2014: Issue 2

Posted by on Nov 23, 2016 in | 0 comments


Welcome to this second journal issue for 2014.

The diverse pieces in this issue are from Canada, USA, New Zealand, Scotland, Palestine and Bostwana.

These include practice-based papers considering narrative responses to torture/trauma and brief narrative therapy approaches within walk-in clinics; and three interviews with researchers whose work, we believe, offers a great deal to narrative practitioners.

The field of narrative practice continues to diversify. David Epston’s column in this journal has been created to invite practitioners to share examples of local practice innovations. Perhaps, after you have read them, you will be tempted to write your own contribution to this column. We hope so!

Warm regards,

Cheryl White

Showing all 6 results

  • Poetic resistance: Witnessing Bahman’s resistance to torture and political violence— Vikki Reynolds, ‘Bahman’, Sekneh Hammoud-Beckett, Colin James Sanders & Gwen Haworth


    This writing presents an orientation to work alongside survivors of torture and political violence centred in witnessing resistance and an activist informed ethical stance for decolonising and antioppression practice (Reynolds & polanco, 2012). This includes descriptions of what constitutes torture and political violence, and understandings of witnessing, and resistance as ever present and useful despite the fact that resistance is often not enough to stop oppression (Wade, 1997; Reynolds, 2010a).

    This writing highlights Bahman, a survivor of torture from Iran, and illuminates his poetic resistance to torture, including poems that Bahman wrote during our therapeutic work together. I will provide enough context of the political situation and particular acts of violence and torture so that the acts of resistance in Bahman’s poems are understandable, and make visible structures of safety (Richardson & Reynolds, 2014, in press) and accountability practices. Bahman’s poems are interspersed throughout the text and following each of his poems there is a link to Gwen Haworth’s film of the poem read by Bahman in Farsi and Colin James Sanders in English. Bahman then reflects on the experience of re-visiting his resistance, our therapeutic work together, and his poems through an interview with Colin.

    Finally, Sekneh Hammoud-Beckett offers a reflection of this work from her location as a woman from a Muslim background and as a therapist with a commitment to creative resistance (2007).

  • Through a narrative lens: Honouring immigrant stories— Ann E. Kogen


    This article describes how cultural understandings can be utilised in re-authoring stories of individuals suffering from hardships as a result of torture or trauma. Anthropological research about the varied ways in which people express and experience emotion opens possibilities for therapeutic practice. Through an example of therapy, the author illustrates how cultural idioms and understandings can be integrated into a narrative that is healing and empowering.

  • Brief narrative practice at the walk-in clinic: The rise of the counterstory— Scot Cooper


    This paper describes the development of counterstories in brief narrative single session therapy. Counterstories, being a specific kind of story, involve the juxtaposition of counter plot to the problem plot and set out to rehabilitate a compromised identity. Although in the time constrained context of therapeutic walk-in clinic conversations counter stories are vulnerable to eclipse by the problem narrative there are ways to inoculate it and assist it to further thicken well after the initial face to face contact.

  • So many possibilities: Psychotherapy research and narrative therapy— An interview with John McLeod


    In this interview, John McLeod invites and encouarges narrative therapists to engage more rigorously with counselling and psychotherapy research; acknowledge a distinctive narrative therapy research identity, and provides an overview of a range of research methodologies particularly relevant to narrative therapists.

  • Researching health, justice and the capacity to endure— The work of Rita Giacaman and the Institute of Community and Public Health Birzeit University


    In this interview, Rita Giacaman, outlines an alternative approach to mental health research that relates to Foucault’s (1976) call for an ‘insurrection of subjugated knowledges’ (p.81). Building on Palestinian experiences of social suffering, and honouring local idioms, the work of the Institute of Community and Public Health at Birzeit University, refuses to separate health from justice

  • Indigenous research is a journey— An interview with Bagele Chilisa


    In this interview, Bagele Chilisa, introduces key themes relating to Indigenous research methodologies and the ways in which Indigenous scholars are transforming understandings of research and knowledge creation. Professor Chilisa also offers messages of support to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars.


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

  2. Hello:

    This is Andrea from Toronto.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  11. hello

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


    Cal Albright
    Kermode Friendship Center
    Terrace, BC

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

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

      Let me know if you would like more information.


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

  13. Hi Chris

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

    Best wishes


    • Hi Paul, m

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

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