited, but there are first briefed.
    so, thank you for awakening me about the documentation i am going to begin using it, either by email, hard letters, and even whats-app for young people can help.

  217. hello, I am from Rwanda,
    I am really impressed by the externalizing course, the part of commonly asked questions helped me to understand what externalizing is, and i found that creating a space between one’s client and the problem and naming the externalized problem is a very powerful tool, it makes the client realize that he/she is a valuable person and give him/her strengths to be in position of dealing with the problem and its influence on others.
    The video of the black dog was like a case study of how depression could be externalized, and how the externalized conversations can facilitate the therapy. It made me realize that one can’t deal with an internalized problem.
    This is a new tool for me,so, i am going to try it and i am sure it will help.
    Thank you

  218. I thoroughly enjoyed this lesson, I love the idea of creating a document of affirmations to help remind ‘Storytellers’ of their values, dreams and hopes. Documents and Audiences will be a very powerful tool I will want to use in the future.

  219. Another great module which I thoroughly enjoyed. Loved the Mr.and Mrs Carew initiative was great in reducing blaming practices and the silencing caused by stigma and reducing the feelings of failure and isolation. I have always loved anything by Paulo Friere so his contribution in terms of Making History and Unveiling Oppression was great to read especially about how the Neo Liberal discourse being about training rather than formation. Tree of life very useful as it as it gets people to speak about their ‘roots; – where they come from, their skills and knowledge, hopes and dreams – the trees can all come together to form a forest which can weather storms. The Life saving Tips from Young Muslims and the way narrative therapy can be used in traumatised communities such as the Aboriginal Community was also very useful. In terms of my own work with Sexual Abuse Survivors I think the Mr. and Mrs. Care initiative dealing with Aids would be useful as sexual abuse is seen to be shameful. Tree of life would also be useful to show despite adverse life events people have still managed to do things with their life that are useful and often inspiring.

  220. Dear all,
    am writing from Rwanda,
    i am thankful to the Dalwich center for this online course, it has been for a great importance for me as a clinical psychologist.
    as a therapist this narrative metaphor made me realize that we all carry stories and they have a great impact on our lives. it awakened me and reminded me that i must always be curious and search for an opportunity to pass by a different direction to attain the alternative story but with the significant role of my client/patient.
    i enjoyed the video of Adichie, if everyone would cease to listen to single stories, we would all say no to stereotypes.
    Thank you

  221. Yes, I love the idea of letter writing and have since introduced a letter writing component at the end of certain sessions where clients are invited to write a short letter to themselves of something they wish to remind themselves of after today’s session. Clients have told me that they love that part and that looking over the letters have been very helpful. One client even named her collection of letters her “Bible”!

  222. The presentation by Mark Hayward and the article by Barbara Wingard really helped to ground some of the externalising principles in practice, and enabled me to think in tangible terms about how I might incorporate a Narrative approach into my conversations. Mark and the people that wrote the FAQs also addressed the issue of not losing sight of responsibility for violent and abusive behaviour within Narrative practice, which is something I had been wondering about.

    More generally, this unit got me thinking about all of the expertise held by the young people I work with that often gets overlooked or overridden. In particular, many young people I work with have PTSD diagnoses but this ‘experience distant’ description of their distress often can be confusing and lack meaning for them, and it puts the onus on professionals to explain and ‘treat’ the issues they are facing. I am curious about what more ‘experience near’ descriptions of their problems might look like and am keen to try and help to open up space for these and consult with them as experts around this.

  223. Hi there, I’m Alicia from Perth, a practicing behaviour change counsellor. This chapter reminds me that the clients I see have multiple stories and I do them a disservice if I view them only from their dominant story and reflect that story back to them. The single-story approach may be “easier” on the therapist, but personally, I find it terribly dull.

  224. Hi Mark

    Thanks for an interesting talk. Don’t you think we’d fall apart without structuralism?! I was intrigued by your reference to ‘onion theory’ whilst referencing the peeling of an orange. is this significant? I ask this, as the structural nature of onions and oranges is clearly quite different.


    • Hi,
      Sorry for the slow reply – I’ve been away. Some communities have never embraced structuralism but seem to manage ok. But maybe some people think they’d fall apart without it? The references to onions and the peeling of an orange is meant to reflect a layer metaphor.

      • Thank you for your helpful response Mark. I understand about the onion and the orange layer metaphor. So long as I don’t get them confused in cooking 😉

  225. Excellent & innovative thinking.

  226. Hi I’m Camille from Qld, Australia.

    I found the Statement of Position Map to be really novel and useful. I think it will help me see what areas to touch on and build on and guide me as to where to aim. I like the hierarchical nature of it so that you know where to drop down to if a client is struggling to be clear on a certain area. The Position Map will help me clarify the directions I’m going in during a session and where the client is at.

    Externalising is a useful tool. I think it has to be done well so that the person is able to step outside of the problem and not be limited or defined by the problem but still take responsibility for their actions.

  227. Hi I’m Camille from Toowoomba. I work as a speech pathologist in mental health.

    I see in my clients great difficulty in telling their stories and so am so interested in Narrative Therapy as way of empowering clients to share who they are and the journey they have been on.

    The narrative metaphor allows meaning to be created from seemingly random events and for difficult and painful experiences to be externalised, named and processed.

    I was heartened by the idea that there are many stories and that it is unhealthy for their to be only one, dominant story that does not take into account the complexity, uniqueness and strengths that people possess. People’s stories need to be told!!!

    • hi Camille,
      yes, beautifully said! it makes the world too flat, this dominant stories!

    • Hi Camile! I love your response!

      I visit Toowoomba, I lecture at the University in the Creative Industries. I was unaware that speech pathology in mental health was a position, I have just read a little more about it. What a line of work to be in! Very inspiring. I would love to know more …. if you felt comfortable sharing with me.



  228. I really enjoyed this module especially the use of letter writing as a session of counselling can be forgotten about very quickly but a ‘concrete letter’ can always be referred to. Great that it as client backing in that a letter can have the efficacy of 4.5 sessions. A client may come in with a thin story but a letter can thicken the story and give a more comprehensive description of a person. My work at CASA together with some work at ERH would benefit from this letter writing process as together with other documents such as those of circulation it “drives a preferred story for a person”. I think that the use of Documents and Audiences is a very empowering way of working with clients.

  229. Hi, Guys, this is Jim from China.

    I have been practicing Narrative Therapy as a Psychological counsellor. The things I find particularity interesting is that how people are fascinated in narrative their stories in a negative way when they are feeling bad, when life is difficult. It occurs to me that people are so sensitive to bad things as it is a basic instinct of our mind, which is to identify problems by which we can better survived. It seems like a bad instinct of our mind.

    I find it not as easy to narrate a new and convincing new story for patient, especially in a culture where reality, like poverty and poor health condition is on the focus of people’s mind.

    The narrative therapy, to some extent, with a new view to one’s life, will be easily interpreted as “Mindful Victory” but not a real story.

    We have to keep on the new story and enrich it from time to time as a therapist.

  230. Hello, I am a social worker based in the UK. My key areas of practice have been advocacy alongside young people seeking asylum in the UK and women who have been subjected to domestic violence.

    I am grateful for this course being made available for free and also for the reflections of other participants which adds a real depth to my learning. The intro unit has been deeply thought provoking and energizing for me and has left me with a lot to reflect on. The emphasis on social context and injustice is both reassuring and refreshing because other therapeutic approaches I have explored often seem to overlook this and therefore seem to run the risk of pathologizing behaviour and internalizing experiences of oppression. It’s exciting to be learning about an approach that externalizes and contextualizes problems in such a considered way.

    Chimamanda Adichie’s talk and Alice Morgan’s extracts got me thinking about the thin dominant public narratives about refugees, spun by politicians and media in the UK and about how these impact directly and indirectly on the young people I work with. I am thinking about how best to acknowledge this and to to help facilitate the telling and ownership of richer individual and collective stories.

    The principle encapsulated in Article 1 about people’s right to define their experiences in their own terms feels very important to me. All too often, statutory (government) social work in the UK doesn’t leave much room for this at all which is a big problem! However, I am also wondering about to reconcile this principle with situations where it is important for someone to acknowledge the impact of their behaviour on others e.g. in instances where people have perpetrated domestic violence. Is there perhaps a risk that their capacity to take personal responsibility could get lost in a constructionist approach? I expect that this is something that might be addressed later in the course but I am keeping it in mind for now.

    • hello Ben, I found it very helpful to acknowedge that it is natural response to injustice, to be upset and resist it. rather than to except this as a way the world is. Regarding the thin dominant public narrative about refugees I have great respect and find JR, a French artist, very inspirational. an example of his work>

      I hope my work as an artist helps setting and showing new narratives and counter some of the disruptive and injust narratives we get screamed in our faces. I am looking forward to learning more!

  231. Thank you Vikki for holding our feet to the fire and keeping our work accountable. I am grateful for your solidarity and critique. You inspire me to continue to develop my repertoire of acts of resistance. Mad respect to you.

    • ah ali borden, your solidarity and justice-doing continue to inspire and shoulder me up!

  232. We are Afghans recently arrived in Australia, living in Adelaide. We watched your videos scripts and we really thank you all and appreciate your help and contribution.

    Uncle Ken Leon and the men from the Men’s shed, your work to raise awareness that suicide is not the solution and encouraging people in that community to do something different for their future is impressive. Your work is reminding me of dark times we suffered when there were too many land mines around our village in the farms, mountains and all over the places. I still remember one teacher who came from the district to tell people about the signs of the dangerous areas and what to do when you see a suspicious object, and how to tell to other people and to mark the area. This teacher’s instructions saved a lot of lives. Your work reminds me of him. It is very vital and is very appreciated.

  233. We are Afghans recently arrived in Australia, living in Adelaide. We watched your videos scripts where you kindly talked and shared your help and service you are doing for your communities. We really thanks you all and appreciate your help and contribution.
    Steve Watson, you are hero, a brave man, friend and a father. Your role as a mentor for kids with no difference either the kids are from which background, are admirable and can definitely change our minds that how kind and soft-hearted people you have in your communities.

    Your role as a mentor reminded us the time under control of Taliban during 1998, when Taliban ordered that children under 18 can’t do sport in a specific time of the day and even some sports were determined as a crime, we were playing in a back yard with too much scare and fear. Our parents (father) was chasing us to not play football or volleyball at that time, my father was feared and scared that if Taliban knew that we are playing sport in our age then we would be punished. When we wanted and loved to have someone to mentor and train us in any sport during our childhood, there were no one around to teach us and encourage us. We spend our childhood in time where a simple sport was determined as a crime. The schools were closed especially for girls and I still remember there was a private and very secret girl school in our village run by a family, one day Taliban in that area realised and ordered the family elder to their check point and asked him to immediately close that school and he was put in the detention facility until another villager went and kindly requested and guaranteed that he will close the school. Still I remember the face of those innocent girls when they were told that for tomorrow onwards you can’t come to this school.

    We can feel how energetic and how happy the kids and children in your mentoring village would be. How lucky you are to have a role for which the children can get their dream and goal in that specific field through your hard work. In our opinion in a remote area or country side a person like you can play a vital role, because the history taught us that usually world talented and genius people originate from rural area or country sides.

  234. I am particularly drawn to the use of therapeutic letters. I can see how they could extend the benefits of the therapy session well beyond
    the limits of the hour. I also enjoyed hearing about the knowledge and skills documents, including the use of a journal completed by clients who are finishing therapy. This is something that I routinely discuss with clients but I suspect that the act of writing solidifies the observations & I am sure that others would be interested. This is something that i plan to adopt.

  235. Hello everyone!

    I am currently writing from Kuwait where I work as a high school counselor. I am from Atlanta, Georgia, United States.

    The narrative metaphor, to me, is a constructivist approach that takes into account the many different stories (aka identities, traumas, oppressions, values, characteristics, etc.) that makes a person who they are. The narrative metaphor simply follows the path that the person has walked through, and searches for exceptions and rich stories that can beef up the thin stories around that person’s life.

    Thinking about stories like this has already made an impact on me. I am still learning this approach, but it has opened my eyes to the unspoken lives of my students. We all have stories that we tell ourselves and that have been reinforced by our lived experiences, but we rarely are told of stories that make us better. My hope from this view is to give my students and others around me the confidence to walk in their truth, while also acknowledging the vast and rich stories that make them happy.

  236. What resonated for me in this chapter that there is there is so much more space that we can imagine for us to be in collaboration with the people and communities we work with. The presentation with Tileah Drahm-Butler is compelling in that it gives me a model to understand from starting with stories of strength, survival and resource, and then to work in collaboration with those practices. I see this type of collaboration as a re-imaging of the intrinsic to the context.

  237. I love the idea of acknowledging history, context and influences. I fear this is exactly what is lacking in the digital age. The digital age seems like a significant turning point in history where immediacy or the urgency of the next new thing is the focus of attention. While the growth of the digital age offers so much promise and hope, I love the narrative value of weaving the two together – the present and the past, the hope and the history, the new and what has worked before. I am inspired to always acknowledge history and context the next time I give a lecture.

  238. The story about the Mt Elgon Self-Help Community Project is so moving and compelling. While I certainly believe that tapping into the intrinsic, hidden expertise is a critical foundation for change, I do think it is also helpful to learn new skills our cultural background may have not introduced us to. I know in my own life, healing and change is a combination of both – learning new perspectives, and tapping into my internal strengths.

  239. At its most basic, critical thinking can be defined as ‘the art of analysing and evaluating thinking with a view to improving it’ (Paul and Elder cited by hooks, 2010, p. 9).
    With a little more focus on the outcomes we hope for from critical thinking, it can also be described as: ‘the habit of making sure our assumptions are accurate and that our actions have the results we want them to have’ (Brookfield, 2012, p. 14). (By Mary Heath – THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NARRATIVE THERAPY AND COMMUNITY WORK 2012 No. 4 https://www.dulwichcentre.com.au

    Narrative practices invite us to be curious about where our ideas come from and their effects.

    “Critical does not mean destructive, but only willing to examine what we sometimes presuppose in our way of thinking, and that gets in the way of making a more livable world” – Judith Butler reference.

    The material I read here has enhanced my practice as I work with different clients affected by alcohol and other drugs, critical thinking plays a big role for a better benefit for my clients. Reflecting on things has always been a good tool for improvement.

  240. Collaborating as a family or community to tell stories

    It is the intention of the therapist to take up a “decentred and influential” posture in conversations had with the people who consult them – to develop therapeutic practices that make it possible for him/her to occupy the top-left quadrant. The notion “decentred” does not refer to the intensity of the therapist’s engagement (emotional or otherwise) with people seeking consultation, but to the therapist’s achievement in according priority to the personal stories and to the knowledges and skills of these people. In regard to the personal stories of people’s lives, in the context of this achievement, these people have a “primary authorship” status, and the knowledges and skills that have been generated in the history of their lives are the principal considerations.

    The therapist is influential not in the sense of imposing an agenda or in the sense of delivering interventions, but in the sense of building a scaffold, through questions and reflections, that makes it possible for people to:

    a) more richly describe the alternative stories of their lives,

    b) step into and to explore some of the neglected territories of their lives, and to

    c) become more significantly acquainted with the knowledges and skills of their lives that are relevant to addressing the concerns, predicaments and problems that are at hand.

    Fear of externalising
    Building a rapport with a client may be helpful in their managing to externalise. Some say “a problem shared is a problem solved”. Once shared, then a therapist has some ground to stand on to begin their work n supporting a client going through challenging times.

  241. I have been motivated by the idea of working with other, collaborations, partnership working and acknowledging one another.

    “I would like to acknowledge the contributions of Tim Agius and Barbara Wingard to our first explorations of the relevance of narrative practices in working with communities. The foundation of these first explorations was Tim’s unwavering vision of a community-wide gathering that would provide a healing context for Aboriginal families of South Australia that had lost a member through death in jail or prison. The spirit and wisdom that Tim and Barbara then brought to this initiative and so willingly shared with the members of our team sustained us in so many ways … “(White, 2003, p.53)

    Narrative community gatherings provide an example of a therapeutic approach developed in partnership between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal team members6.
    To my mind, Michael has bequeathed not only a profound body of work, but also a particular spirit of originating: one characterized by rigor, determination, collaboration and partnership. Hopefully, alongside Michael’s ideas, this legacy of an originating spirit will also be taken up by future generations of Australian therapists:

    “… one of the aspects associated with this work that is of central importance to us is the spirit of adventure. We aim to preserve this spirit and know that if we accomplish this, our work will continue to evolve in ways that are enriching to our lives and to the lives of persons who seek our help” (Epston & White, 1992, p. 9)

  242. Quite often people come from different cultures, with different experiences, however when such people come together to share their expertise, the cultural gaps will be covered and the richness of coming together to work as a community or communities is always greater. Together Everyone Achieves More (T.E.A.M).

    The innovative projects were a good example for collective narrative practices that are concerned with responding to groups and communities who have experienced significant social suffering and oppression in contexts in which ‘therapy’ may not be culturally resonant. Collective Narrative Practices have a rich history and engage a diverse range of methodologies that can be used with individuals, groups and communities.

  243. I am Divya from India. I found all the material on externalising not only useful but very well laid out. Starting with describing Externalisation, the video gives a very clear and crisp understanding about what externalisation is all about. This is followed by the FAQs which clarify the parts which may not yet be clear. I found the question and response on externalising abusive behaviours particularly useful. The video on depression/ black dog was a fantastic representation of how externalisation works. One of the issues that I have faced while counselling clients is how many people internalise the problem then direct so much anger and resentment towards themselves that they find it difficult to move forward. Externalisation provides a clear structure for separating the person from the problem thus preventing the need for the person to fight with oneself.

    The description of externalisation by Mark Hayward was very useful, especially when it comes to using this map in actual counselling sessions. The differentiation of the four phases by Mark, gives practical clarity on how the externalisation could be used. I have been able to use it with a client who has been having difficulty moving on after a relationship breakup. the use of externalisation has made it possible for the client to see himself as a wholesome and capable person. who is separate from the strong feelings of disappointment, sadness and anger.

  244. “…a short document is better than no document at all”

    Documents I use would range from Consent record, referral record, family history, medical records, counselling and assessment records.

    In some way the above mentioned documents would include “The hidden multiple layers of therapeutic documents …… drawing out that there are a multiplicity of things being ‘rescued’ in the practice of therapeutic documentation:
    • people’s actions themselves,
    • their accounts of their actions,
    • the meaning they give these accounts
    • the recording of these actions, accounts and meanings,
    • the meaning they give this recording, and their reflection on this recording as an action in itself,
    • the act of circulating these recordings and their meanings,
    • the meaning they give to this circulation,
    • the action of people’s responses to the documents, and the meaning they give to this,
    • the meaning these responses have for the people who the documents are about,
    • their actions in responding to the responses …
    • and so on.

  245. This section was difficult for me. I don’t think it is an easy task to locate an audience for so many marginalized communities. I would like to have heard more about how to overcome or find creative ways to find and audience for those who need it.

    But the idea of an idea of inviting an outsider witness and audience is powerful and I understand how powerful that impact can be..

    (New York, NY)

  246. I loved this chapter and it provided so much to think about. I liked the idea not limiting Externalizing metaphors to “war or battles”, but keeping it open to a variety of other metaphors such as : “living with or in relationship with”, etc.

    My first concern about the concept of externalizing is that sometimes problems have had such a severe impact on a person (Trauma, PTSD), that it is an intrinsic part of how the person has been wounded. What happens in such examples.

    Secondly, I am wondering what happens when a person has limited insight into problems – “What is
    outside in or What is inside out?”

    • Apologies: I am writing from NY, NY (USA)

  247. I feel comfortable with the concept and purpose of externalising. I currently commonly do work with people to externalise problems/experiences, I recognise people’s expertise in their problems/experiences and I locate problems/experiences within people’s values.
    I know I work best when I have a structure or framework to follow. They help me to stay “on track” and ensure I’m not missing key points when I’m working with people. The position map provides this structure and is readily understandable – though using it well will take some practice. Mark’s skill and experience made it look too easy!
    Thank you for the questions and tools (e.g. drawing) described in the powerpoint, they will help me practice and slowly build up my own way of doing things.

  248. “The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem”. These words of Michael White have become well-known within the field of narrative therapy.

    If you are in difficulty never be ashamed to ask for help. (http://matthewjohnstone.com.au/)

  249. I am working in an area in South Australia where the history of Indegenous people is more encompassed in the richness of their stories, their experiences and perceptions. However in those stories one can identify some sparkling moments in their lives. By identifying and exploring these sparkling moments, they are full of motivating points/ stages that can be used as starting points to rebuild confidence and make a new start a possibility.

    • Love this response!

  250. Thank you for this course. I’ve been keen to have an introduction to narrative therapy and this program seems ideal. Covering this lesson helped me to realise how we are surrounded by stories. I am drawn to them. Adopting a narrative metaphor to counselling work makes a great deal of sense to me. I look forward to learning the ways that this can be achieved.

  251. Externalising makes it possible for me to see the situation as a witness. I can then naturally step back and talk about it. It creates the much needed distance. Like space.Like oxygen. In which alternative story lines can emerge and be experienced. Do we internalise responsibility? How do we take ownership for our actions? What about our innate talents? I see a value in externalising talents in as much it gives us the critical awareness of the “zone” in which they are most likely to be activated.

  252. The idea that people live multi-storied lives is such a powerful one!! It creates the possibility of of people living unique, dynamic lives full of possibilities without being bracketed into a category. I am very moved and inspired by the idea of looking out for references to experiences and incidents that do not match the plot of the problem story and using those opportunities to highlight tell and retell the unstirred aspects of people’s lives thus opening up the door for multiple possibilities. While the problem story disempowers people, shining the light on alternative stories and making them richer hands the power back to the individual.

    The example of “good driver/ bad driver” and “skilled counsellor/ unskilled counsellor” are brilliant and straightaway help us see the danger of a single story. Narrative practice opens up the door for really seeing people holistically, respectfully and valuing the uniqueness and connectedness of each of us and putting us all on an even keel. This is exciting

  253. I find this work very powerful. It suddenly makes sense of all the verbiage that is going on in my mind. The mass of conflicting strands of meanings are settling into rough story lines. And i can see how my mind on its own wants to walk the path of a familiar story. And ignoring the other streams of rich and diverse story lines which are waiting to be explored. The Narrative Metaphor for me is in a sense is the exploration of the unexplored and untold stories of our own lives. What I see is an endless world of new possibilities of being. Which i have only a dim memory of – The edges of my known identity. i now have the choice of bringing them into my awareness and have them take their rightful place. I am amazed at how even an introduction to the Narrative Metaphor taps into a spring of strength.

    • Thank you for your articulate and interesting description of your understandings. I very much like the idea that our Self is larger and stronger than we might have otherwise known, had we not been introduced to the idea of exploring some of our personal roads less travelled.

  254. I found it useful to have so many of Michael White’s ideas laid out in a bullet-point list at this point in the course. It allowed me to recognized what I’ve learnt so far, and what concepts I am less familiar with, helping to organize my thinking. The concepts of co-researching with people on problems and their relationships struck me as useful, as did ethnographic imagination and “informed not knowing.” I was inspired by the notion of the possibility of brining in influence of ideas from outside the field as a innovative practice, as well as by the applicability of irreverence for the field as a means through with social justice can operate. I’m Cressida from Toronto, Canada.

  255. I love the idea of having documents of knowledge and affirmations, and sharing them with people they trust. I have used both pictures and contracts with a great amount of success with children and adolescents. Looking forward to including more documents in my practice with them.

  256. “What would be helpful to you in your context?”, Wow, what an incredible, expansive question.

    In it, includes acknowledgment of time, place, history, limitations, and opportunities. The Narrative Metaphor means to me that there are always countless stories waiting to be seen, expressed or told.
    And these stories may or may not be acknowledged by the cultural contexts in which they are located.

    In the interview with M. White and the writer Barbara Brooks, I agree with the parallel that Narrative Therapy is also very similar to excellent literary works. They both aim to tell the multitude of storylines that each person lives out in a lifetime.

    I am a psychotherapist, freelance journalist and graphic artist based in NY. Narratology is the lens of how I understand the world, practice psychotherapy, and the expressive mode through art & writing of how I make sense of the world.

    Sincere Thanks for making this online course possible.

  257. I am struck by the potential of narrative practice and externalizing to relocate the problem in its social context and to create space to recognize and unpack internalized oppression. At the same time, I appreciate the emphasis on understanding the person’s own position in relation to the problem and taking care not to define the nature of and relationship to the problem as practitioners. The statement of position map also helps me to see how narrative practice can access core beliefs that drive the stories we tell ourselves.

  258. Through my experience working with LGBTQ+ homeless youth in urban centres, externalizing has great value. In particular, I appreciated the statement of position map to chart where your conversation has gone, where it could go differently in the future, where you spent to much or too little time. Like many others before me, I too appreciated the conversation about externalizing and responsibility. In particular, I appreciate the possibility for humour/playfulness/lightness here (so long as it is appropriate/ you have therapeutic alliance that makes it okay/ etc.) for example, a person talking about their addiction as an abusive ex-girlfriend they keep running into at a party who promises that this time it will be different, a quality I found present in the Sugar story, the common questions, and in the statement of position map. I also value the capacity externalizing has for people to be the authors of their own experience of whatever problem they are living with and its ability to remove the therapist as the expert, reducing hierarchies of knowledge/expertise. I’m Cressida and I work in Toronto, Canada.

  259. I am new to Narrative Therapy and just beginning my career as a social worker. I appreciated the reminders not only that a single story can be dangerous and oppressive, condescending and prejudiced, but also that by thinking about how we might fall into the trap of seeing only one story, there is ample opportunity to learn and grow. I found Alice Morgan’s chapters straight-forward and easy to understand, an excellent introduction, and her concepts of thin descriptions, thin conclusions, and problem stories useful. I believe these ideas will help me in my work as a practitioner and the populations that I work with. Out of all these materials, what resonated with me the most were the reminders of the Charter. Even as telling stories, enriching stories, and tapping into a stream of consciousness that allows for intimacy with the self is fascinating and useful, these concepts cannot be taken out of the context of power, injustice, and oppression that affect the lives of both practitioners and those they work alongside. To be reminded that everyone has the right for their life to be understood in the context of what they have been through and in the context of their relationships to others, that the person is not the problem, the problem is the problem, and that they solution resides outside the person, was immensely useful. My name is Cressida and I am living and working in Toronto, Canada.

  260. Hi,
    I am new to narrative therapy and was recommended this training as a place to start by my supervisor. I love the place from which narrative therapy seems to spring from, the person isn’t the problem, how freeing in the face of shame and internalised identities this is.
    I really enjoying the video, all too often I see, hear the single story which is so dishonouring and disrespectful (judging). On Anzac day as we remember and honour those who fought for our country, each and every one of these service men have rich stories, multiple stories of their lives, with powerful pre and post war identities. It makes me curious, I have met veterans in my work, many many years later, some hold the horrors of war, the loss of friends, innocents and ideals and seems to struggle to find life, in hospital with children who dont visit, while others stand tall and proud, survivors of war, men of honour, same stories of loss and horror but also of survival, strength and men who fought and created possibilities for their own children’s futures, children who fill the hospital room, who honour their fathers story and sacrifice. Each having a different dominant story of their experiences of war/life??

  261. I’ve used letters to a small degree – as well as documents of knowledge and skills. But what really got me interested was the Narratives in a Suitcase. I also use butchers paper and invite participants to draw pictures – without words – to communicate meaning.The reasoning behind this is that pictures and symbols require the person or group at the centre to explain to the wider audience (outsider-witnesses) the meaning behind the pictures and symbols. I am now intrigued as to how to capture written words alongside the pictures and what they mean.
    I’m also wondering how social media e.g. Facebook, Instagram, etc., provides opportunities for me to offer a preferred identity and get almost instantaneous authentication through ‘likes’ and ‘comments’. Is this a medium that I could explore in working with people? The mind boggles with where this conversation might lead to 🙂

  262. Hello! My name is Erica and I am from Vancouver, B.C. in Canada.

    Rather than having one story composed of a sequence of events, our lives are made up of many stories that may emerge and become more prominent at different times and contexts. These stories can change over time as they are influenced by many things, such as repeated experiences that are not congruent with our dominant story. These stories are important and powerful as the stories we hold about ourselves and our lives make up our lives and influence the decisions that we make, and ultimately affect our future.

    Thinking about stories in this way helps me to become aware of the many stories I have told myself and others over the years. Because we have control over these stories, we have the power to change the ones that do not serve us well. This is incredibly empowering as it gives the individual a sense that they can effect change in their lives by creating a preferred story for the future. However, as our stories are influenced by the larger social context that surrounds us, I recognize that we may still be limited by the reality of the societal constraints that we may face.

    I found the first two chapters from Alice Morgan’s book really helpful in providing me with clear and easy-to-understand information about narrative therapy as I have very limited prior knowledge of narrative therapy. I also found the video with the dots from Freedman and Combs’ Dot Exercise to be helpful as it provided me with a visual explanation of the process of narrative therapy and how it works.

  263. I am from Brisbane in Queensland Australia and work with women who have experienced violence. The video detailing Chimamanda Adichie for me described very well the narrative metaphor, in that relying on single stories can result in the creation of stereotypes, a loss of dignity, and an idea that we are not all equal. The explanation of how power is expressed through the telling of single stories was for me very touching, as much of my work is raising consciousness amongst women about the gendered power inequality which is very much apart of the story of violence against women. Understanding the narrative metaphor, along with honouring the charter of storytelling rights, reminds me to be curious of the many other ways in which people can describe their experiences.

  264. I work in Wales, UK. Working with people experiencing homelessness, externalising should be a very useful tool. It is a good example of helping people to think about homelessness as being something outside of themselves and not a permanent situation due to the kind of person they are. Homelessness can engender stigmatising attitudes and presumptions in others and clients often become very negative and defensive, expecting to keep on encountering such attitudes. The journey through charted conversations can help to open up possibilities of other ways of living and starting to form aspirations and finding practical, step by step approaches to achieving an end. I found Mark Hayward’s video and resources on Maps of Narrative Practice a very useful exercise in understanding externalising in order to find the space between the person and the problem they are struggling with.

  265. I could really connect with this and the stories aound practice and will look to add this to work I do. With thanks and apreciation

  266. Hello all,
    I’m Cathy and I work in Wales, UK. My current involvement is with those experiencing homelessness and those recovering from abuse. I found the introductory chapter on Narrative Therapy illuminating and constructive. The idea of coming to focus on thin stories and thin descriptions of ourselves, especially following difficult experiences resonates deeply for myself and those I encounter. Such outlooks ultimately become draining in themselves.

    Finding alternative stories, starting to explore the multi-faceted nature of our lives and realities, remaining curious and asking questions we do not know the answer to encourages a broadening, an enriching, bringing imagination and creativity back into the mix. I can see how this can build the framework for seeing a different, richer possibility about identify and the life anyone chooses to live.

  267. I particularly enjoyed reading about how externalising involves doing small ‘p’ political work – about putting back onto culture and history what originated from culture and history. As a person who values ‘justice’ and is highly motivated to keep systemic injustices accountable, externalising provides space for people and communities to ‘breathe’ to ‘reflect’ and ‘to re-create’ and ‘re-construct’ truths which need to be more richly described and celebrated. The techniques of externalising – being grounded in a person’s own worldview, language and culture – can be learned and used by the person themselves. The potential for grassroots empowerment is limitless!

    • Very powerful words Ben, I agree, Externalising being grounded in a person’s own worldview, language and culture.
      Externalising is the clients ways of ‘Doing’ and ‘Being’.

  268. In my education work with students and young adults at risk, the themes of isolation and disconnection recur, but after reading Alice Morgan and listening to Chamamanda, I now suspect that these themes are ‘thin conclusions’ rather than root causes. As a practitioner who has prided himself on helping others find their own solutions, I have been guilty of perpetuating a single-storied narrative around young people at risk. So this is prompting me to approach my conversations with a far more open stance of curiosity and withholding my confidence in my own skills. Exercising patience, continuing to remain curious and keeping the other person central are skills I am looking forward to practising with the support of this course.

  269. I had heard the quote the person is not the problem, the problem is the problem at a hearing voices seminar where it was used for people with a mental illness. This chapter was a very good amplification of what I had heard and I will be able to utilise this in work with people who have been sexually abused. I particularly liked how you can with this approach help empower clients by redefining the problem from e.g. depression to ‘a cloud of depression is keeping Zoe at home’ or seeing depression as the ‘black depths’. Locating the problem(s)within a cultural and historical perspective rather than within the person avoids pathologising the person. People who have been sexually abused often suffer from issues such as shame, anger, guilt and these issues can ‘poison ‘ them. The process of externalising can offer an approach that allows them to look at the issues to define them, to unpack them and move forward with their lives at their own pace and on their terms.

  270. I see the value of outsider witness and documentation as preserving knowledges. People exist in the social realm. Their values, beliefs, knowledge, ideals, assumptions, problems, concerns etc. all exist in the presence of the social so it makes sense that the social would be helpful and beneficial for making changes and checking on personal perspectives. As individuals, I think we are lomited in scope when we try to do things alone no matter how tempting. Connecting with others can expand our experience and minds into more dynamic and robust realizations. However, I work in a college where trying to find outsider witnesses are limited. There are only 3 of us and only one day a week where our schedules overlap to get other perspectives can be difficult. I dont have much access to others who might be sufficient for this task. This may take some time.
    Documentation is a tricky one. I have heard various perspectives from not putting too much information as it can cause problems if the courts get involved. I think I might try to write some closing letters to people to finish off the school year. I have also heard of the rights of passage certificates. I think that could be important for some, but I am not sure all people would appreciate it. I prefer to add as much as I can remember what happened during previous sectikns as I forget. I will consider all that I can to help our people out.

  271. Hello everyone! I work as a trauma counsellor in Melbourne, Australia. Merging trauma-informed therapy with narrative practice has been very rewarding for me as a therapist. The narrative metaphor gives me tools to work with clients and help them externalize the trauma, re-author their stories with a focus on the person they are, and most importantly give them the language to create new narratives for themselves. I will surely be using the dot exercise as it adds visual engagement to our usually verbal practice.
    As a feminist and someone who loves working from a strengths-based perspective, narrative practice is close to my heart. I can’t wait to continue learning through this course.

  272. Thank you for explaining structuralism and post-structuralism in such a user-friendly way.

  273. I work in a sexual assault service in Shepparton, Victoria, Australia and I have found this first Online Component fascinating. I have always worked from a strengths based perspective and this I find combines very well with Narrative Therapy. Of particular interest was the use of thin storylines and the dot exercise that illustrate that there are richer storylines in a person’s life. This way of working views problems as separate from the person is a great non blaming way to work. Also looking at who tells the story – is it the health professional, the family or the person concerned. it is said that the victors write history but sadly the people I work with are often the vanquished. However these people have stories that are often not told and narrative therapy provides a very good springboard for this to happen

  274. I enjoyed the shared documents of skills to ask for help very good. I have many clients with avoidant personality attachments, who struggle with asking for help, and this piece of work, would work very well for them to develop that skill.

  275. Leanne from Qld Australia,

    I found this chapter great. Although I did have techniques in externalising, however the questions used was great to explore. I enjoyed the techniques around limiting externalisation for acts of violence.

  276. Hi from London, UK. I have designed a training course around music and mental health and watching the video on Mt Elgon project and then looking at the webpage about ‘songs as a response to hardship and trauma’ has given me an idea to amend the course for the better. I realise it would be important to build in some time on the course for participants to share their stories about how they have used music to help cope and/or heal from hardship and trauma, rather than me just presenting the ideas. Thank you!

    I also like the idea of the Team of Life workshop and am thinking about how I can adapt it to the workplace in an organisation that uses different teams of people.

  277. At present I write recommendations and reports on students that students do not get to see. I work in Corrective Services. Reading the articles for this chapter – particularly on writing hospital reports – has made me think about the ways I do and don’t collaborate with students own representations of themselves, and their hopes and dreams. I have often thought when I write my reports and recommendations: Gee, I wonder if one day one of my students will ask to have access to all of his prison files and what he might think about what I have written? For this reason my reports and recommendations are always kind and respectful. However, due to time constraints, I do not use the students’ names as I did in the beginning. I use a kind of shorthand where names are not needed, but I wonder whether going back to using the students’ names would be better practice.

  278. Thank you so much. I love the hopefulness of your talk and way of speaking with people. Honestly, makes my heart feel full and soaring.

  279. I love the idea of ethnographic research – of not knowing and that being okay. Curiosity and bringing forth other people’s ways of knowing and knowledge and understanding from a place of curiosity and respect, what a gift.

  280. Hello, everyone
    I am from Colombia actually I am living in Australia (Melbourne)
    I so glad that I found this online course which can help me to develop a better understanding of narrative practice.
    I am inspired by narrative therapy in the way of the mental health is approached, and how through the privilege of alternative histories the clients are able to transform their realities and identities.
    the powerful tool that I have found is the metaphor which allows a better understanding of an alternative perspective.

    • Hello ALl,

      Leanne from QLD state here. Im really enjoying this course. Narrative therapy is something I know off, and briefly learned about, but not in this detail. Im enjoying how many and complex stories we all have, and im looking forward to exploring the depths with my clients, to give them empowerment.

  281. I especially appreciated your use of these narrative practices in your pastoral work. I have occasionally had people wondering about the compatibility of the two in my own work. You have demonstrated that compatibility beautifully. Thank you.

  282. I enjoyed very much the course, I already uploaded the essay and I will be looking formward to hearing from your comments or feedback. Thank you very much for the opportunity, and I am very interested in continue with the online course and in being able to go and visit the centre as soon as I can. Thanks!

  283. I enjoyed this course. I am just struggling to find time to finish my essay for certification. There are just so much work to do at work and at home. I will find time soon, I hope. 🙂

  284. I love what Paulo Freire said/wrote: ‘Being in the world means to change and recharge the world, not adapt to the world’. I find this concept so thrilling and empowering. Such a courageous stance.

  285. My name is Ivan Alejandro Rodriguez Santarriaga, and I’m From a City in Mexico named Juarez!

    I really liked this Narrative Therapy Chapter because of it’s Community projects. I specially engage with the ”Little by little we make a bundle” paper, because of the personification the facilitator made about HIV and Mr. Care, to create an ongoing conversation with the participants struggling with those health conditions. It made me think on how can I apply this way of dealing with serious problems in my context and community, leading me to the conclusion and desire of working with drug related problems.

    In my community, located in Mexico, the drug related problems inbetween young people are constantly prevailing, many times because of a lack of work and educational opportunities, so, in this regard, translaping the Little by little we make a bundle ideas into the context of problematic drug use and abuse is appealing to me: Externalizing the ”Drug consumption” and personifying the ”willingness to leave the drugs”! I think that in creating a conversation and a safe place for young people to express their concerns, likes and dis-likes about drug use, and peripheral things that sustain the usage may be a very good idea to try to analyze new possibilities in to how to relate one self to life…

    Alex From Mexico

  286. Hi Sara,

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful work.
    Please let the participants know that I have been deeply touched and inspired by their stories.
    My colleague are thinking of using this methodology in our work. I will contact you privately to discuss.

  287. Thank you for this section – it was very helpful. Here are my answers:

    What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?

    I like the idea of documenting exactly what has been said and going back over that to give the person sharing their story the opportunity to hear it again from a different source.

    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?

    I love the questions that outsider witnesses are to keep in mind when listening to narratives. I want to keep those questions at the forefront of my own mind as I respond to and witness the narratives I come in contact with. I also loved the tangible reminders of the narrative process and the creative ideas for bringing the stories into the here and now.

  288. I was incredibly moved by the Suitcases Project that was spoken about. It has challenged me ask myself questions about my life choices and journeys and to reframe them in more self-loving ways. Dominant ‘thin’ stories seem to abound and I feel that my task right now is to thicken and enrich my definition of self. It feels exciting and expansive.

  289. Hello Course Colleagues

    Coming into this chapter through David Denborough’s opening quote and the reminder to receive the various cultural stories of hardships as platforms for local action, and then to be led to Paulo Freire’s article kept me grounded in the reading and listening of the various articles, projects and songs in this chapter.

    Freire’s words through his notion of Critical “Pedagogy of Desire” resonated deeply with me: “being in the world means to change and re-change the world…to intervene in reality…creating the context for people…generate in the people political dreams, wishes and desires”.

    In this light, the opening premise rings true, i.e., conventional notions of “therapy” may often not be culturally resonant, and that various collective narrative practices unique in themselves may be available to us if we are open and present to receive them in their integrity.

    How exciting and powerful the use of role-playing in “Little by Little We make a Bundle”, to draw out, externalize and give voice to, in a collective and communal way, the story and impact of HIV/AIDS.

    The Characters of CARE and AIDS, and the drama that ensues reminds me of the use of Global Cinema as a Narrative Practice that I use with urban teachers. Here we have drawn on the South African film (in Northern Sotho language): Life Above All, where Chanda, the 12 yr old protagonist, allows us to witness through her eyes a variety of narrative and phenomenological themes: Family Love and disintegration; Church/Community support and breakdown; Shame, abuse and prostitution when children are left orphaned; entrenched contrasts and mistrusts of traditional and modern medicine and taboos; missed education opportunities, etc. Chanda becomes our “senior partner” in a narrative collective practice as she guides us through her narrative emplotments and resolutions.

    As I went through the various projects, each one of them offered me ideas that I could use in my own setting. I was particularly taken by the “Ocean of Depression” submission by Afghan/Central Asian refugee youth and by the Life Savings Tips by Young Australian Muslims. In both cases I was drawn to how much their “historical consciousness” and the traditional concepts of family and community comes to their aid as they grapple with the various traumas and challenges in their lives.

    This was an “eye-opening” chapter for me and my practice. Thank you.

    Munir – Vancouver, Canada

  290. Salaam and Thank you.

    You have gifted us with powerful insights filled with wisdom and courage, through your stories and experiences, and by the exquisite and thoughtful way you have produced and directed this important and timely project.

    As an educator/teacher/narrative practitioner, in Vancouver, Canada, and as someone who shares a story of disruption and diaspora, and who also works in communities where such stories are the lived experiences of children and families, your project gives us much hope.

    “What has happened to you my happiness? What has happened to you, my dream?”, the theme words in the sublime song that you shared, speak of how confounded and “dark” the world becomes as depression visits us, and encroaches our life.

    And yet the story of the song offers us powerful and living metaphors; images of movement, light and the ebb and flow of life, where we can see ourselves beyond the visiting depression.

    The words: “My heart has become the brother of your heart”, allows to me to know that I am connected, and also part of larger stories, some in the memories of my childhood, some yet to be written, and some being lived now. In this, I find a sense of freedom.

    Remembering of our ancestors and their gifts to us, and being around elders in our communities also resonated with me, especially as we take on the long arc of our narrative lives. We are grateful for it all.

    Your final words: “After each darkness there is light. After each night there is day”, are offered as hope, but also as an invitation to take action – a reminder of care and respect when we encounter each other in our differences.

    Thank you and Khuda Hafez

    Munir – Vancouver, Canada

  291. Hi Nerida, thanks so much for sharing your interesting work with us. I appreciated the respectful and creative ways you have found to engage with young people who are going through difficulties. Thanks also to Keira and Bee, for allowing us to hear some of their experiences and ideas.

    An idea you brought to me was about offering articles of interest to the people we meet with. I once shared the Mary Heath video (from the Friday Afternoons) with a young woman who was questioning her sexuality, and she found the thoughts presented in the video very liberating. She then shared it with her friends. I haven’t pursued this concept of sharing Narrative resources since, but you have re-invigorated me!

    Thanks also for sharing your proposal and wedding photos. Congratulations on your marriage!! The plebiscite caused a lot of heart ache for some young and older people I have been meeting with, so your discussion of this resonated with me. For some people it caused a recurrence of what may be described as mental health struggles, which could have been individualised and pathologised. I agree with you that this is political. The context of the plebiscite and the other socially constructed difficulties people face needs to be visible in our work with people in the LGBTIQA community. Thanks for your contributions to this.


  292. Hello Course Colleagues

    Drawing on Ricoeur, Geertz and White, Newman’s article is insightful and vivifying for me. The notion of a “living document”, almost a self-ethnography, where the “said” is rescued from the “saying” to evoke active interpretation within a co-authoring therapeutic relationship speaks to my own practice with teachers and community elders.

    I also appreciated what Julie has offered in the previous post (Thank you). How are we as co-authors to insert and enunciate the experiences, stories, knowledge, understanding of school-based actors, back into the stream of personal history, culture/sub-cultures, time and discourses where “meaning can persist”, understood and shared. This is exquisite as a conceptual, phenomenological and practice-based backdrop to situate the narrative therapeutic processes of documenting and witnessing.

    Nucbe-Mlilo’s comprehensive presentation was particularly insightful for me – Narratives in a Suitcase – and the work among street children again speaks to my own work in urban contexts and communities in grasping and responding to the physical, emotional, phenomenological and narrative experiences of street children. The “narrative documents” in the suitcase invite the “journey” metaphor to draw out significant relationships; personal skills and strengths; problems and challenges, position and vision, values. It was especially important to notice how much the children relied upon the trust of civil society institutions in re-configuring their narrative identities, institutions which so often fails them.

    The “Outsider-witness” article provided crucial insights for me. For example upon reading how White had drawn upon the work of Myerhoff to develop structures and practices of “definitional ceremonies” in NT, I was drawn to my own practice of using the work of Ricoeur and Testimony (Memory, History, Forgetting; and, Hermeneutics of Testimony) to invite and “re-member” excesses of meanings, often not available in the mere telling of narratives, but available more when witness-practices and testimony-practices are conjoined as narrative therapy encounters in respectful settings.

    There are so many gems in this chapter to draw from…

    Thank you

    Munir – Vancouver, Canada

  293. I have been very interested and inspired by the idea of Living Documents as a method by which stories, skills and knowledge are shared, even when the spoken word has become too daunting a medium for some. The concept of “getting our own language back through the language of others”, of which David Newman speaks is one which I feel I myself have experienced at certain points in my life, without really being mindful of the process taking place; to be guided, reassured and encouraged by the shared stories of others; their ‘living documents’, is an idea which fills me with hope and ambition for the various ways I might use it in future professional situations.
    As a teacher I have often used letters as a way of sharing with my students their own stories which I have witnessed them ‘tell’ in my classroom, using their own words or the observations of others in their group to witness the journey they take over the course of a school year. It has been a way of honouring and valuing the milestones reached and lessons learned that could not be communicated through exam grades or reports. I look forward now to extending this methodology into the therapeutic context.

  294. Hello, I am Jennifer from Dawson Creek British Columbia, Canada. I am also a recent discoverer of Narrative Therapy and the narrative metaphor makes a lot of sense to me. I am currently a women’s counselor of domestic violence and other historical trauma, and I can already see how the metaphor is helpful in working with women, abuse, and trauma. In the future I may be transitioning into family counseling and it is highly useful there as well. I especially like the way the metaphor looks at externalizing the problem versus assigning it to the person, which, it is easy for me to see how this would help in better addressing the problem if we look at it externally rather than internally. I know I have only just touched the surface of the narrative metaphor, and I am excited to learn much more about this!

  295. Hello, Course Community.

    My practice in Vancouver, Canada, entails being around K-12 urban teachers doing graduate work and the charged conversational realities they bring to bear, so often fraught with emotionally and physically challenging institutional lives in urban school communities. Here, narratives of diasporic communities and families, and other inter-generational, historical and colonizing narratives are marked by despairing and disrupting experiences that have been internalized deeply as “deficits” not only in the lives of families and children, but also in the lives of teachers and other care-providers.

    Narrative meaning-making hence is an important aspect of my practice where teachers often speak of “self-alienation”, “of a fatigued and incoherent vocational plot”, “of the politics of language” that governs and constructs their narrative identities, and where they have in some sense become narratively opaque to themselves.

    What I am thoroughly appreciating is how narratively and pedagogically grounded the course curriculum is so far, including the various media used, not to forget Phillipa’s introduction and closing reflections. The third chapter, takes the core concepts and experiences of the previous chapter including the NT Charter platformed on justice and rights, and proceeds to offer the “externalising” metaphor beyond its linguistic surpluses of meaning and into a viable technique and practice of narrative meaning-making.

    The video of Mark Hayward on mapping the narrative practice, his skillful and respectful use of language and other readings are brilliant! In various ways, the course/chapter experience tells me that as narrative beings we are inclined to take the various disparate events of our temporal lives, and give them coherence in time, i.e. how our past-present-future can be mediated through active interpretation and discourse into a meaningful whole. And, in this sense it also tells me that families and communities can experience deep narrative fissures in time when disruptive and colonizing tendencies take root. It tells me that I need to be vigilant of essentialist tendencies and to consider the play of power, and not externalise without due care. It tells me that I can actively “guide” the emplotment processes always respectful of the authoring agency of the conversational partners present – and that potential and imagined narrative futures are available and possible. It tells me to exercise patience and humility in my practice as I encounter stories and participate in conversations, and that deeply “internalised” plots take time to come to the light of awareness – and that I have an ethical role to play here.

    Just a few reflections of many that are inspiring me in this course.

    Thank you.

  296. Hello, here Diana from Bogotá, Colombia. Here some thoughts. As I was going through this chapter and reading the different texts, I was elaborating the notion of critical thinking. I believe that to give only one and definite definition of this concept would not be appropriate, actually I think that critical thinking is a process, a continuous way of acting, thinking and living. It involves the act of questioning and as we say in spanish do not “swallow” things without asking or re-thinking things. My practice is enriched as I go through these topics, because critical thinking is a very powerful tool that pushes us to take distance from assuming invariable universals and foundations. Working with others assuming a critical position allows me to open to perspectives, to take distance from classifications and taxonomies that are so ingrained in our field.

  297. (From France)
    Thanks to Phillipa Johnson and all the people at the Dulwich centre for providing such a gripping course. The key element which attracted me to narrative therapy is externalisation. It brings so many opportunities for the person to look at its “problem” differently and to act upon it.
    I wish you all the best.
    Take care.

  298. The power of story telling. The power of support. The power of having someone prepared to listen. The power of women continues to astound me no matter how many stories I hear. Our society has a lot to answer for and finally women are speaking out and taking risks of judgement and disbelief. What a wonderful initiative of Natalie to encourage women to share in such a safe and non judgmental environment.

  299. (From France)
    I hesitated between leaving many comments (too boring?) or none (too coward?). I chose the middle ground and I’ll leave two:
    1) I am a bit uncomfortable with the “privilege” article (maybe because I’m too privileged). While it touches a key topic, too often ignored, I find the part “Some of the restraints to talking about privilege” quite directive, to say the least. It gives a large number of suggestions / clues / advice on how one should not react. If somebody disagrees with an idea, why not let her / him express his arguments without any constraint, even (especially?) if you think she / he is wrong?…
    2) I liked the part on post-structuralism: a clear view on a not-so-trivial subject.
    This chapter was very interesting indeed, and I look forward to reading the next one.

  300. Hi, Lindy here from Heathcote, Victoria, Australia. Wow! These were excellent articles. I am inspired to keep developing my habits of questioning my assumptions, my privilege, and how I might have careful challenges up my sleeve if I am faced with language and attitudes that diminish people of a marginalised minority group. I would love to see more examples of this being done well, as Mary said: “We need seriously to consider how we can communicate critical responses in ways which build relationships rather than damaging them; which expand consciousness rather than causing it to constrict under the influence of shame, fear or humiliation.” Becoming more adept at using humour, asking empowering if challenging questions, speaking from a place of humble personal experience that can identify with the ignorance/unquestioned assumptions, or perhaps just making an appeal, like an ‘I’ statement might all come in handy at times.

    I have so appreciated the profound humility and non-defensiveness that comes through all of these writers, the willingness to learn even from harsh feedback, and to commit to robust conversations by developing skills for coping with risk (bell hooks in the Mary Heath article). Mary so well describes true critical thinking as necessarily involving willingness to be challenged by others – “People who can see beyond my limitations can assist me to transcend them” – and the limitations of self-critique alone.

    I will have to revisit the article on privilege to really give extended time to reflection. And I know I am guilty of some of the ‘shoulds’ that have emerged from a structuralist influence. Some seeds of change have been planted for me as I’ve engaged with these ideas. It’s exciting.

  301. Lindy from Heathcote, Victoria, Australia here… I have entered into collaborations in several ways that come to mind:
    – supporting a neighbour to reflect on her varied experiences of housing and recurring homelessness, identifying why some situations lasted longer than others, and what key values she brought to a housing situation, so she could make a more considered choice about what housing to pursue next
    – working with people facing various issues of poverty to tell their story for newsletter publication in ways that can educate the broader community and help to reshape attitudes
    – supporting teams within the member-run mental health movement in which I work
    All of these collaborations were made possible through supportive mutual relationship and trust, a shared desire to effect change, and some facilitation/enquiry/listening/clarification skills.
    The main thing making it hard to enter these practices is time constraints. It can just be easier to get the job done yourself. But that’s definitely not more healing or effective or relationship building or just.
    These sessions have been a good reminder to me to avoid shortcuts and always look for every opportunity to invite people more deeply into many varied processes that impact their lives – story telling, decision making, political action, awareness raising, vision-casting for community building etc.

  302. Lindy here from Heathcote, Victoria, Australia. The most challenging idea in this session for me was that of co-research, and the ethnographic imagination. I immediately resonated with the invitation to identify as a co-researcher. It helps me to put some conceptual boundaries around my role and focus. I like that it casts the consultant and the one consulting onto a team, each bringing unique resources to the study of the problem and the person’s relationship with it. Genuine enquiry, and archiving the wisdom of others to share, is something that feels achievable to me, much more than finding the solutions myself as though one-size-fits-all. I am aware that truly putting aside my assumptions and taking the posture of ‘an informed not-knowing’ will take a lot of practice. It isn’t entirely appealing to my ego, or to my attachment to the benefits of my own worldview. But I can objectively affirm it is the only useful and respectful attitude to have toward others, the only way of celebrating the reality of a brilliantly diverse world, and I hope I can grow into it!

    • Great comment! It was very nicely said! Yes, it is somehow and some times complicated to see one self in a view of ”an informed not-knowing”, because of one tendency of ”a know it all”; at least on psychologic themes and directions!

      What I think, is that focusing on the externalizing practices would help a lot into the process of acquiring the narrative therepy and approaches skills.

      Just a saying! not colonising!

  303. Hi, Lindy here from Heathcote, Vic, Australia. Like in ‘Sugar’ I really loved the use in Malawi of personifying HIV/AIDS and the care of the community into characters. A great way for people to decide who they want to team up with, whose ‘purposes’ they want to serve. And the physical metaphor of sticks – stronger in a bundle than alone – is extremely powerful. The movement I currently work within is very word/literature based, and this has challenged me to wonder how we could be more creative in facilitating learning and reflection with the use of drama, symbol, and song. Helping communities use song as a vehicle to tell their stories and express their strengths, aspirations and commitments is something I’ve seen up close through Somebody’s Daughter theatre company in Victoria’s women’s prisons. It seems a far more empowering way of having your story heard, than simply telling it individually which seems more vulnerable to me. My workplace (mental health related) has just begun a community choir for our participants, so hopefully this will begin to release the creativity and deepen the solidarity that can come through collective creative expression.

  304. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia:
    Question on critical reflection: over time, whilst doing the online course on narrative therapy (NT) the concept of externalising has become central in the NT discourse. Maybe it is just me, however, when Salome Raheim invited us learners to write about “Our privilege” as a critical reflection, I find this contradictory to externalising.

    1. If we are to externalise the problem “the problem is the problem, therefore my dominant story does not define me as a person, nor does my dominant story of privilege (assumed, or presupposed privilege) define me. How come Salome is asking us learner to internalise my/our presupposed privilege?

    Isn’t this oxymoronic? Internalising vs externalising?!?

    2. Given that I do not have any form of privilege as I am Asian, from non-English speaking background, immigrant, gay, with disability means I have only deficits! Yet she is inviting me to write about my privilege?!? What is the purpose of internalising presupposed privilege?

    3. Finally, some of us like myself have no privilege at all only deficits yet I knew along time ago that the only way I can make something of myself is by externalising my deficits and not internalise them. I got to where I am by seeing privilege as an external barrier.


    • Hi Donovan

      Thanks for your comment re the privilege project. We really appreciate your ‘critical thinking’ about it.

      I just searched that website page for the phrase ‘our privilege’ and it appears 5 times. Upon reflection, I think it’s a hazardous phrase as it could be read to imply some shared relationship to privilege (our). I don’t think this is what was intended by the use of that phrase but it could have that effect.

      I think that term ‘our privilege’ could also sound like an ‘ownership’ or as you say as something ‘inherent’ to the person. So in response to your thoughtful feedback, I’ve now deleted the ‘our’ in each of those 5 places!

      That project is certainly not trying to imply that people in different social locations share privileges, nor to ‘internalise’ privilege. If there are any other places where you think this comes across we’d be happy to re-look at these too.

      Thanks Donovan!

      Warmly, David D on behalf of Dulwich Centre

  305. Lindy here from Heathcote, Victoria. I loved the practices described here, and look forward to following up consultations with a letter documenting especially the preferred stories heard, and in such respectful ways. I was especially challenged to avoid ‘applause’ as it can be a form of judgment and set people up to strive to live by my standards and values. I currently work in peer support for mental wellness – something I believe in deeply, and learning that becoming a Narrative Therapist would still enable me to facilitate a form of this often through outsider witnesses is highly encouraging. I am also inspired by the power of metaphor in The Suitcase Project – such a creative way to help children recognise their own internal resources and values, and to remember them! A really great session.

  306. Hi Mark,

    Thanks very much for this presentation. It was so clear and easy to imagine how I might put it into practice. Easy to imagine but a little trickier to actually do!

  307. Really useful thoughts about responsibility and externalising. The idea that there might be culturally acceptable modes of being and investigating that as a way of offering ourselves to take a position towards that construct feels helpful when working with people who have been caught up in perpetrating violence towards self or others.
    Working with externalisation really seems to allow a richness of description that is person centred and thus able to be witnessed and explored. The problem may literally become an object, using art or modelling, that can be seen from many perspectives and placed in context.

  308. From what I can discern, the Narrative Metaphor has something to do with the way we tell our ‘problem’ saturated stories and how we start to link up a sequence of events that in turn get turned into a plot with a dominant theme. As the interview with Michael White stated, people don’t come in and say ‘depression,’ they talk about how over the last while they have been feeling depressed and then they list out events to provide evidence of this theme. the job of the Narrative Therapist is to build scaffolding that allows clients to step into less explored areas of their lives- to come up with a different narrative about their lives which will in turn affect the future actions they engage in. This is an incredibly ‘freeing’ concept to think about as it means there is more than one way to look at our past and present and future. It means that the trauma we have suffered does not have to be the dominant story that follows us around like a ball and chain.

    Kirsten Camartin MSW RSW DTATI
    Social Worker and Art Therapist

    • Im Kat from East Anglia, UK. I am a child and adolescent counsellor working in schools. I have found working in the metaphor in general to be very helpful with young people as it enables them to create some distance from the stories they are either describing or playing out with toys/games etc and for the stories to be thought about more comfortably without evoking shame and guilt.

      It is very helpful to add the extra dimension of narrative metaphor and consider how the story they are telling reflects a part of their personal truth in those moments. So often young people make themselves the centre (and therefore responsible) for the situation to make sense of what is happening around them. Being able to understand and actively encourage thickening and enriching of their stories feels like a huge privilege and important part of helping young people to develop and grow.

      Thank you Dulwich Centre for this course.

  309. (From France)
    I’ve found some similarities between some of the projects described in this chapter (particularly the Mt Elgon project) and Appreciative Inquiry. They both rely on positive foundations and focus on dreams.
    I look forward to studying the next chapter…

  310. It is so helpful to differentiate to between the parts of the problem that we can legitimately internalize (underlying legitimate needs, responsibility for consequences, etc.) and the parts of the problem that we can legitimately externalize (shame, culture of abuse, etc.). This is so incredibly helpful. Thank you!

  311. I have only just discovered the world of Narrative Therapy and am both inspired and excited by the discovery. I feel as though it’s something I’ve been looking for a long time.

    What struck me most about this first section: The Narrative Metaphor, was the Charter, this wonderful notion of formalising people’s rights to tell their stories. In a world where it frequently feels as though stories, like everything else are becoming homogenised; glossy packages produced by the media, or ‘thin’ versions dictated by powerful institutions, which allow for no deviations or detours, this Charter shines like a beacon of hope.

    Article 5 particularly, caught my attention with the phrase “…No one is a passive recipient of trauma.” It made me think about how many times individuals have been relied upon to be exactly that: passive and silent, because their stories may force uncomfortable truths from under cover, out into the open, truths which will demand a response. I thought also of how sometimes we are guilty of assuming we know the story before it has even begun to be told: the stereotyped ideas we may (subconsciously?) hold of the stories of, for example, the battered wife or the refugee and how these must be challenged.

    Like so many others, I am grateful to The Dulwich Centre for this course. I know already that I am all the better for having found it.

    North Wales

  312. (Writing from France)

    In this chapter, some parts were really pertinent to me, as I could link them to my professional experience. Others were less relevant to me, even if I can imagine situations where they would be relevant to other people.

    I already use some kind of “Letters recording a session”, from time to time. However, it’s not very common among my peers, and I sometimes wonder whether or not it’s a good initiative. Your documents show that other professionals are happy to use it, which strengthens my confidence on the topic. Thank you.

  313. Hello All, I’m Michael from Brisbane in Australia. I work with people reintegrating back into the community after traumatic injury that results in lifelong disability. I’m often surprised by the ‘thin’ stories people tell me about themselves and often how negatively these stories impact their recovery. Similarly I’m surprised how often that those around them support these stories, adding examples and detail.
    I have tried to find the exceptions to the ‘thin’ story (and as people strive towards recovery there are usually many exceptions) and help people reweave their narrative. I’m hopeful and excited that as this course progresses I’ll have a better understanding of the theory and practice of doing so.

  314. Hi, I’m writing from Paris, France.
    There were many interesting issues in this chapter. I’ll single out the part on “metaphors of combat in relation to the problem” in the FAQ part. I find the other available options very relevant (such as: revising one’s relationship with the problem, educating the problem, negotiating with the problem, organising a truce with the problem, taming the problem, undermining the problem…). Indeed, these alternative behaviours seem more efficient to me in certain circumstances.
    A similar metaphor would be swimming or diving: you don’t “fight” with the water; rather, you collaborate or play with it…

  315. Hi everyone,
    Thanks for the videos and the documents.
    I’m Loïc, a certified professional coach and a chartered engineer from France.
    In this chapter, there were some interesting ideas indeed, for instance the link between “narrative therapy” and how a writer builds characters, personal interactions, plots, and, sometimes, imaginary worlds and societies.
    On a personal level, it rang a bell on two antipodal levels:
    – An environment where logical (or even mathematical) processes are ubiquitous.
    – A regional background where imaginary explanations, even on very serious matters, are pervasive.
    I just need a little more time to join these dots (and others), hoping that the thread won’t be too thin…

  316. I really appreciate what I am learning from you and the Dulwich center. I love gaining tools for helping others to regain their stories and gain courage for writing new chapters!

    • Coming from the UK I am very interested in learning more about narrative therapy as we don’t really have any equivalent models for individuals. I have some experience with client’s life “scripts” and how stories are told and used in systemic counselling however, I have found the narrative approach has helped me to notice more deeply the stories my clients (I work in a school) believe about themselves. Working with young people I can sometimes see how the stories we come to believe in about ourselves can formed and that often the young person is identified by their problem or behaviour rather than as an individual who behaves in a certain way some of the time.

      I’m hoping to come and do the week intensive course soon so I can really begin to incorporate this way of working into my practice!

  317. Hi Carmen. I am a counsellor working in Victoria in community health with carers. My training and work draws on Narrative ideas and practices and I found your video very interesting and share the practice of letter writing and sharing our file notes with the people who attend counselling. I am particularly interested in the welcome to community letter and the point of highlighting the problem as the problem right up front. Thank you for sharing and looking forward to hearing more, Warm regards, Lesley

  318. Thank you Murisi, I want to thank you for your respectful honoring of the community that you work in, the people that you work with, the students who were with you on your learning journey (myself included). “If we know what our values are we have hope” – this resonated with me because it made me think about what my intentions in life are for myself. In my work I’m thinking about the actions of resistance that clients take to protect the values that they stand for.

  319. Melbourne, VIC., Australia – for me the black dog video was useful. It is useful as it helps to separate and externalise the depression. As someone that has worked in MH, AOD and trauma it is often difficult to separate the diagnostic illness based on medical model with the that of the social model. It is especially difficult to separate them when research into the brain and brain images has shown certain parts of the brain are affected by these diagnostic illnesses.

    Externalising/externalisation of the problem is something we/I use when working with sex offenders. I do some work in disability forensic assessment treatments system (DFATS) in this facility I would use neutral language and separate the person from his offending behaviours. For example, I would say (not real name) “I like this Tim (person), but I am concern about the behaviour Tim engages on”. This language is normally used as a strategy to engage client in safe talk and non-sexually charged conversation. Disassociation is often used to disassociate the person from the bad behaviour.

    This learning has helped me remember some of my previous university learning and professional training.

  320. Melbourne, VIC., Australia – Firstly, I have to acknowledge all the hard work Michael White and his colleagues put into formalising narrative therapy. For me who comes from a collective culture where we value both written and verbal history of my people, narrative therapy ressonates well with me. Foucault talked about the narrative of oneself… growing up I was taught verbal history handed down from one generation to another generation, which creates my personal identity of myself. So far into this module I learnt about learning and listening to storyteller’s narrative. Narrative therapy like family therapy looks at the external world and source the problem external to the person. I feel the current over empahisis on mental health (MH) takes away from the external workd’s culpability. But by listening to the narrative of the person we therapist can start to listen to the extentuating social, familial, and social issues that adds to the stress of everyday life. I would be interested to see how “Intersectionality approach” to therapy can benefit us practitioners. What I mean by intersectionality is when different factors intersect to look at “external & internal forces, and learnt behaviours”. I am enjoying it so far.

  321. Lindy here from country Victoria. I loved Barbara Wingard’s ‘Sugar’ exercise. Playing the part herself eased participants in, as we are all accustomed to being the audience to a performance in which things can be personified and caricatured – she used a familiar means to achieve externalisation. Making diabetes into a character seemed to give people the confidence they could get to know what it is all about (relating to characters being more familiar perhaps than studying a disease) and take charge of their own relationship with ‘Sugar’.

    I love the logic of the Statement of Position map and that having named a problem and its effects, the next step is to name your position toward the problem and how it sits among other values held. All of this is a wonderfully empowering process.

    In my context, a lot of people internalise diagnoses such as borderline, bi-polar, aspergers etc, which can seem to make problems even bigger and their effects more pervasive. I can see how externalising using experience-near language could reduce problems back to what is actually happening for each individual, so they can address problems they can more clearly see for what they are.

  322. I have found this section the most challenging and what will most likely be the most influential for my social work practice, particularly the engaging article causing me to analyse my own privilege and dominance and how this has influenced the way that I work.
    What stood out to me and what I will prioritise to assist me to grow was the importance of collaborative processes with clients and finding allies in this work who are willing to be vulnerable and reflective in order to engage in this thinking and put this into action.

    “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama

  323. What happens when your client is unable to describe or give a name to the problem? How do we help him/her?

  324. I have utilised the Tree of Life in direct work with individuals but have never had the opportunity to use it with a community or group. This may be interesting to explore in some of my work with Post Adoptive Children but also discussing potential use with refugee and asylum seeking children moving into the area (NW London, UK).

  325. Hi there Carry,

    I loved the language of this approach. I am currently looking into an approach for the team I work in (Perinatal Mental Health) to adopt with Mums who’s relationship with their baby is tricky. Thanks so much.

  326. In the past, in the context of work with children and families I have collaborated to produce a number of documents that focus our work together including recording goals, case plans, safety plans, strengths booklets, tree of life, etc.

    I really appreciated all resources in this section, but was particularly challenged and changed by Sue Mann’s article. Although I aim to be respectful in my record keeping, I see it would be not only utmost respectful, but in addition powerful to collaborate in recording case notes. A barrier that stands out initially is that although consulting with clients, I would at times need to share information that pertains to current risk of abuse/neglect that clients would not supportive of me sharing. This would lead into further conversation and exploration with the client prior to sharing, and aid in transparency when needing to make a mandated notification.

    The next steps I hope to take will be to start co-recording with children/families at the end of each meeting.

  327. Our lives are made of many stories that we have created by linking life events into various ‘plots’ that we (or others around us) have given certain meaning to. In doing this we neglect other life events that could have been formed into alternative plots or stories with different meaning. A thin (single) story allows little room to move. Stories that we identify as preferred or more empowering of preferred possibilities can be thickened by identifying more and more supporting evidence from life experiences until they become the dominant narratives from which we act in the future.

    This way of seeing lives – as multi-storied – may make it possible for me to explore people’s lives, my own included, with a degree of objectivity and critical thinking. How were the stories formed? Whose voices were given authority? What reasons might there be for settling for these particular conclusions? Are there other deep values that may have been buried out of sight? This narrative metaphor might make it possible to dislodge even firmly held stories that are in fact causing problems and keeping me or others stuck.

  328. Hello from London UK. My name is Dane. I love your video it really excites me. Thank you! I am emerging from just finishing a thesis on something we named ‘The Theatre of Life’ for young trans / gender non-conforming / non-binary young people. I have been taking some time off to rest since graduating in November 2017. I would very much like to connect your works and take the conversation forward! My thesis should be availbale online soon here:

    Mills, D D. (2017) The Theatre of Life: Collective Narrative Practice with Trans Young People in the Community. (Doctoral dissertation, University of East London). Available online: http://roar.uel.ac.uk/

  329. Hi my name is Jo. I live in Weston Super Mare in the UK. This material has been thought provoking. It has made me think about ideas of stories taking on a life of their own and how important it is to think about issues of power when listening to the stories that are being said or aired. How useful to be reminded of the wealth found in people being able to use their own words to describe their experience but also to remember that this can be difficult within the context of the marginalised voice or indeed if the language of your choice or at your disposal is one of gesture or image.
    I love the idea of a tapestry of stories and this reminds me of a short film I made with a group of people who had experienced living in long stay hospitals for people with “learning disabilities”. How I had been challenged by the recurrence of stories of friendship, playful defiance and love that emerged from within the stories of sorrow, loss and difference.

  330. Hi I am writing from Coffs Harbour NSW Australia.
    I found the outsider witness article was brilliant in raising my awareness of the fact it is essential to understand the importance of an outside witness, another person being able to enrich and add to the version of an individual persons recollection of a story that they may have previously blocked out of their mind. It gives a completely new and different perspective to help the individual.

  331. Hi Jocelyn
    Carolyn here in Adelaide. Im working with a team in Queensland to plan a childrens group and we will be looking at your project to build on their ideas. I shall let them know about your work and if it is ongoing. Maybe there are some ways the children might share their knowledges with kids in Singapore!

  332. Hi I’m Charna and I have recently completed a diploma in Alcohol and Other drugs. I have been fortunate enough to find a employment as a caseworker in a refuge for Women and Children affected by domestic violence.
    I value and appreciate the opportunity to be able to do this online course as I know I have alot to learn.
    The first chapter has already increased my knowledge and I am looking forward to what is next in this course.
    As emphasised in the Single Story video I now realise how easily we do and can pigeon hole ourselves and others into thin stories about who we and they are.

  333. Hello from Melbourne, Australia.

    I love the concept of narrative therapy because it is simple yet so powerful. It is not uncommon to become trapped in our internal dialogues and stories. By allowing ourselves the ability to re-authorize and challenge some of these stories, we can live our lives in a more nurturing/kind way. I was particularly interested in the way that something as subtle as allowing the client to fully describe the way their externalized problem manifests itself can be a truly empowering experience.

  334. Living documents are proven to be powerful to reminding people of their strengths and remind of accomplishments

  335. I’m Elena from Macedonia. I’m graduated psychologist and now I’m going to psychotherapy course for family and systematic psychotherapy. Part of the course is narrative therapy.

    I strongly agree with the part that we just have individual with problems and we need to see individual separately from the problem. I like the of de – construction of the story and funding new perspectives to see the the problem and make a re -construction. I found Chimamanda Adichie’s talk fascinating.

  336. Hello, here Diana from Bogotá, Colombia. I work at an educational context, and for me it has been a project that I have in mind to star groups with parents and teachers, in order to promote places in which they can listen to others and also share their stories and experiences. Here in Colombia, I believe groups are not a tool yet, actually it is difficult to find therapists who take the risk of working with groups with a collaborative perspective. So, I believe this is a big challenge in my context, and I fin very important to have always in mind a local perspective in order to take into account the needs of each context.Thanks!

  337. Hi, I’m Silvia, a psychologist working in NSW. Just started this course and already loving it.

    The idea of who we are being a tapestry of stories is just so liberating. I mainly work with two different populations: adolescents and carers of children with special needs. Going through the first chapter of this course encouraged me to write a post on my facebook page directed for carers. In my experience, carers often find it very difficult to tell others when there are so many struggles in their lives. It’s not surprising, they fear judgment and rejection. However, what the concept of narrative therapy shows very clearly is that when we give preference to one side of the story, to the single story, we risk losing our dignity, it’s like us invalidating our own struggles, our pain, our not so colourful stories. By doing that, people can protect themselves of being judged, but they don’t acknowledge that our stories are composed of good and bad, of black and white, of dark and light. We must tell many stories in order to get the big picture, otherwise we become monochromatic in our existence.

    Loved the Ted Talk from Chimamanda Adichie, just so powerful. And so true in every way, loved the quote “When we reject the idea that there’s no single story for anything, we regain a kind of paradise.” When we do that, we allow ourselves to be the full picture.

    And I wish I will be able to utilise that concept in my work, to show to people that we are the results of many stories.

  338. One of the aspects that connected with me during this chapter was that therapists are often perceived to have the power, the expertise, in the therapeutic relationship. Building on the ideas of cultural equity, the therapist should take responsibility for deconstructing this imbalance in collaboration with the client. Examining the assumptions that influence people’s view on therapists and deconstructing them to create space for collaborative work with the client as the primary author.

  339. London, Ontario, Canada. I am enthralled with the power of story. I have been a part of patient self management collective story projects where people with chronic disease share in their success of disease management. I will continue to use this method in my nutrition counseling groups to have us be collective inspired for change.

  340. Writing from regional NSW, Aus. I found this week very encouraging and a breath of fresh air in regards to a totally different aspect that I had known little about prior to the session.
    I really enjoy the creativity behind narrative therapy and how open to interpretation it is based on the presenting client’s needs. I enjoyed the suitcase metaphor as I believe that it is straightforward and something that my younger clients would resonate with.
    I also enjoyed the outsider-witness reading. I believe that this could be extremely helpful with the young clients that I see where it can be difficult to involve families. With further development of my skills and introduction to others on the team I believe we could see this style of therapy flourish in our workplace.

  341. Hi everyone,
    I’m coming from Strathmore, Canada. I found this lesson to be interesting and also very thought provoking. I appreciated how the readings also discussed how it can be difficult to acknowledge ones privilege and often how this is used to shame oneself or others. One thing I always have struggled with is where do we go from here, we know we have privilege and often our programs are developed out of this, but how do we change? if we adopt another cultural or groups practice, are we then providing their views as privileged over another group that was not chosen as representation? Personally, I do not think these are questions that can really be answered, however I do believe being aware of engaging in conversations is necessary, even if we will never truly as a world escape these confines, as one group history or values become present for description and development of a program.
    Another aspect I struggle with is in acknowledging how a ‘white’ privilege view has over taken much and in effect impacts choice to go to war or enact views on another group. An example, would be the view that girls have a right to education, in a Western, White view the answer is a resounding yes, however, there are cultures that answer this question no. Is it our right as a dominant group to enforce our view on this question on another culture, because we feel they are wrong and dictate reasons of ‘human rights’ and ‘equality’, who defines ‘human rights’.
    I know my opinion on this, however in acknowledging my privilege and historical values, I know that my opinion is one that is based in a ‘white, dominant’ view. So the question becomes do I have a right to stand by my opinion in promoting girls going to school, or am I enforcing my privilege on another of differing cultural view?

  342. This session was very useful. I use therapeutic letters in my practice but this approach to documenting through writing letters as a possible ongoing dialogue is very useful. I also like the journey mapping and banner making in the suitcase project and will utilise something similar in group interventions.

  343. As an educational and child psychologist in the UK I have found externalising questions to be very valuable for work with teenagers who have challenging behaviour arising from a complex mix of difficult lives and individual special educational needs. Having a chart to help visualise this is helpful.
    I also feel the black dog video will be extremely useful in terms of supporting young adults and parents to access support for depression, but also to begin to explain the narrative approach to young people.

  344. Hi, I’m writing from Tokyo, Japan.
    Practicing externalization helps me focus on the dangers of reproducing dominant cultures and power relations. Those would deprive me of the privilege of being part of another person’s journey.

    When I talk with a client whom I have come to assume is being delusional or blaming others unreasonably, I am often tempted to focus on how I can, by forming “logic-based” questions in my mind, get him/her to see “reality.” This attitude automatically creates a power relation in which the client is treated as less knowledgeable about his/her own life than the counsellor. Also, that kind of question rarely leads to a journey the client truly wants to take ownership of, since it is the counsellor who has decided the destination. On the other hand, I have found that externalizing conversations can create a safe space for the client to freely examine whether his/her beliefs benefit his/her own life and how he/she wants to proceed. I may ask, “how do you describe your relationship with that idea?” or “how does it influence your life?” As I get to hear the intimate descriptions of the client’s relationship with certain ideas or problems, I gain the privilege of being invited into the client’s life. This opens the door for both of us to embark on our collaborative work together.

  345. Seattle, USA. I really enjoyed the story about the fear of the pants falling down. Often times as a new therapist, my supervisors have warned us about self-disclosure. I liked what occurred in the transcript. By the therapist self-disclosing, it made him seem more human and it did break down that power differential many of our clients are afraid of. I think it helped the client to open up more.

    • Paris, France.
      I had exactly the same reaction. A sparkle of self-disclosure can sometimes break the professional / patient mould and allow the person to open up. Understanding that the “professional” is neither omniscient nor omnipotent may also help to overcome a sentiment of shame.
      Thanks for this chapter and thanks Gwendolyn (by the way, a name which means “sacred circle / ring” or “white moon” in my ancestors’ language).

      • Loic,

        That is a quite good piece of information: The meaning of the name of the person above.

        Gwendolyn = Sacred circle / ring or white moon!

        I’ll be sharing it with every famele person I get to know with this name !

        Thank you both of you!

  346. Seattle, USA. I had never really thought about using therapeutic ideas in the context of engaging a whole community in terms of positive social change. I found this quite interesting. I like that one aspect of this technique was goal-oriented, and encouraged work towards goals.

  347. Hello, My name is Jamieson. I am a new social worker, working in community palliative care. From the readings, I understand the narrative metaphor to be an approach to the therapeutic conversation which focuses on how we as humans we tell stories as a way to make meaning about our lives. These meanings are crucial to how we see ourselves and how we see and act in the world. It reminds me of the idea of Songlines- that we sing the world into existence. Narrative metaphor allows us as therapists to assist clients to see new stories and meanings, uncovering lost hopes and dreams, based on the lived and neglected events that do not accord with their dominant story. It also seems to highlight the universal within the personal. Quite lovely.

  348. Tina – Coffs Harbour NSW
    I was particularly drawn to Aunty Barbara Wingard and how she does not label her meetings with others as counselling but sitting together to tell their stories. It allows people to feel free to discuss their feelings and be honest and open without feeling judged.
    I also love her quote: “It’s important for us as Aboriginal people to make the links between justice and grief. We need the
    injustices addressed so that we can grieve our losses. We need our stories told and acknowledged.
    Working on our grief in these ways is working towards justice”.

  349. I have enjoyed this module of the course. I too am familiar with the concept of externalization, however, I have not had this much of a description of it. I like how externalization can help separate the individual from the problem.. like they are not the problem, the problem is the problem. I know for many clients this notion alone will mean a lot. I also like how this makes the individual an expert of that problem.

  350. Hello to all. I am Zahra from Mashhad Iran. Thank you for holding this course free of charge. I think that narrative therapy is a great way for people who resist in counseling and treatment sessions,With this indirect method, people find themselves responsible for their own problems and With the help of counselor they can replace their stories with effective and good stories.

    I think various thin descriptions and conclusions can make worse problems, although alternative stories can reduce the influence of problems and create new possibilities for living.

    • Hello, I am writing from Seattle, USA. I really enjoyed learning about the narrative metaphor. I especially enjoyed the dot animation. I am seeing now how narrative therapy can help to change people’s lives and how it is important to help the client see other aspects of their story.I really enjoyed reading and watching aspects of the externalizing aspect.

  351. Katherine from Mb Canada, critical thinking be it in practise or in daily life is very challenging and reading the material here does inspire me to look more closely at my own views of critical thinking and how it affects and hinders my walk as a learner in the field of Social Work

  352. Katherine from Mb Canada…this quote caught my attention, by Campbell and her colleagues, ” we facilitate new and transformative meanings that inspire hope and reconciliation”; isn’t what we all want in helping others.

  353. this is Katherine from Mb Canada…”Not only are we telling our stories differently, but we are listening differently too. We are listening for our people’s abilities and knowledges and skills. We’ve been knocked so many times that we often don’t think very well of ourselves. But we’re finding ways to acknowledge one another and to see the abilities that people have but may not know they have. Without putting people on pedestals, we are finding ways of acknowledging each others’ stories of survival”. from Aunty’s article; speaks to me very clearly, and the narrative approach allows a gentle way to speak to the pains, losses and moves the process into a path of healing

  354. interesting article on Friere, what I got from this was his view on critical education. Friere’s method of critical education is described in terms of Critical pedagogy, a teaching method that helps in challenging social oppression, customs and beliefs. Leads to questioning society on their views of the role of education in society. This is how I understood it maybe someone can elaborate on it.

  355. the danger of a single story as discussed in the video was very interesting-sometimes the stories we internalize actually belongs to a grand narrative.

  356. love the concept of the problem is the problem and not the individual

  357. Hi everyone, I come from Strathmore (in Alberta) Canada. In reading the article discussing the CARE initiative I was greatly intrigued. I found it to be a very interesting way to bring the community into involvement and encouraging them to take charge of making change and understanding why change is needed. One thing I do wonder is how this would play out in a different context, such as in Canada where the culture is more individualistic and less focused on community. I do believe that community is needed and feel it is something that has been lost in the recent individualistic push to survival. I really enjoyed this lesson through the encouragement of the various ways innovative methods can take, helps me feel that I can change/create methods based in a Narrative approach that are specified to my locale of an individualistic but small town community.

  358. thank you so much for your video. i really loved the nuro typical diagnostic rave. so great and so funny. actually your information was fantastic on a few levels for me – i loved hearing the discourse about hearing voices as well. thanks so much for your inspiration.

  359. Thank you so deeply for this meaning making between the body/ soma and narrative. I very much like the idea of how the body is part of the story and thinking about how so often it is left behind.. It is so helpful to link these concepts as I am a beginning therapist working to learn both these ways of having conversation and have them be integrated in meaningful and ethical way. I am interested in hearing more about how you arrive in collaborative conversation at these mindful moments early on in your dialogue with people, without using it as a “expert”way of engaging? I hope that question makes sense, and I’m happy to rephrase if it doesn’t.

    • Apologies for taking so long to respond Jean Marie! I much appreciate your interest.
      Great question about how to transition into mindfulness/narrative. Like narrative questions, there have to be certain conditions before inviting people into these practices. There is a necessary timing and a receiving context. And like narrative therapy questions, mindfulness can be embraced, modified or declined. There is no assumption that attending to somatic expressions of the problem or the preferred will be helpful. Well, there’s a lot more of course 🙂
      All the best

  360. One thing that I have always struggled with externalization has been the use of it, in cases of violence and abuse when working with the actor of abuse. I liked how Mark Hayward described externalizing the emotion and understanding the why, but not removing the responsibility around the behaviour that occurs. One of my biggest fears has been using externalization and having it used to create an excuse and thus remove responsibility. Rather than demonstrating that change is possible.
    Alberta, Canada

  361. Hi, I’m Fleur from Brisbane. I found the sharing of stories between communities in Port Augusta and Arnhem Land quite profound to read and I feel very grateful to those communities for sharing these stories with the wider community. What a beautifully responsive process – the way that stories shared prompted more stories. I really got a glimpse of the power of outsider witnessing and I feel really excited about the potential in these practices. It sounded like such a gentle, healing process and must have been very moving for all involved. The poems written by community members towards the end were very beautiful. I love the metaphor of being lost in the darkness and hearing the sound of the frogs, guiding people to the water. It’s inspiring to me to read about people being patient, thorough and really listening to each other, really wanting to understand one another and allowing the space for relationships to unfold.

  362. Today we watched your video.

    Some of us clapped when it finished. Some of us said, ‘Sounds good!’

    We all liked different things:

    • One of us liked the story of when the waves were too strong. That story is a reminder for all of us of what lies ahead and how we can get through hard times. It’s like a message of resilience.

    • I liked how the video talks about the ways you deal with people’s attitudes. We have to do that a lot. Sometimes I want to educate people. Other times I just want to go away … or for them to go away!

    • I liked how the video was not censored. When people react to us in public it is not censored so our feelings shouldn’t be censored either . As our culture becomes more sanitised, then it gets harder for those of us who don’t fit a sanitised world.

    • I liked when it said ‘adversity is power’. Sometimes pain and anguish can be a resource. That’s not necessarily the case for everyone. It’s not a should. Everyone is different.

    • And one of us really liked the tram – anyone can ride on a tram in a wheelchair or not.

    Thank you for your video. It reminds us that we are not the only one these things happen to.

    We also have ways of dealing with the loneliness of winter, or with other hard times.

    Here are some of our tips:

    1. Some of us use creative writing, acting or music.

    2. Having a support network around us makes a difference.

    3. We’ve tried to find an outlet that works for us. We used trial and error to do this.

    4. More than one of us watched horror movies. These can make us feel better. In some way it’s like eating your feelings! Maybe one day we can make another film what a tub of ice-cream with ‘eat your feelings’ on it .

    5. A cat in winter can help to keep you warm. Its body heat can warm your legs and a cat can also provide entertainment. It’s good to have someone to laugh at.

    6. A cat or dog is also someone who can listen to us. A Labrador doesn’t necessarily talk back to you but it does know when I am upset. She comes up to me, looks at me, wanting to help. And she listens. Actually any animal can do this, not just pets. One us finds birds very comforting.

    These are just some of our ideas for getting through winter … or for dealing with hard things. Some of us are looking forward to when it gets hotter and we want to have a cool drink or ice-cream.

    And we are also looking forward to what other people think about your video … people with disabilities and people without disabilities.

    We look forward to hearing.

    Today we watched your video.

    Some of us clapped when it finished.

    Some of us said, ‘Sounds good!’
    From the Julia Farr Youth Peer Support Network.

    PS. Angus, we don’t want to give you too much of a big head but your delivery was profound and the message was really significant.

  363. Hello, everyone. I’m writing from Tokyo, Japan.
    I find the narrative metaphor valuable not only in counselling settings, but also in interactions with people in everyday life. It reminds me to ask myself: Am I casually passing judgements on others based on socially prescribed standards? For me it is a constant reminder to be more aware of whether my attitude is fair. Also, with this awareness, the narrative metaphor provides me opportunities to appreciate the uniqueness of individuals and find beauty in each person.

  364. Emily, psychotherapist in Austin, TX – I am so glad to read Leonie’s piece! Understanding post-structuralism can be a big task, but incorporating the notion that truly, there are no underlying core truths a person must embody to be fulfilled is validation of a point I’ve always tried to hold close.

    I give this example in session – that at first, an athlete might compare themselves to others – an Olympic runner might at first be competing against faster runners. In time, they might be competing against the recorded times of the very fastest runners. But eventually, they might truly reach the pinnacle of their profession and have only themselves to beat. Do they stop? Of course not! The goal for the runner is always faster, even if they are beating their own time.
    In the therapy room, we identify measuring growth from one’s own measuring stick: if you started a day at 0, getting to 3 is a great day! If you started at 9.9, are you happy? Is 10 the only opportunity for you to feel content? Why is that?

    Thanks for covering this!

  365. Form me, as a therapist the chart was a particularly interesting resource. This, because it allows me to go back to conversations and think again and again, which I believe is a powerful tool in order to construct new meanings. In the chart, the questions about positions are very powerful; this allows entering other levels in therapeutic conversations.
    In Colombia I work in different contexts, specifically in educational and clinical environments; I think issues that could be externalized in these contexts are related to what parents and schools create around kids and their feelings, behavior, and academic results; it is very common that kids are being labeled all the time; Which means that parents, schools and the kids themselves do not have any possibilities for change. I believe that externalizing is powerful resource in these contexts, because it opens up possibilities that are being invizibilized by families and schools; It creates new doors, new ways of living for children.
    I also believe that in my country there are many contexts in which this resource would be very useful to create enviroments of new conversations between people.

  366. Hi, I am writing from Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia.
    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?
    The narrative suitcase really resonated with me as I work with people who have suffered severe trauma and who are often stigmatised by the general community. The dominate story often leaves the clients feeling hopeless and helpless and does not let them see beyond the trauma they have suffered and the way others see them. Using the narrative suitcase would allow my clients to capture their stories and see their strengths, who has been a support for them, what has worked for them previously and what causes them to return. I think this tool would work for all age groups, genders and situations.

  367. Hi, I am from Sydney and I have found the idea of using externalising really useful when helping clients through their problems. It has been very helpful to let them see that their problem is not part of them but that it is outside of themselves. Also, I have found letting the clients become the expert in their own lives has been very useful.
    We have found ways in their own lives where they have found a way out of a problem and fixed it and so this has helped us to look for other ways where they can help themselves and so give them the strength they need to move forward.

  368. The idea of getting someone to teach you a complicated skill to give you something to concentrate on and work towards when you’re feeling stressed or angry is a really good one! Thanks for the tip!

  369. Good afternoon, I am Diana, from Colombia. I have been very excited about this online course; it has been very interesting for me. As a therapist, I think the narrative metaphor as a possibility, a possible path to go along with each person who comes seeking for wellness. It is a tool for working, dialoguing, thinking and living. Narrative metaphor could be a way of thinking how we build our present, past and future, how we describe our life, how we attribute meanings and live through and across them; a way of thinking us and thinking others.

  370. Hi, I would just like to say these ideas of critical thinking has been a real eye opener for me as I have never really been a critical thinker. But this has made me more curious and to be stop and think ideas through more constructively and not to just take things at face value. I have really enjoyed the readings on privilege as well and for me helps in my work as well when I counsel people from India or someone from a similar background, it helps me see what struggles they go through and now I am able to recognize this more which is very beneficial to say the least.

  371. Hello All!

    Some interesting comments below. Thought I would try and contribute.

    I guess what strikes me after reading / watching this introductory material is the challenge of combining sincereity and genuine interest in the client’s story with noticing the unsaid or alternative meanings. It is always an interesting challenge to acknowledge a client’s perceptions of their problems while facilitating the right environment for them to explore alternatives in a manner that does not make them feel isolated from the counsellor. The dot exercise uses very accessible imagery to show the validity of multiple stories at one time, and I guess this provides me with comfort that the client still has the power to identify alternative stories relevant to them and their current situation (there is probably more than one valid narrative). Overall, the Narrative Metaphor would seem applicable to multiple therapeutic / counselling frameworks.

  372. To answer the question, what might thinking about stories in this way make possible for you, I think that working in the narrative therapy tradition with clients opens a whole new world of possibilities for clients who label themselves “depressed” or “disabled.” I am a clinical mental health counseling trainee (just started seeing clients in August) in Texas and as much as I love Carl Rogers, we weren’t making progress with person-centered counseling (I’m not saying it can’t be done!). It was exciting to see how clients started to think about their lives differently as we thickened their alternative story.

  373. I really liked the presentation of “The Black Dog” visually externalising depression.This may give a pe3rson the ability to seek professional help and begin their own recovery.
    I will source this tool to show people who may be experiencing Depression.

  374. The notion of being cultural receivers of suffering is intriguing to me. The sense of linking the understanding of someone’s difficulty to their conditions and they society they inhabit is relevant to my work with older adults. Their loneliness, isolation, disability, and mental health history all have a context. I was inspired by the authenticity of building transformative “therapies” out of the strengths, values, and knowledges that already exist in communities. There is something liberating about the notion that therapies might not be universal or contextless. That therapeutic effectiveness might depend on more than the characteristics of the therapy, but also require attention to the person, their context, their society, their history. It means that change (or non-change) is not due solely to the therapist or the therapeutic fidelity.

    I am interested in experimenting with paying closer attention to the histories of the older adults I work with, in order to understand their needs better.

  375. Hi from Sydney, Australia.
    I wonder about writing letters based on conversations. It will be important for me to consider how to have conversations that will mean these letters are read, instead of ending up in the hall drawer.
    One idea that really stuck out was around David’s caution in documenting Maree’s and Beth’s reflections and knowledges around self-harm, where the documents could be experienced as negativity or criticism if read by members of the care teams in their lives. David was also sensitive about avoiding centring himself as the ‘only understanding one’. These reflections demonstrate an explicit reflective practice around ensuring that the young people continued to have quality, supportive relationships with their team. At the same time, I was struck by David’s way of viewing their communication about their needs in the relationship as essential too.
    In addition, I was hit by the notion of “avoiding applause” in answer to question 6, “Hazards of outsider witnessing”. It would be valuable to pay close attention to when I am applauding a client, because I think being perceived as patronizing/judgemental is a significant risk in my practice. I also believe it would connect me to my own values and the meaning of my life experiences by considering, when someone discusses their experiences, how I am moved, touched, encouraged, or inspired by their story.

  376. I have found the teachings of Narrative Therapy to be a very respectful approach to therapy which centres people as the experts within their own lives. Separating problems from people and empowering people to see their own abilities which can help to assist the person to reduce the impact the problems are having within their lives.

  377. I enjoyed listening to the single story discussion and how stereo types can be formed from listening to only one description of a race country or individual person. There is a need of numerous stories to create a balance and understanding. It is seen that people are the experts in there own lives and have the ability to find their own answers.All stories influence life and the effects.

  378. I enjoyed the video about the “Single Story”. Too many times people are thought of as only having a single story however we should all know from our own lives that we have multiple stories to tell. As a DV Caseworker, I get to hear the stories from women and children and I get to see how people hearing their stories often only hear the single story and not the journey that these women have been through to get to where they are today.

  379. Thanks, Ian, for sharing ways that you are ‘mingling’ Mindfulness and Narrative therapy practices.
    I’m a keen student of both Buddhist-inspired meditation practices and Narrative practices, and I often think they have a lot in common – that my interest in both comes from the same place, a concern for a kind and respectful exploration of people’s local and particular experiences and knowledges. I do agree that Mindfulness and Narrative practices can support each other. In fact, I really think we’re missing something if we don’t enquire about what our body ‘knows’! This reminds me of a couple of workshops at the 2nd European conference of Narrative therapy in Barcelona, 2016, that described ways of bringing together body/ movement and narrative; also of Sarah Walther’s ideas about ‘re-membering our bodies’.
    I’d be interested to know more about how you do the moving back and forth between the somatic and storying, and what effects this has for the person at the centre. Have you, or are you thinking of writing up any accounts of this work?
    Thanks, again. Your talk encourages me to keep on exploring ways to bring mindfulness of body to narrative, and narrative to body.

    • This reply has been a long time coming Jude! Apologies. I much appreciate your interest.
      I am writing on this work and hope to publish in the nearish future. Also I have been offering training for many years on this kind of integration. Please do get in touch at [email protected] if you want to keep in contact.

  380. Dear Dulwich Centre,

    May I first pay my respects to and acknowledge the welcoming and wise invitation from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders who represent the first sovereign nation of this land, and who are the spiritual and traditional owners of this country. Thanks also to the Dulwich Centre and the folks who have initiated this important project.

    I also wish to express my disappointment and disagreement with the decision of Malcolm Turnbull and the group of whitefella politicians to reject a proposal for the establishment of a First Nations voice to be enshrined in the constitution of Australia.

    I am a whitefella man who was born and bred on Darumbal land in Central Queensland. My ancestors came from Cornwall, England, Ireland, China and Norway in the 1800s. There are many reasons my heart is called to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The strongest reason in my heart today relates to what I have learned with and from Australia’s First Nations people. I have been very fortunate to spend time with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander folk who have shared with me much knowledge, value and skill about ways of living. In particular these folk have taught me profound understandings of respect, at a level I never could have understood without these interactions. I think most Australians would agree that our parliament could benefit from some of these important lessons in respect, and if parliamentarians acted in more respectful ways to each other, to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and to all people in this country and indeed the world, a lot more could be achieved and many people would be much have much safer and healthier lives.

    With respect and hope
    troy holland

  381. I am from Whitby, Canada and I am a Child and Family Therapist working in private practice. With the focus in the collaborative process of centering the client as the expert in their own life. I struggle when clients are insistent on me being the expert and insistent that I give them ways to cope with their problem as this is why they have come to see me. How is the best way to support this scenario from a Narrative Therapy perspective?

  382. I found the idea of collaborating with the person to determine what to write on their records to be very interesting. I wonder if there would be pushback from organisations though, some may not feel that this practice was appropriate. However, it is a fantastic idea that I would be keen on trying out. At the very least, the idea put forward by Sue Mann that you should not write anything in client records that you would not be willing to say outright to the client is a valuable one to keep with you. It requires courage to say something to someone’s face, and if you are prepared to do that, I feel that you can feel safer that you are working in their best interest.

  383. Thank you for the insightful story of Sue, the chart helped to follow the dialogue.

  384. I found the takeaway from the transcript of Michael’s conversation with Sam superficially comical, but ultimately profound. In my professional life, I have worked mostly with teenagers, and have watched at times as other educators respond to students–especially disruptive students–in a manner similar to how the other therapists in Sam’s setting were regarding patients experiencing psychosis, as “the other.” I have also witnessed this othering in my sustained work with a young man living with Down syndrome, by simply experiencing his life with him in public contexts. But in these settings, rather than go along with the othering, I have seen success in reversing power dynamics to the advantage of the relationship by placing power, trust, and responsibility into the hands of teens, or the young man that I look after. This does the crucial work of dissolving the wall between the therapist, educator, or caretaker and “the other,” until there is no longer an aspect of othering at play.

  385. Love this anthem. Posting it on facebook. Going to play it in to start the day in my office every morning. Going to ask if we can listen to it before meetings.

  386. Oh wow, what a good video! You certainly speak with courage, and I was thinking how useful your words are, particularly about the team to help support you.
    Thank you, for making this video.

  387. How beautiful are these words. I am grateful for these young peoples’ voices, recorded for me to share with young people I work with. The simple messages are profound. I loved watching you trek up the path to Mt Lofty, it is like a metaphor for moving forward, for moving on. Thank you so much for making this video.

  388. Hi, I’m Fleur from Brisbane, Australia. I work as a counsellor with youth and write poetry when the mood strikes. I see narrative metaphor as a way of engaging hope, inspiration and creativity. It can wake us up when we’re getting tired. When we describe something we’ve experienced using metaphor, we put on a costume and start acting out what we’re trying to describe. The costume is liberating! It’s magic! We have one foot in our real world and one foot in our dream world.
    Metaphor can feel so gratifying, when you find the one that really works – when tested out, can hold the complexity of the issue. It seems to align the issue with patterns of natural phenomena which takes it out of the self and into something like a fable. When someone uses metaphor to describe something to
    someone else, they leap into that space together!

  389. I was particularly drawn to some words in Aunty Barb Wingard’s paper, Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger. The quote “But silent cries can go on for years and be heard by no-one. They can eat away at a person’s spirit.” (p2) neatly sums up how the Western culture of squash it down is instilled in us and we have come to expect it from all others. I think as a culture we have started to try and move away from this idea, however I believe it will be a long hard road.

  390. For 60+ years I have had the benefit of living in this wonderfully diverse country. I am aware that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have had to endure dispossession,death and alienation from their countries. And, that their cultures have been appropriated and disrespected. I commit to walking with you and being guided by your wisdom as to the best way forward for us as one nation among many. I thank you for your generosity of spirit in inviting me to walk with you in a movement that will create a better future for all of us.

  391. The question of how to apply the externalizing theory to my own practice is interesting; because many of my clients are gamers – LARPers, video or board gamers – this concept is already accessible to them. They already know how to pretend to be soldiers, orcs or zombies – getting them to see that a problem can be a cloak they try on and take off instead of innately part of themselves works wonderfully.
    -Emily; Austin, TX

  392. Loved this way to overcome trauma and difficult situations through the successful stories in the family of origin. I’m now thinking on how to apply it to children and teenagers, victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation in impoverished areas in my country. I believe learning from their relatives and even some significant adults in their communities, might help them to overcome trauma and grow from it.

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience Ms. Yael!

  393. I am from Whitby, Canada and I am a Child and Family Therapist working in private practice. The ideas of co-research, and inviting the suggestions and ideas of clients resonated with me. I find clients appear often surprised when I ask them for their input on achieving treatment goals, when we re-evaluate how things are going in sessions, what is different/changed in their lives, and what has been helpful and not helpful in the sessions. The readings in this lesson have helped to give me confidence in this way of working, as the client’s surprise when I elicited this information had me second guessing this approach.

  394. Thank you very much for publicizing your collaborations Ryan! I found the Rappelling Metaphor particularly helpful in viewing spirituality and agency. I also really appreciate and admire your conscious de-centering, especially in your dual role as a pastor. Thanks for taking the time to do this afternoon.

  395. Jerome (LONDON) I find the post-structuralist philosophy as being the most helpful thing in terms of critical thinking. Now that I question the given truths and accepted truths , this allows me to be more intellectually critical of research and of theories. Most importantly it means that I am listening to people more in a constructive critical way so that some of their own unhelpful truths might be called in to question. I definitely want to read up more on the philosophy.

  396. Dear friends,

    the life-saving tip that stood out for me was “water can mentally bring you fresh ideas and can help you forget hard times”. This part evokes an image in my mind…An image of young people, who are already experienced sailors surviving daily the storms of ocean. It seems to me like they have developed a secret language, “the language of water” I would say, that allows them to get the spirit of the sea, to interact with the water, to de-code the wisdom it carries from so many years of existence in the earth and be open to the fresh ideas it brings.

    This image resonates with my own experiences all these times that I felt lonely, lost, worried and anxious and I went down to the beach. I remember the sense of fresh air in my cheeks, I remember watching the playful waves and looking at the open horizon. Water reconnects me with my family roots (many of them were fishermen and immigrants), and it re-alive a sense of freedom and safety to me. It helps me to feel and think fresh.

    You stories reminded me the skills of speaking the “language of water” and the importance of hope in my life. They also made me think that whenever I look at the sea, I will know from now on that somewhere in the other side of the horizon, I’m connected with other your people through the fresh ideas that water brings us.

    I work with young people who are also sailors in the ocean of depression. Since we live in a seaside city in Greece and water is a big part of our history, for most of the people I meet, water is related to stories from their lives and our elders. I’d love to show them this video! I’m so curious to ask them how it might linked them to their own stories of survival.

    Thank you so much for sharing your hard-won knowledges! I really appreciate the fresh air you brought to my life and work with your contributions.


  397. I’ve had my anticipation built up since I first heard about this compiling of young people’s knowledges a few years ago & am glad that it’s come to fruition! So often young folks get portrayed as having lesser knowledge than adults or none at all.I especially like that this is a “living document” that will continue to flower! I’m glad as an adult to be a recipient of these treasures & as a purveyor to others!

  398. I have had an introduction to Narrative therapy and externalising conversations through my Counselling degree already. However, point 10 in the Commonly Asked Questions page made something click for me. I did not realise that externalising our good qualities was just as desirable as those of our bad. The whole externalisation process allows for greater examination of what we believe about ourselves. The same process that weakens an undesirable trait, that of examining the relationships and beliefs that have allowed it to flourish, can be used to strengthen a desirable trait. By understanding how you have come to develop this trait, it can become stronger during the times you are struggling to connect to it. Its foundations become more solid. This gave me a deeper understanding of externalisation and its power.

    • Indeed, externalising a problem can be so powerful. I can see how the externalisation method can work, in the context of play therapy as a child practitioner. The externalisation of the problem through play takes off the pressure of blame, guilt and shame and other negative emotions. It also promotes reflection and a shift of how the problem is viewed. It also allows children to be creative about dealing with the perceived issue. When children externalise their worries or emotions a sense of relief can be seen and humour. This method seems to be more effective and compassionate than pathologising children and adults equally.

      • I’m interested in the idea of externalising “good” qualities as well as “bad” ones too. I like the way it shifts the focus away from encouraging a sense of identity based on good and bad and labelling ourselves as this or that, which can be so narrowing and can encourage us to compare ourselves with others. It seems to open things up and acknowledge that we all have the potential for all kinds of thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behaviours and that we are not those things, we are the experiencer – the perceiver and actor. I can see this being helpful in my work with adolescents who have developed a strong habit of defining themselves by the mental health diagnosis they’ve been given.

      • Through my experience in training I worked with children dealing from sexual abuse trauma. With one I was amazed to see how helpful allowing her to naturally externalize through the use of toys assisted in her discussing the trauma. It removed the shame of what had happened in that it was the doll that it happened to rather than the child. I’m curious to see through my journey as a practitioner how age plays a factor in natural externalization.

  399. Dear Eunjoo
    I liked your introduction regarding social and cultural discourses and the fact that although some may be powerful, they often contain diverse and sometimes contradictory strands and are seldom uncontested – giving openings for deconstruction that is meaningful to ‘clients’. Your presentation was also helpful since I find some narrative concepts rather slippery and at the same time feel they could be imposed rather than used to open space for the other. Your presentation not only sets out a clear framework, but also illustrates how that is used in therapy, while maintaining an awareness of and actively working against the potential of the therapist to impose a particular narrative, rather than allow for the creation of a narrative fitting the person. Your use of notes as a way to suggest further avenues to explore and to consolidate alternative narratives is right on the mark!

    Thank you

  400. I enjoyed this talk linking up many aspects of narrative work. This has helped to label and name what we can do in therapy to build new narratives – namely noticing and highlighting the small acts of standing up to problems. I particularly liked how this was linked to a standing up to more culture-wide injustice and prejudice.

  401. Hi, I’m a sexual assault counsellor from Brisbane.
    I particularly enjoyed the charter about Narrative Justice.
    I deal with this type of situation on a daily basis and found the story-telling rights were helpful to start conversation with young women.

  402. This is quite fantastic and a great step into housing kid-acquired, kid-friendly, wisdom. Bravo for this.

  403. I see the Narrative Metaphor as an opportunity to give the self a voice. I support people in their quest for a career and so often i hear things like .. Mum thought i would be a good Teacher … My Sister is the smart one, i could never get into Uni .. Women didn’t do that in my day etc etc .. Narrative therapy helps my clients to discover other notions about themselves and the contributions they can make.

  404. This has been my favourite week so far! I love the idea of letters, how powerful to encourage and bear witness in the therapeutic context in this way, definitely this is something I will be using!

    • Writing from Wagga Wagga Australia. Within my context of practice, letter writing is the more resonant type of documentation that some clients (adults) could find useful, particularly around a position that the person has taken in relation to an externalised problem and their future self and story telling in the form of art for both adults and children. Writing is not for every person due to their commitment and time, but certainly this chapter motivated me to use these practices more often.

  405. I have enjoyed this communities section as it has reminded me of the many benefits of working within and with communities rather than just individuals (CBT, a mode I often work in, tends perhaps to focus a lot on the individual and their inner world). The metaphor of a bundle of sticks being stronger and more difficult to break than an individual stick really resonated with me about the power of working together with a larger sets of skills and knowledges. It has inspired me when I return to work to do more community outreach work.

    • Australia. Little by little we make a bundle, made me think that it could perhaps even be added to my work with couples, particularly addressing relationship conflict through a role play of the problem, just an idea.
      The tree of life can be applicable in groups and individually, it emphasises on strengths, produces hope and confidence and even self belief – it can be empowering as seen in the chapter. I can use the tree of life as a metaphor to work with children who are/have been experiencing parental conflict post separation.

  406. I agree that the narrative metaphor co-exists with an individuals identity, where we come from, what has made us who we are. Personally, thinking of an individuals story, curious about what’s happening in their own words/narrative is allowing me to see many perspectives on what I was seeing as a single story only that could relate to past trauma.

  407. Thanks Anthony… we use this practise as trauma victims… as an international group. We create music from you-tube and just pass it around… the healing power of notes, mates, and first learning to trust is priceless… our issues and concerns are universal. My grand-dad was an aboriginal of Great Britain and spoke our language as a first language. Five of his grand-kids moved into the sex trade, four of them boys. Their father saw battle at sea at the age of 16.

    We have a lot of cleaning up to do. It all helps to share… to learn, to grow. Diolch yn fawr… thanks you so much, deeply…

  408. Emilie from Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia
    Hello everyone,
    In this chapter I was drawn to Michael White’s definition of the therapist solidarity:
    “And what of solidarity? I am thinking of a solidarity that is constructed by therapists who refuse to draw a sharp distinction between their lives and the lives of others, who refuse to marginalize those persons who seek help, by therapists who are constantly confronting the fact that if faced with the circumstances such that provide the context of troubles of others, they just might not be doing nearly as well themselves”.
    I find this idea extremely helpful. Having this consideration for the persons who seek help and their situation takes away all possibility of establishing a judgement toward them. This way of approaching the clients’ stories also gives space to use ‘ethnographic imagination’ – to develop an understanding of people’s visions about how they go about the living of their lives.

  409. The concept of externalising is evident in movies, songs and social media. The ability to communicate a personal experience of something that is otherwise known as a problem reorients the audience to the person’s relationship experienced by the problem’s presence. Play therapy studies was a retraining of minimising an observer’s tendency to interpret the meaning an object or action had for a child. Instead, techniques were taught so an approach developed for the observer to come into the child’s own meaning attributed to their action or product. The Black Dog resource was a strong reminder of play therapy concepts, and the personal experience of a problem being represented by an analogy as a relationship. For example, a child represents an overpowering relationship with a dinosaur, and themselves as a toy baby. They relate actual memories and feelings, and desired scenarios with the dinosaur and baby, in ways they may not be able to describe in a conversation directly about the person and themselves.

  410. Narrative metaphors sound much like identities. They describe and define the understanding someone has of themselves and others, and in turn, this affects how they position themselves in situations, and the relationships they have.
    Thinking about stories in this way opens up possibilities for alternative perspectives and untried responses.

  411. Hi I’m writing from Melbourne, Australia. Letter writing sounds like a fantastic way for the person to have ongoing access to the gems of the counselling session, and I think it could be workable in my context.

  412. Hi Aunty Lauren! So great to see your face and hear your voice 🙂

    I found the work you and the folks and families have been doing very real, inspiring and hopeful. I really loved the different and creative ways the ‘all in the same boat’ metaphor was applied to problems, values and hopes, and in particular to multi-storied descriptions. I especially appreciated the nuanced way shame and guilt were approached and that some efforts and possibilities were explored in separating the shame and guilt loaded upon someone and the shame an guilt that spoke to a preferred valued that may have been compromised or acted against. It makes me feel like these parents are well aware of and prepared to face the consequences of particular actions, but no doubt find it very difficult to do this in the face of a barrage of judgement and shaming from workers, systems and in popular discourses.

    The work you have all been doing together will help keep me stauncher in resisting the binary positions that we are so often invited into in work conversations as well as social conversations. I hope I might also get the opportunity to share some of the parents’ skills and knowledges with people I meet with and will let you know if they have some responses to share back.

    I also very much appreciated that you have an accountability process with consultants who are adults who experienced abuse as children. I wonder, are some of these consultants teens who are still in care, transitioning from care, or who have just recently turned 18? I have met young people in those circumstances who I think would find it very empowering to play a role as consultant to these conversations.

    Great to be in touch Aunty Lauren, thanks again to you and all involved.

    • Hi Troy,

      It’s lovely to hear from you and thank you for your response.

      I have found as you describe, a ‘nuanced’ approach to exploring Shame and Guilt, fosters multiple possibilities. The initial group exploration makes visible both the politics of their experience as well as the threads of their personal ethics of which they’d become separated from. I have since experienced that, where parents have chosen to continue to consult with me, this kind of exploration of Shame and Guilt has contributed to a sense of accountability to the particular principles for living and caring for children.

      In relation to accountability processes I’ve had some opportunity to consult with young people who have lived in care. In a particular instance the young person’s contribution, and what became a two way exchange, was significant in a parent getting back in touch with the kind of parent-child connection they longed for and a commitment of never giving up on their child. I recently heard that the young person consultant still speaks fondly of this experience of contribution.

      I’d welcome and greatly value other opportunities to consult with young people who have insider knowledge in this context of this work.

      Troy, I would be delighted to share documents if you find opportunities to share them with others who might be linked in some way with these experiences or context.

      Thank you again and I will pass on your appreciations to the parents involved.
      Warmest regards,

  413. Hello again from British Columbia, Canada. Within this unit I really appreciated the aspect of the article by Barb Wingard in which healing from loss and the experience of grief was discussed. The writer mentioned that externalizing grief as a way to talk about loss can be very healing. Many of my clients are grieving current and past losses, however the conversations we have are usually very matter of fact. We discuss the stages of grief, their experience, how they are coping, etc, but perhaps the connection to the experience could be more pronounced if we were to personify grief. Grief impacts people on all levels and I imagine that externalizing it would allow for each level to be explored. Even though this article was in relation to Aboriginal culture, I see this as being useful for a wide array of people experiencing grief.

  414. Little by little we make a bundle was a wonderful example of the strength of unity. The opportuntity to make the exercise interactive with breaking the stick amd tying them in a bundle which couldn’t be broken a very powerful example.
    I think hands on approached are much more effective.

  415. Hi my name is Dawn and I am from Mount Gambier, South Australia. I am a Youth Worker. Being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent the narrative metaphor is my culture’s form of story telling. By using the narrative metaphor as a Youth Worker it will assist my role by sitting with the client and allowing them to tell their story without being judged. It is a more relaxed approach to therapy.

  416. I love the story of Sugar. By externalising diabetes and dissociating the diease from the person gives a great unattached perspective for people to engage with diabetes. Wonderful story!

  417. Hello from British Columbia, Canada! I really appreciate the idea of using letters to record a session. So much content is explored during therapy and it is difficult to recall all of the key aspects and learnings that arise. In my personal therapy experiences, I recall leaving sessions and thinking to myself, “There was something really useful that I wanted to share with my husband but I just can’t remember what it was”. In the role of myself as therapist, I have also experienced re-visiting a prominent theme from the previous session and the client looks at me blankly- not recalling the context. Although I see immense benefit in using letter writing as a component of therapy, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed at the idea of an additional component to fit in outside of the counselling hour. I recognize that this is a logistical issue, but an important one to consider when simultaneously being mindful of ‘burnout’.

  418. I love this work you have done its so important for parents to have a voice and be herd around these issues and to be externalised as the guilt and shame internalised causes so much ongoing pain and trauma.

    • Hi Miimi,

      Thank you so much for your comment Miimi. Certainly as a community we have been very slow to realise what difference can be made for the lives of children when their parents’ voices are heard. I have found many parents in these circumstances genuinely wish to address the concerns which have led to child removal, but in so many ways the systems, policies and practices make this very difficult to achieve. Of course the significant effects of Shame and Guilt can be so disabling.

      I’ve always been heartened by parents’ skills for tenacity, to never give up, in spite of Shame and Guilt. I am also heartened that there’s a growing appreciation that, by including the voices of parent’s, we are better able to address the systems that have failed so many children whose lives are affected by child protection and out-of-home care systems.

      The parents involved in this work and who have joined in since are creating ripples across different communities through the sharing of their stories and hard-won knowledge. I feel very privileged to be a part of this as well as very hopeful.

      Warmest regards,

  419. I am from Whitby, Canada and I am a Child and Family Therapist working in private practice. I found the song of survival, and the 12 life saving tips to be inspiring and something I believe will be effective with the youth I work with.

  420. I am from Whitby, Canada and I am a Child and Family Therapist working in private practice. From the information in documents and audiences, the client letters appeared to be important for healing and the validation of client struggles. I often do letters to client in a closure session but have never implemented during the course or treatment which I feel I will try. I also have not included reflective questions to the client in the letter, which I think I will now include as a way to support their continued growth.

  421. This chapter was ver interesting. The process of externalising was well described in the variety of written and visual texts. The story Sugar resonated with me. Not just because diabetes is in my family but also because I work with Aboriginal families. I found the mode of collective questioning and then answers by Sugar very clear and useful for refining the process of externalising. At the moment I feel my questioning is a little stilted.
    I loved he black dog clip. What an excellent visual example of externalising. I am sure to share it with colleagues and students.

  422. This was a good chapter. The process of externalising is a narrative method I could put into practice more when I’m working with teenagers. I think I would need to practise and feel comfortable with some of the questioning techniques. Sugar’s story resonated with me. It was a great example of externalising in action. I also liked how it weaves the concept of shame in the information about working with Aboriginal people. I found the dialogue and questioning interesting and the reflections about the processes adopted in relation to the Aboriginal culture quite useful. The clip about the Black dog was an excellent example of externalisation. I intend to share it with my colleagues and students at school when I return from holidays

  423. Every single one of those practices is inspiring! I was particularly moved by The Mt Elgon, Uganda, Self-Help Community Project. Witnessing how the therapists helped the community to develop narratives that allowed each individual involved to fulfil their hopes and dream was very powerful. Seeing the wider impact that this project had on the community’s development and initiatives is very inspiring.

  424. I really enjoyed watching D. Newman’s presentation about the “skills and knowledge documents” that he uses with the young people he work with in the psychiatric unit. His explanation of the impact of said words and the necessity to use them carefully really resonated with me. Collecting in writing his patients’ ‘skills and knowledge’ to deal with specific situations is a fantastic way to value his clients abilities but also to help others to find their own language through the language of others. The example he gave about the young boy was heartwarming.

  425. I found reading through the transcript with Mark and actively charting the conversation on the statement of position map the most helpful. It really does help you gain a clearer understanding of where you are at in your conversations with your client, and perhaps where you need to spend a bit more time to build that rapport with them. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to see position and externalizing questions put into action. I had taken a Narrative Therapy course in graduate school a few years ago, before officially beginning my career as a counselor. This course is truly bringing those practices back to the forefront of my mind in how I am helping others.

    All the “problems” I can think of could be externalized in some way. The issues we are experiencing in our lives are simply types of relationships we have with issues, not something that is internal, within us. Perhaps there are issues that may require more conversation to learn an externalization that works well for the client, but it just takes understanding, patience, and curiosity to get there.

    I can see externalization making a big impact in my practices. Many clients I see struggle with ruminating on themselves as being “bad” or claiming all the fault for themselves and tacking it onto their identities. Several sessions could be spent on someone ruminating those types of thought, because they are stuck at that point – To change the problem, they much change themselves – But that is not the case because they are NOT the problem. Helping them see the problem from a different perspective, almost like an outside perspective, could assist them from getting past those thoughts of “I have to change ME” to “I need to work on my relationship with this issue.”

    As a new counselor in the field, I know I need to work on types of questions I use in my practice to make externalizing adequately useful. Since we do work in therapeutic practice, those will come with…practice 😉

  426. Lovely Tileah – so meticulous about context ….. again just listening before I come up your way in early November to talk a little to an audience i don’t know .

  427. The resource that I found most useful in this chapter was the Statement of Position Map 1 because it gave me a framework in which to track the conversation and helped me to apply my learning in real-time. The problems that could be externalised in my work environment include confusion about whether to continue or change a uni course, failing a course, and unemployment. I think externalising could help to reduce shame, harness motivation and reconnect a person with their values.

  428. Rachael from Melbourne, Australia.

    Critical thinking for me is about thinking outside the box, it is also about being curious about the way things work, the things I think and the things others think / believe. I think that it is important to practice being curious / critical of oneself, that is understanding privilege, understanding and / or questioning where my beliefs and ideas come from. This then allows me to be curious about others and to not assume.

    Stories: My various trainings and interests have encouraged me to be curious and to think critically, going to uni was a big eye opener for me after living a fairly sheltered life, studying science and after that counselling as well as practicing yoga and meditation I think have contributed to my journey of being curious and questioning. This lesson and this course continues to push me along on this journey.

  429. Most of my collaboration has been between me and the person I am working with, what direction would they like to take, what is important today etc. I am excited to be in a new team where there are more opportunities for working in a collaborative way with individuals, groups and the organisations that support these people.

  430. I really love the idea of externalizing, it feels very empowering, a way to give people back their dignity. The lecture was really helpful in breaking down how to apply this in a way that keeps us engaged with the ‘problem’ and finding ways to explore and manage problems, without them becoming part of our identity.

  431. Hello all! I am writing from near from the center of the United States in South Dakota! I am very excited to have this course available to further understandings of narrative practices. I see the narrative metaphor as allowing one to get a better overall picture of someone’s life. When a client comes in, sometimes it feels like we get a summary snapshot of their experiences, and any and all experiences that support what they feel is their primary experience they’re struggling with. However, there is so much more to people’s lives than that. The narrative metaphor allows us to open up a wide array of possibilities to bring into their field of view, allowing them to see, maybe for the first time or maybe remembering again, other stories in their life that were successful or varying from the dominant story they came in with.

    Thinking about stories this way helps me to remain curious as a counselor. It can be quite easy to get “stuck” in a session, especially as a young counselor like myself, and not know for sure where to go or what to ask. But when I take a step back and think about what I am curious about in the story of the client or what I am curious about that wasn’t present, it helps me gain a bigger picture and a better understanding of the client’s life. The multiple stories in peoples’ lives present ways they have handled similar experiences, and how they could again.

    I especially like that the problem is the problem, and that it isn’t the person as problem. So many people I have contact with feel as if to “get better” they need to change some very vital aspect of themselves- and that can seem very daunting and un-motivating. When you remove that gloominess of it, it seems a lot easier for people to overcome things. They aren’t necessarily changing anything about themselves, they are altering their perspective of it or altering their relationship with the problem. By taking away the ownership of the problem, it allows people more freedom to take action.

    • Autumn I also appreciate how listening to stories keeps me curious as a counselor. In addition to becoming un stuck it also release the tendency to move to quickly by increase the contemplative opportunities.

  432. Dear Anthony,

    Thank you for providing insight into the sparkling work of ‘Didgeri’ and the ‘No More’ campaign. I really appreciate the careful construction of the group, and the way you highlighted your own mindfulness around men attending ‘freely’.

    It stood out as important that your approach highlights the ongoing implementation and effects of colonising practices. As a saltwater Aboriginal woman I am similarly interested in redressing the past tense of various abuses often used, and the resistance our people continue to demonstrate.

    The possibilities created through ‘men engaging differently’ in ‘counselling for non-counsellors’ provides great hope, as our communities respond to the status to which non-Indigenous Australian policies and practices have served to relegate our mob. It sparks thoughts about my own community, and the ‘non-counsellors’ who live here, often tasked with the duty of being a ‘go-to’ person. How might your approach be transported and adopted here? You’ve given me much to think about.

    This is profound practice, rich with strong stories shared across countries. So much can be drawn from your sharing of this particular yarn, please accept and pass on my gratitude to the men of Didgeri.

    Kylie Dowse

    • HI Anthony,
      Thanks for sharing this with us. A topic which still seems taboo in our community. You have created space for conversations that invite men to talk about the effects of the trauma. I love the idea of counselling ways for non counsellors. You have highlighted language being important and with what you have created here, that has been one of your focuses. Getting people in community to talk differently to each other in a language that is uplifting and encouraging, but still acknowledging of the struggles. Are you able to give me the name of that person you quoted for the domestic violence of women. I also appreciated that for my work. Keep up the good work Anthony. We are building an enormous Aboriginal Narrative Therapy empire which has tremendous opportunities and outcomes for healing for our people across this country.

  433. Emilie from Coffs Harbour,

    Externalising conversation is one of my favorite narrative therapy technique. In my practice, I commonly work with individuals who have developed addictive behaviours. Externalising conversation can empower the clients as they create space for them to analyse and work on their relationship with their addictive behaviour/substance. I find this approach much more helpful than the use of labels, such as alcoholics or addicts, which take some form of control away from the individuals as the labels defines a part of their identity.

  434. Angela, Jannali NSW

    I’ve really loved this introduction and it has left me feeling really contemplative. I think this is a really generous and gentle philosophy/therapy that allows for the reframing of what can often be very negative stories that have been told, or we have told ourselves. I’m really going to spend some time thinking about my “I am…” statements… where they have come from, what the alternate stories might be, or what evidence may or may not back these stories up. Can’t wait for the next sessions! Thanks guys 🙂

  435. The importance of collaboration within teams as well as between clients and practitioners. I am also interested in the way narrative practitioners share something of themselves -such as in the story with Sam and how when done in a way that shifts the power it can be really powerful. I do tend to ask if sessions have been helpful I think I would like to enquire more specifically about this and spend more time on it in the future to more fully understand what is working / not working.

  436. I am inspired by all the ways to move ownership of a program to the people it is for. I am curious about how I might go forward in using these ideas with the women I am working with to give them ownership which is important from a point of view of challenging gender steriotypes as well.

    I love the different ways of documenting – be it through song or diagrams (team and tree) – stories and hopes as well as the use of metaphore – I particulaly like the metaphore of the one stick vs the bundle of sticks – working in a bush adventure therapy program metaphores in nature are especially relevant and important.

  437. Thank you very much for this course. In some ways it is similar to Solution-Focused Therapy, but to me – as a writer and a psychologist working with artists – it is more valuable, as it focuses on telling stories.

  438. “Telling our Stories in Ways that Make us Stronger” is a gem. I think everyone should write a memoir about how they dealt with difficult parts of life. And other people would want to read them, I’m sure. There is so much personal and community wisdom to share! Thank you Barbara for your article, it is truly inspiring.

  439. In my work with artists and writers I often hear about how important it is to have a sense of connection. I absolutely loved the metaphore of the “Team of Life” that shows that we are interconnected and interdependent and can use our skills and knowledges about connections to support creativity and thrive creatively. Oftentimes when we think of an artist or a writer, we see them working n their own, but in fact there is a whole community/family/circle of friends and acquaintences that creates the sense of connection and love, so needed in waking the creative force. I could make use of the “Team of Life” metaphor in my work with creatives – to help appreciate the sense of connection they have, necessary for their work to be accepted (and sometimes even make possible).

  440. Emilie from Coffs Harbour

    First of all thank you Dulwich centre for delivering this online resource.

    I really enjoyed listening to Chimamanda’s talk about the risk of misunderstanding that can rise from listening to single stories rather that multiple stories. The examples she uses to illustrate her message, all carry such a powerful meaning. As she says “stories can break the dignity of people but stories can also repair that broken dignity”. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring talk.

  441. Living documents is a great idea not only for others, but also for ourselves… I just had the thought of how often I forgot of my own wisdom… I used to know how to do things, how to deal with trouble, how to handle myslef. In times of stress and pressure I tend to forget the things I once knew and things that were important. So my idea is that making the documents of skills and knowledges is not only a great help for others, but also for myself, to help me remember that I can, in fact, deal with problems in my own way.

  442. In my practice as a creativity coach I can see clearly that one cannot build positive change on guilt. If my clients feel guilty for going through a creative block, they tend to postpone the change. The story I hear goes like this: “If I cannot overcome this block it is because I am blocked. In fact I block myself. Therefore I am the only one able to overcome the block. If I cannot do that, it means I am not a good artist and my creative work is not worth anything.” Once they understand that the story can be told differently about exactly the same situation, they start saying something like that: “This creative block is a villain, that can come and go and has nothing to do with my worth as an artist and as a person”. Once they see that the problem is something outside of their worth, thay can change it, because they stop feeling guilty about it.

  443. Great thoughts. I believe in the power of having others witness and ‘see’ you in life. I have often with one off sessions made a summary of what we have talked about and sent it through to the person as a record for them to look back on – I think I will look at doing this more and also possibly to introduce it in some way with my longer term clients.

    I am getting creative and thinking about ways that outsider witness can be used with groups of women that I work with in a variety of ways 🙂

  444. I’m writing from Calgary, Alberta.

    Which particular ideas or stories intrigued you?
    Why do you think these things stood out to you?
    What from these histories would you like to take with you into your future practice in some way?

    I was particularly interested in, and inspired by, the idea of rich, long-term collaboration to create new ways of knowing and speaking. The collaboration between David White and Michael Epston is so cool, but even more intriguing to me is the collaborations that branch out from that – Cheryl’s engagement with their story, David Denborough’s engagement… It seems like a collaboration that was wholehearted and fully engaged, and because it was so rich and generous, it continues to ripple out in further wholehearted and engaged collaborations. I love that. It’s such a strong, hopeful counter to the scarcity narrative that often surrounds any kind of intellectual work, and I find it particularly engaging because even though I *do* believe we live within scarcity imposed by wealth inequality, racism, sexism, monosexism, cissexism, classism, etc – despite that, I think that these collaborations point to ways that marginalized communities and individuals can write new stories that share what we have and create new richness as a result.

    I am currently engaged in a yearlong collaborative project working on cultivating hope and a sense of self-efficacy among the participants. There are three of us designing, organizing, and facilitating the yearlong project, but there is a growing group of people participating. I love the idea that these collaborations can take on lives of their own, and continue on in new and unexpected ways.

  445. From Swansea, UK.
    The quote from Michael White about solidarity and the excerpt from Continuing Conversations particularly struck me as very human. Not professional, but human. I often think, when I work with clients, “there but for the grace of God go I”. This attitude in narrative therapy and this attitude in myself sums up the appeal of this approach for me.

  446. What really worked in this session for me was “creating” a third person as the problem; educating, influencing and disempowering the problem, how stories when thickened can create new possibilities for the future, how a dominant plot can evolve from a thin description and how stories and plots can impact the past, present and future. Thank you.

  447. For me it was important to see how the position of the problem is so important, it seems to be clear on this one needs to understand the characterstics and effects well. with this clear we can move into values and then open up a whole lot of other new stories.

    In my work I could be externalising shame and things / ideas that might be connected to this such as – life being wasted. Finding a position on this might allow for opening up of alternative strengths and values – Respect, relisience and strength.

  448. Barbara’s article was very useful in my context of the ministry. I work with a lot of people in the western world, south Africa, who moves in a cultural setting of not talking or experiencing their feelings. The internalize it. This brings hardship and trauma to most of them. This article gives me a lot of perspective in the narrative approach of REMEMBERING our lost ones. The act of celebrating and remembering is awesome. I have studied this also in the Biblical hebrew narrative and think this could make and awesome study. Perhaps we should attempt writing about this.

  449. Now this was very interesting. Again, i think, this opened my creative understanding to so much more metaphors. The suitcase metaphor is amazing. I thought of people also caring with them so much “photos” of hurt and trauma…would’nt it be awesome to help them so that the make the choice themselves to remove there from their suitcase of life and live inside a new reality. The outsider witness program, i have use before, especially with parents of children. Just this morning i was seeing someone that blocked out all the positive things in their history…but through and outsider witness, they could hear their story being told…and it was ‘n good story…totally different from which the client would only remember. i am really blessed by this material.

  450. Hi, this is Rachael from Melbourne, Australia

    i find it interesting how people tend to narrow down their story and may latch on more strongly to certain events as it building on their story they have made for themselves. Thinking about stories in this way allows for being really curious about exceptions to dominant stories allowing for new stories and narratives to be made.

  451. Thank you for another great chapter in this course.
    I thoroughly enjoyed the video from Mark Hayward and found it particularly helpful in reflecting how these techniques work in practice. I found that the chart was a helpful tool in guiding where the conversation has been and what still needs to be explored.
    I also really enjoyed the video on the black dog. I feel that it is a wonderful representation of externalising and how powerful it can be in reinforcing that ‘the person is not the problem. The problem is the problem.’

  452. Thanks for the video presentation on mindfulness. I have been asked to explain mindfulness to those I meet in various grieving stages and also in domestic violence work. I will refer others to this link.

    Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    • I appreciate it Emmae. Please do get in touch again if you have any further thoughts on the presentation or other aspects of mindfulness and narrative practices.
      Best wishes

  453. Hi, writing from Cape town, south Africa. It really blessed me to re-think en re-visit externalization. I came across this in a MTh study and to hear this again after so many years just sparked everything in me. I really loved the “sugar” explanation and it unlocked the creativity in my to use so much more in different counseling sessions. The last clip regarding the maps of narrative therapy is something i am already make part of my counseling and it blessed me so much. I really to see the value of this. Bless you for sharing this with us. Because i am a pastor i can really see the value that these information and methods can have on my practice as well as preaching. Thanks

  454. Hallo. I am from South Africa. i have studied Theology and was always interested in how our story connects with the Biblical narrative. Listening to all the really helpful resources and articles it really sparked my understanding as well as looking away from thin storylines to more enriched and powerful stories that could also, in my context of work, relate to the meaningful and richness of the Biblical narrative. What i am understanding is that for me the Bible is full of stories of peoples lives throughout different centuries as well as through different cultures. When reading these narratives it is if i am sometimes looking through other peoples struggles and pain and see the wonderful meaning and love that is projected and described in the biblical narrative, that gives my life and story, perspective, hope and meaning. For me, reflecting and understanding biblical narrative is a catharsis moment, because i get to look and listen and hear my story, told in the biblical narratives of other people, through other peoples experiences and outcomes.

  455. Thank you for sharing your stories and wisdom with us.

    The words ‘times of great sorrow’ and ‘nearly drowned in the ocean of depression’ stood out to me. I have been very fortunate in my life, living without war. But still I have experiences ‘times of great sorrow’ and ‘nearly drowned in the ocean of depression’. I too have used this phrase – ‘ocean of sadness’ I’ve called it. Hard times in my family often involved my loved ones thinking they should die, that they should kill themselves. This brings me an ocean of sadness because of my strong love for them.

    I felt encouraged by your proverb ‘after each darkness there is a light’. This made me picture sunrise over the beach. Maybe there is an ocean of hope or an ocean of joy for us to swim in.

    This proverb also reminded me of the importance of friends. When all I see is darkness, my friend holds hope for me, because I can’t hold it for myself. I imagine her holding a candle in the darkness.

    Thank you for reminding me of the light after the darkness. This is a precious knowledge.

  456. Greetings! My name is Natalie and I’m residing in Newcastle, Australia.

    I see the narrative metaphor as a process of being able to shine a light on other, alternative aspects of self, identity and our story. To use another metaphor – the label on the jam jar is not the jam. Our minds are fantastically adapted to categorising, pattern seeking, and meaning making, however, we are susceptible to narrowing our focus to a dominant story or beliefs about ourselves. In this regard, the Narrative approach appears to be a lovely, person-centred way to explore the stories, strengths and resources that lay outside or subvert these dominant stories. I particularly loved the Dot exercise as a way of illustrating this process.

  457. Dear Afghan Youth of South Australia,

    We are people from Adelaide, other places across Australia, and some places internationally. We are visiting Dulwich Centre in Adelaide to learn more about narrative therapy and community work. As people interested in narrative ideas, we also believe that ‘patients are as important as doctors’.

    Among us are community workers, psychologists, counsellors and a personal trainer. Today, we watched the video you made, and learned about the skills you have developed in responding to hard times. Many of the phrases we heard you give to skills and knowledges for responding in particular ways to challenges you’ve faced really stood out to us.

    One of us lives in Mount Gambier, and works with people who are experiencing mental health challenges. ‘There are many pathways out of depression’ is an idea this person will take back to the people she works with. Others appreciated skills and abilities in ‘taking action together’, ‘helping people who are drowning in depression’ and ‘making my body tired so my mind can rest’.

    The knowledges you shared will make a difference in our lives and the lives of people we meet with. In particular, the reminders to listen to the wisdom passed down from Elders seems very important. ‘You can’t travel a thousand miles in a day’ and ‘after night there is day’ reminds one of us, who lives in Iran, of many poems in Persia about the knowledge that, ‘after every failure, there is success’.

    We have been changed by the knowledges you have shared about responding to hard times.

    ‘Reminding me to be kind to myself’ – Sydney NSW

    ‘Fills me with hope, hearing the ways you have held onto hope’ – Adelaide, Homelessness Services

    ‘Some challenges are universal, there is commonality in this’ – Canada living in Bali

    ‘Made me think about checking in with my friend about their passions’ – Australian living in China

    ‘Reminds me that the people I meet with are the ones doing the hard work, not the community workers’ – Sydney NSW

    ‘I live in Nauru – I really connected with your ideas about Elders, and water bringing fresh ideas. I will think of you next time I go to the ocean.’

    We agree that ‘society needs all of us together’ and we wish you happiness and peace. While ‘history guides us’ too, we will hold your stories in our hearts and share your tips for responding to hard times with other people we meet when we return to our homes.

    From people visiting Adelaide to learn about Narrative Therapy and Community Work.

  458. Dear friends who are surfing the oceans of depression,

    It was lovely to see your video and how you are reaching out to others and help to prevent people from drowning. This resonated with me as this is something that drives me in my own life and helping people finding their passion and obtaining their goals is something that is also preventing my own drowning. I will add your stories and tips to what I share with others doing similar work and seeing your strength helps and brings me joy.

  459. I was inspired by the way you asked to join in the volleyball game. I’m not sure I would have had that courage, but you encouraged me to do the same when I am in a hard place – to be brave and reach out to others.

  460. To the Afghan Youth SA,

    I am a youth worker in Sydney and I work with young people from Afghanistan/Pakistan. Mostly Hazara like yourselves. They speak to me about the worries they have and the worries of their mum and dad which they also feel. I can’t wait to show them your video to try empower themselves and community. Thank you for the honesty and showing your vulnerability.


  461. To the newly arrived refugees of Afghan Youth SA,

    Congratulations! I would like to thank you for coming to Australia. We are very fortunate to have you all here. You will enrich Australia with your culture, language, food and beautiful music.

    I admire you all for your resilience – you have all lived through so much, and are still hopeful and patient.

    I know that the ocean of despair can seem very deep, and cold and dark, with no end. But one day, you will find land. You have found land – a new land, now all you have to do is walk up to the sand.

    Good luck.
    Your ally in Sydney,

  462. My dear friend!

    I am so moved about your story! I identify with you as I also suffer from depression on and off. Leaving ‘home’ is terribly distressing!
    Coming to a new country and starting again from the beginning is exhausting.

    I identify with you as I also found when I arrived here I needed something to take my mind away from all the trauma and losses I had.
    Water is so soothing!

    I admire you and encourage you to keep following your dreams being strong and persist!

    Be patient and all will come true.


  463. Greetings fellow learners! I’m joining you from Kelowna, B.C and (in the spirit of multi-storied identities) I’ll introduce myself as a creative writer and teacher—fiction, poetry, prose, spoken word—as well as a critical care nurse. I am currently in the final stages of my master’s in counselling psychology, and see narrative therapy as a way for me to bridge my two passions: health and story.

    As a lifelong student of literature and language, I was so (SO) excited to uncover remnants of Foucault in White’s work: namely questioning the supremacy of a single view, and an invitation to flip the traditional hierarchical structure of Western psychology by priviledging the unique wisdom of the client (Foucalt’s main tenet is that knowledge is power). In terms of application to my practice, I work a lot with Canadian Indigenous people, and can see ample opportunity to apply Narrative Therapy’s perspective of story-as-medicine. I am really looking forward to diving into this material alongside all of you!

  464. Thanks so much Linda for your interest in the integration of mindfulness and narrative. As you may know, I recently presented with David Pare at the Re-authoring Teaching gathering in Vermont on this topic. I believe this direction fits well with re-imagining narrative practices. I am not sure about questions for the group but here are a few questions I constantly ask myself (there are many others too!):

    In what ways can mindfulness be depicted and what effects could a particular depiction have on the therapist, the person attending and the aspiration for collaborative practices?

    How can mindfulness support narrative approaches and narrative support mindful attention?

    In what ways can mindfulness contribute to understanding the effects of problems, to recognising various shifts in positioning, and to the development of beneficial and preferred storylines?

    How can various discourses and applications of mindfulness and narrative be connected while staying committed to the ethico-politics of practice?

    Hope this is helpful?
    Best wishes

  465. Hi everyone,
    My name is Sarah and I am a provisional psychologist working with young people in a regional NSW town. Thank you for the opportunity to broaden my skills with this fantastic course!

    What stands out to me is the importance of understanding that as humans we have many stories that all work together to shape our unique experiences in the world. The narrative metaphor emphasises the importance of ensuring that we work with clients on their multi-story lives and to assist in encouraging a multi-story understanding to our lives rather than becoming trapped in our own ‘single story’.

    I look forward to learning much more about narrative therapy as we go along the course! I am very new to this style of therapy and am excited to see where it goes!

  466. We have thought that it would be helpful to bring notice to this video to the Facebook Narrative Practice Group. We have been discussing in our leadership group the idea of re-imagining narrative practices as David Epston has been encouraging and thought of this as an example. Are there any particular questions you think could be useful to give to the group regarding your integration practice of mindfulness and narrative therapy. Thanks for your presentation.

  467. Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger by Barb Wingard. I really got something out of this idea of talking more about death and talking about the stories from our friends and family who have died. It is a lot more healing to speak and remember the dead and speak about how much we loved them and the happiness they bought us.
    I also agree that at furnerals it is better to cry and wail then to keep quiet to let your grieve out and not worry what other people think. An enjoyable read.

  468. How would you describe the narrative metaphor?
    I would describe the narrative metaphor important to me as an Aboriginal person and for counselling Aboriginal people because our lives consist of story telling and there are alot of stories and untold stories in out lives to sort out our problems. Narrative metaphor is non blaming approach and centres people as expert in their own lives.

  469. Hi from Wales, UK. As a “cultural receiver of stories of suffering”, working as a support worker and training to be a counsellor I feel enormously privileged that people allow me to hear their stories and a great responsibility to use these stories to help other professionals see that there is more to a client than a label – addict, homeless, victim….. Fortunately I have avoided becoming jaded by hearing about suffering, the same cannot be said for professional people I meet. I hope that by joining with clients to find more than their dominant story I can assist them to get the treatment?support that they deserve.

  470. I loved the tip on going to the water, the beach to feel better. It made me think of a saying I’ve heard ‘salt water cures everything’. ‘Salt water’ can be 3 things – tears, sweat and the ocean or sea. These are also good tips for surviving the ocean of depression and the waves of life. Thank you for reminding me of this.

  471. Hi from Swansea, Wales, UK. I’m loving the chart to keep a log of where we have been and where we can go. Great aide memoire to give me more confidence until experience kicks in.

  472. Hi

    Currently studying a BSc in Systemic Counselling here in the UK and I was recommended to look at the Dulwich Centre website by my tutor. So glad I have. I work with recently homeless people who have substance misuse issues and they frequently have a story so dominant that they “label” themselves. They can see no way forward from this label as that is what they make themselves conform to. That is what they are, to themselves. Already I have seen ways in which externalising the problem can make them consider a different story.

    Thank you.

  473. Karen (Toronto),

    I would like to thank the course creators for this great opportunity. As I am in a bit of a financial crunch, I’m happy to do the actual training and then pay for accreditation later. Not a surprise given the social justice bent of the narrative approach, but none the less, big thanks.

    I would describe the narrative metaphor as a way of explaining the meaning making our brains engage in as we live through very complex layered and intersectional networks of cognitive, emotional and physical experiences. I find it empowering to remind myself that the story I’ve created is just ONE of infinite other meanings i could have/can make. Where “stuck” is a metaphor that is often used to describe depression, anxiety or personal challenges, the narrative metaphor is what can help a person navigate an endless array of alternate ways to move out of the stuck position. Often it involves including hopeful takes on lived moments, establishing narratives that can be added to and thickened to help guide people to more empowering futures.

  474. What stands out for me is a reminder that I am limited when I continue to focus on stories that are oppressive. I miss out on the stories that are useful and helpful to me in bringing forth strategies that influence me to move forward with reclaiming my life from the trauma of my yesterday.

    I am living in Mexico which if you asked me years ago could I have predicted that I would have been in total disbelief. I have a thriving practice here where I also incorporate Therapeutic bodywork.

  475. Michael White’s statement that ‘The Person is not the problem. The problem is the problem.’ has been the most influential and memorable statement of my career. It changed my whole way of thinking and approach to working with people. It was a light bulb moment. I thought Of Course!!

    While I loved the story of Sugar, I think Mark Hayward’s presentation was the most impactful of the resources presented here. Seeing someone else share their work directly is always wonderful. Having the underlying purpose explained and the resources provided makes it feel possible that I might be able to do similar work. But even better was his discussion of the ethical concerns regarding externalisations and how he manages them. The heart of Narrative Therapy is how to work with people in the most ethical way and this is what attracts me most. It is a particularly effective and ethical way to work with people around abuse of all kinds. Fabulous.

  476. From Belfast, Northern Ireland

    The title of Barb Wingard’s paper ‘Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger’ summarises the context in which I wish to use Narrative Therapy.
    Much of my writing and teaching focuses on the lives of women (especially family members) in the last 50 to 100 years in Ireland: women who grew up on small farms and had to leave school early to look after younger siblings, do farm work and marry. That culture had good points too: you were expected to look after elderly relatives but this task usually fell to the daughters, particularly if unmarried.
    It is in honouring and uncovering the stories of these women through research and ‘shared stories’ (handed down through the generations and sometimes embellished along the way!) that I believe we find our own strength. As Barb says: ‘Hanging on to these old people is very much part of our strength. It is part of our story-telling.’
    Thank you, Barb Wingard, and all at The Dulwich Centre for a fascinating paper.

  477. Thank you!!!!!!

  478. Hi everyone! My name is James Olson, and I am from Minneapolis, MN. I encountered narrative therapy a couple years ago when my mother (a behavioral psychotherapist) introduced the concepts of the narrative metaphor to me in my early twenties. Now, working towards the goal of becoming a psychotherapist myself, I am drawn back to narrative therapy and bibliotherapy. I am a fiction writer and an avid reader of fiction, so both Chimamanda’s TED talk and Michael White’s excerpt about the closeness between literature and therapy resonated with me significantly. I have used these methods of narrative therapy in my own life to disrupt poisonous narratives of addiction, and I look forward to learning more so that I can use these techniques to help others. Currently I work for a non-profit program that puts majority African American and immigrant students in professional settings for the summer. Often supervisors of our teens only hear one story from our interns, and I also look forward to immediately putting these techniques to practice in my current work.

    • Hi James! I am an avid fiction reader and writer too, and also currently training to become a psychotherapist (with, you guessed it, a focus on narrative and bibliotherapy). Chimimanda Ngozi Adiche’s novel Americanah is highly applicable to your work with African American and immigrant students…perhaps you’ve read it already but if not, its on my list of all time favourites.

      I too resonated with White’s articulation of the crossover between the skills of storytellers and those of therapists. According to White, “good writers have a way of actively engaging the lived experience and the imagination of the reader, and of inviting him/her into new territories of life.” White suggests therapists have a similar task. “Within therapeutic conversations it is my task to build a scaffolding, through my questions, that exercises and stretches the families that consult me, and that make it possible for them to step into some of the less explored territories of their life.” I love that image, of therapists as constructing the outline for new possibilities within old thought patterns.

  479. What do you like most about Outside Witness?
    At first when I heard about this idea I must admit was pretty sceptical. I think because I was thinking of the therapist and client as a private space and to bring in more people would be complicated but as I begin to learn more about the outside witness I begin to realize it is actually quite therapeutic for the client. To hear someone else’s thoughts about your own live is powerful. Quite often we don’t hear positive affirmations in our day to day life. So this is an opportunity to use a person who is close to the client is a way that gives more value to the client’s story. I am a bit nervous in using this but I think in time it will become second nature. Thanks

  480. 1. What is meant by the term outsider witness?
    Someone who will bear witness to your story. For example, in the context of the classroom, the outsider witnesses can be the other class members who listen when a workshop participant reads out their story. In the context of therapy, it can also be another family member, for example, parent or sibling.
    2. Why is it important for there to be witnesses to preferred stories?
    Outsider witnesses make the story ‘thicker’ by their presence. They may be an active participant (such as a family member, who is familiar with the story already) or they may have no knowledge of the story. However, those who have no knowledge of the story can also help to ‘thicken’ the story. For example, class participants may then share stories of their own experiences of a particular incident.
    thank you – this lesson was particularly helpful.

  481. Traumatic memories can be particularly difficult to handle in a group or classroom setting so using the story analogy – the depression becomes the ‘black dog’ but he can be put on a lead, rather than following you around – will be most useful.
    I found Mark Hayward’s video and Powerpoint especially helpful. The ‘statement of position map’ helped me to ‘break down’ the problem. Characterisation is also a word that we creative writing tutors understand! However, it is this idea of getting into specifics – to give examples and also to take responsibility as well as externalising that I found very helpful.
    I liked Mark’s statement that it was ‘easier to compare two things than describe one’ – that you then see the issue in sharp relief against the other ‘thing’.
    The statement of position was important: I liked the example of the little boy who calls his temper tantrums ‘T-Rex’ and that then puts him in charge of the problem.
    I also liked Mark’s description of values as not necessarily being fixed moral positions but ‘what you hold precious in life’ – therefore your position on something always reflects your values so this then leads to questions like:
    “What is the problem stopping you from doing?” This was a revelation.
    thank you.

  482. The talk about the chart using the transcript really made it clear for me how externalising works. I am new to Narrative and have been doing some of this but not all, my clients are in long term intervention therefore I can take some of my learnings back to the same clients and continue the work. The part about responsibility and externalisation was great as I work with young people who engage in forms of antisocial behaviour and it is important that I am externalising in a way that does not remove the responsibility from the clients. I really admire the positioning of the person on the problem, and that responsibility can lie in how one experiences the problem, not letting it have control of their life. I have learn’t a lot from this chapter.

  483. Hello, I’m Isa Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I got interested in taking this online course after the testimony of a colleague that provided simultaneous translation for a Seminar on Narrative Therapy that took place in Rio.

    I’ve graduated in Performing Arts and I’m taking a post-graduation course in Jungian Analytical Psychology, willing to specialize in Art Therapy, and work as a translator.

    I got very impressed by the richness of the Narrative Metaphor and how it can be of great help for therapists. It’s a wonderful advice to ask only what you really don’t know, something that might not be considered as important, but it matters a lot, because it’s a demonstration of respect and kindness that stimulates an attentive hearing towards the ones seeking therapy.

    Also the idea of possible different stories in a single plot, or even different plots for our lives and for the concepts we have about ourselves, and how the family, cultural, hystorical and social contexts can influence our self-image and what we’re going to emphasize in our history. Very interesting! I’m very enthusiastic, looking forward to taking the next steps of the online course!

  484. Hi from cloudy England!

    The resource that feels most useful for me is Mark Hayward’s session that follows his discussion with Joey. I like the idea of plotting the conversation to have a clear picture of where the discussion has remained or could move to next. I also liked how he sensitively discussed the notion of responsibility when working with someone who has used abusive behaviours. I feel that there is such power in the idea of not defining someone by their actions (which, I guess, goes back to the idea of the ‘thin’ narrative). It allows the suggestion that there is an alternative way of being to surface, rather than offenders becoming locked into self-fulfilling patterns of behaviour.

    In my work, there are a lot of problems that could be externalised. For the young offenders with whom I work, there are often underlying social difficulties and interactional patterns that they find difficult to shift. Anxiety (often at the heart of this) could be externalised (although for these young people, they might call it a discomfort or a restlessness or a feeling like the world is crashing in). In schools, there are often negative behaviours between pupils or teachers that could also be externalised.

    Externalising appears to give people the power to be someone else, not to be the problem personified and to rediscover the ‘myself’ discussed by Michael White in the radio interview previously mentioned. I recognise that idea when someone says, “I know that was me, but I wasn’t myself”. For the young people with whom I work, their sense of ‘myself’ – their identity is confused and painful to examine. Externalising means that the shame is taken away from the discussion so that, with understanding and non-judgement, alternative values can be revived.

  485. Hi from the United Kingdom!

    Firstly, thank you so much for allowing open access to this course! What a resource! I am a psychologist, working with children and I have been very interested for a long time in finding out more about narrative therapy so I have set aside some time this summer to explore these pages.

    For me, narrative metaphor is a way of re-weaving a tapestry. The threads and shapes lying in a certain way might tell one ‘thin’ story but it is only when they are unravelled and woven again that other, more ‘true’, richer pictures might come to light. Stories, especially for younger children, hold security in their predictability but can become too defining and restricting for the other themes to grow.

    Thinking about stories in this way is helpful for me, particularly in finding ways to empower and humanise young people’s experiences. Helping a person to understand the impact of context (social/political/historical/cultural) can be reassuring and helps them to see themselves in a different light – as someone who has been resilient and resourceful despite the odds. I like Alice Morgan’s key points about centring people as experts in their own lives – to give them that sense of control using a non-blaming approach.

  486. Hi all,
    The most useful resource i enjoyed from this chapter was the story of ‘Sugar’. I was inspired by the fact that this substance sugar can do so much damage to our bodies, to the aboriginal people especially, and when it was displayed as a person called Sugar I believe clients would see how they can draw on their own wonderful strength and crush this desire. They can see how amazing their own traditions of catching fish and eating healthy can be such a wonderful strength in themselves and their community. What a wonderful narrative display of showing the aboriginal people how they can overcome this substance called sugar!!

  487. Yeh!!! from me! I love it as, I love your flag!
    I will support you through Word of mouth and Facebook.
    Well Done and Cheers,

  488. My name is Carina and I’m from Copenhagen, Denmark. I currently doing my master in psychology and next semester I’m doing an internship at Narrative Perspektiver ( = Narrative Perspectives) where I’m going to follow the work of two psychologists, participating in workshops and having my own clients (under the supervision of a skilled psychologist of course). I’ve taken a course in narrative therapy when I did my bachelor’s degree, but I think this online course is a great opportunity to brush off my knowledge and learn even more! Thanks to the Dulwich Centre for this!

    I’m very inspired by the narrative metaphor and the position it puts me in as a therapist/counselor. I feel it sets my mind free of diagnosing and instead listening with curiosity and empathy to the story the client has to tell. Every response has a purpose even though the response might not be appropriate anymore. That’s why you need to dig deep into the layer of a multi-storied life instead of just accepting a single story as the final truth.

  489. Hi, I am from Sydney and I am excited about doing this online course. I have done a few narrative courses. However, I did them a few years ago so it is great to have a online course available so I can refresh my thoughts and revisit narrative therapy. I love narrative therapy it is amazing how we as therapists do not have to be the person with all the knowledge but we speak about the client being the expert. It is wonderful to be able to help them find within their story, which might start off as thin, the ‘positive thick’ storyline so to speak. To be able to discover with them the skills they possess that maybe they didn’t even know they had. Also, to bring meaning to the more neglected events of their lives.

  490. The story about sugar was amazing. I live and work in a remote indigenous community as a youth worker and I would love to do an act of similarity to this as I believe it would be so beneficial to mob living here because they would be able to identify very well with it. Taking sugar and creating an identity for it is the perfect idea.

  491. Hello all, this is Lucia, from Spain.
    The two concepts that have touched me most or that have made me look at some of the things that surround me differently have been the externalization and the critical thinking. As coach, many times I have to give courses, teach people to deal better with theis lives, and these two concepts have helped me enormously in building the new couse we are launching in september. I have found that externalization is vital in order to see the circumstances that we are living as something apart from the person because when people start identifying the problems as a part inherent to themselves it is much harder to get the out from that idea. I really wanted to do something different to what people are used to here, in my country, and narrative practices are not common at all in Spain, so this I’ve found this approach really helpful, specially in some tough context such as abuse or cultural differences with foreigners (that some don’t get to assume).
    I’ve talked about these two, but I have found so many useful tools (Narrative documentation is awesome and the sense of collaboration enriches the entire community) in this course and such an awesome approach to therapy that I am going to apply it in my job and in my day-to-day life.

  492. Hello again, this is Lucia from Spain. For me, critical thinking is questioning, not taking things for granted, not thinking that something is correct (or not) just because somebody I admire or someone in a position of power says it is that way. For me, it’s about being objective in each situation and taking a moment to think and look at the opinion, fact, situation, problem or whatever impartially, though it is really hard to put aside our own assuptions, beliefs and values.
    I think the toughest part is start practicing it but, if you try to do it each day, you can get to make it your usual way of thinking and analyzing.
    Loved the chapter, thank you!

  493. Hello everyone, this is Lucia, from Spain. I found this one to be a beautiful and inspiring chapter. I deeply believe in collaboration, sharing, group work and accountability in order to grow (though it’s not easy!), learn and achieve better outcomes because if you close yourself to what you know, you are placing limits. I really likes what The Family Centre, beautiful work full of meaning and with a very clear base. And Tileah’s video was a wow, inclredibly insightful and with an very powerful concept for me, the Strong Line. I’ll try to (and will, whenever it’s possible for me) apply it from now on.

  494. Hi everyone,
    I’m Britt and I have recently graduated with a Bachelor of Counselling. I have decided to complete this online course as I feel that I need to develop my understanding of Narrative therapy.
    I have been using Narrative practices with my clients over the last 12 months (Michael White’s Maps of Narrative Practice has been like a bible for me).
    I am interested in how power and privilege impacts the cultural and individual stories that are told. Watching Chimamanda Adichie’s ted talk on the danger of the single story impacted how I view individual stories and cultural stories, understanding the complexities multiple stories and remembering that focusing on single stories is dangerous as assumptions could be made on both the individual and surrounding culture. focusing on a single story does not give an understanding of the whole individual and their multiple stories would not be investigated.
    The dot exercise was impacting on me as it allowed me to visualise the complex, rich and varied stories that make each and every person.
    thinking of stories as being many different roads on a map (cross roads, straight roads etc.) and not knowing where we will go with our clients gives me encouragement leaving me with the ability to ask questions and explore the curiosities that will arrive. Allowing the client the option and decisions in their therapy, empowering them to tell all of their stories and separating the problem from the individual excites me as a therapist and working within the community.

  495. I am a clinical social worker in Toronto, Canada and studied narrative therapy many years ago. It was a powerful lens with which to view my conversations with clients and gave me the language and framework to work more collaboratively. I have wanted to re-visit the writings so I can resist dominant therapy discourses when they don’t serve me (and the client)well and provide space for more helpful interactions.

    Love the reminder about the importance of alternative (and often neglected) storylines. The concept of the single story resonates strongly – how we like to box ourselves (and others) into thin stories about who we are. Love the threads between narrative therapy practices and writing.

  496. I loved the TED clip by Novelist Chimamanda Adichie.
    The culturally rich information about the single story was really thought provoking and inspiring. It works really well with ‘thin description’. I’m very interested in the stories of culture and power. Who tells them, what aspects are told and what aspects are tacit

  497. Hi, I am Dzung from Vietnam but just call me Emily. It’s easier 😀
    I have arrived here in Adelaide to study Master of Disability Policies and Practice at Flinders Uni. This is my first semester and I will take Conselling Topic in this semester. It is very kind that my topic coordinato sent me the link of this course. Acutally, conselling in general and narrative thereapy in particular are completely new for me and I feel lucky to know this online course. i do hope that I can get some knowledge, skills and lessons learn from you guys. After watching the story, I realized that I sometimes wrote single stories only based on my imagination or sometimes I just rely on one way stories to judge some. It is not only unfair but also makes me misunderstand them. Now I know ‘it takes two tango.

    • Hi My name is Nadia. I am a school counsellor in a senior secondary school. I am interested in learning about Narrative therapy and how I can work with members of my school community to surface rich thick desctiptions.

  498. I’m Tiffany, writing from Calgary Alberta Canada. (Actually writing from Sylvan Lake at a family camp – lovely.)

    The idea of sparking sustainable small social movements immediately resonated with me, and I wonder about how I can bring this into my own work as a self-care and narrative coach. So many of the people I work with are struggling under intense intersectional oppression – not just racism, but racism misogyny. Not just misogyny, but transphobic misogyny. Not just poverty, but ableism and poverty. They stack. The stack gets heavy. I often perceive myself an an Eeyore – I appreciate ideas that leave room for despair – and I wonder how I can use these ideas to build hope without “bright-siding” folks. I don’t have a specific idea for how to use this yet, but I’m going to sit with it. I really like the idea of a pedagogy of desire, as well. I’m going to research that further.

  499. Vanessa, I sit on Warumungu country as I listen to you sharing your innovation. Wow! so beautiful, practical, accessible. As I listened to you describe the My Meeting Place map, I felt sparks of curiosity about how I can use your creation! several children came to mind, who might playfully engage, and then I started to think about some adults, some living with a disability, and then some young people for whom life has failed to give them much incentive to live on (Tatz, 2005). I am wondering about an ‘anchoring quality’ to the map, and then… some family groups, I could think of who would be interested in coming together to focus on a family member – in a possible outsider witness experience (what they know of and value about the person etc). The grace in the visual depictions, strong and sure symbols, lending themselves to generate preferred story development.
    thank you,

  500. Thank you so much for sharing this, lots to think about.

  501. Thanks for your work Keri. I started listening in a process of trying to find some resources for a client I met with this evening. And I listened to the end. One aspect of your presentation that stands out, as I listen, is your attention to each person’s experience of the practices (“group”, questions and interviewing,writing practices)and what you did with that knowledge. I imagine the effort to keep doing that, to keep that perspssective/positions. The image of someone travelling lightly comes to mind: having maps but not being limited by the map, being able to take other paths, other ways. This traveller has companions on the journey and actually meets people along the way. She has a little smile derived from sheer enjoyment of the discoveries.
    I am slowed down in my thinking about how to work with my client: proceeding slowly with respect and appreciation for the lives of women who tip the apple cart of oppression.

  502. Hello! This is Lucia, from Madrid, Spain. I think I’ve always known but this chapter comes to remind me that listening is as important as speaking in narrative and that taking into account the opinions of the others, treating them as you would treat yourself, being fair and understanding the other persons’ abilities and values so you can really appreciate what they propose and what they feel about something, is as importante and valuable as just creating a good narrative. Sam’s story has deeply touched me and has made me want more on narrative practices because I want to get to do something as wonderful and insightful as that.

  503. Hi im H from NSW. I am just sitting with all these wonderful ideas and thinking about how to apply them to my practise. I have recently created a document with children, using art. They each creates a visual representation of what they wanted to say, which had a particular theme and healing intention. They could put their name on it if they wished and it was displayed.

  504. Hi I’m H from NSW. In her article, Alice Morgan wrote that she has been involved in conversations with children where the power relationships were minimised. I work with kids in groups and there is a level of behaviour management involved, which changes the power relationships. However my aim is to let kids express whatever they are feeling without feeling pressured to do anything they don’t want to. Sometimes they need some encouragement though!!!

  505. The entire way the black dog was depicted is interesting. I liked how depression is taken out and treated as a separate individual, makes it easy to identify the issue. whats more is that in many other methods to deal with depression, it’s difficult to understand what this, is as it’s not visible. By creating the image of the back dog it is easier to see and deal with it. maybe we can use the same principle, to deal with other issues.

  506. I am writing from Europe.

    The use of outsider witness seems very appealing to me, especially when used with patients; it can give them a confirmation of their preferred identity and story. Also this method allows them to get asked deeper questions about their narration. It also allows the patient to hear their story told by another person. The outsider witness practice can be applied among patients suffering from different types of disorders or other issues. I was immediately thinking about patients suffering from Eating Disorders.

  507. Which resource in this chapter particularly caught your attention and why?

    For me the best resource was the powerpoint presentation. It gave so many examples of how to ask externalising questions. I like having examples of the questions particularly in relation to working with narrative therapy and children.

  508. Mr name is Nicole. I am a therapist in Adelaide. I am currently doing my Graduate Diploma and my focus for a portion of my study is on Narrative Theory. I am enjoying what I am hearing and learning so far and I am excited to help myself and my clients journey through their stories.

  509. Talk about lightbulb moment, Hugh Fox through his article Using Therapeutic documents has provided me the opportunity to really challenge my relationship with a client, and my idea of the clients relationship to therapy. By challenging the ownership of case notes, or written representations of the clients story was incredible. “Of course” I state, why had I not thought of that myself, I believed that I was operating from a client first stand point – apparently not. Love that this has hit me in the face, and made me look at the concept of ownership/control and concept of expert/victim. Great stuff.

    I love the use of outsider-witnesses. The support and connection to the declaration of a persons preferred story or identity by outsiders appears to be very productive. I particularly like the idea of having outside witnesses that have walked similar journeys being part of the process, being an additional resource to draw on to remain on the path of the preferred story.

    fantastic chapter, continue to be loving the learning.

  510. The idea of externalising can be very helpful, since it starts with distancing the person from the problem. Very often, we encounter people who let themselves be defined by a mental illness, which very often is self-diagnosed. I have encountered individuals who define themselves and their choices by a traumatic event that happened in their lives years ago, and everything they do or do not do, they put the blame on that traumatic event. Although a traumatic event can have shattering consequences in regards to a personality, Narrative Exposure Therapy allows individuals to take some distance from the said event. Also this therapy helps them realise who they want to be, and allows them to find better ways in coping and becoming their “best” selves.

    E. Becker from Europe

  511. What a fabulous online course for me, an isolated rural social worker. This introductory session has opened my mind to the thousands of interlinking stories that exist in rural communities; which are not often explored or put into a context that people can understand and draw meaning from. For me it is the tapestry of life, the different threads and colours and the warp and the weave that create a story and it up to me to allow people to see this richness and not see themselves cast in one colour or as one character.

  512. I found Narrative Suitcase to be extremely informative and adaptive to my work – a practical approach to developing an alternate story

  513. Hello everyone, this is Lucia, from Madrid, Spain. I really enjoyed this chapter because I believe that internal community stories do shape the way that entire comunity sees and faces the world. I take all the knowlegde learned from other to see how to apply it in social projects in my community, so we may help children who suffer abuse or women who suffer violence or maybe even adults that need to face radical changes in their own communities and don’t know how to face them. Incredible work!

  514. Hello, this is Lucia, from Madrid, Spain. I found very interesting this whole chapter, but what I’ve really found useful (and I will start using right away, with clients and groups I work with) are the letters for recording sessions. I love writing letters and I think it’s a graet way of not forgetting anything. Al the other documents are really useful too, but the other one I’m going to start using right away is the Documents of rite of passage. It’s been a while that we’ve been thinking how to mix the rite of passage in our group sessions and this chapter has really inspired me. Thank you!!

  515. Hi all, this is Lucia from Madrid, Spain. The idea of externalizing is awesome so people get some distance from the problem and really feel that THEY are NOT the problem, the problem is the problem (awesome statement, I’ll begin to use it!). I really connected with the Sugar story, it really touched me. The black dog called depression video is incredible. The first time I saw it, it caught me in a really “tender” day and, up to the middle, I found myself with tears in may eyes and finally celebrating the success of the character. Amazing! And Mark’s video, well, he is an incredible communicator so it gets things clear. Learned so much with chapter, thanks!!

  516. Externalising is a powerful tool that enables people to gain distance from their problems. This assists to diminish the direct influence of the problems, giving space to review and observe situations without judgement. It assists to avoid the identity trap of feeling defined by ‘insurmountable’ problems. Therefore the concept “The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem“ allows the problem to be scrutinised from a safer proximity. This can lessen the direct effects of the problem and lead to more options. Externalising also allows the room to explore preferred stories, which can help fortify identity in the face of problems.
    Externalising has been useful for me in navigating my personal and professional experience. Through building my own resilience, I have also been able to assist others in my care, and it offers me a ‘periscope’ that allows me to view and celebrate the bigger picture as a tangled narrative of shared and diverse stories and journeys, and strengthens the narratives shared within the community context. In the broader context a problematic dominant story can compound social problems. Through my work with vulnerable people, I have seen first- hand how social services such as police, legal practitioners, doctors, nurses, psychologists often lean towards the attitude that ”it is them that have the problems not us.” This appears to create dislocated interventions that aggravate and compound social problems. The Narrative approach reframes of problems as separate to people, definitely not a bunch of ‘uglies’ hosted by the disadvantaged to be tackled with gloves on at a safe distance. This is a great human leveller in which the ethos of equality can operate more freely, and we can share more concerns as a community.

  517. In my current position I am my first ‘meeting’ of clients is often through their referrals, case notes and files. It is in this context that I wish to discuss The Narrative Metaphor. As Narrative Practices teaches us, case studies and files generally present flat one dimensional ‘shadow’ of a person’s profile. They undermine the complexity and richness of each individual’s life. They do not speak to their social context, their multi stories, possibilities and hopes or dreams. Words are ever powerful and The Narrative Metaphor embraces the richness of multi-storied self, illustrated by potent words and descriptions. It celebrates the journey of un-sung heroes and self-created competencies. As practitioners we are cautioned to beware of the impact imposed by one dimensional story lines and should make it our business to be guided by each individual client and learn from them with an open heart, as things are from their point of view. This is the first step to opening the possibility and creating the space for the richer tapestries of life to emerge.
    In her book “What is Narrative Therapy: Alice Morgan discusses the effect of Dominant stories, alternative stories and dominant plots. She outlines how alternative stories play a powerful role in redefining our lives. These alternative narratives can be strengthened to remind the ‘author’ that they have numerous abilities and strengths that may be ‘put up’ against the dominant story if it is one that is reeking-havoc, demeaning or furthering the experience of adversity. This can be a powerful awakening and it can assist people to manage tough times, through connecting with their own unique strengths. The function of the many possibilities of stories, other than one dominant story line is also highlighted in Jill Freedman and Gene Coombs’ Animated Narrative Therapy Dot Exercise.

  518. Whilst I really enjoyed learning about the Statement of Position map and having a hands on example of keeping on track and moving a session through a process of the 4 different levels , I can’t help going back to the Black Dog video. I am obviuolsy a visual learner (initially an art teacher by trade), and a dog lover. The manner in which the dog morphs into different forms to impact on so many parts of the characters life, shadow, mirror image, glassess, etc. Amazing. A great example of how these strongs feelings can morph and expand to the status of hijacking. Just loved the use of the dog to demonstrate externalisation thanks for including this.

    I will definately use this video link with my clients as an example of how the feeling of depression can be visualised and considered. having a visual tool is avaiable is just great.

  519. So excited to be participating in this training and energised by the first chapter.

    I am in the very early stages of supervision as a provisional psychologist and totally get how I am at the beginning stages of my learning.

    The literature, audio and video information was presented in a way in which all my senses were engaged (especially the hearing of the birds).

    Its perfect timing that I am doing this particular training as I am working with two clients, one adult and one child who are struggling with the concept of establishing new story lines, holding on fastly to their dominant stories that have caused much distress in their lives. The ability to share the idea of the dot exercise from Jill Freedman and Gene Combs was brilliant, providing opportunities to look up and out at the different events and experiences that have been ignored up to this time. The resistance however has been incredible to the possibility of alternatives and I can’t wait to keep expanding my learning to expand my ability to support my clients in their journeys.

    Totally love the concept of curiosity and asking valid questions, not those that just fill in silences. I look forward to remaining curious throughout this training.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts everyone loving what each of us get out of it.

  520. I have really enjoyed this course and would like to progress to the Externalizing Conversations module to develop further skills and knowledges! 😉

  521. My overriding observation and reflection on my past work is that “threat” acts as a huge barrier to truth within direct intervention with people. This threat seems to come from a fear of judgement, and consequently professional actions which might have significant consequences for people and take away control from their lives. A typical example in family work would be child protection issues and processes. The documents in this section reveal to me the differing ways in which practitioners have enabled the barrier of threat to be taken down. This seems to be a combination of taking time, building trust through genuine interest in the person and their agency being shown, and enabling the person to retain (or regain) a sense of control and agency enacted through their narrative. This has been really inspiring, and I feel hat focusing on this could really help me develop effective ways of working with people at a more truthful, and therefore resonant, level.

  522. Hi all, this is Marcia from Sydney.
    I love this Module about Externalising as I have been already using with clients and I can see how powerful tool this is. Clients even change their body language and we start separating them from the problem and I also find that creating a dialog between the external problem and client can also bring significant outcomes during sessions. Also in this module I found very interesting the Statement Position Map1 and I would like to explore more about it.

  523. Congratulations for this amazing work.I had attended also your workshop in Barcelona during the fourth Europe Conference of Narrative therapy and Community Work in which we participated with our workshop entitled ”the use of the Collective document in different audiences” a work based on the responses of the Greek people while facing the troubling effects of the economic Crisis.We would love with my husband to practice the ”beads of life” although we don’t work in a foundation .We hope we could contact you if there is a chance to try this practice. Thank you!!!!

    • Thank you for watching the video. You are welcome to contact me, if you are thinking of setting up a ‘Beads of Life’ group. I also run whole day experiential workshops to teach people about running ‘The Beads of Life Programme’. if you are interested in the days workshop – let me know.
      Are you continuing with your work – using collective documents?
      Best Wishes

  524. Hello once again, myself Sunaina (Shillong, India) in relation to video on “I had a black Dog and his name was Depression”. It is very clear to understand about “externalizing the problem”. Where the black dog “depression” was the problem which kept following the master where ever he went to the point that it became huge and overtaking the master.

    This video very creatively has shown the impact of problem can have on people to the point that they are afraid of themselves because they are so very weak. Having no more control on themselves thereby making them to believe that it is the end of their life. How true it is with us humans when problem overtakes us we feel down to the point of being trampled by it. With no hope for life and future.

    But thanks to externalizing the problem where we look at the problem separate from the person and thereby work accordingly. Through doing “right things” taking care of ourselves and “talking to right people” who will journey with us and help us through the problem.

  525. I found the session on mapping extremely informative and I am keen to read more about it. The position map is an effective tool to identify where the problem connects in the context of a person’s life and the effects it has. Although a little tricky to get the hang of, I feel with practice and further study mapping will be an invaluable tool.

    • Alan,
      I would highly recommend the book: Maps of Narrative Practice, Michael White. It is a wonderful read and tool to use with clients.


  526. Hi, everyone I am Sunaina from India I have been following on this Narrative Therapy for months since I got a taste of it.The study has helped me reflect my own story, how each events in my life have influenced/shaped me.Thanks to narrative metaphor to help me see the bigger picture and not just the tiny small picture of my life story.

    Narrative metaphor in my understanding is the re-telling of my stories not just one part but every part in a more powerful way. Where the thread of story line is seen connected “across time” since the day I was conceived till now. And where every life events is considered significant.

    In looking at life as stories-telling approach it gives the sense of ownership/authorship to the teller. Where he or she has the power to take the story in any direction and in this context in a positive hopeful journey. Thus for me I would say Narrative Metaphor is a “non-harming” steps toward helping people see life purposefully.

  527. Hello All, Michael from Adelaide here.

    I found this lesson on externalizing very interesting. The idea that,’the person is not the problem, the problem is the problem”, I think would be extremely useful in a clinical setting. Problems do tend to ‘take over’ people’s lives and identities, and creating space between the self and the problem, I think, would be very relieving for people.

    I think the idea of externalizing the ‘good’ things is also quite interesting. I never would’ve thought of doing that, but it may be helpful and useful to do so. By externalizing the ‘good’ things, it may give he person more power over them and therefore more control over their lives.

    I thought the idea of the ‘black dog’ and of Sugar (within the indigenous community) was extremely useful also. I think if therapists use externalizing ideas and humour with clients (in order to not be overwhelmed by the clients problems), then that may be helpful in a therapeutic context.

  528. Hello, I am Michael from Adelaide.

    I found this introduction to Narrative Therapy extremely refreshing. It helped me to make sense of my past and inspired me to continue on the path I am currently on.

    Specifically, this introduction ignited thoughts about people’s identities and how changing one’s identity can be helpful and useful in a therapeutic context. For example, if a recovering drug addict comes to see someone for therapy, it might be useful (after some time has passed and the person has dealt with the addiction) for the person (and people close to them) to no longer see the individual as a ‘recovering drug addict’, but to see them in a different way. A person could be a ‘recovering drug addict’ for years, and may even go back to the drugs because of this identity. It may be wiser for the person and people close to them to think of them in a different way. They could change their identity based on other things they do; for instance, they could say, “I am a carpenter”, or, “I am a husband” (or a wife), or “I like to eat pizza”, or “I am a funny person”. In this way they have changed what may be a problematic identity into a more useful one.

  529. Hi all!! I am writing from Sydney….I found this first lesson very interesting as we dive into the Narratives perspectives. I had a little contact with Narratives back in Brazil in 2005 and now I am finding myself “curious” about what else can I learn, explore from this experience. For me the highlight of this first lesson was explore the Alternative stories and assisting clients to also explore and experience themselves other than their “thin stories”, Powerful!

  530. Wow! A chapter full of smart insights and worth thinking about it. I’m Spanish, from Madrid, Spain, and I have felt exactly what Chimamanda Adichie describes: Spain seen as an underdeveloped country and almost not part of Europe for some time, time when I lived in the USA and I had to listen to so many critics. And my story was different to this one. Spain for me was sun and fun and amazing people willing to share. And when I grew up and undretood the other point of view, my story grew too, and became better and more productive.
    I love telling stories and listening to other people’s stories, this enriches me so much and makes me a better person and counselor. And here is where it comes the narrative metaphore: I deeply believe that when we narrate our story, we are able of telling things that in any other “format” we wouldn’t tell, because of fear or not wanting to be judged. So the plot, the theme, the timely sequence helps us structure something that any other way may seem impossible to organize and retell.

  531. It’s rare to stumble on something so well thought out and inclusive as this. I am in a perfect position to teach this new version to my students at school and I don’t anticipate any opposition. From little things……

  532. I really connected with Sugar; particularly with the permissiveness that her program gave it’s participants. I also really got the flexibility that can be found in presenting psycho-education to clients; that doesn’t come of as lecturing or patronising.

    I was also, frankly, amazed that something so engaging and humours could sit within the uncomfortableness identifiable and still invite active participation from participants. It seems that by externalising and characterising a problem, we can, in a way, curate conversations that remove typical roadblocks that might have otherwise been encountered.

    But it think that it was the way that externalising allowed Barb to be so mindful and respectful to culture. Externalising gave her the freedom to build up their own approaches based on client/community needs, and I think this may be of huge benefit to brining talking therapy into communities which otherwise may have been avoidant.

    I’m thinking of my own work and can see where enabling a client the space to sit with the pain and trauma of pregnancy loss in this way. Where by she can begin to untangle all of the shame, distance and isolation by looking towards her experience/s in a way that allows for better access to resilience and strengths.

  533. Critical thinking means thinking deeply and reflecting on your interactions with others as well as doing self reflection about your own viewpoints, opinions, and decisions. It is this thought process that allows us to create change within our world. Without critical thinking and reflecting in this way nothing would ever change in society and we would not be able to move forward. I believe that in my own life and practice that I must always keep an open mind and refrain from ever viewing any one person as a ‘case’. Since everyone is unique and has their own life story and experiences, you can always learn something new from them, and they have a unique journey. We are always learning and it is important to keep an open mind and to always use critical thinking, reflection, and asking questions to learn more to further our knowledge about the world, our techniques, and ourselves. An image that comes to mind when thinking about critical thinking is a moving river – always flowing, never staying still and never being in the same place twice, yet being everywhere all at once.

  534. Hi, I’m from Sydney, Australia. I see Narrative Metaphor as a means of exploring stories and building alternative stories. As someone who is just starting to explore narrative therapy, I can see the benefits for a client to, not only tell their story, but to develop an awareness of their story’s meaning. Through sharing their story, I see that an individual can open themselves to a richer description of their life.
    I thought the presentation by Chimanda Adichie was brilliant and reminds me that we should not rely on a single story and that we need to engage with all the stories of the subject (person/place)