2014: Issue 4

Posted by on Nov 24, 2016 in | 0 comments

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the fourth issue of the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work for 2014.

It features three themes:

— Narrative responses to stigma and diagnosis;

— Narrative therapy with children and their loved ones;

— and two innovative insider knowledge projects.

We’re delighted that a number of the papers are written by new authors!

We hope you enjoy this issue and look forward to hearing your feedback.


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  • Using narrative practices to respond to Stigma Stalker in the workplace: A journey with Joe— Sarah Ferguson

    $9.90

    This article conceptualises modern power through the perspective of stigma and offers examples of how narrative practices can be utilised to respond to mental health stigma in a therapeutic context as well as in the broader workplace environment. This paper follows the story of Joe and describes how externalising practices enabled Joe to get to know Stigma Stalker, expose its tactics, and discover its effects on his life at home and at work and upon his identity. Re-authoring practices enabled the development of rich and thick descriptions of Joe’s preferred identity. Documentation and outsider-witnessing practices were used to facilitate action within Joe’s workplace to weaken Stigma Stalker, which enabled Joe to re-engage at work with the support of his colleagues, and contributed to cultural change in relation to stigma.

  • What to do when a diagnosis doesn’t fit?— Amy Druker

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    This article will explore ‘the politics of naming problems’. Who should have the right to name the problems that we face? I will share from my work with a 17 year old, K who, despite really wanting a diagnosis, determined that the one selected for her was not a fit, and how we went about re-writing the ‘diagnosis’ to one that she felt suited her much better. Narrative therapists are interested in the meaning a person makes of a diagnosis. What about the label fits or does not fit? These questions demonstrate our belief in a person’s expertise about their lives. In the asking, we hand over the ‘authority’ to the person consulting us to decide if a label fits, and if it does not, to choose a name for the problem that does. ‘Therapy’ becomes a collaborative exploration, in which the person’s expertise about their own life is sought and valued.

  • Seeking treasure beneath the ruins: Stories of narrative practice with children and their loved ones— Ross Hernandez

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    Children with multiple challenges such as emotional, behavioural, mental, social, developmental, and educational difficulties, often experience constant hardship in their daily lives. These problems also impact their parents or carers. This paper shares stories of narrative practice with children and their loved ones. These stories include the use of externalising conversations, photographs, and the audio recording of outsider-witness responses.

  • Co-researching Hikikomori problem with insiders’ knowledges: Creating ‘Nakama'(Comradeship) across the ocean & generations— Sumie Ishikawa

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    This paper describes the unexpected unfolding of the co-research about ‘hikikomori’ phenomenon which was conducted with hikikomori insiders as co-researchers. Her narrative practice which includes electronic outsider-witness practice, the absent but implicit questions, and documentation of alternative stories, puts individuals’ diverse experiences into collective contexts, challenges the dominant discourses, and elicits insiders’ collective stories of not only their social suffering but also their wisdom, skillful responses, values, hopes, and dreams. This paper also suggests hopeful possibilities of responding to collective problems through creating ‘communitas’.

  • Resisting violences, reclaiming lives: Honouring the insider knowledges, initiatives and contributions of young people responding to intimate partner & family violence through film— Phillipa Johnson

    $9.90

    This article recounts a collective narrative film methodology emerging from co-research with a group of young people at the Domestic Violence Action Centre in Ipswich, Queensland. This paper illustrates a process of using narrative practices and film in a community setting to discover, link, document, celebrate and inspire creative responses to violence. It represents a body of work that could not have been generated without the diverse contributions of many people and organisations.

2,023 Comments

  1. I’m Clayre Sessoms from Vancouver, BC, Canada, traditionally known as Coast Salish Territories. I acknowledge that my work takes place on the ancestral, unceded, and occupied territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Nations of the Coast Salish People whose relationship with the land is ancient, primary, and enduring. I’m an uninvited settler in what is colonially known as Vancouver. Because my place of work is on stolen land I commit to support a reconciliation, which includes reparations and the return of land. Here I study counselling psychology and art therapy, and I get to incorporate narrative therapy at my practicum placement, a site that provides free counselling services for LGBTQ2S individuals.

    These materials help me to begin to wrap my head around the complexities of narrative therapy. I especially enjoyed learning about how others have used narrative therapy in practical counselling settings.

    I’m moved by how we often tend to hear, accept, or retell the thinnest stories of our lives and the lives of others. I imagine that not valuing the richness of an individual’s diverse range of stories, perhaps, it has been much easier to cling to tired old preconceived notions about others, which can cause undue harm.

    I’m left thinking about the TEDTalk by Chimamanda Adichie about the dangers of accepting a singular story of someone else, rather than leaning in and committing to understand the wholeness of that person’s narrative.

    I look forward to continuing to learn. Thank you to The Dulwich Centre for providing this accessible forum. <3

  2. in what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?

    As a peer worker most of my work was entering into collaborations with young people. I would use curiosity to further inquire into their experience, and looking back wow these narrative practices would have been amazing to use in our youth group discussions! We would use art mostly in telling stories. Many of the young people heard voices and saw characters only they could see. They would enjoy painting these voices, externalising the character, giving it a name and talking about the story and nature of the relationship between the voice and the character. I also enjoyed illiciting these stories, as I could tell they would begin to separate themselves from the voices, allowing for guilt and shame to reduce.

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?

    The one difficult way of entering into these practices was the note writing. The managerial culture of my last workplace meant it was not considered good practice to have clients sit with us to write notes. In fact most clients probably were unaware that workers did regularly make notes each time they had contact with the centre. We were a strengths based centre that thrived on person centred practice. I think there is a bit of a stereotype that note writing is quite clinical and removed from person centred practice, hence a certain avoidance of bringing up notes in front of clients.

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

    I definitely believe I could continue to use art to help young people tell their alternative stories. In mental health many workers draw thin conclusions of clients – bipolar, poor attachment, violent, with even their strengths really talked about in third person. It would be great to start drawing peoples strengths out with the use of story telling, so that clients can start to own their strengths, rather than have clinicans cherry pick these out.

  3. Thank you to Tileah for a wonderful presentation. I love hearing the word “yarn” used in this powerful way (Americans also have that term). The practice of “translating”, of shifting concepts into language that can be more usefully heard, is very powerful. As coaches we can make good use of this to help clients uncover their hidden or forgotten resources.

  4. These stories are amazing examples of what we can discover when we hold onto our “beginner’s mind” and remember that the other person (client, patient) has the information and understanding, not us. We talk a lot in leadership development about “co-creating” and I think this is a beautiful example of two very complementary roles: the person who has the story and the person who helps to explore and shape it.

  5. I like the idea of narrative – there is something about giving people the power to create a narrative, rather than simply appearing in a story told by someone else. Within the narrative metaphor, I especially enjoy the fabric metaphor – the idea of strands. These may touch each other, or not, may go well together in tone or color, or not. But again, there is some power in creating and weaving the narrative.
    In my own work with coaching and leadership development, I find that the emphasis on narrative(s) helps make things more tangible, and therefore brings them to their true scale, instead of letting them take on imaginary and unclearly described proportions.

  6. I love this. Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger. Such a powerful sentiment. Sometimes through trauma, it is hard to access the words that really encapsulate that experience – though using the written word does help us access those hard to utter parts of our memories … in those cases though perhaps the story we tell ourselves is not one that makes us feel strong in the first instance – so finding a way to tell that story in a way that focuses on the strength of surviving to tell that story is just amazing!

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