2015: Issue 3

coverDear Reader,

This issue includes papers from practitioners from Australia, Tanzania, USA, Denmark and the UK. Not only is there a diversity of authors but also topics and themes!

Part One begins with a practice paper by Loretta Pederson entitled, ‘Sharing sadness and finding small pieces of justice’. This is an eloquent invitation to practitioners to consider ways of honouring acts of resistance and acts of reclaiming in working with women who’ve been subjected to abuse. The second paper, is an innovative practice-research paper, by Emma Bullen, which analyses the outcomes from the narrative therapy conversations she has shared with women who have experienced domestic violence. We don’t often publish research papers, but we believe this thoughtful piece will be relevant to practitioners and researchers alike.

Part Two involves two pieces that focus on ways of linking the lives of those with whom we meet individually or in groups. Georgina Gerber-Duvenhage’s paper ‘Fakebook: Renovating reputations’ combines narrative practice with a vitally creative engagement with the culture of social media. We will really look forward to how other practitioners may take this idea into their own contexts. Julia Gerlitz’s paper, on the other hand, ‘Linking lives: Invitations to clients to write letters to clients’, builds and extends upon the rich tradition of letter writing in narrative practice.

Part Three consists of a paper by Christoffer Haugaard, a psychologist working at a psychiatric hospital in Denmark, who is interested in narrative therapy and philosophical ethical considerations.

And Part Four consists of a paper by Jenny Gibson, Jessica Clark, and Sian Thomas. Jenny Gibson lives in the UK and works within the community learning disability field. Jessica Clark lives with her parents and younger sister in New Zealand where she has overcome varying problems such as the ‘Experimental Defeating Warrior’.

Sian Thomas has family links to Wales and talents in story-telling and anxiety defeating. ‘Narrative therapy and dual disability: How to deal effectively with Worrywarts, Milkshakes, and Sticky Situations’, is the first paper by Jenny, Jessica and Sian.

We hope you enjoy this diversity of thoughtful papers. We have certainly enjoyed putting this issue together.

Cheryl White

  • Sharing sadness and finding small pieces of justice: Acts of resistance and acts of reclaiming in working with women who’ve been subjected to abuse— Loretta Pederson


    This paper describes work with women who have been subjected to sexual and physical abuse. Ideas of searching for small pieces of justice through thickening stories of resistance to abuse and of reclaiming life from the ongoing effects of abuse, are explored through women’s stories.

  • Narrative Therapy Outcomes for Women who have Experienced Domestic Violence— Emma Bullen


    Debate continues about what constitutes evidence for outcomes of psychological interventions. There are challenges to operationalise research for post-modernist views of knowledge being multiple and relative rather than singular, fixed, and absolute. This has led to limited empirical evaluation of practices such as narrative therapy.

    This paper describes the therapy process for eighty women and outcomes for twenty-three women who had experienced domestic violence and were engaged in narrative therapy, utilising the Partners for Change Outcome Management System (PCOMS). PCOMS consists of integrating two outcome rating scales into each counselling session – the Outcome Rating Scale (ORS) and the Session Rating Scale (SRS). The design of the research was clinical data mining.

    This paper briefly discusses difficulties and limitations of the concept of evidence-based practice when applied to narrative therapy. The study identifies and defines several different patterns of therapy outcomes. PCOMS was used to demonstrate that clients who were treated for at least six, one-hour sessions of narrative therapy for complex trauma (domestic violence), showed positive outcomes equivalent to other studies using different treatments.

  • Fakebook: Renovating reputations— Georgina Gerber-Duvenhage


    This paper explores a methodology of working with four young men with previously good reputations, who lost authorship of how their lives were storied. ‘Fakebook’, an interactive social networking tool, purposed to afford double story development and preferred identity conclusions, engaged the young people in conversations around themes of identity and reputations to help them resist ‘downgraded reputations’ and marginalising ‘truth’ stories that were circulating about them. The final section gives an account of the ethics that supported the work and takes a critical look at how it stands accountable to the operations of power and privilege in relation to those who were involved in the process.

  • Linking Lives: Invitations to Clients to Write Letters to Clients— Julia Gerlitz


    This article describes an innovative form of therapeutic letter writing in which clients are invited to write letters to each other, rather than the more traditional narrative practice of therapists writing letters to clients. Two clients who both struggle with chronic pain and caregiver stress are consulting with the same counsellor and begin to write therapeutic letters to each other anonymously, with their counsellor passing the letters between them.

    Examples of the client written letters are included in the body of the article as well as the clients’ responses about their experiences with this innovative form of narrative letter writing. The author describes the intention behind this practice and offers suggestions based on her experience of how to facilitate the process. Most notably, this form of client generated letter writing decentres the therapist and highlights the client’s voice, provides an opportunity for clients to strengthen their preferred narrative, and creates communities of concern in which clients build relationships with each other that assist with decreasing the isolation and influence of problems in their lives. The article aims to inspire fellow narrative practitioners to link the lives of their clients through client-written therapeutic letters.

  • Narrative practice as an ethical position and the moral legitimacy of narrative therapy— Christoffer Haugaard


    Narrative practice involves questioning and resisting dominant cultural truths in both its theory and practices. It may even function as a form of activism. This paper attempts to raise questions about the good of such an activism and the moral legitimacy of practitioners engaging the people who consult them in cultural resistance. I shall attempt to extract hints of an implicit ethical position in narrative practice, and point to a moral rationality for raising questions about the legitimacy of acts of cultural resistance, and suggest some possible implications of such an enquiry. This draws on the ideas of moral philosopher, Alasdair MacIntyre.

  • Narrative therapy and dual disability: How to deal effectively with Worrywarts, Milkshakes, and Sticky Situations— Jenny Gibson, Jessica Clark, and Sian Thomas


    This article documents explorations using narrative therapy in a dual disability service provider in New Zealand, working with people who have intellectual disabilities and mental health diagnoses. The authors explore some of the dominant narratives of intellectual disability, and how these can be compounded in a context of mental health issues. After briefly surveying the literature of narrative therapy with people living with intellectual disabilities, this paper provides four examples from practice.