2017: Issue 1

Posted by on Apr 20, 2017 in | 0 comments

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the first journal issue of 2017. Thanks for joining us as a subscriber.

The field of narrative practice continues to thrive and this issue contains profoundly diverse papers from very different contexts!

It begins with a paper by Aboriginal feminist, Kylie Dowse, describing her group work with men who have engaged in violence. This is followed by a creative community project, facilitated by Lauren Jones in the USA, using narrative practice to respond to heartbreak. Laurel Phillips then describes a narrative therapy project in relation to chronic pain that took place in Mexico. We’re then delighted to include a paper from South Korea, in which Eunjoo Lee describes the ways she is using narrative practices to assist people to deconstruct social discourses and social conformity in their local context. The final two papers both involve creative work with children. Amy Liu, in Hong Kong, has developed a sparkling innovative approach that involves children learning a new language authoring storybooks. And Jocelyn Lee, in Singapore, describes her group work with children in situations of family violence.

We hope you enjoy this diverse collection. And please join discussions on the new Facebook discussion group that we have create for subscribers!

Welcome again to a new year of creative narrative practice papers.

Warm regards,

Cheryl White

 

Contents

‘Thwarting Shame: Feminist engagement in group work with men recruited to patriarchal dominance in relationship’ Kylie Dowse. (Pages 1-10)

‘Responding to those surviving the unchosen loss of love’ Lauren Jones. (Pages 11-20)

‘A narrative therapy approach to dealing with chronic pain’ Laurel Phillips. (Pages 21-30)

‘Conformity pressures: Deconstructing social discourses in the Korean context’ Eunjoo Lee. (Pages 31-39)

‘Children authoring storybooks: A narrative approach for children learning a new language’ Amy Liu. (Pages 40-56)

‘Responding to children in situations of family violence: Narrative therapy group work with children’ Jocelyn Lee. (Pages 57-70)


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  • Thwarting Shame: Feminist engagement in group work with men recruited to patriarchal dominance in relationship— Kylie Dowse

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    Through the eyes of an Aboriginal feminist, this paper documents group work with men who have used violence in intimate relationship. Adapting narrative externalising techniques to scaffold a conceptual support group for Shame enabled men engaged in group work to view responsibility and respect in new ways. The paper considers the role of women facilitators in working with men, and ways the politics of women’s experience add value to group discussion.

  • Responding to those surviving the unchosen loss of love— Lauren Jones

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    This paper describes how a community worker informed by narrative practice formed a participatory community group in response to those within the community highly influenced by thoughts of self-harm following the loss of love. This paper highlights the privileging of community members’ uncommon knowledge in finding a way forward. The community’s devalued and subjugated knowledge is used to co-create an artful expression of ways group members are taking care following the loss of love, to externalised regret via a playful metaphor, to acknowledge anxiety in a co-produced document, to co-author a list of ‘growing group rules’, and to recreate a powerful 50th birthday ritual for a group member. Ethical ways of working are explored to guide community practice. The paper posits that a reclamation of faith in uncommon knowledge might be made all the more possible when devalued knowledge is privileged within a participatory community.

  • A narrative therapy approach to dealing with chronic pain— Laurel Phillips

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    This article outlines a narrative therapeutic approach to working in collaboration with people experiencing chronic pain. This approach was created in concert with 13 co-researchers who were experiencing, or had partners who experienced, varying degrees of pain. Contributing therapeutic conversations spanned a ten-month period. Outcomes were achieved through the application of various narrative therapy principles including externalisation, mapping the influence of the problem, remembering practices, developing an experience-near definition of the problem, double listening, alternative or preferred story development and the use of collective documents and definitional ceremonies What emerged from this were two themes: The identification, importance and use of personally constructed strategies, and the reduction of pain experiences by addressing self-identified problems that were more pressing than pain. Narrative therapy was successful in helping to re-establish valued ways of living that chronic pain often sidelines. We found that it is possible to reduce experiences of pain by addressing more pressing problems.

  • Conformity pressures: Deconstructing social discourses in the Korean context— Eunjoo Lee

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    This paper sets out a narrative approach to deconstructing social discourses in a Korean context, with a focus on pressures to conform. An overview of deconstructing social discourses is presented, and the socio-centric Korean context is discussed. A process map and several tips for deconstructing social discourses are offered. Finally, field application of the map and the tips are demonstrated through case examples of work with an individual and a group.

  • Children authoring storybooks: A narrative approach for children learning a new language— Amy Liu

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    For young people from non-Chinese speaking backgrounds who are attending schools in Hong Kong, acquiring Chinese language proficiency can be a significant and anxiety-provoking challenge. When students are not yet proficient in Chinese language, their low estimation of their Chinese language ability can create a vicious circle: feeling incompetent and worrying about language acquisition makes it more difficult to learn. Acquiring an additional language is not merely a linguistic and grammatical exercise, but an affective one. This article explores the use of narrative tools and perspectives for supporting culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) students in Hong Kong with their Chinese language learning. In particular, it shows how externalisation, therapeutic documents (in this case storybooks), Denborough’s (1995) ‘step by step’ process and a search for ‘wonderfulnesses’ (Marsten, Epston, & Markham, 2016) were used with individuals and groups. The article includes accounts of work with an individual and two groups of students. In the first story Alex, a 13-year-old student attending a mainstream secondary school, externalises negative emotions that adhered to the learning of Chinese, thus paving ways to see her abilities. In the second story, a group of three 14-yearold students from a mainstream secondary school externalise ‘strengths’ and ‘resources’ for learning Chinese so that the internal quality of a person was made apparent (M. White, 2007, p. 38). The third story involved a group of five students, eight to nine years of age, from a primary school attended mainly by CALD students. ‘Chinese’ was externalised and became an imaginary friend. This imaginary friend learned from the students, thus making the language less intimidating to approach. Recruited as a carrier and consolidator of the dominant knowledge associated with ethnic minorities, as a local Cantonese speaking person I attempted to maintain a position of being decentred but influential in these stories.

  • Responding to children in situations of family violence: Narrative therapy group work with children— Jocelyn Lee

    $9.90

    This paper discusses a practice innovation: a two-day, one-night group work process conducted with children who lived in households that use violence. The author developed the ‘My Happy Ending’ group work using narrative therapy principles and practices to respond to children in situations of family violence. The children were clients consulting with social workers or counsellors within the social service agency the author works in, Tampines Family Service Center in Singapore. As part of the practice innovation, the author created an original group work curriculum, consisting of the performance and narration of an original fictional story, and several play- and art-based activities. The purpose was to decrease the influence of family violence in the children’s lives and to increase their personal agency in dealing with it, using key narrative therapy practices. These narrative practices included externalisation of the problem, using metaphors, increasing people’s sense of personal agency, scaffolding preferred stories and identities, de-constructing discourses, outsider-witnessing, definitional ceremonies and creating collective documents. Narrative therapy practices were found to be helpful for enhancing children’s sense of agency and diminishing the influence of past and ongoing experiences of family violence and other difficulties faced in their daily lives.

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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