2014: Issue 1

Posted by on Nov 23, 2016 in | 0 comments

2014-no-1 CherylA note Cheryl White 

In 1979, the Australian Journal of Family Therapy was first launched. Moshe Lang, Graham Martin, Brian Stagoll, Eleanor (Ruth) Wertheim and Michael White were key members of the inaugural editorial team of this journal, with Michael as the foundation editor. They were exciting times. The journal, which was later to become the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, sought to contribute to the development of family therapy ‘downunder’. And so it has.

Thirty five years on, this special issue focuses on narrative family therapy approaches. Narrative approaches to therapy and community work derived from the Australian and New Zealand fields of family therapy. David Epston and Michael White first met at an Australian Family Therapy Conference. And yet, here in Australia at least, there have been some pretty significant ups and downs in the relationship between ‘family therapy’ and ‘narrative therapy’.

The invitation to Dulwich Centre to put together a special issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy was particularly significant to us and we would like to thank Glenn Larner for this. Once we received his invitation, we wrote to key narrative family therapists in different parts of the world and asked whether they would like to submit papers. There was a tremendous response and enthusiasm for this. I think this reflects the rich intertwined histories of family therapy and narrative approaches, and also a great wish for further collaborations and generative conversations across differences. We will look forward to hearing feedback from readers.


dd-latestEditorial by David Denborough

This special issue includes papers from Norway, USA, UK, Brazil, Uganda, New Zealand and Australia. These include perspectives from highly experienced narrative therapists, as well as those who are engaging with narrative practices in diverse cultural contexts and transforming them as a result. We have divided this journal issue into three sections:

Part I: Looking forwards: narrative family therapy in diverse contexts
Part II: Looking across: links between narrative therapy and other family therapy approaches
Part III: Looking back
Part I: Looking forwards: narrative family therapy in diverse contexts

The first three papers include vivid contemporary descriptions of the use of key narrative therapy practices: re-membering conversations, outsider-witness practices, externalising conversations and written documentation.

In the first paper, Creating stories of hope: A narrative approach to illness, death and grief, Lorraine Hedtke recounts the use of re-membering conversations with families in which children have cancer or life-threatening illnesses. Her work facilitates the formation of legacies that can sustain family members, even after the death of a child, folding their stories into the lives of the living, and constructing lines of relational connection that can transcend physical death.

In the second paper, Witnessing and positioning: Structuring narrative therapy with families and couples, Jill Freedman provides clear guidance as to how to use outsider-witness practice within family therapy. In this process, people move between positions of telling and witnessing.

Geir Lundby then provides evocative stories involving the use of externalising conversations and letter-writing with Norwegian young people and their parents. Geir decided to focus his paper, Creating different versions of life: Talking about problems with children and their parents, on externalising conversations because in working with families, many parents have told him that externalising the problem is the single most important thing they experienced in their work together.

While these first three papers focus on contemporary uses of well-known narrative therapy practices, the following two papers illustrate some of the ways in which narrative practices are being transformed in diverse cultural contexts.

Makungu Akinyela examines the cultural relationship between narrative therapy and the therapies of a growing number of communities outside of European dominant culture. His article, Narrative therapy and cultural democracy: A testimony view questions the dominant approach to multiculturalism in the field today and introduces the idea of cultural democracy as an alternative approach to managing the relationship between narrative and other Euro-culture grounded therapies and the therapies of non-European peoples which may be similar to, yet culturally unique from, Euro-cultural therapies.

Caleb Wakhungu and the Mt Elgon Self-Help Community Project are transforming narrative ideas and practices as they use them to spark and sustain local economic ‘development’ projects in rural Uganda. Their innovative work links community work, therapy and development. A short paper, The gift of giving: empowering vulnerable children, families and communities in rural Uganda, describes here the significance of moving away from a children’s rights model (which had been imported from the West) to a model of empowering children and families in ways that are congruent with local cultural practices and understandings.

Part II: Looking across: links between narrative therapy and other family therapy approaches

The second section of this issue includes four papers from the UK, Australia and Brazil. These papers make links between narrative therapy and other family therapy approaches.

Drawing ideas from systemic and narrative approaches, Glenda Fredman’s team in the UK has found ways to bring families, practitioners and communities together to respond to medical, mental health and social care crises. This work has taken place with children, adolescents, older people and people affected by intellectual disability and their families. Glenda’s paper Weaving networks of hope with families, practitioners and communities shares an inspiring story of this work and describes ways of ‘conducting’ and ‘weaving’ networks of hope.

Val Jackson and Hugh Fox in their paper Narrative and Open Dialogue: Strangers in the night or easy bedfellows? briefly describe both narrative and open dialogue approaches before exploring their shared values, ways of working, their differences and the possibilities for integration.

Three family therapists from the Acquired Brain Injury team at the Bouverie Centre in Melbourne, Franca Butera-Prinzi, Nella Charles and Karen Story, then provide an account of the ways in which they integrate narrative family therapy and group work for families living with acquired brain injury.

While Lúcia Helena Abdalla and Ana Luiza Novis introduce their Brazilian narrative family therapy approach: Uh Oh! I have received an Unexpected Visitor: The visitor’s name is Chronic Disease. Based on their clinical experience with people with chronic diseases, Lúcia and Ana Luiza have developed a narrative methodology named ‘The Pantry of Life’ (also known as ‘The Unexpected Visitor’). This reflective approach invites the person and their family to imagine and describe the appearance of adversity in their lives as an ‘Unexpected Visitor’ who arrives unexpectedly and uninvited.

These four pieces offer glimpses of the ways in which many family therapists are engaging with narrative practices alongside and in conjunction with other family therapy approaches.

Part III: Looking back

We close this special issue by looking back at the intriguing histories of narrative family therapy. David Epston, in Ethnography, co-research and insider knowledges, revisits some of the intellectual histories of narrative practice, in particular the development of an ethnographic co-research approach to working with families. Significantly, by tracing the influence of anthropological and sociological thought on the development of what has become ‘narrative therapy’, one of the co-founders of narrative therapy invites current practitioners to read beyond the boundaries of any professional field in order to generate new forms of practice. This paper models a particular engagement with history in order to spark innovation in the present.

The second historical paper, Michael White and adventures downunder was written by David Denborough in response to four questions posed by distinguished family therapist Maurizio Andolfi:

What were some of the key steps in Michael White’s historical development from a personal-professional perspective?
From where did Michael draw his main inspirations?
What have been his major contributions?
And what has Michael left to the younger generations?
Apart from anything else, the history of narrative family therapy involves some pretty compelling tales!

We sincerely hope that you enjoy this collection of stories, ideas and practice from diverse contexts.


Showing all 11 results

  • Creating stories of hope: A narrative approach to illness, death and grief— Lorraine Hedtke

    $9.90

    A narrative approach allows psychosocial teams to stand alongside children who have cancer, or life-threatening illnesses, and their families at critical times and to create stories of agency. Rather than dwelling on stories of loss and despair that potentially enfeeble families, a narrative approach builds on stories of strength that engender hope by asking questions that separate the person from the problem. Developing such stories supports people in taking action against the effects of cancer. It also facilitates the formation of a legacy that can sustain family members, even after the death of a child. This legacy serves as the foundation for remembering the dead, folding their stories into the lives of the living, and constructing lines of relational connection that can transcend physical death. Not only do families benefit from this approach, but the psychosocial team that provides professional and medical services can be uplifted through witnessing practices of strength and love in the face of hardship.

  • Witnessing and positioning: Structuring narrative therapy with families and couples— Jill Freedman

    $9.90

    In this paper, the author describes a way of structuring family therapy that fits with the narrative metaphor, creating space for stories to be understood, deconstructed and further developed. In this process, people move between positions of telling and witnessing. Family members engage in shared understanding and meaning making.

  • Creating different versions of life: Talking about problems with children and their parents— Geir Lundby

    $9.90

    When working with families, many parents have told us that externalizing the problem is the single most important thing they experienced in our work together. This paper describes how externalizing conversations and double-story development can assist children and their parents talk about problems and create different versions of life. Examples from narrative family therapy conversations with two Norwegian families are included.

  • Narrative therapy and cultural democracy: A testimony view— Makungu Akinyela

    $5.50

    In this article I discuss my personal introduction to narrative therapy as an African American family therapist and my discovery of the similarities between narrative practices and my own approaches to therapeutic work. I also examine the cultural relationship between narrative therapy and the therapies of a growing number of communities outside of European dominant culture. The article questions the dominant approach to multiculturalism in the field today and introduces the idea of cultural democracy as an alternative approach to managing the relationship between narrative and other Euro-culture grounded therapies and the therapies of non-European peoples which may be similar to, yet culturally unique from, Euro-cultural therapies. This difference is not superficial or inconsequential. The article argues that a cultural democracy view challenges the emotional/ psychologically colonizing links based in presumption of Euro-cultural superiority of the ideas of Europe over the rest of the therapeutic world. This cultural democracy perspective creates a relationship of mutual respect and cross cultural influence between narrative therapy and other Euro-cultural therapies and the therapies developed by non-European peoples.

  • The gift of giving: empowering vulnerable children, families and communities in rural Uganda— Caleb Wakhungu 

    $5.50

    Caleb Wakhungu and the Mt Elgon Self-Help Community Project use narrative ideas and practices to spark and sustain local economic ‘development’ projects in rural Uganda. Their innovative work links community work, therapy and development. This short paper describes the significance of moving away from a children’s rights model (which had been imported from the West) to a model of empowering children and families in ways that are congruent with local cultural practices and understandings.

  • Weaving networks of hope with families, practitioners and communities: Inspirations from systemic and narrative approaches— Glenda Fredman

    $9.90

    Over the last decade, inspired by systemic family therapy and narrative approaches, Glenda and her teams in the UK have found ways to bring families, practitioners and communities together to respond to medical, mental health and social care crises. This work has taken place with children, adolescents, older people and people affected by intellectual disability and their families. This paper shares an inspiring story of this work and describes ways of ‘conducting’ and ‘weaving’ networks of hope.

  • Narrative and Open Dialogue: Strangers in the night or easy bedfellows?— Val Jackson and Hugh Fox

    $5.50

    This paper briefly describes narrative and open dialogue approaches before exploring their shared values, ways of working, their differences and the possibilities for integration. Both authors have extensive experience in using a narrative therapy approach, while Val Jackson, a family and systemic psychotherapist, also uses an open dialogue approach in her work in an early intervention in psychosis service in Yorkshire, UK.

  • Narrative family therapy and group work for families living with acquired brain injury— Franca Butera-Prinzi, Nella Charles and Karen Story

    $9.90

    Acquired brain injury profoundly challenges the identity of the affected person and family relationships. Narrative practices offer valuable therapeutic tools to assist families to face the enormous task of adjusting to an acquired disability. The integration of family therapy and group work provides multiple avenues for families to have their experiences validated and to support reconnection with strengths, values and goals. It is from this more empowered position that families can find ways to live their lives to the fullest, in spite of the difficulties.

  • Uh Oh! I have received an Unexpected Visitor: The visitor’s name is Chronic Disease a Brazilian narrative family therapy approach— Lúcia Helena Abdalla and Ana Luiza Novis

    $5.50

    Based on our clinical experience with people with chronic diseases, we have developed a narrative methodology we have named ‘The Pantry of Life’ (also known as ‘The Unexpected Visitor’). This reflective approach invites the person and their family to imagine and describe the appearance of adversity in their lives as an ‘Unexpected Visitor’ who arrives unexpectedly and uninvited. Consisting of six reflexive exercises, this methodology enables families who have felt hostage to the problem, to reclaim the authorship of the stories of their lives. By promoting new understandings, expanding conversations, and validating the skills and resources of family members, those living with chronic diseases are offered a chance to respond to serious problems in playful and creative ways.

  • Ethnography, co-research and insider knowledges— David Epston

    $5.50

    This piece revisits some of the intellectual histories of narrative practice, in particular the development of an ethnographic, co-research approach to working with families. By tracing the influence of anthropological and sociological thought on the development of what has become ‘narrative therapy’, this piece invites current practitioners to read beyond the boundaries of any professional field in order to generate new forms of practice.

  • Michael White and adventures downunder— David Denborough

    $9.90

    This paper explores the personal-professional historical development of the work of the late Michael White. It was written at the request of Maurizio Andolfi and first published in Italian in Terapia Familiare No.102, July 2013. It is published here for the first time in English with permission. The paper is written as a response to four questions: What were some of the key steps in Michael White’s historical development from a personal-professional perspective? From where did Michael draw his main inspirations? What have been his major contributions? And what has Michael left to the younger generations?

1,972 Comments

  1. Listening to Tileah I was provoked to contemplate my own use of language when working with clients. I enjoy the narrative model of practice and I am aware that for some there is definitely stigma attached to the process of counselling or therapy. I have only had one experience of working with an Indigenous person as a client and I will be sure to look at my use of language. I like the idea of it just being a yarn, it takes the pressure and onus off of the client to do something.

  2. Hello:

    This is Andrea from Toronto.

    I found particularly helpful the discussion in the FAQ around the use of metaphors of conflict and combat. I expect to be working in healthcare settings with critically ill patients and their loved ones (mostly children and parents), and I anticipate hearing them use these kinds of combative metaphors during our conversations. I also anticipate meeting many people who are mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted from “fighting” these problems. I appreciated the comments in the FAQ about combative metaphors, and the suggestions around exploring other kinds of metaphors which may be less conflict-laden and draining on their emotional resources. Thanks again for making this material available!

  3. I have started to use collaboration with clients when I am asked to write a report. I ask clients what they see as the areas of change and challenge of which they want others to be aware. I also at times share my report with the client first to be sure it accurately reflects their experience. In this way they are both acknowledging their ongoing journey and being acknowledged for the work they have done.

  4. Mike here, in London. I too was interested in “We were unwittingly adjusting people to poverty or other forms of injustice by addressing their symptoms, without affecting broader social and structural change.” It’s a really difficult question. I was involved for about 10 years in working with people suffering from homelessness. Sue Mann’s story really rang true for me. One thing I was involved in was a choir for marginalised people, literally helping them find their voices. That, I felt, was useful, and collaborative. But I have always been suspicious of things like distributing left-over sandwiches to people sleeping rough on the street, as if that made it OK for them to be there as long as we give them some stale sandwiches. Or giving them tents or sleeping bags. What message does it send? Even though it may be well-meaning.

  5. Hi, I’m Mike. I work as a couples counsellor in London, England. My main training was 50% psychodynamic and 50% systemic. Narrative work was touched on briefly, for one module, and I am looking forward to learning more. Couples certainly do bring stories, often rather thin stories. “My partner is selfish.” Or “My partner had an affair”. Full stop. That’s all there is to know. Even in happy couples, people seem to get shaped into rather thin roles: this partner is the one who’s good with people, that partner is the one who’s good with money, this one cooks, that one drives. If the relationship ends, they may discover, actually *I* also can drive, cook, manage my money, make friends, I am a complete person.

  6. I think it will be an important part of my practice to investigate with clients which elements of our systems (social, cultural, political, economic) that are contributing to or mitigating their problems and suffering. I was particularly struck by the following sentence from the Just Therapy article: “We were unwittingly adjusting people to poverty or other forms of injustice by addressing their symptoms, without affecting broader social and structural change.” I think it is incumbent upon those of us in helping professions to work with the people we are helping to begin addressing the systemic issues that are contributing to (or creating) their problems. Otherwise, we may fall into this trap of “adjusting people to injustice.”

  7. Hello! My name is Andrea and I am a Masters student in a spiritual care program located in Toronto.

    After reviewing this chapter, I’m reflecting upon the question that was raised: “how do we respond to grief when that grief has been caused by injustice?” and thinking about it in the context of working with seriously ill children and their families in a hospital/hospice setting. Patients and families in that setting also face grief that has been caused by injustice (in the form of incurable illness), and I see how the narrative metaphor can be used to help those families begin to reclaim their own lives in the face of tremendous loss caused by uncontrollable circumstances. I can see how the Articles of the Narrative Therapy Charter of Story-Telling Rights would be tremendously helpful when working with patients and families as a framework for telling and receiving their stories about their lives and their problems.

    For me, the material in this chapter also raises the question of how we can help to facilitate healing in a world where systems are seemingly becoming more unjust and creating deep suffering. My initial thought is that we continue to listen to each other’s stories with deep compassion, and the teachings of this course will help to provide us with new ideas and skills on how to do this.

  8. Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk was incredible. The one line where she said “a single story creates a stereotype. And the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete”. This blew my mind. I am ashamed to have ever participated in the single story belief of anyone let alone whole cultures, communities and countries , continents and so on. I know that moving forward I will endeavour to hear more stories and to encourage others to tell their story. I am about to run a photovoice narrative project to do just this, give a whole community the opportunity to change their stereotype.

  9. “Narrative therapy doesn’t believe in a ‘whole self’ which needs to be integrated but rather that our identities are made up of many stories, and that these stories are constantly changing.”

    I like this, I find it very compatible with my beliefs as a Buddhist. In Buddhism, as I understand it, mistaken beliefs about a solid, fixed “self” are the source of our suffering.

    I work with couples using EFT for couples, and in that approach, there is a big emphasis on externalising the problem as “the cycle that you get trapped in”, and encouraging couples to come up with their own name for it.

  10. Thank you for this. I am a counsellor, and trying to make as much as possible of my notes “in quotes”, that is, writing down things that the clients said. And not my own opinions.

  11. hello

    I the ED of a Friendship Center in Terrace, BC where were mostly target the indigenous population in our city of 12,000. I found your video interesting and something that we may want to try. Havee you been able to to do any follow ups studies to gage the long term effect of your program?

    Regards

    Cal Albright
    ED
    Kermode Friendship Center
    http://www.keremodefriendship.ca
    Terrace, BC
    Canada

    • Hi Cal, thanks for the interest. At this point the only followup has been through conversations with with people who return to volunteer on additional walks or engage with our other programs.

      However, a group of fourth year medical students at a local university have offered to run a pre and post measured study / report in 2020 as part of their studies which should be interesting.

      Let me know if you would like more information.

      CD

  12. Thank you for this overview of Narrative Therapy. I am returning to practice after some time away, and these reminders are timely and appreciated.

  13. Hi Chris

    I really enjoyed watching your video about Narrative Walks. My project is based in Blaenau Gwent, in South Wales, Uk. I’m wondering whether I might use such an approach in my work with our Youth Service, who support young people between the ages of 11 and 25. Have you any thoughts on this? Are there any resources available, either free or to purchase?

    Best wishes

    Paul

    • Hi Paul, m

      Much of my early attempts of the program were with the 15-20 year old age bracket and I found it worked really well. When I recently had an opportunity to run the program again with this age bracket – I extended the finish time so that could spend more time at the stop points and have a fire at the last resting place to talk about our intentions after the walk. This meant that we used head torches for the 2km which added a bit of a sense of theatre to the day. It was pretty cool.

      If you email me on hello@embarkpsych.com I can send you the manual. Or ask any other questions via this page so others might share in the answers.

      CD

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