2013: Issue 2

ijntcw_issue_2_2013_coverWelcome to the second issue of the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work for 2013! This issue was a little delayed because we have been inundated with interest in the newly announced Master’s Program in Narrative Therapy and Community Work which is to begin next year. This new venture, in collaboration with the University of Melbourne, will no doubt result in practice innovations and projects that will be shared within future issues of this journal. We hope that you will be a part of this initiative, whether as a direct participant or as part of the wider community of ideas that constantly reinvigorates narrative practice.

This journal issue begins with a publication that we have been working on for some time. ‘Bedwetting in times of trouble: Narrative therapy, enuresis and trauma’ is a resource for practitioners working with children in contexts of fear. It was initially inspired by experiences of meeting with children and families affected by war and natural disasters. Here in Australia, we have also heard of how children in immigration detention centres, in domestic violence shelters and elsewhere, struggle with bedwetting in contexts of fear. Interestingly, this publication brings narrative therapy full circle. As many of you know, responding to encopresis and enuresis was one of the early areas of work in which externalising conversations were developed. Hard copy versions of this resource will soon also be available for sale. We are delighted to make it accessible here online for members of the journal and we look forward to your feedback. We are also interested in creating a children’s book on this topic. If you would like to participate in this, please contact us.

This journal issue continues with a further paper from Jane Hutton about working with children with fears, while Part Two features two innovative projects. The first is in a school setting in the Northern Territory of Australia, the second relates to homeless shelters in Vancouver, Canada.

Part Three of this issue contains the reflections of narrative therapist, Barbara Baumgartner, on the same-sex marriage debate; and a review by Josie McSkimming of a recent interdisciplinary conference entitled: ‘Storytelling: Global reflections on narrative’.

It’s a diverse collection. We hope it contains both practice and theoretical wisdoms that are relevant in your contexts. We will look forward to hearing your thoughts.


  • Bedwetting in times of trouble: Narrative therapy, enuresis and trauma— Sue Mitchell with illustrations from Julienne Beasley


    Dulwich Centre Foundation is involved in projects aiming to assist children living in vulnerable circumstances, including children who have experienced or witnessed violence. During these projects we hear about how children and young people in such distressing circumstances are increasingly vulnerable to experiencing bedwetting. We particularly hear about children in immigration detention centres, children who are living with their mothers in domestic violence shelters, and children in contexts of war or natural disaster, who are having to deal with wet beds in times of trouble.

    We also hear about the effects of this bedwetting on the children’s sense of identity, on relationships within the family, and on the relationships children have with other children. We found that bedwetting can also impact on family members, especially if the family is dealing with a lot, like coming to a new country.

    While wetting the bed can be a completely normal part of growing up, and is often experienced without any influence of distress or trauma, this handbook aims to offer hopeful and creative ways of responding to children who have experienced trauma and/or witnessed violence and in the midst of dealing with these tough experiences are also finding themselves in wet beds. We hope this resource will be helpful for workers and for parents/carers. Down the track we are also hoping to produce a storybook that children and young people can read.

  • Reclaiming imagination from fear— Jane Hutton


    Playful narrative therapy has been used with people of all ages but especially with children, often in relation to serious problems. This article examines ways of using imagination to plot against fear, as well as co-researching with children about what works to shrink fear.

  • The ‘Bellayla’ Project – bringing storylines of identity into relationships of harmony— Peter Bourke


    This paper shares the journey of the ‘Bellayla Project’, a co-research initiative between the author and two young people, Bella and Tayla. It describes how engagement in this project enabled second-story development in the lives of these two young people. It also conveys what becomes possible for young people when they are invited into a space of critical thinking, collective inquiry, and sharing knowledge about ‘problems’.

  • Lessons from self-organising shelter communities: ‘We were already a community and you put a roof over us’— Aaron Munro & Vikki Reynolds with Rachel Plamondon


    This paper illustrates the work of a community of shelter folk and shelter workers to create safe-enough and dignified communal living conditions in housing shelters. The aim of this writing is to make clear the intentions and practices of promoting self-organising communities, by embracing a messy and imperfect practice, and working collaboratively with shelter folk to resist professional imperatives to tell people how to live.

  • It Ain’t Over: Marriage (in-)equality and queer assimilation— Barbara Baumgartner


    As the same-sex marriage debate pushes into the mainstream in Australia and the United States, the author asks us to deconstruct the institution of marriage and examine its classist, patriarchal and consumerism-driven motives which serve to add further privilege to an already privileged group, while obscuring the intersections of oppression experienced by the queer1 community. Is this community being assimilated into a mainstream or is the right to marry a needed step in the journey to equality? What do we in the community of narrative therapy need to consider in our work for social justice, and how do we ensure that the call for equal rights in all countries continues to be heard after Western governments endorse same-sex marriage rights?

  • Shared passion within a diversity of interests: a credible and stimulating alternative. The Interdisciplinary Conference ‘Storytelling: Global reflections on narrative’ A review— Josie McSkimming


    This article describes the recent narrative turn in qualitative research in the context of a recent inter-disciplinary conference. The academic and therapeutic implications of storytelling were explored in an explicitly dialogic setting. While positivist quantitative research may currently exert some dominance in the clinical world, academic research within the social sciences has the opportunity to challenge and subvert such conventional research practices. Narrative inquiry and analysis offer a credible and creative alternative, offering research participants new opportunities to document their stories and more fully engage in the meaning construction of research projects.