2017: Issue 4

Posted by on Dec 17, 2017 in | 0 comments

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the final issue of the journal for 2017. This is a collection of thoughtful and rigorous papers from diverse contexts.

The first two papers, ‘Our story of suffering and surviving’: Intergenerational double-story development with people from refugee backgrounds by Emma Preece Boyd and Narrative conversations alongside Interpreters: A locally-grown outsider-witnessing practice by Poh Lin Lee provide new options for narrative therapists responding to those who have sought refuge in new lands. These explorations seem particularly significant at this time of profound asylum crisis.

The next three papers demonstrate innovative narrative practice:

Phoebe Barton describes the way she has created a multi-textured narrative document to witness practices of resistance, resilience and kinship in childbirth. In The Mile Wide Project, Joel Glenn Wixson uses song and narrative practice to support people to take a stand against the invitations of suicide. Sabine Vermeire describes creative narrative therapy conversations that play with roles and positions in narrative conversations with children who have experienced trauma.

The final three papers offer significant challenges and opportunities to the field of narrative practice:

The Squid Group: Narrative practice peer worker support, supervision, superpowers, politics and more! shares key learnings and narrative ideas from a team of peer mental health workers (Andrew Chambers, Daniel Havey, Keryn Robelin, Jennifer Swan and Kristy Webb). Didgeri, individual therapeutic conversations and No More Silence, by Anthony Newcastle, describes a community project in which Aboriginal men are supporting each other and at the same time re-distributing social and emotional power outside professions or services. So you are accessing your file? You are not alone shares the knowledge of Leonie Sheedy, Vlad Selakovic and Frank Golding, three key members of Care Leavers Australasia Network, about what to expect if you access the file relating to life within children’s homes.

The work described in each of these three pieces enables those with insider knowledge to transform the lives of others and at the same time to contribute to new directions for the field of narrative practice.

If you have comments or reflections on any of these papers, or others we have published during 2017, we would be delighted to hear from you.




‘‘Our story of suffering and surviving’: Intergenerational double-story development with people from refugee backgrounds’ Emma Preece Boyd. (Pages 5-17)

‘Narrative conversations alongside Interpreters: A locally-grown outsider-witnessing practice’ Poh Lin Lee. (Pages 18-27)

‘The Mile Wide Project: Taking a stand against the invitations of suicide’ Joe Mageary and Joel Glenn Wixson. (Pages 28-35)

‘Witnessing practices of resistance, resilience and kinship in childbirth: a collective narrative project’ Phoebe Barton. (Pages 36-49)

‘What if … I were a king? Playing with roles and positions in narrative conversations with children who have experienced trauma’ Sabine Vermeire. (Pages 50-62)

‘Didgeri, individual therapeutic conversations and No More Silence’ Anthony Newcastle. (Pages 63-78)

‘The Squid group: Narrative practice peer worker support, supervision, superpowers, politics and more!’ From an interview with Andrew Chambers, Daniel Havey, Keryn Robelin, Jennifer Swan and Kristy Webb. (79-88)

‘So you are accessing your file? You are not alone’ Leonie Sheedy, Vlad Selakovic and Frank Golding, in conversation with David Denborough. (Pages 89-94)

Showing all 8 results

  •  ‘Our story of suffering and surviving’: Intergenerational double-story development with people from refugee backgrounds— Emma Preece Boyd


    This paper explores the use of double-story development and other narrative practices to work intergenerationally with people from refugee backgrounds. It examines double- storied accounts of the effects of and responses to trauma, displacement and other dif culties, using work with a family from the Democratic Republic of Congo as a case study. Response-based enquiries, externalising and re-authoring were engaged to seek out alternative storylines about skills, knowledges and values. These alternative stories were further reinforced through therapeutic documentation, metaphors such as Team of Life, de nitional ceremonies and other narrative methods. In particular, this paper offers examples of practice in which rich stories and preferred identities were shared intergenerationally with family members or trusted audiences, and how this contributed to reinforcing preferred narratives. The paper also describes the author’s engagement with collaborative practices in order to democratise expertise and address power differentials inherent in working across language and culture with often marginalised communities.

  • Narrative conversations alongside Interpreters: A locally-grown outsider-witnessing practice— Poh Lin Lee


    In the context of providing counselling to people who are being held within mandatory immigration detention, this paper seeks to explore the possibilities and dilemmas of inviting people who act as interpreters to reposition as meaningful witnesses to asylum seekers’ performances of preferred identity. These moments of witnessing, when offered in ways that attend to the complexities and dynamics of culture, gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality, education, ability and age, can contribute to the honouring and thickening of the alternative stories and robust identity claims of people seeking asylum, who are exploring ways to respond to multiple, ongoing injustices. This paper offers ideas for making visible practices of solidarity and shared cultural knowledges and understandings between people seeking asylum and people who interpret.

  • The Mile Wide Project: Taking a stand against the invitations of suicide— Joe Mageary and Joel Glenn Wixson


    The Mile Wide Project is the name of an effort by Joel Glenn Wixson, a psychologist and musician from the state of Maine in the United States, to stand up against the invitations people receive to end their lives. This article uses excerpts of a conversation about the Mile Wide Project between Joel and his friend and colleague Joe Mageary, who is also a counsellor and musician from the United States, to explain what the Mile Wide Project is and to highlight some of the possible impacts this project can have on people who have experienced invitations from suicide as well as people who care about those who have been impacted by suicide’s invitations.

  • Witnessing practices of resistance, resilience and kinship in childbirth: a collective narrative project— Phoebe Barton


    This article explores the in uence of sociocultural narratives on stories of birth, and the use of individual and collective narrative practices in responding to these stories. It emerged from a research project that included 12-recorded conversations with individuals and couples about their experiences of birth. The article describes narrative practices used in these conversations, including: re-authoring and the development of alternative storylines, particularly in response to stories of grief and regret about birth; deconstructing and externalising the context and narratives of birth, turning the gaze back onto structural or systemic issues rather than those at their affect; re-membering and strengthening stories of membership and connection during pregnancy, birth and early parenting; and the absent but implicit, including pain as testimony. The article discusses the methodology and ethics of a collective narrative project that included the production of a document that elevates the insider knowledges of storytellers about their experiences of birth.

  • What if … I were a king? Playing with roles and positions in narrative conversations with children who have experienced trauma— Sabine Vermeire


    This article explores playful and creative ways of using different roles in work with children who have experienced traumatic life events. Imaginatively engaging with the standpoint of a doctor, a king or queen, or an admired person, can provide a new relational context for therapist and child, and can spark the discovery of more hopeful stories. Opportunities to step into unfamiliar positions, such as that of researcher, can similarly provide fresh vantage points and insights. We can avoid coercing children to speak, and instead allow them to ask questions and learn more about their experiences and those of others. From a new position, children can discover that they have ideas, knowledge and responses in relation to their experiences. They can reconnect with values that are important to them, evaluate their relationship with their dif culties, and take a clear stance towards their problems. The article is illustrated with an account of the author’s work with 8-year-old John. A range of narrative ideas and practices are explored and expanded in this context.

  • Didgeri, individual therapeutic conversations and No More Silence— Anthony Newcastle


    This paper describes work among a group of Aboriginal men who meet regularly in Brisbane. It interweaves stories of individual therapeutic conversations, the development of a community group called Didgeri, which connects people to culture and to each other, and the creation of a social action project to reduce the shame and silence experienced by Aboriginal men who were subjected to sexual abuse in childhood. It explores how narrative therapy ideas have informed this work.

  • The Squid group: Narrative practice peer worker support, supervision, superpowers, politics and more! From an interview with Andrew Chambers, Daniel Havey, Keryn Robelin, Jennifer Swan and Kristy Webb


    This paper describes the work of the Squid Group, a narratively informed peer mental health phenomenon that occurs regularly in Adelaide, South Australia. It includes the history of this group, its key principles, and some of the ways in which narrative practices are used within it. This paper began its life as an interview with Andrew Chambers, Daniel Havey, Keryn Robelin, Jennifer Swan and Kristy Webb. The interviewer was David Denborough.

  • So you are accessing your file? You are not alone Leonie Sheedy, Vlad Selakovic and Frank Golding, in conversation with David Denborough


    Three experienced advocates, Leonie Sheedy, Vlad Selacovic and Frank Golding, join in conversation with David Denborough to share their experiences in gaining access to childhood records for those who grew up in Australia’s orphanages, children’s Homes and foster care. The journey of discovery is often painful, even re-traumatising. Some Care Leavers nd the of cial narrative does not match their version of their childhood. There are surprising omissions and inaccuracies and infuriating censorship that privileges other people’s privacy over the right to the truth. The conversation shifts to strategies for dealing with these problems, but more importantly to the value of Care Leavers creating their own accounts of childhood and a more honest history.


  1. When I watched your video so much stood out to me. One thing was when that fella spoke about how peoples journeys are/were dictated by postcodes. When I heard this I thought of my Great Grandmother and Grandmother Linda and Mary Lunn (Mary’s married name is Butler). They were stolen from Kalkadoon country and put on Palm Island. I understand our postcodes change, or in many of our peoples circumstances- have been forcibly changed! But when I hear this I also think of meeting my people at another postcode – The 2016 Laura Aboriginal Dance festival. I think of the significance. I think of how it meant to meet my people. Watch my dances, my songs and hear my language. As I write this I am trembling with emotions and pride is surrounding me! I think of how my ancestors put this in place for us to reconnect across different postcodes.

    An image that comes to mind is one that is evoked when the video shifts to the township- I wonder what that country looked like prior to invasion? Before the concrete smelters. Before the houses. Before the monstrosity that is the mine digging my country up and generating foreign income without paying rent to land owners. I picture the landscape, the sounds, my people, the climate. I picture Kalkadoon people on Kalkadoon country.

    Something that also stood out was the denial stories that fella spoke about. The denial that injustices occurred. The denial that injustices have contributed to inequality. This stands out because within my work, I evoke my ancestors acts of resistance, protest and survivance to ensure these denial stories are told, heard and responded to. I work hard to ensure accountability and collective action is enabled through education of the denial.

    I hold an obligation to my people to do this. The “domino” effect metaphor is a deadly way of explaining the impact of the denial. I think of the phrase “blacks to the back” Our people are not merely “shame” or “shy”. The shyness/shame has been socially constructed. There’s a history to this. That fella explained this when talking about our people being made to wait at the back of the shops, ignored, disregarded and yet somehow walk out of there feeling good? Even to this day, a lot of our people carry this “domino” effect and are reluctant to go to the front of rooms. Unfortunately, the movement that commenced the dominos falling is not spoken about- it is denied. I know that I have been reluctant to stand at the front of rooms. But, through my grandparents stories, your stories, our stories the movement that started the dominos falling are told.

    I can stand up the front. My kids will too because our stories are alive and passed through generations and across postcodes.

    I have never been to my country. However I see it in my dreams and through this video. Thank you for sharing. Thanks you for reminding me to stand tall. Thank you for delivering this message across postcodes.

    Justin Butler of the Kalkadoon nation.

  2. Howdy, I am Jake from the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia.

    I heard about the Dulwich centre at Unisa when I was studying to be a social worker and I was shocked to find out it was soo close to home for me.

    How would you describe the narrative metaphor?

    Multiple Untold stories with a world of possibilities with new outcomes, solutions and endings. Chimamamnda’s ted talk was very eye opening to me and showed that different stories have different impacts. I found it quite interesting how people perception of a culture can be made by watching a world vision aid of poverty in Africa.

    What might thinking about stories in this way make possible for you?

    I’d like to think looking past the diagnosis or “label” and seeing the person through other stories that may or may not be untold to be very therapeutic and strength focused. Maybe finding some untapped potential or resources in the process.

    In life we can use different lens to take photographs, surely we can do the same in therapeutic counselling.

  3. How would you describe the narrative metaphor?

    For me, the narrative metaphor can represent and support the bringing into consciousness of the diverse experiences and capacities we have as humans. Most of the time, we identify with narrow perceptions of who and how we are in the world. These perceptions are not always ones we have chosen. Our society often forces us into narrow ideas about who and how we are and can be. This makes it difficult for us to imagine ourselves in a way that connects us more to ourselves, to others, and to cultural contexts and histories. The narrative metaphor works to draw awareness to the thin descriptions that inform how we relate with ourselves and our communities, by highlighting unacknowledged moments of survival, triumph, creativity, capacity, and by facilitating a space and a relationship in which new descriptions and stories can safely take place.

    What might thinking about stories in this way make possible for you?

    Thinking about stories in this way helps me to see the everyday ways in which I create myself, and the effects of the “self” I create. This awareness means that I can check in to see which stories benefit me in terms of the relationship I have with myself, and in terms of the ways in which I relate with those around me and the world in general. As a woman with significant privilege, the stories I create about myself can mean that I turn a blind eye to realities that make my life easier and the life of people experiencing marginalisation harder. This contributes to the maintaining and strengthening of systems of oppression. Paying attention to my stories, developing rich and dynamic stories can support me to shape myself so as to develop truer connection with the lives around me, and thus with my own.

  4. Hello,
    I am Esperance from Rwanda.
    Thanks a lot for sharing with us the history, the collaboration and strong partnership of Michael and David which brought out this interesting narrative approach is very impressing.
    The part of Barbara of telling our stories in a way that makes stronger impressed me, i found in it another strategy of coping with grief.
    I again enjoyed the part of continuing conversations, it helped me realize the importance of creating a kind of camaraderie with one’s client.

    Thanks again

  5. ‘I’ve always thought of myself as doing research’ a quote from ‘Anthropology, archives, co-research and narrative therapy an interview with David Epston’. I really like this concept, to help people co-research ways in which to change their relationship with any problems they maybe having. A bit like watching the TV show, ‘This is Your Life’ the only difference being we are co-researching the past, history, stories, problems.

    Adelaide, South Australia.

  6. Hi Grace, I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation. I am a Murri just learning Narrative Therapy and I want to thank you for working within a de-colonised framework. I loved hearing you tell the story of Lenny and the boy who liked to go hunting. These stories reminded me of when I worked in Central Australia, my son told me about the time he was traveling home on the school bus a 35 km unsealed and extremely bumpy road. When one of the boys (aged 10 or 11) saw a goanna on the side of the road and yelled to the bus driver to stop so the Aboriginal boys could hunt it down, which they did successfully. My son was invited back to help cook it in a fire at the back yard to eat for tea. These stories are rich in their diversity and when one comes from a de-colonised stance, we see the story of traditional culture at work as opposed to dangerous, cruel or in other words, non-indigenous world view based on how you think the world should be.

  7. Hi everyone,

    How would you describe the narrative metaphor?

    To me, the narrative metaphor is a way of hearing, understanding, and contextualizing how people see themselves in the world and how they present this idea to others. It’s a way of living life in the depth of narrative and being able to differentiate characters, settings, plots and timelines in order to reveal a clear picture of who we are, where we are, and if need be, how to change these things.

    What might thinking about stories in this way make possible for you?

    I found the section about hearing multiple stories very interesting. I, along with many others, have been guilty of hearing only one thin interpretation of a person and making judgments based on these interpretations. This is clearly not the entire story and should not be the basis of how we see people and events in our world today. I am going to take that into consideration when talking with people throughout the day and hopefully begin to have interactions with people layered in a far more rich understanding.

  8. Hey,
    This is a wonderful chapter, documentation is a good tool, but in my context, it can’t be applicable for all, i can’t write to uneducated people who don’t even know to read or write, but for the educated ones it is very good for them to share their experiences, troubles, skills, etc. it helps the one sharing it, and also those receiving it! And it also feels good for a client to receive a comforting message from the therapist.
    For the outsider witness, we somehow do it here in Rwanda, with an approach called “community approach”, where we treat people in their communities, so in the therapy some community leaders and other influential people in their community are invited, but there are first briefed.
    so, thank you for awakening me about the documentation i am going to begin using it, either by email, hard letters, and even whats-app for young people can help.

  9. hello, I am from Rwanda,
    I am really impressed by the externalizing course, the part of commonly asked questions helped me to understand what externalizing is, and i found that creating a space between one’s client and the problem and naming the externalized problem is a very powerful tool, it makes the client realize that he/she is a valuable person and give him/her strengths to be in position of dealing with the problem and its influence on others.
    The video of the black dog was like a case study of how depression could be externalized, and how the externalized conversations can facilitate the therapy. It made me realize that one can’t deal with an internalized problem.
    This is a new tool for me,so, i am going to try it and i am sure it will help.
    Thank you

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed this lesson, I love the idea of creating a document of affirmations to help remind ‘Storytellers’ of their values, dreams and hopes. Documents and Audiences will be a very powerful tool I will want to use in the future.

  11. Another great module which I thoroughly enjoyed. Loved the Mr.and Mrs Carew initiative was great in reducing blaming practices and the silencing caused by stigma and reducing the feelings of failure and isolation. I have always loved anything by Paulo Friere so his contribution in terms of Making History and Unveiling Oppression was great to read especially about how the Neo Liberal discourse being about training rather than formation. Tree of life very useful as it as it gets people to speak about their ‘roots; – where they come from, their skills and knowledge, hopes and dreams – the trees can all come together to form a forest which can weather storms. The Life saving Tips from Young Muslims and the way narrative therapy can be used in traumatised communities such as the Aboriginal Community was also very useful. In terms of my own work with Sexual Abuse Survivors I think the Mr. and Mrs. Care initiative dealing with Aids would be useful as sexual abuse is seen to be shameful. Tree of life would also be useful to show despite adverse life events people have still managed to do things with their life that are useful and often inspiring.

  12. Dear all,
    am writing from Rwanda,
    i am thankful to the Dalwich center for this online course, it has been for a great importance for me as a clinical psychologist.
    as a therapist this narrative metaphor made me realize that we all carry stories and they have a great impact on our lives. it awakened me and reminded me that i must always be curious and search for an opportunity to pass by a different direction to attain the alternative story but with the significant role of my client/patient.
    i enjoyed the video of Adichie, if everyone would cease to listen to single stories, we would all say no to stereotypes.
    Thank you

  13. Yes, I love the idea of letter writing and have since introduced a letter writing component at the end of certain sessions where clients are invited to write a short letter to themselves of something they wish to remind themselves of after today’s session. Clients have told me that they love that part and that looking over the letters have been very helpful. One client even named her collection of letters her “Bible”!

  14. The presentation by Mark Hayward and the article by Barbara Wingard really helped to ground some of the externalising principles in practice, and enabled me to think in tangible terms about how I might incorporate a Narrative approach into my conversations. Mark and the people that wrote the FAQs also addressed the issue of not losing sight of responsibility for violent and abusive behaviour within Narrative practice, which is something I had been wondering about.

    More generally, this unit got me thinking about all of the expertise held by the young people I work with that often gets overlooked or overridden. In particular, many young people I work with have PTSD diagnoses but this ‘experience distant’ description of their distress often can be confusing and lack meaning for them, and it puts the onus on professionals to explain and ‘treat’ the issues they are facing. I am curious about what more ‘experience near’ descriptions of their problems might look like and am keen to try and help to open up space for these and consult with them as experts around this.

  15. Hi there, I’m Alicia from Perth, a practicing behaviour change counsellor. This chapter reminds me that the clients I see have multiple stories and I do them a disservice if I view them only from their dominant story and reflect that story back to them. The single-story approach may be “easier” on the therapist, but personally, I find it terribly dull.

  16. Hi Mark

    Thanks for an interesting talk. Don’t you think we’d fall apart without structuralism?! I was intrigued by your reference to ‘onion theory’ whilst referencing the peeling of an orange. is this significant? I ask this, as the structural nature of onions and oranges is clearly quite different.


    • Hi,
      Sorry for the slow reply – I’ve been away. Some communities have never embraced structuralism but seem to manage ok. But maybe some people think they’d fall apart without it? The references to onions and the peeling of an orange is meant to reflect a layer metaphor.

      • Thank you for your helpful response Mark. I understand about the onion and the orange layer metaphor. So long as I don’t get them confused in cooking 😉

  17. Excellent & innovative thinking.

  18. Hi I’m Camille from Qld, Australia.

    I found the Statement of Position Map to be really novel and useful. I think it will help me see what areas to touch on and build on and guide me as to where to aim. I like the hierarchical nature of it so that you know where to drop down to if a client is struggling to be clear on a certain area. The Position Map will help me clarify the directions I’m going in during a session and where the client is at.

    Externalising is a useful tool. I think it has to be done well so that the person is able to step outside of the problem and not be limited or defined by the problem but still take responsibility for their actions.

  19. Hi I’m Camille from Toowoomba. I work as a speech pathologist in mental health.

    I see in my clients great difficulty in telling their stories and so am so interested in Narrative Therapy as way of empowering clients to share who they are and the journey they have been on.

    The narrative metaphor allows meaning to be created from seemingly random events and for difficult and painful experiences to be externalised, named and processed.

    I was heartened by the idea that there are many stories and that it is unhealthy for their to be only one, dominant story that does not take into account the complexity, uniqueness and strengths that people possess. People’s stories need to be told!!!

    • hi Camille,
      yes, beautifully said! it makes the world too flat, this dominant stories!

  20. I really enjoyed this module especially the use of letter writing as a session of counselling can be forgotten about very quickly but a ‘concrete letter’ can always be referred to. Great that it as client backing in that a letter can have the efficacy of 4.5 sessions. A client may come in with a thin story but a letter can thicken the story and give a more comprehensive description of a person. My work at CASA together with some work at ERH would benefit from this letter writing process as together with other documents such as those of circulation it “drives a preferred story for a person”. I think that the use of Documents and Audiences is a very empowering way of working with clients.

  21. Hi, Guys, this is Jim from China.

    I have been practicing Narrative Therapy as a Psychological counsellor. The things I find particularity interesting is that how people are fascinated in narrative their stories in a negative way when they are feeling bad, when life is difficult. It occurs to me that people are so sensitive to bad things as it is a basic instinct of our mind, which is to identify problems by which we can better survived. It seems like a bad instinct of our mind.

    I find it not as easy to narrate a new and convincing new story for patient, especially in a culture where reality, like poverty and poor health condition is on the focus of people’s mind.

    The narrative therapy, to some extent, with a new view to one’s life, will be easily interpreted as “Mindful Victory” but not a real story.

    We have to keep on the new story and enrich it from time to time as a therapist.

  22. Hello, I am a social worker based in the UK. My key areas of practice have been advocacy alongside young people seeking asylum in the UK and women who have been subjected to domestic violence.

    I am grateful for this course being made available for free and also for the reflections of other participants which adds a real depth to my learning. The intro unit has been deeply thought provoking and energizing for me and has left me with a lot to reflect on. The emphasis on social context and injustice is both reassuring and refreshing because other therapeutic approaches I have explored often seem to overlook this and therefore seem to run the risk of pathologizing behaviour and internalizing experiences of oppression. It’s exciting to be learning about an approach that externalizes and contextualizes problems in such a considered way.

    Chimamanda Adichie’s talk and Alice Morgan’s extracts got me thinking about the thin dominant public narratives about refugees, spun by politicians and media in the UK and about how these impact directly and indirectly on the young people I work with. I am thinking about how best to acknowledge this and to to help facilitate the telling and ownership of richer individual and collective stories.

    The principle encapsulated in Article 1 about people’s right to define their experiences in their own terms feels very important to me. All too often, statutory (government) social work in the UK doesn’t leave much room for this at all which is a big problem! However, I am also wondering about to reconcile this principle with situations where it is important for someone to acknowledge the impact of their behaviour on others e.g. in instances where people have perpetrated domestic violence. Is there perhaps a risk that their capacity to take personal responsibility could get lost in a constructionist approach? I expect that this is something that might be addressed later in the course but I am keeping it in mind for now.

    • hello Ben, I found it very helpful to acknowedge that it is natural response to injustice, to be upset and resist it. rather than to except this as a way the world is. Regarding the thin dominant public narrative about refugees I have great respect and find JR, a French artist, very inspirational. an example of his work>

      I hope my work as an artist helps setting and showing new narratives and counter some of the disruptive and injust narratives we get screamed in our faces. I am looking forward to learning more!

  23. Thank you Vikki for holding our feet to the fire and keeping our work accountable. I am grateful for your solidarity and critique. You inspire me to continue to develop my repertoire of acts of resistance. Mad respect to you.

    • ah ali borden, your solidarity and justice-doing continue to inspire and shoulder me up!

  24. We are Afghans recently arrived in Australia, living in Adelaide. We watched your videos scripts and we really thank you all and appreciate your help and contribution.

    Uncle Ken Leon and the men from the Men’s shed, your work to raise awareness that suicide is not the solution and encouraging people in that community to do something different for their future is impressive. Your work is reminding me of dark times we suffered when there were too many land mines around our village in the farms, mountains and all over the places. I still remember one teacher who came from the district to tell people about the signs of the dangerous areas and what to do when you see a suspicious object, and how to tell to other people and to mark the area. This teacher’s instructions saved a lot of lives. Your work reminds me of him. It is very vital and is very appreciated.

  25. We are Afghans recently arrived in Australia, living in Adelaide. We watched your videos scripts where you kindly talked and shared your help and service you are doing for your communities. We really thanks you all and appreciate your help and contribution.
    Steve Watson, you are hero, a brave man, friend and a father. Your role as a mentor for kids with no difference either the kids are from which background, are admirable and can definitely change our minds that how kind and soft-hearted people you have in your communities.

    Your role as a mentor reminded us the time under control of Taliban during 1998, when Taliban ordered that children under 18 can’t do sport in a specific time of the day and even some sports were determined as a crime, we were playing in a back yard with too much scare and fear. Our parents (father) was chasing us to not play football or volleyball at that time, my father was feared and scared that if Taliban knew that we are playing sport in our age then we would be punished. When we wanted and loved to have someone to mentor and train us in any sport during our childhood, there were no one around to teach us and encourage us. We spend our childhood in time where a simple sport was determined as a crime. The schools were closed especially for girls and I still remember there was a private and very secret girl school in our village run by a family, one day Taliban in that area realised and ordered the family elder to their check point and asked him to immediately close that school and he was put in the detention facility until another villager went and kindly requested and guaranteed that he will close the school. Still I remember the face of those innocent girls when they were told that for tomorrow onwards you can’t come to this school.

    We can feel how energetic and how happy the kids and children in your mentoring village would be. How lucky you are to have a role for which the children can get their dream and goal in that specific field through your hard work. In our opinion in a remote area or country side a person like you can play a vital role, because the history taught us that usually world talented and genius people originate from rural area or country sides.

  26. I am particularly drawn to the use of therapeutic letters. I can see how they could extend the benefits of the therapy session well beyond
    the limits of the hour. I also enjoyed hearing about the knowledge and skills documents, including the use of a journal completed by clients who are finishing therapy. This is something that I routinely discuss with clients but I suspect that the act of writing solidifies the observations & I am sure that others would be interested. This is something that i plan to adopt.

  27. Hello everyone!

    I am currently writing from Kuwait where I work as a high school counselor. I am from Atlanta, Georgia, United States.

    The narrative metaphor, to me, is a constructivist approach that takes into account the many different stories (aka identities, traumas, oppressions, values, characteristics, etc.) that makes a person who they are. The narrative metaphor simply follows the path that the person has walked through, and searches for exceptions and rich stories that can beef up the thin stories around that person’s life.

    Thinking about stories like this has already made an impact on me. I am still learning this approach, but it has opened my eyes to the unspoken lives of my students. We all have stories that we tell ourselves and that have been reinforced by our lived experiences, but we rarely are told of stories that make us better. My hope from this view is to give my students and others around me the confidence to walk in their truth, while also acknowledging the vast and rich stories that make them happy.

  28. What resonated for me in this chapter that there is there is so much more space that we can imagine for us to be in collaboration with the people and communities we work with. The presentation with Tileah Drahm-Butler is compelling in that it gives me a model to understand from starting with stories of strength, survival and resource, and then to work in collaboration with those practices. I see this type of collaboration as a re-imaging of the intrinsic to the context.

  29. I love the idea of acknowledging history, context and influences. I fear this is exactly what is lacking in the digital age. The digital age seems like a significant turning point in history where immediacy or the urgency of the next new thing is the focus of attention. While the growth of the digital age offers so much promise and hope, I love the narrative value of weaving the two together – the present and the past, the hope and the history, the new and what has worked before. I am inspired to always acknowledge history and context the next time I give a lecture.

  30. The story about the Mt Elgon Self-Help Community Project is so moving and compelling. While I certainly believe that tapping into the intrinsic, hidden expertise is a critical foundation for change, I do think it is also helpful to learn new skills our cultural background may have not introduced us to. I know in my own life, healing and change is a combination of both – learning new perspectives, and tapping into my internal strengths.

  31. At its most basic, critical thinking can be defined as ‘the art of analysing and evaluating thinking with a view to improving it’ (Paul and Elder cited by hooks, 2010, p. 9).
    With a little more focus on the outcomes we hope for from critical thinking, it can also be described as: ‘the habit of making sure our assumptions are accurate and that our actions have the results we want them to have’ (Brookfield, 2012, p. 14). (By Mary Heath – THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NARRATIVE THERAPY AND COMMUNITY WORK 2012 No. 4 https://www.dulwichcentre.com.au

    Narrative practices invite us to be curious about where our ideas come from and their effects.

    “Critical does not mean destructive, but only willing to examine what we sometimes presuppose in our way of thinking, and that gets in the way of making a more livable world” – Judith Butler reference.

    The material I read here has enhanced my practice as I work with different clients affected by alcohol and other drugs, critical thinking plays a big role for a better benefit for my clients. Reflecting on things has always been a good tool for improvement.

  32. Collaborating as a family or community to tell stories

    It is the intention of the therapist to take up a “decentred and influential” posture in conversations had with the people who consult them – to develop therapeutic practices that make it possible for him/her to occupy the top-left quadrant. The notion “decentred” does not refer to the intensity of the therapist’s engagement (emotional or otherwise) with people seeking consultation, but to the therapist’s achievement in according priority to the personal stories and to the knowledges and skills of these people. In regard to the personal stories of people’s lives, in the context of this achievement, these people have a “primary authorship” status, and the knowledges and skills that have been generated in the history of their lives are the principal considerations.

    The therapist is influential not in the sense of imposing an agenda or in the sense of delivering interventions, but in the sense of building a scaffold, through questions and reflections, that makes it possible for people to:

    a) more richly describe the alternative stories of their lives,

    b) step into and to explore some of the neglected territories of their lives, and to

    c) become more significantly acquainted with the knowledges and skills of their lives that are relevant to addressing the concerns, predicaments and problems that are at hand.

    Fear of externalising
    Building a rapport with a client may be helpful in their managing to externalise. Some say “a problem shared is a problem solved”. Once shared, then a therapist has some ground to stand on to begin their work n supporting a client going through challenging times.

  33. I have been motivated by the idea of working with other, collaborations, partnership working and acknowledging one another.

    “I would like to acknowledge the contributions of Tim Agius and Barbara Wingard to our first explorations of the relevance of narrative practices in working with communities. The foundation of these first explorations was Tim’s unwavering vision of a community-wide gathering that would provide a healing context for Aboriginal families of South Australia that had lost a member through death in jail or prison. The spirit and wisdom that Tim and Barbara then brought to this initiative and so willingly shared with the members of our team sustained us in so many ways … “(White, 2003, p.53)

    Narrative community gatherings provide an example of a therapeutic approach developed in partnership between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal team members6.
    To my mind, Michael has bequeathed not only a profound body of work, but also a particular spirit of originating: one characterized by rigor, determination, collaboration and partnership. Hopefully, alongside Michael’s ideas, this legacy of an originating spirit will also be taken up by future generations of Australian therapists:

    “… one of the aspects associated with this work that is of central importance to us is the spirit of adventure. We aim to preserve this spirit and know that if we accomplish this, our work will continue to evolve in ways that are enriching to our lives and to the lives of persons who seek our help” (Epston & White, 1992, p. 9)

  34. Quite often people come from different cultures, with different experiences, however when such people come together to share their expertise, the cultural gaps will be covered and the richness of coming together to work as a community or communities is always greater. Together Everyone Achieves More (T.E.A.M).

    The innovative projects were a good example for collective narrative practices that are concerned with responding to groups and communities who have experienced significant social suffering and oppression in contexts in which ‘therapy’ may not be culturally resonant. Collective Narrative Practices have a rich history and engage a diverse range of methodologies that can be used with individuals, groups and communities.

  35. I am Divya from India. I found all the material on externalising not only useful but very well laid out. Starting with describing Externalisation, the video gives a very clear and crisp understanding about what externalisation is all about. This is followed by the FAQs which clarify the parts which may not yet be clear. I found the question and response on externalising abusive behaviours particularly useful. The video on depression/ black dog was a fantastic representation of how externalisation works. One of the issues that I have faced while counselling clients is how many people internalise the problem then direct so much anger and resentment towards themselves that they find it difficult to move forward. Externalisation provides a clear structure for separating the person from the problem thus preventing the need for the person to fight with oneself.

    The description of externalisation by Mark Hayward was very useful, especially when it comes to using this map in actual counselling sessions. The differentiation of the four phases by Mark, gives practical clarity on how the externalisation could be used. I have been able to use it with a client who has been having difficulty moving on after a relationship breakup. the use of externalisation has made it possible for the client to see himself as a wholesome and capable person. who is separate from the strong feelings of disappointment, sadness and anger.

  36. “…a short document is better than no document at all”

    Documents I use would range from Consent record, referral record, family history, medical records, counselling and assessment records.

    In some way the above mentioned documents would include “The hidden multiple layers of therapeutic documents …… drawing out that there are a multiplicity of things being ‘rescued’ in the practice of therapeutic documentation:
    • people’s actions themselves,
    • their accounts of their actions,
    • the meaning they give these accounts
    • the recording of these actions, accounts and meanings,
    • the meaning they give this recording, and their reflection on this recording as an action in itself,
    • the act of circulating these recordings and their meanings,
    • the meaning they give to this circulation,
    • the action of people’s responses to the documents, and the meaning they give to this,
    • the meaning these responses have for the people who the documents are about,
    • their actions in responding to the responses …
    • and so on.

  37. This section was difficult for me. I don’t think it is an easy task to locate an audience for so many marginalized communities. I would like to have heard more about how to overcome or find creative ways to find and audience for those who need it.

    But the idea of an idea of inviting an outsider witness and audience is powerful and I understand how powerful that impact can be..

    (New York, NY)

  38. I loved this chapter and it provided so much to think about. I liked the idea not limiting Externalizing metaphors to “war or battles”, but keeping it open to a variety of other metaphors such as : “living with or in relationship with”, etc.

    My first concern about the concept of externalizing is that sometimes problems have had such a severe impact on a person (Trauma, PTSD), that it is an intrinsic part of how the person has been wounded. What happens in such examples.

    Secondly, I am wondering what happens when a person has limited insight into problems – “What is
    outside in or What is inside out?”

    • Apologies: I am writing from NY, NY (USA)

  39. I feel comfortable with the concept and purpose of externalising. I currently commonly do work with people to externalise problems/experiences, I recognise people’s expertise in their problems/experiences and I locate problems/experiences within people’s values.
    I know I work best when I have a structure or framework to follow. They help me to stay “on track” and ensure I’m not missing key points when I’m working with people. The position map provides this structure and is readily understandable – though using it well will take some practice. Mark’s skill and experience made it look too easy!
    Thank you for the questions and tools (e.g. drawing) described in the powerpoint, they will help me practice and slowly build up my own way of doing things.

  40. “The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem”. These words of Michael White have become well-known within the field of narrative therapy.

    If you are in difficulty never be ashamed to ask for help. (http://matthewjohnstone.com.au/)

  41. I am working in an area in South Australia where the history of Indegenous people is more encompassed in the richness of their stories, their experiences and perceptions. However in those stories one can identify some sparkling moments in their lives. By identifying and exploring these sparkling moments, they are full of motivating points/ stages that can be used as starting points to rebuild confidence and make a new start a possibility.

  42. Thank you for this course. I’ve been keen to have an introduction to narrative therapy and this program seems ideal. Covering this lesson helped me to realise how we are surrounded by stories. I am drawn to them. Adopting a narrative metaphor to counselling work makes a great deal of sense to me. I look forward to learning the ways that this can be achieved.

  43. Externalising makes it possible for me to see the situation as a witness. I can then naturally step back and talk about it. It creates the much needed distance. Like space.Like oxygen. In which alternative story lines can emerge and be experienced. Do we internalise responsibility? How do we take ownership for our actions? What about our innate talents? I see a value in externalising talents in as much it gives us the critical awareness of the “zone” in which they are most likely to be activated.

  44. The idea that people live multi-storied lives is such a powerful one!! It creates the possibility of of people living unique, dynamic lives full of possibilities without being bracketed into a category. I am very moved and inspired by the idea of looking out for references to experiences and incidents that do not match the plot of the problem story and using those opportunities to highlight tell and retell the unstirred aspects of people’s lives thus opening up the door for multiple possibilities. While the problem story disempowers people, shining the light on alternative stories and making them richer hands the power back to the individual.

    The example of “good driver/ bad driver” and “skilled counsellor/ unskilled counsellor” are brilliant and straightaway help us see the danger of a single story. Narrative practice opens up the door for really seeing people holistically, respectfully and valuing the uniqueness and connectedness of each of us and putting us all on an even keel. This is exciting

  45. I find this work very powerful. It suddenly makes sense of all the verbiage that is going on in my mind. The mass of conflicting strands of meanings are settling into rough story lines. And i can see how my mind on its own wants to walk the path of a familiar story. And ignoring the other streams of rich and diverse story lines which are waiting to be explored. The Narrative Metaphor for me is in a sense is the exploration of the unexplored and untold stories of our own lives. What I see is an endless world of new possibilities of being. Which i have only a dim memory of – The edges of my known identity. i now have the choice of bringing them into my awareness and have them take their rightful place. I am amazed at how even an introduction to the Narrative Metaphor taps into a spring of strength.

  46. I found it useful to have so many of Michael White’s ideas laid out in a bullet-point list at this point in the course. It allowed me to recognized what I’ve learnt so far, and what concepts I am less familiar with, helping to organize my thinking. The concepts of co-researching with people on problems and their relationships struck me as useful, as did ethnographic imagination and “informed not knowing.” I was inspired by the notion of the possibility of brining in influence of ideas from outside the field as a innovative practice, as well as by the applicability of irreverence for the field as a means through with social justice can operate. I’m Cressida from Toronto, Canada.

  47. I love the idea of having documents of knowledge and affirmations, and sharing them with people they trust. I have used both pictures and contracts with a great amount of success with children and adolescents. Looking forward to including more documents in my practice with them.

  48. “What would be helpful to you in your context?”, Wow, what an incredible, expansive question.

    In it, includes acknowledgment of time, place, history, limitations, and opportunities. The Narrative Metaphor means to me that there are always countless stories waiting to be seen, expressed or told.
    And these stories may or may not be acknowledged by the cultural contexts in which they are located.

    In the interview with M. White and the writer Barbara Brooks, I agree with the parallel that Narrative Therapy is also very similar to excellent literary works. They both aim to tell the multitude of storylines that each person lives out in a lifetime.

    I am a psychotherapist, freelance journalist and graphic artist based in NY. Narratology is the lens of how I understand the world, practice psychotherapy, and the expressive mode through art & writing of how I make sense of the world.

    Sincere Thanks for making this online course possible.

  49. I am struck by the potential of narrative practice and externalizing to relocate the problem in its social context and to create space to recognize and unpack internalized oppression. At the same time, I appreciate the emphasis on understanding the person’s own position in relation to the problem and taking care not to define the nature of and relationship to the problem as practitioners. The statement of position map also helps me to see how narrative practice can access core beliefs that drive the stories we tell ourselves.

  50. Through my experience working with LGBTQ+ homeless youth in urban centres, externalizing has great value. In particular, I appreciated the statement of position map to chart where your conversation has gone, where it could go differently in the future, where you spent to much or too little time. Like many others before me, I too appreciated the conversation about externalizing and responsibility. In particular, I appreciate the possibility for humour/playfulness/lightness here (so long as it is appropriate/ you have therapeutic alliance that makes it okay/ etc.) for example, a person talking about their addiction as an abusive ex-girlfriend they keep running into at a party who promises that this time it will be different, a quality I found present in the Sugar story, the common questions, and in the statement of position map. I also value the capacity externalizing has for people to be the authors of their own experience of whatever problem they are living with and its ability to remove the therapist as the expert, reducing hierarchies of knowledge/expertise. I’m Cressida and I work in Toronto, Canada.

  51. I am new to Narrative Therapy and just beginning my career as a social worker. I appreciated the reminders not only that a single story can be dangerous and oppressive, condescending and prejudiced, but also that by thinking about how we might fall into the trap of seeing only one story, there is ample opportunity to learn and grow. I found Alice Morgan’s chapters straight-forward and easy to understand, an excellent introduction, and her concepts of thin descriptions, thin conclusions, and problem stories useful. I believe these ideas will help me in my work as a practitioner and the populations that I work with. Out of all these materials, what resonated with me the most were the reminders of the Charter. Even as telling stories, enriching stories, and tapping into a stream of consciousness that allows for intimacy with the self is fascinating and useful, these concepts cannot be taken out of the context of power, injustice, and oppression that affect the lives of both practitioners and those they work alongside. To be reminded that everyone has the right for their life to be understood in the context of what they have been through and in the context of their relationships to others, that the person is not the problem, the problem is the problem, and that they solution resides outside the person, was immensely useful. My name is Cressida and I am living and working in Toronto, Canada.

  52. Hi,
    I am new to narrative therapy and was recommended this training as a place to start by my supervisor. I love the place from which narrative therapy seems to spring from, the person isn’t the problem, how freeing in the face of shame and internalised identities this is.
    I really enjoying the video, all too often I see, hear the single story which is so dishonouring and disrespectful (judging). On Anzac day as we remember and honour those who fought for our country, each and every one of these service men have rich stories, multiple stories of their lives, with powerful pre and post war identities. It makes me curious, I have met veterans in my work, many many years later, some hold the horrors of war, the loss of friends, innocents and ideals and seems to struggle to find life, in hospital with children who dont visit, while others stand tall and proud, survivors of war, men of honour, same stories of loss and horror but also of survival, strength and men who fought and created possibilities for their own children’s futures, children who fill the hospital room, who honour their fathers story and sacrifice. Each having a different dominant story of their experiences of war/life??

  53. I’ve used letters to a small degree – as well as documents of knowledge and skills. But what really got me interested was the Narratives in a Suitcase. I also use butchers paper and invite participants to draw pictures – without words – to communicate meaning.The reasoning behind this is that pictures and symbols require the person or group at the centre to explain to the wider audience (outsider-witnesses) the meaning behind the pictures and symbols. I am now intrigued as to how to capture written words alongside the pictures and what they mean.
    I’m also wondering how social media e.g. Facebook, Instagram, etc., provides opportunities for me to offer a preferred identity and get almost instantaneous authentication through ‘likes’ and ‘comments’. Is this a medium that I could explore in working with people? The mind boggles with where this conversation might lead to 🙂

  54. Hello! My name is Erica and I am from Vancouver, B.C. in Canada.

    Rather than having one story composed of a sequence of events, our lives are made up of many stories that may emerge and become more prominent at different times and contexts. These stories can change over time as they are influenced by many things, such as repeated experiences that are not congruent with our dominant story. These stories are important and powerful as the stories we hold about ourselves and our lives make up our lives and influence the decisions that we make, and ultimately affect our future.

    Thinking about stories in this way helps me to become aware of the many stories I have told myself and others over the years. Because we have control over these stories, we have the power to change the ones that do not serve us well. This is incredibly empowering as it gives the individual a sense that they can effect change in their lives by creating a preferred story for the future. However, as our stories are influenced by the larger social context that surrounds us, I recognize that we may still be limited by the reality of the societal constraints that we may face.

    I found the first two chapters from Alice Morgan’s book really helpful in providing me with clear and easy-to-understand information about narrative therapy as I have very limited prior knowledge of narrative therapy. I also found the video with the dots from Freedman and Combs’ Dot Exercise to be helpful as it provided me with a visual explanation of the process of narrative therapy and how it works.

  55. I am from Brisbane in Queensland Australia and work with women who have experienced violence. The video detailing Chimamanda Adichie for me described very well the narrative metaphor, in that relying on single stories can result in the creation of stereotypes, a loss of dignity, and an idea that we are not all equal. The explanation of how power is expressed through the telling of single stories was for me very touching, as much of my work is raising consciousness amongst women about the gendered power inequality which is very much apart of the story of violence against women. Understanding the narrative metaphor, along with honouring the charter of storytelling rights, reminds me to be curious of the many other ways in which people can describe their experiences.

  56. I work in Wales, UK. Working with people experiencing homelessness, externalising should be a very useful tool. It is a good example of helping people to think about homelessness as being something outside of themselves and not a permanent situation due to the kind of person they are. Homelessness can engender stigmatising attitudes and presumptions in others and clients often become very negative and defensive, expecting to keep on encountering such attitudes. The journey through charted conversations can help to open up possibilities of other ways of living and starting to form aspirations and finding practical, step by step approaches to achieving an end. I found Mark Hayward’s video and resources on Maps of Narrative Practice a very useful exercise in understanding externalising in order to find the space between the person and the problem they are struggling with.

  57. I could really connect with this and the stories aound practice and will look to add this to work I do. With thanks and apreciation

  58. Hello all,
    I’m Cathy and I work in Wales, UK. My current involvement is with those experiencing homelessness and those recovering from abuse. I found the introductory chapter on Narrative Therapy illuminating and constructive. The idea of coming to focus on thin stories and thin descriptions of ourselves, especially following difficult experiences resonates deeply for myself and those I encounter. Such outlooks ultimately become draining in themselves.

    Finding alternative stories, starting to explore the multi-faceted nature of our lives and realities, remaining curious and asking questions we do not know the answer to encourages a broadening, an enriching, bringing imagination and creativity back into the mix. I can see how this can build the framework for seeing a different, richer possibility about identify and the life anyone chooses to live.

  59. I particularly enjoyed reading about how externalising involves doing small ‘p’ political work – about putting back onto culture and history what originated from culture and history. As a person who values ‘justice’ and is highly motivated to keep systemic injustices accountable, externalising provides space for people and communities to ‘breathe’ to ‘reflect’ and ‘to re-create’ and ‘re-construct’ truths which need to be more richly described and celebrated. The techniques of externalising – being grounded in a person’s own worldview, language and culture – can be learned and used by the person themselves. The potential for grassroots empowerment is limitless!

    • Very powerful words Ben, I agree, Externalising being grounded in a person’s own worldview, language and culture.
      Externalising is the clients ways of ‘Doing’ and ‘Being’.

  60. In my education work with students and young adults at risk, the themes of isolation and disconnection recur, but after reading Alice Morgan and listening to Chamamanda, I now suspect that these themes are ‘thin conclusions’ rather than root causes. As a practitioner who has prided himself on helping others find their own solutions, I have been guilty of perpetuating a single-storied narrative around young people at risk. So this is prompting me to approach my conversations with a far more open stance of curiosity and withholding my confidence in my own skills. Exercising patience, continuing to remain curious and keeping the other person central are skills I am looking forward to practising with the support of this course.

  61. I had heard the quote the person is not the problem, the problem is the problem at a hearing voices seminar where it was used for people with a mental illness. This chapter was a very good amplification of what I had heard and I will be able to utilise this in work with people who have been sexually abused. I particularly liked how you can with this approach help empower clients by redefining the problem from e.g. depression to ‘a cloud of depression is keeping Zoe at home’ or seeing depression as the ‘black depths’. Locating the problem(s)within a cultural and historical perspective rather than within the person avoids pathologising the person. People who have been sexually abused often suffer from issues such as shame, anger, guilt and these issues can ‘poison ‘ them. The process of externalising can offer an approach that allows them to look at the issues to define them, to unpack them and move forward with their lives at their own pace and on their terms.

  62. I see the value of outsider witness and documentation as preserving knowledges. People exist in the social realm. Their values, beliefs, knowledge, ideals, assumptions, problems, concerns etc. all exist in the presence of the social so it makes sense that the social would be helpful and beneficial for making changes and checking on personal perspectives. As individuals, I think we are lomited in scope when we try to do things alone no matter how tempting. Connecting with others can expand our experience and minds into more dynamic and robust realizations. However, I work in a college where trying to find outsider witnesses are limited. There are only 3 of us and only one day a week where our schedules overlap to get other perspectives can be difficult. I dont have much access to others who might be sufficient for this task. This may take some time.
    Documentation is a tricky one. I have heard various perspectives from not putting too much information as it can cause problems if the courts get involved. I think I might try to write some closing letters to people to finish off the school year. I have also heard of the rights of passage certificates. I think that could be important for some, but I am not sure all people would appreciate it. I prefer to add as much as I can remember what happened during previous sectikns as I forget. I will consider all that I can to help our people out.

  63. Hello everyone! I work as a trauma counsellor in Melbourne, Australia. Merging trauma-informed therapy with narrative practice has been very rewarding for me as a therapist. The narrative metaphor gives me tools to work with clients and help them externalize the trauma, re-author their stories with a focus on the person they are, and most importantly give them the language to create new narratives for themselves. I will surely be using the dot exercise as it adds visual engagement to our usually verbal practice.
    As a feminist and someone who loves working from a strengths-based perspective, narrative practice is close to my heart. I can’t wait to continue learning through this course.

  64. Thank you for explaining structuralism and post-structuralism in such a user-friendly way.

  65. I work in a sexual assault service in Shepparton, Victoria, Australia and I have found this first Online Component fascinating. I have always worked from a strengths based perspective and this I find combines very well with Narrative Therapy. Of particular interest was the use of thin storylines and the dot exercise that illustrate that there are richer storylines in a person’s life. This way of working views problems as separate from the person is a great non blaming way to work. Also looking at who tells the story – is it the health professional, the family or the person concerned. it is said that the victors write history but sadly the people I work with are often the vanquished. However these people have stories that are often not told and narrative therapy provides a very good springboard for this to happen

  66. I enjoyed the shared documents of skills to ask for help very good. I have many clients with avoidant personality attachments, who struggle with asking for help, and this piece of work, would work very well for them to develop that skill.

  67. Leanne from Qld Australia,

    I found this chapter great. Although I did have techniques in externalising, however the questions used was great to explore. I enjoyed the techniques around limiting externalisation for acts of violence.

  68. Hi from London, UK. I have designed a training course around music and mental health and watching the video on Mt Elgon project and then looking at the webpage about ‘songs as a response to hardship and trauma’ has given me an idea to amend the course for the better. I realise it would be important to build in some time on the course for participants to share their stories about how they have used music to help cope and/or heal from hardship and trauma, rather than me just presenting the ideas. Thank you!

    I also like the idea of the Team of Life workshop and am thinking about how I can adapt it to the workplace in an organisation that uses different teams of people.

  69. At present I write recommendations and reports on students that students do not get to see. I work in Corrective Services. Reading the articles for this chapter – particularly on writing hospital reports – has made me think about the ways I do and don’t collaborate with students own representations of themselves, and their hopes and dreams. I have often thought when I write my reports and recommendations: Gee, I wonder if one day one of my students will ask to have access to all of his prison files and what he might think about what I have written? For this reason my reports and recommendations are always kind and respectful. However, due to time constraints, I do not use the students’ names as I did in the beginning. I use a kind of shorthand where names are not needed, but I wonder whether going back to using the students’ names would be better practice.

  70. Thank you so much. I love the hopefulness of your talk and way of speaking with people. Honestly, makes my heart feel full and soaring.

  71. I love the idea of ethnographic research – of not knowing and that being okay. Curiosity and bringing forth other people’s ways of knowing and knowledge and understanding from a place of curiosity and respect, what a gift.

  72. Hello, everyone
    I am from Colombia actually I am living in Australia (Melbourne)
    I so glad that I found this online course which can help me to develop a better understanding of narrative practice.
    I am inspired by narrative therapy in the way of the mental health is approached, and how through the privilege of alternative histories the clients are able to transform their realities and identities.
    the powerful tool that I have found is the metaphor which allows a better understanding of an alternative perspective.

    • Hello ALl,

      Leanne from QLD state here. Im really enjoying this course. Narrative therapy is something I know off, and briefly learned about, but not in this detail. Im enjoying how many and complex stories we all have, and im looking forward to exploring the depths with my clients, to give them empowerment.

  73. I especially appreciated your use of these narrative practices in your pastoral work. I have occasionally had people wondering about the compatibility of the two in my own work. You have demonstrated that compatibility beautifully. Thank you.

  74. I enjoyed very much the course, I already uploaded the essay and I will be looking formward to hearing from your comments or feedback. Thank you very much for the opportunity, and I am very interested in continue with the online course and in being able to go and visit the centre as soon as I can. Thanks!

  75. I enjoyed this course. I am just struggling to find time to finish my essay for certification. There are just so much work to do at work and at home. I will find time soon, I hope. 🙂

  76. I love what Paulo Freire said/wrote: ‘Being in the world means to change and recharge the world, not adapt to the world’. I find this concept so thrilling and empowering. Such a courageous stance.

  77. My name is Ivan Alejandro Rodriguez Santarriaga, and I’m From a City in Mexico named Juarez!

    I really liked this Narrative Therapy Chapter because of it’s Community projects. I specially engage with the ”Little by little we make a bundle” paper, because of the personification the facilitator made about HIV and Mr. Care, to create an ongoing conversation with the participants struggling with those health conditions. It made me think on how can I apply this way of dealing with serious problems in my context and community, leading me to the conclusion and desire of working with drug related problems.

    In my community, located in Mexico, the drug related problems inbetween young people are constantly prevailing, many times because of a lack of work and educational opportunities, so, in this regard, translaping the Little by little we make a bundle ideas into the context of problematic drug use and abuse is appealing to me: Externalizing the ”Drug consumption” and personifying the ”willingness to leave the drugs”! I think that in creating a conversation and a safe place for young people to express their concerns, likes and dis-likes about drug use, and peripheral things that sustain the usage may be a very good idea to try to analyze new possibilities in to how to relate one self to life…

    Alex From Mexico

  78. Hi Sara,

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful work.
    Please let the participants know that I have been deeply touched and inspired by their stories.
    My colleague are thinking of using this methodology in our work. I will contact you privately to discuss.

  79. Thank you for this section – it was very helpful. Here are my answers:

    What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?

    I like the idea of documenting exactly what has been said and going back over that to give the person sharing their story the opportunity to hear it again from a different source.

    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?

    I love the questions that outsider witnesses are to keep in mind when listening to narratives. I want to keep those questions at the forefront of my own mind as I respond to and witness the narratives I come in contact with. I also loved the tangible reminders of the narrative process and the creative ideas for bringing the stories into the here and now.

  80. I was incredibly moved by the Suitcases Project that was spoken about. It has challenged me ask myself questions about my life choices and journeys and to reframe them in more self-loving ways. Dominant ‘thin’ stories seem to abound and I feel that my task right now is to thicken and enrich my definition of self. It feels exciting and expansive.

  81. Hello Course Colleagues

    Coming into this chapter through David Denborough’s opening quote and the reminder to receive the various cultural stories of hardships as platforms for local action, and then to be led to Paulo Freire’s article kept me grounded in the reading and listening of the various articles, projects and songs in this chapter.

    Freire’s words through his notion of Critical “Pedagogy of Desire” resonated deeply with me: “being in the world means to change and re-change the world…to intervene in reality…creating the context for people…generate in the people political dreams, wishes and desires”.

    In this light, the opening premise rings true, i.e., conventional notions of “therapy” may often not be culturally resonant, and that various collective narrative practices unique in themselves may be available to us if we are open and present to receive them in their integrity.

    How exciting and powerful the use of role-playing in “Little by Little We make a Bundle”, to draw out, externalize and give voice to, in a collective and communal way, the story and impact of HIV/AIDS.

    The Characters of CARE and AIDS, and the drama that ensues reminds me of the use of Global Cinema as a Narrative Practice that I use with urban teachers. Here we have drawn on the South African film (in Northern Sotho language): Life Above All, where Chanda, the 12 yr old protagonist, allows us to witness through her eyes a variety of narrative and phenomenological themes: Family Love and disintegration; Church/Community support and breakdown; Shame, abuse and prostitution when children are left orphaned; entrenched contrasts and mistrusts of traditional and modern medicine and taboos; missed education opportunities, etc. Chanda becomes our “senior partner” in a narrative collective practice as she guides us through her narrative emplotments and resolutions.

    As I went through the various projects, each one of them offered me ideas that I could use in my own setting. I was particularly taken by the “Ocean of Depression” submission by Afghan/Central Asian refugee youth and by the Life Savings Tips by Young Australian Muslims. In both cases I was drawn to how much their “historical consciousness” and the traditional concepts of family and community comes to their aid as they grapple with the various traumas and challenges in their lives.

    This was an “eye-opening” chapter for me and my practice. Thank you.

    Munir – Vancouver, Canada

  82. Salaam and Thank you.

    You have gifted us with powerful insights filled with wisdom and courage, through your stories and experiences, and by the exquisite and thoughtful way you have produced and directed this important and timely project.

    As an educator/teacher/narrative practitioner, in Vancouver, Canada, and as someone who shares a story of disruption and diaspora, and who also works in communities where such stories are the lived experiences of children and families, your project gives us much hope.

    “What has happened to you my happiness? What has happened to you, my dream?”, the theme words in the sublime song that you shared, speak of how confounded and “dark” the world becomes as depression visits us, and encroaches our life.

    And yet the story of the song offers us powerful and living metaphors; images of movement, light and the ebb and flow of life, where we can see ourselves beyond the visiting depression.

    The words: “My heart has become the brother of your heart”, allows to me to know that I am connected, and also part of larger stories, some in the memories of my childhood, some yet to be written, and some being lived now. In this, I find a sense of freedom.

    Remembering of our ancestors and their gifts to us, and being around elders in our communities also resonated with me, especially as we take on the long arc of our narrative lives. We are grateful for it all.

    Your final words: “After each darkness there is light. After each night there is day”, are offered as hope, but also as an invitation to take action – a reminder of care and respect when we encounter each other in our differences.

    Thank you and Khuda Hafez

    Munir – Vancouver, Canada

  83. Hi Nerida, thanks so much for sharing your interesting work with us. I appreciated the respectful and creative ways you have found to engage with young people who are going through difficulties. Thanks also to Keira and Bee, for allowing us to hear some of their experiences and ideas.

    An idea you brought to me was about offering articles of interest to the people we meet with. I once shared the Mary Heath video (from the Friday Afternoons) with a young woman who was questioning her sexuality, and she found the thoughts presented in the video very liberating. She then shared it with her friends. I haven’t pursued this concept of sharing Narrative resources since, but you have re-invigorated me!

    Thanks also for sharing your proposal and wedding photos. Congratulations on your marriage!! The plebiscite caused a lot of heart ache for some young and older people I have been meeting with, so your discussion of this resonated with me. For some people it caused a recurrence of what may be described as mental health struggles, which could have been individualised and pathologised. I agree with you that this is political. The context of the plebiscite and the other socially constructed difficulties people face needs to be visible in our work with people in the LGBTIQA community. Thanks for your contributions to this.


  84. Hello Course Colleagues

    Drawing on Ricoeur, Geertz and White, Newman’s article is insightful and vivifying for me. The notion of a “living document”, almost a self-ethnography, where the “said” is rescued from the “saying” to evoke active interpretation within a co-authoring therapeutic relationship speaks to my own practice with teachers and community elders.

    I also appreciated what Julie has offered in the previous post (Thank you). How are we as co-authors to insert and enunciate the experiences, stories, knowledge, understanding of school-based actors, back into the stream of personal history, culture/sub-cultures, time and discourses where “meaning can persist”, understood and shared. This is exquisite as a conceptual, phenomenological and practice-based backdrop to situate the narrative therapeutic processes of documenting and witnessing.

    Nucbe-Mlilo’s comprehensive presentation was particularly insightful for me – Narratives in a Suitcase – and the work among street children again speaks to my own work in urban contexts and communities in grasping and responding to the physical, emotional, phenomenological and narrative experiences of street children. The “narrative documents” in the suitcase invite the “journey” metaphor to draw out significant relationships; personal skills and strengths; problems and challenges, position and vision, values. It was especially important to notice how much the children relied upon the trust of civil society institutions in re-configuring their narrative identities, institutions which so often fails them.

    The “Outsider-witness” article provided crucial insights for me. For example upon reading how White had drawn upon the work of Myerhoff to develop structures and practices of “definitional ceremonies” in NT, I was drawn to my own practice of using the work of Ricoeur and Testimony (Memory, History, Forgetting; and, Hermeneutics of Testimony) to invite and “re-member” excesses of meanings, often not available in the mere telling of narratives, but available more when witness-practices and testimony-practices are conjoined as narrative therapy encounters in respectful settings.

    There are so many gems in this chapter to draw from…

    Thank you

    Munir – Vancouver, Canada

  85. I have been very interested and inspired by the idea of Living Documents as a method by which stories, skills and knowledge are shared, even when the spoken word has become too daunting a medium for some. The concept of “getting our own language back through the language of others”, of which David Newman speaks is one which I feel I myself have experienced at certain points in my life, without really being mindful of the process taking place; to be guided, reassured and encouraged by the shared stories of others; their ‘living documents’, is an idea which fills me with hope and ambition for the various ways I might use it in future professional situations.
    As a teacher I have often used letters as a way of sharing with my students their own stories which I have witnessed them ‘tell’ in my classroom, using their own words or the observations of others in their group to witness the journey they take over the course of a school year. It has been a way of honouring and valuing the milestones reached and lessons learned that could not be communicated through exam grades or reports. I look forward now to extending this methodology into the therapeutic context.

  86. Hello, I am Jennifer from Dawson Creek British Columbia, Canada. I am also a recent discoverer of Narrative Therapy and the narrative metaphor makes a lot of sense to me. I am currently a women’s counselor of domestic violence and other historical trauma, and I can already see how the metaphor is helpful in working with women, abuse, and trauma. In the future I may be transitioning into family counseling and it is highly useful there as well. I especially like the way the metaphor looks at externalizing the problem versus assigning it to the person, which, it is easy for me to see how this would help in better addressing the problem if we look at it externally rather than internally. I know I have only just touched the surface of the narrative metaphor, and I am excited to learn much more about this!

  87. Hello, Course Community.

    My practice in Vancouver, Canada, entails being around K-12 urban teachers doing graduate work and the charged conversational realities they bring to bear, so often fraught with emotionally and physically challenging institutional lives in urban school communities. Here, narratives of diasporic communities and families, and other inter-generational, historical and colonizing narratives are marked by despairing and disrupting experiences that have been internalized deeply as “deficits” not only in the lives of families and children, but also in the lives of teachers and other care-providers.

    Narrative meaning-making hence is an important aspect of my practice where teachers often speak of “self-alienation”, “of a fatigued and incoherent vocational plot”, “of the politics of language” that governs and constructs their narrative identities, and where they have in some sense become narratively opaque to themselves.

    What I am thoroughly appreciating is how narratively and pedagogically grounded the course curriculum is so far, including the various media used, not to forget Phillipa’s introduction and closing reflections. The third chapter, takes the core concepts and experiences of the previous chapter including the NT Charter platformed on justice and rights, and proceeds to offer the “externalising” metaphor beyond its linguistic surpluses of meaning and into a viable technique and practice of narrative meaning-making.

    The video of Mark Hayward on mapping the narrative practice, his skillful and respectful use of language and other readings are brilliant! In various ways, the course/chapter experience tells me that as narrative beings we are inclined to take the various disparate events of our temporal lives, and give them coherence in time, i.e. how our past-present-future can be mediated through active interpretation and discourse into a meaningful whole. And, in this sense it also tells me that families and communities can experience deep narrative fissures in time when disruptive and colonizing tendencies take root. It tells me that I need to be vigilant of essentialist tendencies and to consider the play of power, and not externalise without due care. It tells me that I can actively “guide” the emplotment processes always respectful of the authoring agency of the conversational partners present – and that potential and imagined narrative futures are available and possible. It tells me to exercise patience and humility in my practice as I encounter stories and participate in conversations, and that deeply “internalised” plots take time to come to the light of awareness – and that I have an ethical role to play here.

    Just a few reflections of many that are inspiring me in this course.

    Thank you.

  88. Hello, here Diana from Bogotá, Colombia. Here some thoughts. As I was going through this chapter and reading the different texts, I was elaborating the notion of critical thinking. I believe that to give only one and definite definition of this concept would not be appropriate, actually I think that critical thinking is a process, a continuous way of acting, thinking and living. It involves the act of questioning and as we say in spanish do not “swallow” things without asking or re-thinking things. My practice is enriched as I go through these topics, because critical thinking is a very powerful tool that pushes us to take distance from assuming invariable universals and foundations. Working with others assuming a critical position allows me to open to perspectives, to take distance from classifications and taxonomies that are so ingrained in our field.

  89. (From France)
    Thanks to Phillipa Johnson and all the people at the Dulwich centre for providing such a gripping course. The key element which attracted me to narrative therapy is externalisation. It brings so many opportunities for the person to look at its “problem” differently and to act upon it.
    I wish you all the best.
    Take care.

  90. The power of story telling. The power of support. The power of having someone prepared to listen. The power of women continues to astound me no matter how many stories I hear. Our society has a lot to answer for and finally women are speaking out and taking risks of judgement and disbelief. What a wonderful initiative of Natalie to encourage women to share in such a safe and non judgmental environment.

  91. (From France)
    I hesitated between leaving many comments (too boring?) or none (too coward?). I chose the middle ground and I’ll leave two:
    1) I am a bit uncomfortable with the “privilege” article (maybe because I’m too privileged). While it touches a key topic, too often ignored, I find the part “Some of the restraints to talking about privilege” quite directive, to say the least. It gives a large number of suggestions / clues / advice on how one should not react. If somebody disagrees with an idea, why not let her / him express his arguments without any constraint, even (especially?) if you think she / he is wrong?…
    2) I liked the part on post-structuralism: a clear view on a not-so-trivial subject.
    This chapter was very interesting indeed, and I look forward to reading the next one.

  92. Hi, Lindy here from Heathcote, Victoria, Australia. Wow! These were excellent articles. I am inspired to keep developing my habits of questioning my assumptions, my privilege, and how I might have careful challenges up my sleeve if I am faced with language and attitudes that diminish people of a marginalised minority group. I would love to see more examples of this being done well, as Mary said: “We need seriously to consider how we can communicate critical responses in ways which build relationships rather than damaging them; which expand consciousness rather than causing it to constrict under the influence of shame, fear or humiliation.” Becoming more adept at using humour, asking empowering if challenging questions, speaking from a place of humble personal experience that can identify with the ignorance/unquestioned assumptions, or perhaps just making an appeal, like an ‘I’ statement might all come in handy at times.

    I have so appreciated the profound humility and non-defensiveness that comes through all of these writers, the willingness to learn even from harsh feedback, and to commit to robust conversations by developing skills for coping with risk (bell hooks in the Mary Heath article). Mary so well describes true critical thinking as necessarily involving willingness to be challenged by others – “People who can see beyond my limitations can assist me to transcend them” – and the limitations of self-critique alone.

    I will have to revisit the article on privilege to really give extended time to reflection. And I know I am guilty of some of the ‘shoulds’ that have emerged from a structuralist influence. Some seeds of change have been planted for me as I’ve engaged with these ideas. It’s exciting.

  93. Lindy from Heathcote, Victoria, Australia here… I have entered into collaborations in several ways that come to mind:
    – supporting a neighbour to reflect on her varied experiences of housing and recurring homelessness, identifying why some situations lasted longer than others, and what key values she brought to a housing situation, so she could make a more considered choice about what housing to pursue next
    – working with people facing various issues of poverty to tell their story for newsletter publication in ways that can educate the broader community and help to reshape attitudes
    – supporting teams within the member-run mental health movement in which I work
    All of these collaborations were made possible through supportive mutual relationship and trust, a shared desire to effect change, and some facilitation/enquiry/listening/clarification skills.
    The main thing making it hard to enter these practices is time constraints. It can just be easier to get the job done yourself. But that’s definitely not more healing or effective or relationship building or just.
    These sessions have been a good reminder to me to avoid shortcuts and always look for every opportunity to invite people more deeply into many varied processes that impact their lives – story telling, decision making, political action, awareness raising, vision-casting for community building etc.

  94. Lindy here from Heathcote, Victoria, Australia. The most challenging idea in this session for me was that of co-research, and the ethnographic imagination. I immediately resonated with the invitation to identify as a co-researcher. It helps me to put some conceptual boundaries around my role and focus. I like that it casts the consultant and the one consulting onto a team, each bringing unique resources to the study of the problem and the person’s relationship with it. Genuine enquiry, and archiving the wisdom of others to share, is something that feels achievable to me, much more than finding the solutions myself as though one-size-fits-all. I am aware that truly putting aside my assumptions and taking the posture of ‘an informed not-knowing’ will take a lot of practice. It isn’t entirely appealing to my ego, or to my attachment to the benefits of my own worldview. But I can objectively affirm it is the only useful and respectful attitude to have toward others, the only way of celebrating the reality of a brilliantly diverse world, and I hope I can grow into it!

  95. Hi, Lindy here from Heathcote, Vic, Australia. Like in ‘Sugar’ I really loved the use in Malawi of personifying HIV/AIDS and the care of the community into characters. A great way for people to decide who they want to team up with, whose ‘purposes’ they want to serve. And the physical metaphor of sticks – stronger in a bundle than alone – is extremely powerful. The movement I currently work within is very word/literature based, and this has challenged me to wonder how we could be more creative in facilitating learning and reflection with the use of drama, symbol, and song. Helping communities use song as a vehicle to tell their stories and express their strengths, aspirations and commitments is something I’ve seen up close through Somebody’s Daughter theatre company in Victoria’s women’s prisons. It seems a far more empowering way of having your story heard, than simply telling it individually which seems more vulnerable to me. My workplace (mental health related) has just begun a community choir for our participants, so hopefully this will begin to release the creativity and deepen the solidarity that can come through collective creative expression.

  96. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia:
    Question on critical reflection: over time, whilst doing the online course on narrative therapy (NT) the concept of externalising has become central in the NT discourse. Maybe it is just me, however, when Salome Raheim invited us learners to write about “Our privilege” as a critical reflection, I find this contradictory to externalising.

    1. If we are to externalise the problem “the problem is the problem, therefore my dominant story does not define me as a person, nor does my dominant story of privilege (assumed, or presupposed privilege) define me. How come Salome is asking us learner to internalise my/our presupposed privilege?

    Isn’t this oxymoronic? Internalising vs externalising?!?

    2. Given that I do not have any form of privilege as I am Asian, from non-English speaking background, immigrant, gay, with disability means I have only deficits! Yet she is inviting me to write about my privilege?!? What is the purpose of internalising presupposed privilege?

    3. Finally, some of us like myself have no privilege at all only deficits yet I knew along time ago that the only way I can make something of myself is by externalising my deficits and not internalise them. I got to where I am by seeing privilege as an external barrier.


    • Hi Donovan

      Thanks for your comment re the privilege project. We really appreciate your ‘critical thinking’ about it.

      I just searched that website page for the phrase ‘our privilege’ and it appears 5 times. Upon reflection, I think it’s a hazardous phrase as it could be read to imply some shared relationship to privilege (our). I don’t think this is what was intended by the use of that phrase but it could have that effect.

      I think that term ‘our privilege’ could also sound like an ‘ownership’ or as you say as something ‘inherent’ to the person. So in response to your thoughtful feedback, I’ve now deleted the ‘our’ in each of those 5 places!

      That project is certainly not trying to imply that people in different social locations share privileges, nor to ‘internalise’ privilege. If there are any other places where you think this comes across we’d be happy to re-look at these too.

      Thanks Donovan!

      Warmly, David D on behalf of Dulwich Centre

  97. Lindy here from Heathcote, Victoria. I loved the practices described here, and look forward to following up consultations with a letter documenting especially the preferred stories heard, and in such respectful ways. I was especially challenged to avoid ‘applause’ as it can be a form of judgment and set people up to strive to live by my standards and values. I currently work in peer support for mental wellness – something I believe in deeply, and learning that becoming a Narrative Therapist would still enable me to facilitate a form of this often through outsider witnesses is highly encouraging. I am also inspired by the power of metaphor in The Suitcase Project – such a creative way to help children recognise their own internal resources and values, and to remember them! A really great session.

  98. Hi Mark,

    Thanks very much for this presentation. It was so clear and easy to imagine how I might put it into practice. Easy to imagine but a little trickier to actually do!

  99. Really useful thoughts about responsibility and externalising. The idea that there might be culturally acceptable modes of being and investigating that as a way of offering ourselves to take a position towards that construct feels helpful when working with people who have been caught up in perpetrating violence towards self or others.
    Working with externalisation really seems to allow a richness of description that is person centred and thus able to be witnessed and explored. The problem may literally become an object, using art or modelling, that can be seen from many perspectives and placed in context.

  100. From what I can discern, the Narrative Metaphor has something to do with the way we tell our ‘problem’ saturated stories and how we start to link up a sequence of events that in turn get turned into a plot with a dominant theme. As the interview with Michael White stated, people don’t come in and say ‘depression,’ they talk about how over the last while they have been feeling depressed and then they list out events to provide evidence of this theme. the job of the Narrative Therapist is to build scaffolding that allows clients to step into less explored areas of their lives- to come up with a different narrative about their lives which will in turn affect the future actions they engage in. This is an incredibly ‘freeing’ concept to think about as it means there is more than one way to look at our past and present and future. It means that the trauma we have suffered does not have to be the dominant story that follows us around like a ball and chain.

    Kirsten Camartin MSW RSW DTATI
    Social Worker and Art Therapist

    • Im Kat from East Anglia, UK. I am a child and adolescent counsellor working in schools. I have found working in the metaphor in general to be very helpful with young people as it enables them to create some distance from the stories they are either describing or playing out with toys/games etc and for the stories to be thought about more comfortably without evoking shame and guilt.

      It is very helpful to add the extra dimension of narrative metaphor and consider how the story they are telling reflects a part of their personal truth in those moments. So often young people make themselves the centre (and therefore responsible) for the situation to make sense of what is happening around them. Being able to understand and actively encourage thickening and enriching of their stories feels like a huge privilege and important part of helping young people to develop and grow.

      Thank you Dulwich Centre for this course.

  101. (From France)
    I’ve found some similarities between some of the projects described in this chapter (particularly the Mt Elgon project) and Appreciative Inquiry. They both rely on positive foundations and focus on dreams.
    I look forward to studying the next chapter…

  102. It is so helpful to differentiate to between the parts of the problem that we can legitimately internalize (underlying legitimate needs, responsibility for consequences, etc.) and the parts of the problem that we can legitimately externalize (shame, culture of abuse, etc.). This is so incredibly helpful. Thank you!

  103. I have only just discovered the world of Narrative Therapy and am both inspired and excited by the discovery. I feel as though it’s something I’ve been looking for a long time.

    What struck me most about this first section: The Narrative Metaphor, was the Charter, this wonderful notion of formalising people’s rights to tell their stories. In a world where it frequently feels as though stories, like everything else are becoming homogenised; glossy packages produced by the media, or ‘thin’ versions dictated by powerful institutions, which allow for no deviations or detours, this Charter shines like a beacon of hope.

    Article 5 particularly, caught my attention with the phrase “…No one is a passive recipient of trauma.” It made me think about how many times individuals have been relied upon to be exactly that: passive and silent, because their stories may force uncomfortable truths from under cover, out into the open, truths which will demand a response. I thought also of how sometimes we are guilty of assuming we know the story before it has even begun to be told: the stereotyped ideas we may (subconsciously?) hold of the stories of, for example, the battered wife or the refugee and how these must be challenged.

    Like so many others, I am grateful to The Dulwich Centre for this course. I know already that I am all the better for having found it.

    North Wales

  104. (Writing from France)

    In this chapter, some parts were really pertinent to me, as I could link them to my professional experience. Others were less relevant to me, even if I can imagine situations where they would be relevant to other people.

    I already use some kind of “Letters recording a session”, from time to time. However, it’s not very common among my peers, and I sometimes wonder whether or not it’s a good initiative. Your documents show that other professionals are happy to use it, which strengthens my confidence on the topic. Thank you.

  105. Hello All, I’m Michael from Brisbane in Australia. I work with people reintegrating back into the community after traumatic injury that results in lifelong disability. I’m often surprised by the ‘thin’ stories people tell me about themselves and often how negatively these stories impact their recovery. Similarly I’m surprised how often that those around them support these stories, adding examples and detail.
    I have tried to find the exceptions to the ‘thin’ story (and as people strive towards recovery there are usually many exceptions) and help people reweave their narrative. I’m hopeful and excited that as this course progresses I’ll have a better understanding of the theory and practice of doing so.

  106. Hi, I’m writing from Paris, France.
    There were many interesting issues in this chapter. I’ll single out the part on “metaphors of combat in relation to the problem” in the FAQ part. I find the other available options very relevant (such as: revising one’s relationship with the problem, educating the problem, negotiating with the problem, organising a truce with the problem, taming the problem, undermining the problem…). Indeed, these alternative behaviours seem more efficient to me in certain circumstances.
    A similar metaphor would be swimming or diving: you don’t “fight” with the water; rather, you collaborate or play with it…

  107. Hi everyone,
    Thanks for the videos and the documents.
    I’m Loïc, a certified professional coach and a chartered engineer from France.
    In this chapter, there were some interesting ideas indeed, for instance the link between “narrative therapy” and how a writer builds characters, personal interactions, plots, and, sometimes, imaginary worlds and societies.
    On a personal level, it rang a bell on two antipodal levels:
    – An environment where logical (or even mathematical) processes are ubiquitous.
    – A regional background where imaginary explanations, even on very serious matters, are pervasive.
    I just need a little more time to join these dots (and others), hoping that the thread won’t be too thin…

  108. I really appreciate what I am learning from you and the Dulwich center. I love gaining tools for helping others to regain their stories and gain courage for writing new chapters!

    • Coming from the UK I am very interested in learning more about narrative therapy as we don’t really have any equivalent models for individuals. I have some experience with client’s life “scripts” and how stories are told and used in systemic counselling however, I have found the narrative approach has helped me to notice more deeply the stories my clients (I work in a school) believe about themselves. Working with young people I can sometimes see how the stories we come to believe in about ourselves can formed and that often the young person is identified by their problem or behaviour rather than as an individual who behaves in a certain way some of the time.

      I’m hoping to come and do the week intensive course soon so I can really begin to incorporate this way of working into my practice!

  109. Hi Carmen. I am a counsellor working in Victoria in community health with carers. My training and work draws on Narrative ideas and practices and I found your video very interesting and share the practice of letter writing and sharing our file notes with the people who attend counselling. I am particularly interested in the welcome to community letter and the point of highlighting the problem as the problem right up front. Thank you for sharing and looking forward to hearing more, Warm regards, Lesley

  110. Thank you Murisi, I want to thank you for your respectful honoring of the community that you work in, the people that you work with, the students who were with you on your learning journey (myself included). “If we know what our values are we have hope” – this resonated with me because it made me think about what my intentions in life are for myself. In my work I’m thinking about the actions of resistance that clients take to protect the values that they stand for.

  111. Melbourne, VIC., Australia – for me the black dog video was useful. It is useful as it helps to separate and externalise the depression. As someone that has worked in MH, AOD and trauma it is often difficult to separate the diagnostic illness based on medical model with the that of the social model. It is especially difficult to separate them when research into the brain and brain images has shown certain parts of the brain are affected by these diagnostic illnesses.

    Externalising/externalisation of the problem is something we/I use when working with sex offenders. I do some work in disability forensic assessment treatments system (DFATS) in this facility I would use neutral language and separate the person from his offending behaviours. For example, I would say (not real name) “I like this Tim (person), but I am concern about the behaviour Tim engages on”. This language is normally used as a strategy to engage client in safe talk and non-sexually charged conversation. Disassociation is often used to disassociate the person from the bad behaviour.

    This learning has helped me remember some of my previous university learning and professional training.

  112. Melbourne, VIC., Australia – Firstly, I have to acknowledge all the hard work Michael White and his colleagues put into formalising narrative therapy. For me who comes from a collective culture where we value both written and verbal history of my people, narrative therapy ressonates well with me. Foucault talked about the narrative of oneself… growing up I was taught verbal history handed down from one generation to another generation, which creates my personal identity of myself. So far into this module I learnt about learning and listening to storyteller’s narrative. Narrative therapy like family therapy looks at the external world and source the problem external to the person. I feel the current over empahisis on mental health (MH) takes away from the external workd’s culpability. But by listening to the narrative of the person we therapist can start to listen to the extentuating social, familial, and social issues that adds to the stress of everyday life. I would be interested to see how “Intersectionality approach” to therapy can benefit us practitioners. What I mean by intersectionality is when different factors intersect to look at “external & internal forces, and learnt behaviours”. I am enjoying it so far.

  113. Lindy here from country Victoria. I loved Barbara Wingard’s ‘Sugar’ exercise. Playing the part herself eased participants in, as we are all accustomed to being the audience to a performance in which things can be personified and caricatured – she used a familiar means to achieve externalisation. Making diabetes into a character seemed to give people the confidence they could get to know what it is all about (relating to characters being more familiar perhaps than studying a disease) and take charge of their own relationship with ‘Sugar’.

    I love the logic of the Statement of Position map and that having named a problem and its effects, the next step is to name your position toward the problem and how it sits among other values held. All of this is a wonderfully empowering process.

    In my context, a lot of people internalise diagnoses such as borderline, bi-polar, aspergers etc, which can seem to make problems even bigger and their effects more pervasive. I can see how externalising using experience-near language could reduce problems back to what is actually happening for each individual, so they can address problems they can more clearly see for what they are.

  114. I have found this section the most challenging and what will most likely be the most influential for my social work practice, particularly the engaging article causing me to analyse my own privilege and dominance and how this has influenced the way that I work.
    What stood out to me and what I will prioritise to assist me to grow was the importance of collaborative processes with clients and finding allies in this work who are willing to be vulnerable and reflective in order to engage in this thinking and put this into action.

    “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama

  115. What happens when your client is unable to describe or give a name to the problem? How do we help him/her?

  116. I have utilised the Tree of Life in direct work with individuals but have never had the opportunity to use it with a community or group. This may be interesting to explore in some of my work with Post Adoptive Children but also discussing potential use with refugee and asylum seeking children moving into the area (NW London, UK).

  117. Hi there Carry,

    I loved the language of this approach. I am currently looking into an approach for the team I work in (Perinatal Mental Health) to adopt with Mums who’s relationship with their baby is tricky. Thanks so much.

  118. In the past, in the context of work with children and families I have collaborated to produce a number of documents that focus our work together including recording goals, case plans, safety plans, strengths booklets, tree of life, etc.

    I really appreciated all resources in this section, but was particularly challenged and changed by Sue Mann’s article. Although I aim to be respectful in my record keeping, I see it would be not only utmost respectful, but in addition powerful to collaborate in recording case notes. A barrier that stands out initially is that although consulting with clients, I would at times need to share information that pertains to current risk of abuse/neglect that clients would not supportive of me sharing. This would lead into further conversation and exploration with the client prior to sharing, and aid in transparency when needing to make a mandated notification.

    The next steps I hope to take will be to start co-recording with children/families at the end of each meeting.

  119. Our lives are made of many stories that we have created by linking life events into various ‘plots’ that we (or others around us) have given certain meaning to. In doing this we neglect other life events that could have been formed into alternative plots or stories with different meaning. A thin (single) story allows little room to move. Stories that we identify as preferred or more empowering of preferred possibilities can be thickened by identifying more and more supporting evidence from life experiences until they become the dominant narratives from which we act in the future.

    This way of seeing lives – as multi-storied – may make it possible for me to explore people’s lives, my own included, with a degree of objectivity and critical thinking. How were the stories formed? Whose voices were given authority? What reasons might there be for settling for these particular conclusions? Are there other deep values that may have been buried out of sight? This narrative metaphor might make it possible to dislodge even firmly held stories that are in fact causing problems and keeping me or others stuck.

  120. Hello from London UK. My name is Dane. I love your video it really excites me. Thank you! I am emerging from just finishing a thesis on something we named ‘The Theatre of Life’ for young trans / gender non-conforming / non-binary young people. I have been taking some time off to rest since graduating in November 2017. I would very much like to connect your works and take the conversation forward! My thesis should be availbale online soon here:

    Mills, D D. (2017) The Theatre of Life: Collective Narrative Practice with Trans Young People in the Community. (Doctoral dissertation, University of East London). Available online: http://roar.uel.ac.uk/

  121. Hi my name is Jo. I live in Weston Super Mare in the UK. This material has been thought provoking. It has made me think about ideas of stories taking on a life of their own and how important it is to think about issues of power when listening to the stories that are being said or aired. How useful to be reminded of the wealth found in people being able to use their own words to describe their experience but also to remember that this can be difficult within the context of the marginalised voice or indeed if the language of your choice or at your disposal is one of gesture or image.
    I love the idea of a tapestry of stories and this reminds me of a short film I made with a group of people who had experienced living in long stay hospitals for people with “learning disabilities”. How I had been challenged by the recurrence of stories of friendship, playful defiance and love that emerged from within the stories of sorrow, loss and difference.

  122. Hi I am writing from Coffs Harbour NSW Australia.
    I found the outsider witness article was brilliant in raising my awareness of the fact it is essential to understand the importance of an outside witness, another person being able to enrich and add to the version of an individual persons recollection of a story that they may have previously blocked out of their mind. It gives a completely new and different perspective to help the individual.

  123. Hi Jocelyn
    Carolyn here in Adelaide. Im working with a team in Queensland to plan a childrens group and we will be looking at your project to build on their ideas. I shall let them know about your work and if it is ongoing. Maybe there are some ways the children might share their knowledges with kids in Singapore!

  124. Hi I’m Charna and I have recently completed a diploma in Alcohol and Other drugs. I have been fortunate enough to find a employment as a caseworker in a refuge for Women and Children affected by domestic violence.
    I value and appreciate the opportunity to be able to do this online course as I know I have alot to learn.
    The first chapter has already increased my knowledge and I am looking forward to what is next in this course.
    As emphasised in the Single Story video I now realise how easily we do and can pigeon hole ourselves and others into thin stories about who we and they are.

  125. Hello from Melbourne, Australia.

    I love the concept of narrative therapy because it is simple yet so powerful. It is not uncommon to become trapped in our internal dialogues and stories. By allowing ourselves the ability to re-authorize and challenge some of these stories, we can live our lives in a more nurturing/kind way. I was particularly interested in the way that something as subtle as allowing the client to fully describe the way their externalized problem manifests itself can be a truly empowering experience.

  126. Living documents are proven to be powerful to reminding people of their strengths and remind of accomplishments

  127. I’m Elena from Macedonia. I’m graduated psychologist and now I’m going to psychotherapy course for family and systematic psychotherapy. Part of the course is narrative therapy.

    I strongly agree with the part that we just have individual with problems and we need to see individual separately from the problem. I like the of de – construction of the story and funding new perspectives to see the the problem and make a re -construction. I found Chimamanda Adichie’s talk fascinating.

  128. Hello, here Diana from Bogotá, Colombia. I work at an educational context, and for me it has been a project that I have in mind to star groups with parents and teachers, in order to promote places in which they can listen to others and also share their stories and experiences. Here in Colombia, I believe groups are not a tool yet, actually it is difficult to find therapists who take the risk of working with groups with a collaborative perspective. So, I believe this is a big challenge in my context, and I fin very important to have always in mind a local perspective in order to take into account the needs of each context.Thanks!

  129. Hi, I’m Silvia, a psychologist working in NSW. Just started this course and already loving it.

    The idea of who we are being a tapestry of stories is just so liberating. I mainly work with two different populations: adolescents and carers of children with special needs. Going through the first chapter of this course encouraged me to write a post on my facebook page directed for carers. In my experience, carers often find it very difficult to tell others when there are so many struggles in their lives. It’s not surprising, they fear judgment and rejection. However, what the concept of narrative therapy shows very clearly is that when we give preference to one side of the story, to the single story, we risk losing our dignity, it’s like us invalidating our own struggles, our pain, our not so colourful stories. By doing that, people can protect themselves of being judged, but they don’t acknowledge that our stories are composed of good and bad, of black and white, of dark and light. We must tell many stories in order to get the big picture, otherwise we become monochromatic in our existence.

    Loved the Ted Talk from Chimamanda Adichie, just so powerful. And so true in every way, loved the quote “When we reject the idea that there’s no single story for anything, we regain a kind of paradise.” When we do that, we allow ourselves to be the full picture.

    And I wish I will be able to utilise that concept in my work, to show to people that we are the results of many stories.

  130. One of the aspects that connected with me during this chapter was that therapists are often perceived to have the power, the expertise, in the therapeutic relationship. Building on the ideas of cultural equity, the therapist should take responsibility for deconstructing this imbalance in collaboration with the client. Examining the assumptions that influence people’s view on therapists and deconstructing them to create space for collaborative work with the client as the primary author.

  131. London, Ontario, Canada. I am enthralled with the power of story. I have been a part of patient self management collective story projects where people with chronic disease share in their success of disease management. I will continue to use this method in my nutrition counseling groups to have us be collective inspired for change.

  132. Writing from regional NSW, Aus. I found this week very encouraging and a breath of fresh air in regards to a totally different aspect that I had known little about prior to the session.
    I really enjoy the creativity behind narrative therapy and how open to interpretation it is based on the presenting client’s needs. I enjoyed the suitcase metaphor as I believe that it is straightforward and something that my younger clients would resonate with.
    I also enjoyed the outsider-witness reading. I believe that this could be extremely helpful with the young clients that I see where it can be difficult to involve families. With further development of my skills and introduction to others on the team I believe we could see this style of therapy flourish in our workplace.

  133. Hi everyone,
    I’m coming from Strathmore, Canada. I found this lesson to be interesting and also very thought provoking. I appreciated how the readings also discussed how it can be difficult to acknowledge ones privilege and often how this is used to shame oneself or others. One thing I always have struggled with is where do we go from here, we know we have privilege and often our programs are developed out of this, but how do we change? if we adopt another cultural or groups practice, are we then providing their views as privileged over another group that was not chosen as representation? Personally, I do not think these are questions that can really be answered, however I do believe being aware of engaging in conversations is necessary, even if we will never truly as a world escape these confines, as one group history or values become present for description and development of a program.
    Another aspect I struggle with is in acknowledging how a ‘white’ privilege view has over taken much and in effect impacts choice to go to war or enact views on another group. An example, would be the view that girls have a right to education, in a Western, White view the answer is a resounding yes, however, there are cultures that answer this question no. Is it our right as a dominant group to enforce our view on this question on another culture, because we feel they are wrong and dictate reasons of ‘human rights’ and ‘equality’, who defines ‘human rights’.
    I know my opinion on this, however in acknowledging my privilege and historical values, I know that my opinion is one that is based in a ‘white, dominant’ view. So the question becomes do I have a right to stand by my opinion in promoting girls going to school, or am I enforcing my privilege on another of differing cultural view?

  134. This session was very useful. I use therapeutic letters in my practice but this approach to documenting through writing letters as a possible ongoing dialogue is very useful. I also like the journey mapping and banner making in the suitcase project and will utilise something similar in group interventions.

  135. As an educational and child psychologist in the UK I have found externalising questions to be very valuable for work with teenagers who have challenging behaviour arising from a complex mix of difficult lives and individual special educational needs. Having a chart to help visualise this is helpful.
    I also feel the black dog video will be extremely useful in terms of supporting young adults and parents to access support for depression, but also to begin to explain the narrative approach to young people.

  136. Hi, I’m writing from Tokyo, Japan.
    Practicing externalization helps me focus on the dangers of reproducing dominant cultures and power relations. Those would deprive me of the privilege of being part of another person’s journey.

    When I talk with a client whom I have come to assume is being delusional or blaming others unreasonably, I am often tempted to focus on how I can, by forming “logic-based” questions in my mind, get him/her to see “reality.” This attitude automatically creates a power relation in which the client is treated as less knowledgeable about his/her own life than the counsellor. Also, that kind of question rarely leads to a journey the client truly wants to take ownership of, since it is the counsellor who has decided the destination. On the other hand, I have found that externalizing conversations can create a safe space for the client to freely examine whether his/her beliefs benefit his/her own life and how he/she wants to proceed. I may ask, “how do you describe your relationship with that idea?” or “how does it influence your life?” As I get to hear the intimate descriptions of the client’s relationship with certain ideas or problems, I gain the privilege of being invited into the client’s life. This opens the door for both of us to embark on our collaborative work together.

  137. Seattle, USA. I really enjoyed the story about the fear of the pants falling down. Often times as a new therapist, my supervisors have warned us about self-disclosure. I liked what occurred in the transcript. By the therapist self-disclosing, it made him seem more human and it did break down that power differential many of our clients are afraid of. I think it helped the client to open up more.

    • Paris, France.
      I had exactly the same reaction. A sparkle of self-disclosure can sometimes break the professional / patient mould and allow the person to open up. Understanding that the “professional” is neither omniscient nor omnipotent may also help to overcome a sentiment of shame.
      Thanks for this chapter and thanks Gwendolyn (by the way, a name which means “sacred circle / ring” or “white moon” in my ancestors’ language).

  138. Seattle, USA. I had never really thought about using therapeutic ideas in the context of engaging a whole community in terms of positive social change. I found this quite interesting. I like that one aspect of this technique was goal-oriented, and encouraged work towards goals.

  139. Hello, My name is Jamieson. I am a new social worker, working in community palliative care. From the readings, I understand the narrative metaphor to be an approach to the therapeutic conversation which focuses on how we as humans we tell stories as a way to make meaning about our lives. These meanings are crucial to how we see ourselves and how we see and act in the world. It reminds me of the idea of Songlines- that we sing the world into existence. Narrative metaphor allows us as therapists to assist clients to see new stories and meanings, uncovering lost hopes and dreams, based on the lived and neglected events that do not accord with their dominant story. It also seems to highlight the universal within the personal. Quite lovely.

  140. Tina – Coffs Harbour NSW
    I was particularly drawn to Aunty Barbara Wingard and how she does not label her meetings with others as counselling but sitting together to tell their stories. It allows people to feel free to discuss their feelings and be honest and open without feeling judged.
    I also love her quote: “It’s important for us as Aboriginal people to make the links between justice and grief. We need the
    injustices addressed so that we can grieve our losses. We need our stories told and acknowledged.
    Working on our grief in these ways is working towards justice”.

  141. I have enjoyed this module of the course. I too am familiar with the concept of externalization, however, I have not had this much of a description of it. I like how externalization can help separate the individual from the problem.. like they are not the problem, the problem is the problem. I know for many clients this notion alone will mean a lot. I also like how this makes the individual an expert of that problem.

  142. Hello to all. I am Zahra from Mashhad Iran. Thank you for holding this course free of charge. I think that narrative therapy is a great way for people who resist in counseling and treatment sessions,With this indirect method, people find themselves responsible for their own problems and With the help of counselor they can replace their stories with effective and good stories.

    I think various thin descriptions and conclusions can make worse problems, although alternative stories can reduce the influence of problems and create new possibilities for living.

    • Hello, I am writing from Seattle, USA. I really enjoyed learning about the narrative metaphor. I especially enjoyed the dot animation. I am seeing now how narrative therapy can help to change people’s lives and how it is important to help the client see other aspects of their story.I really enjoyed reading and watching aspects of the externalizing aspect.

  143. Katherine from Mb Canada, critical thinking be it in practise or in daily life is very challenging and reading the material here does inspire me to look more closely at my own views of critical thinking and how it affects and hinders my walk as a learner in the field of Social Work

  144. Katherine from Mb Canada…this quote caught my attention, by Campbell and her colleagues, ” we facilitate new and transformative meanings that inspire hope and reconciliation”; isn’t what we all want in helping others.

  145. this is Katherine from Mb Canada…”Not only are we telling our stories differently, but we are listening differently too. We are listening for our people’s abilities and knowledges and skills. We’ve been knocked so many times that we often don’t think very well of ourselves. But we’re finding ways to acknowledge one another and to see the abilities that people have but may not know they have. Without putting people on pedestals, we are finding ways of acknowledging each others’ stories of survival”. from Aunty’s article; speaks to me very clearly, and the narrative approach allows a gentle way to speak to the pains, losses and moves the process into a path of healing

  146. interesting article on Friere, what I got from this was his view on critical education. Friere’s method of critical education is described in terms of Critical pedagogy, a teaching method that helps in challenging social oppression, customs and beliefs. Leads to questioning society on their views of the role of education in society. This is how I understood it maybe someone can elaborate on it.

  147. the danger of a single story as discussed in the video was very interesting-sometimes the stories we internalize actually belongs to a grand narrative.

  148. love the concept of the problem is the problem and not the individual

  149. Hi everyone, I come from Strathmore (in Alberta) Canada. In reading the article discussing the CARE initiative I was greatly intrigued. I found it to be a very interesting way to bring the community into involvement and encouraging them to take charge of making change and understanding why change is needed. One thing I do wonder is how this would play out in a different context, such as in Canada where the culture is more individualistic and less focused on community. I do believe that community is needed and feel it is something that has been lost in the recent individualistic push to survival. I really enjoyed this lesson through the encouragement of the various ways innovative methods can take, helps me feel that I can change/create methods based in a Narrative approach that are specified to my locale of an individualistic but small town community.

  150. thank you so much for your video. i really loved the nuro typical diagnostic rave. so great and so funny. actually your information was fantastic on a few levels for me – i loved hearing the discourse about hearing voices as well. thanks so much for your inspiration.

  151. Thank you so deeply for this meaning making between the body/ soma and narrative. I very much like the idea of how the body is part of the story and thinking about how so often it is left behind.. It is so helpful to link these concepts as I am a beginning therapist working to learn both these ways of having conversation and have them be integrated in meaningful and ethical way. I am interested in hearing more about how you arrive in collaborative conversation at these mindful moments early on in your dialogue with people, without using it as a “expert”way of engaging? I hope that question makes sense, and I’m happy to rephrase if it doesn’t.

  152. One thing that I have always struggled with externalization has been the use of it, in cases of violence and abuse when working with the actor of abuse. I liked how Mark Hayward described externalizing the emotion and understanding the why, but not removing the responsibility around the behaviour that occurs. One of my biggest fears has been using externalization and having it used to create an excuse and thus remove responsibility. Rather than demonstrating that change is possible.
    Alberta, Canada

  153. Hi, I’m Fleur from Brisbane. I found the sharing of stories between communities in Port Augusta and Arnhem Land quite profound to read and I feel very grateful to those communities for sharing these stories with the wider community. What a beautifully responsive process – the way that stories shared prompted more stories. I really got a glimpse of the power of outsider witnessing and I feel really excited about the potential in these practices. It sounded like such a gentle, healing process and must have been very moving for all involved. The poems written by community members towards the end were very beautiful. I love the metaphor of being lost in the darkness and hearing the sound of the frogs, guiding people to the water. It’s inspiring to me to read about people being patient, thorough and really listening to each other, really wanting to understand one another and allowing the space for relationships to unfold.

  154. Today we watched your video.

    Some of us clapped when it finished. Some of us said, ‘Sounds good!’

    We all liked different things:

    • One of us liked the story of when the waves were too strong. That story is a reminder for all of us of what lies ahead and how we can get through hard times. It’s like a message of resilience.

    • I liked how the video talks about the ways you deal with people’s attitudes. We have to do that a lot. Sometimes I want to educate people. Other times I just want to go away … or for them to go away!

    • I liked how the video was not censored. When people react to us in public it is not censored so our feelings shouldn’t be censored either . As our culture becomes more sanitised, then it gets harder for those of us who don’t fit a sanitised world.

    • I liked when it said ‘adversity is power’. Sometimes pain and anguish can be a resource. That’s not necessarily the case for everyone. It’s not a should. Everyone is different.

    • And one of us really liked the tram – anyone can ride on a tram in a wheelchair or not.

    Thank you for your video. It reminds us that we are not the only one these things happen to.

    We also have ways of dealing with the loneliness of winter, or with other hard times.

    Here are some of our tips:

    1. Some of us use creative writing, acting or music.

    2. Having a support network around us makes a difference.

    3. We’ve tried to find an outlet that works for us. We used trial and error to do this.

    4. More than one of us watched horror movies. These can make us feel better. In some way it’s like eating your feelings! Maybe one day we can make another film what a tub of ice-cream with ‘eat your feelings’ on it .

    5. A cat in winter can help to keep you warm. Its body heat can warm your legs and a cat can also provide entertainment. It’s good to have someone to laugh at.

    6. A cat or dog is also someone who can listen to us. A Labrador doesn’t necessarily talk back to you but it does know when I am upset. She comes up to me, looks at me, wanting to help. And she listens. Actually any animal can do this, not just pets. One us finds birds very comforting.

    These are just some of our ideas for getting through winter … or for dealing with hard things. Some of us are looking forward to when it gets hotter and we want to have a cool drink or ice-cream.

    And we are also looking forward to what other people think about your video … people with disabilities and people without disabilities.

    We look forward to hearing.

    Today we watched your video.

    Some of us clapped when it finished.

    Some of us said, ‘Sounds good!’
    From the Julia Farr Youth Peer Support Network.

    PS. Angus, we don’t want to give you too much of a big head but your delivery was profound and the message was really significant.

  155. Hello, everyone. I’m writing from Tokyo, Japan.
    I find the narrative metaphor valuable not only in counselling settings, but also in interactions with people in everyday life. It reminds me to ask myself: Am I casually passing judgements on others based on socially prescribed standards? For me it is a constant reminder to be more aware of whether my attitude is fair. Also, with this awareness, the narrative metaphor provides me opportunities to appreciate the uniqueness of individuals and find beauty in each person.

  156. Emily, psychotherapist in Austin, TX – I am so glad to read Leonie’s piece! Understanding post-structuralism can be a big task, but incorporating the notion that truly, there are no underlying core truths a person must embody to be fulfilled is validation of a point I’ve always tried to hold close.

    I give this example in session – that at first, an athlete might compare themselves to others – an Olympic runner might at first be competing against faster runners. In time, they might be competing against the recorded times of the very fastest runners. But eventually, they might truly reach the pinnacle of their profession and have only themselves to beat. Do they stop? Of course not! The goal for the runner is always faster, even if they are beating their own time.
    In the therapy room, we identify measuring growth from one’s own measuring stick: if you started a day at 0, getting to 3 is a great day! If you started at 9.9, are you happy? Is 10 the only opportunity for you to feel content? Why is that?

    Thanks for covering this!

  157. Form me, as a therapist the chart was a particularly interesting resource. This, because it allows me to go back to conversations and think again and again, which I believe is a powerful tool in order to construct new meanings. In the chart, the questions about positions are very powerful; this allows entering other levels in therapeutic conversations.
    In Colombia I work in different contexts, specifically in educational and clinical environments; I think issues that could be externalized in these contexts are related to what parents and schools create around kids and their feelings, behavior, and academic results; it is very common that kids are being labeled all the time; Which means that parents, schools and the kids themselves do not have any possibilities for change. I believe that externalizing is powerful resource in these contexts, because it opens up possibilities that are being invizibilized by families and schools; It creates new doors, new ways of living for children.
    I also believe that in my country there are many contexts in which this resource would be very useful to create enviroments of new conversations between people.

  158. Hi, I am writing from Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia.
    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?
    The narrative suitcase really resonated with me as I work with people who have suffered severe trauma and who are often stigmatised by the general community. The dominate story often leaves the clients feeling hopeless and helpless and does not let them see beyond the trauma they have suffered and the way others see them. Using the narrative suitcase would allow my clients to capture their stories and see their strengths, who has been a support for them, what has worked for them previously and what causes them to return. I think this tool would work for all age groups, genders and situations.

  159. Hi, I am from Sydney and I have found the idea of using externalising really useful when helping clients through their problems. It has been very helpful to let them see that their problem is not part of them but that it is outside of themselves. Also, I have found letting the clients become the expert in their own lives has been very useful.
    We have found ways in their own lives where they have found a way out of a problem and fixed it and so this has helped us to look for other ways where they can help themselves and so give them the strength they need to move forward.

  160. The idea of getting someone to teach you a complicated skill to give you something to concentrate on and work towards when you’re feeling stressed or angry is a really good one! Thanks for the tip!

  161. Good afternoon, I am Diana, from Colombia. I have been very excited about this online course; it has been very interesting for me. As a therapist, I think the narrative metaphor as a possibility, a possible path to go along with each person who comes seeking for wellness. It is a tool for working, dialoguing, thinking and living. Narrative metaphor could be a way of thinking how we build our present, past and future, how we describe our life, how we attribute meanings and live through and across them; a way of thinking us and thinking others.

  162. Hi, I would just like to say these ideas of critical thinking has been a real eye opener for me as I have never really been a critical thinker. But this has made me more curious and to be stop and think ideas through more constructively and not to just take things at face value. I have really enjoyed the readings on privilege as well and for me helps in my work as well when I counsel people from India or someone from a similar background, it helps me see what struggles they go through and now I am able to recognize this more which is very beneficial to say the least.

  163. Hello All!

    Some interesting comments below. Thought I would try and contribute.

    I guess what strikes me after reading / watching this introductory material is the challenge of combining sincereity and genuine interest in the client’s story with noticing the unsaid or alternative meanings. It is always an interesting challenge to acknowledge a client’s perceptions of their problems while facilitating the right environment for them to explore alternatives in a manner that does not make them feel isolated from the counsellor. The dot exercise uses very accessible imagery to show the validity of multiple stories at one time, and I guess this provides me with comfort that the client still has the power to identify alternative stories relevant to them and their current situation (there is probably more than one valid narrative). Overall, the Narrative Metaphor would seem applicable to multiple therapeutic / counselling frameworks.

  164. To answer the question, what might thinking about stories in this way make possible for you, I think that working in the narrative therapy tradition with clients opens a whole new world of possibilities for clients who label themselves “depressed” or “disabled.” I am a clinical mental health counseling trainee (just started seeing clients in August) in Texas and as much as I love Carl Rogers, we weren’t making progress with person-centered counseling (I’m not saying it can’t be done!). It was exciting to see how clients started to think about their lives differently as we thickened their alternative story.

  165. I really liked the presentation of “The Black Dog” visually externalising depression.This may give a pe3rson the ability to seek professional help and begin their own recovery.
    I will source this tool to show people who may be experiencing Depression.

  166. The notion of being cultural receivers of suffering is intriguing to me. The sense of linking the understanding of someone’s difficulty to their conditions and they society they inhabit is relevant to my work with older adults. Their loneliness, isolation, disability, and mental health history all have a context. I was inspired by the authenticity of building transformative “therapies” out of the strengths, values, and knowledges that already exist in communities. There is something liberating about the notion that therapies might not be universal or contextless. That therapeutic effectiveness might depend on more than the characteristics of the therapy, but also require attention to the person, their context, their society, their history. It means that change (or non-change) is not due solely to the therapist or the therapeutic fidelity.

    I am interested in experimenting with paying closer attention to the histories of the older adults I work with, in order to understand their needs better.

  167. Hi from Sydney, Australia.
    I wonder about writing letters based on conversations. It will be important for me to consider how to have conversations that will mean these letters are read, instead of ending up in the hall drawer.
    One idea that really stuck out was around David’s caution in documenting Maree’s and Beth’s reflections and knowledges around self-harm, where the documents could be experienced as negativity or criticism if read by members of the care teams in their lives. David was also sensitive about avoiding centring himself as the ‘only understanding one’. These reflections demonstrate an explicit reflective practice around ensuring that the young people continued to have quality, supportive relationships with their team. At the same time, I was struck by David’s way of viewing their communication about their needs in the relationship as essential too.
    In addition, I was hit by the notion of “avoiding applause” in answer to question 6, “Hazards of outsider witnessing”. It would be valuable to pay close attention to when I am applauding a client, because I think being perceived as patronizing/judgemental is a significant risk in my practice. I also believe it would connect me to my own values and the meaning of my life experiences by considering, when someone discusses their experiences, how I am moved, touched, encouraged, or inspired by their story.

  168. I have found the teachings of Narrative Therapy to be a very respectful approach to therapy which centres people as the experts within their own lives. Separating problems from people and empowering people to see their own abilities which can help to assist the person to reduce the impact the problems are having within their lives.

  169. I enjoyed listening to the single story discussion and how stereo types can be formed from listening to only one description of a race country or individual person. There is a need of numerous stories to create a balance and understanding. It is seen that people are the experts in there own lives and have the ability to find their own answers.All stories influence life and the effects.

  170. I enjoyed the video about the “Single Story”. Too many times people are thought of as only having a single story however we should all know from our own lives that we have multiple stories to tell. As a DV Caseworker, I get to hear the stories from women and children and I get to see how people hearing their stories often only hear the single story and not the journey that these women have been through to get to where they are today.

  171. Thanks, Ian, for sharing ways that you are ‘mingling’ Mindfulness and Narrative therapy practices.
    I’m a keen student of both Buddhist-inspired meditation practices and Narrative practices, and I often think they have a lot in common – that my interest in both comes from the same place, a concern for a kind and respectful exploration of people’s local and particular experiences and knowledges. I do agree that Mindfulness and Narrative practices can support each other. In fact, I really think we’re missing something if we don’t enquire about what our body ‘knows’! This reminds me of a couple of workshops at the 2nd European conference of Narrative therapy in Barcelona, 2016, that described ways of bringing together body/ movement and narrative; also of Sarah Walther’s ideas about ‘re-membering our bodies’.
    I’d be interested to know more about how you do the moving back and forth between the somatic and storying, and what effects this has for the person at the centre. Have you, or are you thinking of writing up any accounts of this work?
    Thanks, again. Your talk encourages me to keep on exploring ways to bring mindfulness of body to narrative, and narrative to body.

  172. Dear Dulwich Centre,

    May I first pay my respects to and acknowledge the welcoming and wise invitation from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders who represent the first sovereign nation of this land, and who are the spiritual and traditional owners of this country. Thanks also to the Dulwich Centre and the folks who have initiated this important project.

    I also wish to express my disappointment and disagreement with the decision of Malcolm Turnbull and the group of whitefella politicians to reject a proposal for the establishment of a First Nations voice to be enshrined in the constitution of Australia.

    I am a whitefella man who was born and bred on Darumbal land in Central Queensland. My ancestors came from Cornwall, England, Ireland, China and Norway in the 1800s. There are many reasons my heart is called to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The strongest reason in my heart today relates to what I have learned with and from Australia’s First Nations people. I have been very fortunate to spend time with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander folk who have shared with me much knowledge, value and skill about ways of living. In particular these folk have taught me profound understandings of respect, at a level I never could have understood without these interactions. I think most Australians would agree that our parliament could benefit from some of these important lessons in respect, and if parliamentarians acted in more respectful ways to each other, to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and to all people in this country and indeed the world, a lot more could be achieved and many people would be much have much safer and healthier lives.

    With respect and hope
    troy holland

  173. I am from Whitby, Canada and I am a Child and Family Therapist working in private practice. With the focus in the collaborative process of centering the client as the expert in their own life. I struggle when clients are insistent on me being the expert and insistent that I give them ways to cope with their problem as this is why they have come to see me. How is the best way to support this scenario from a Narrative Therapy perspective?

  174. I found the idea of collaborating with the person to determine what to write on their records to be very interesting. I wonder if there would be pushback from organisations though, some may not feel that this practice was appropriate. However, it is a fantastic idea that I would be keen on trying out. At the very least, the idea put forward by Sue Mann that you should not write anything in client records that you would not be willing to say outright to the client is a valuable one to keep with you. It requires courage to say something to someone’s face, and if you are prepared to do that, I feel that you can feel safer that you are working in their best interest.

  175. Thank you for the insightful story of Sue, the chart helped to follow the dialogue.

  176. I found the takeaway from the transcript of Michael’s conversation with Sam superficially comical, but ultimately profound. In my professional life, I have worked mostly with teenagers, and have watched at times as other educators respond to students–especially disruptive students–in a manner similar to how the other therapists in Sam’s setting were regarding patients experiencing psychosis, as “the other.” I have also witnessed this othering in my sustained work with a young man living with Down syndrome, by simply experiencing his life with him in public contexts. But in these settings, rather than go along with the othering, I have seen success in reversing power dynamics to the advantage of the relationship by placing power, trust, and responsibility into the hands of teens, or the young man that I look after. This does the crucial work of dissolving the wall between the therapist, educator, or caretaker and “the other,” until there is no longer an aspect of othering at play.

  177. Love this anthem. Posting it on facebook. Going to play it in to start the day in my office every morning. Going to ask if we can listen to it before meetings.

  178. Oh wow, what a good video! You certainly speak with courage, and I was thinking how useful your words are, particularly about the team to help support you.
    Thank you, for making this video.

  179. How beautiful are these words. I am grateful for these young peoples’ voices, recorded for me to share with young people I work with. The simple messages are profound. I loved watching you trek up the path to Mt Lofty, it is like a metaphor for moving forward, for moving on. Thank you so much for making this video.

  180. Hi, I’m Fleur from Brisbane, Australia. I work as a counsellor with youth and write poetry when the mood strikes. I see narrative metaphor as a way of engaging hope, inspiration and creativity. It can wake us up when we’re getting tired. When we describe something we’ve experienced using metaphor, we put on a costume and start acting out what we’re trying to describe. The costume is liberating! It’s magic! We have one foot in our real world and one foot in our dream world.
    Metaphor can feel so gratifying, when you find the one that really works – when tested out, can hold the complexity of the issue. It seems to align the issue with patterns of natural phenomena which takes it out of the self and into something like a fable. When someone uses metaphor to describe something to
    someone else, they leap into that space together!

  181. I was particularly drawn to some words in Aunty Barb Wingard’s paper, Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger. The quote “But silent cries can go on for years and be heard by no-one. They can eat away at a person’s spirit.” (p2) neatly sums up how the Western culture of squash it down is instilled in us and we have come to expect it from all others. I think as a culture we have started to try and move away from this idea, however I believe it will be a long hard road.

  182. For 60+ years I have had the benefit of living in this wonderfully diverse country. I am aware that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have had to endure dispossession,death and alienation from their countries. And, that their cultures have been appropriated and disrespected. I commit to walking with you and being guided by your wisdom as to the best way forward for us as one nation among many. I thank you for your generosity of spirit in inviting me to walk with you in a movement that will create a better future for all of us.

  183. The question of how to apply the externalizing theory to my own practice is interesting; because many of my clients are gamers – LARPers, video or board gamers – this concept is already accessible to them. They already know how to pretend to be soldiers, orcs or zombies – getting them to see that a problem can be a cloak they try on and take off instead of innately part of themselves works wonderfully.
    -Emily; Austin, TX

  184. Loved this way to overcome trauma and difficult situations through the successful stories in the family of origin. I’m now thinking on how to apply it to children and teenagers, victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation in impoverished areas in my country. I believe learning from their relatives and even some significant adults in their communities, might help them to overcome trauma and grow from it.

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience Ms. Yael!

  185. I am from Whitby, Canada and I am a Child and Family Therapist working in private practice. The ideas of co-research, and inviting the suggestions and ideas of clients resonated with me. I find clients appear often surprised when I ask them for their input on achieving treatment goals, when we re-evaluate how things are going in sessions, what is different/changed in their lives, and what has been helpful and not helpful in the sessions. The readings in this lesson have helped to give me confidence in this way of working, as the client’s surprise when I elicited this information had me second guessing this approach.

  186. Thank you very much for publicizing your collaborations Ryan! I found the Rappelling Metaphor particularly helpful in viewing spirituality and agency. I also really appreciate and admire your conscious de-centering, especially in your dual role as a pastor. Thanks for taking the time to do this afternoon.

  187. Jerome (LONDON) I find the post-structuralist philosophy as being the most helpful thing in terms of critical thinking. Now that I question the given truths and accepted truths , this allows me to be more intellectually critical of research and of theories. Most importantly it means that I am listening to people more in a constructive critical way so that some of their own unhelpful truths might be called in to question. I definitely want to read up more on the philosophy.

  188. Dear friends,

    the life-saving tip that stood out for me was “water can mentally bring you fresh ideas and can help you forget hard times”. This part evokes an image in my mind…An image of young people, who are already experienced sailors surviving daily the storms of ocean. It seems to me like they have developed a secret language, “the language of water” I would say, that allows them to get the spirit of the sea, to interact with the water, to de-code the wisdom it carries from so many years of existence in the earth and be open to the fresh ideas it brings.

    This image resonates with my own experiences all these times that I felt lonely, lost, worried and anxious and I went down to the beach. I remember the sense of fresh air in my cheeks, I remember watching the playful waves and looking at the open horizon. Water reconnects me with my family roots (many of them were fishermen and immigrants), and it re-alive a sense of freedom and safety to me. It helps me to feel and think fresh.

    You stories reminded me the skills of speaking the “language of water” and the importance of hope in my life. They also made me think that whenever I look at the sea, I will know from now on that somewhere in the other side of the horizon, I’m connected with other your people through the fresh ideas that water brings us.

    I work with young people who are also sailors in the ocean of depression. Since we live in a seaside city in Greece and water is a big part of our history, for most of the people I meet, water is related to stories from their lives and our elders. I’d love to show them this video! I’m so curious to ask them how it might linked them to their own stories of survival.

    Thank you so much for sharing your hard-won knowledges! I really appreciate the fresh air you brought to my life and work with your contributions.


  189. I’ve had my anticipation built up since I first heard about this compiling of young people’s knowledges a few years ago & am glad that it’s come to fruition! So often young folks get portrayed as having lesser knowledge than adults or none at all.I especially like that this is a “living document” that will continue to flower! I’m glad as an adult to be a recipient of these treasures & as a purveyor to others!

  190. I have had an introduction to Narrative therapy and externalising conversations through my Counselling degree already. However, point 10 in the Commonly Asked Questions page made something click for me. I did not realise that externalising our good qualities was just as desirable as those of our bad. The whole externalisation process allows for greater examination of what we believe about ourselves. The same process that weakens an undesirable trait, that of examining the relationships and beliefs that have allowed it to flourish, can be used to strengthen a desirable trait. By understanding how you have come to develop this trait, it can become stronger during the times you are struggling to connect to it. Its foundations become more solid. This gave me a deeper understanding of externalisation and its power.

    • Indeed, externalising a problem can be so powerful. I can see how the externalisation method can work, in the context of play therapy as a child practitioner. The externalisation of the problem through play takes off the pressure of blame, guilt and shame and other negative emotions. It also promotes reflection and a shift of how the problem is viewed. It also allows children to be creative about dealing with the perceived issue. When children externalise their worries or emotions a sense of relief can be seen and humour. This method seems to be more effective and compassionate than pathologising children and adults equally.

      • I’m interested in the idea of externalising “good” qualities as well as “bad” ones too. I like the way it shifts the focus away from encouraging a sense of identity based on good and bad and labelling ourselves as this or that, which can be so narrowing and can encourage us to compare ourselves with others. It seems to open things up and acknowledge that we all have the potential for all kinds of thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behaviours and that we are not those things, we are the experiencer – the perceiver and actor. I can see this being helpful in my work with adolescents who have developed a strong habit of defining themselves by the mental health diagnosis they’ve been given.

      • Through my experience in training I worked with children dealing from sexual abuse trauma. With one I was amazed to see how helpful allowing her to naturally externalize through the use of toys assisted in her discussing the trauma. It removed the shame of what had happened in that it was the doll that it happened to rather than the child. I’m curious to see through my journey as a practitioner how age plays a factor in natural externalization.

  191. Dear Eunjoo
    I liked your introduction regarding social and cultural discourses and the fact that although some may be powerful, they often contain diverse and sometimes contradictory strands and are seldom uncontested – giving openings for deconstruction that is meaningful to ‘clients’. Your presentation was also helpful since I find some narrative concepts rather slippery and at the same time feel they could be imposed rather than used to open space for the other. Your presentation not only sets out a clear framework, but also illustrates how that is used in therapy, while maintaining an awareness of and actively working against the potential of the therapist to impose a particular narrative, rather than allow for the creation of a narrative fitting the person. Your use of notes as a way to suggest further avenues to explore and to consolidate alternative narratives is right on the mark!

    Thank you

  192. I enjoyed this talk linking up many aspects of narrative work. This has helped to label and name what we can do in therapy to build new narratives – namely noticing and highlighting the small acts of standing up to problems. I particularly liked how this was linked to a standing up to more culture-wide injustice and prejudice.

  193. Hi, I’m a sexual assault counsellor from Brisbane.
    I particularly enjoyed the charter about Narrative Justice.
    I deal with this type of situation on a daily basis and found the story-telling rights were helpful to start conversation with young women.

  194. This is quite fantastic and a great step into housing kid-acquired, kid-friendly, wisdom. Bravo for this.

  195. I see the Narrative Metaphor as an opportunity to give the self a voice. I support people in their quest for a career and so often i hear things like .. Mum thought i would be a good Teacher … My Sister is the smart one, i could never get into Uni .. Women didn’t do that in my day etc etc .. Narrative therapy helps my clients to discover other notions about themselves and the contributions they can make.

  196. This has been my favourite week so far! I love the idea of letters, how powerful to encourage and bear witness in the therapeutic context in this way, definitely this is something I will be using!

    • Writing from Wagga Wagga Australia. Within my context of practice, letter writing is the more resonant type of documentation that some clients (adults) could find useful, particularly around a position that the person has taken in relation to an externalised problem and their future self and story telling in the form of art for both adults and children. Writing is not for every person due to their commitment and time, but certainly this chapter motivated me to use these practices more often.

  197. I have enjoyed this communities section as it has reminded me of the many benefits of working within and with communities rather than just individuals (CBT, a mode I often work in, tends perhaps to focus a lot on the individual and their inner world). The metaphor of a bundle of sticks being stronger and more difficult to break than an individual stick really resonated with me about the power of working together with a larger sets of skills and knowledges. It has inspired me when I return to work to do more community outreach work.

    • Australia. Little by little we make a bundle, made me think that it could perhaps even be added to my work with couples, particularly addressing relationship conflict through a role play of the problem, just an idea.
      The tree of life can be applicable in groups and individually, it emphasises on strengths, produces hope and confidence and even self belief – it can be empowering as seen in the chapter. I can use the tree of life as a metaphor to work with children who are/have been experiencing parental conflict post separation.

  198. I agree that the narrative metaphor co-exists with an individuals identity, where we come from, what has made us who we are. Personally, thinking of an individuals story, curious about what’s happening in their own words/narrative is allowing me to see many perspectives on what I was seeing as a single story only that could relate to past trauma.

  199. Thanks Anthony… we use this practise as trauma victims… as an international group. We create music from you-tube and just pass it around… the healing power of notes, mates, and first learning to trust is priceless… our issues and concerns are universal. My grand-dad was an aboriginal of Great Britain and spoke our language as a first language. Five of his grand-kids moved into the sex trade, four of them boys. Their father saw battle at sea at the age of 16.

    We have a lot of cleaning up to do. It all helps to share… to learn, to grow. Diolch yn fawr… thanks you so much, deeply…

  200. Emilie from Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia
    Hello everyone,
    In this chapter I was drawn to Michael White’s definition of the therapist solidarity:
    “And what of solidarity? I am thinking of a solidarity that is constructed by therapists who refuse to draw a sharp distinction between their lives and the lives of others, who refuse to marginalize those persons who seek help, by therapists who are constantly confronting the fact that if faced with the circumstances such that provide the context of troubles of others, they just might not be doing nearly as well themselves”.
    I find this idea extremely helpful. Having this consideration for the persons who seek help and their situation takes away all possibility of establishing a judgement toward them. This way of approaching the clients’ stories also gives space to use ‘ethnographic imagination’ – to develop an understanding of people’s visions about how they go about the living of their lives.

  201. The concept of externalising is evident in movies, songs and social media. The ability to communicate a personal experience of something that is otherwise known as a problem reorients the audience to the person’s relationship experienced by the problem’s presence. Play therapy studies was a retraining of minimising an observer’s tendency to interpret the meaning an object or action had for a child. Instead, techniques were taught so an approach developed for the observer to come into the child’s own meaning attributed to their action or product. The Black Dog resource was a strong reminder of play therapy concepts, and the personal experience of a problem being represented by an analogy as a relationship. For example, a child represents an overpowering relationship with a dinosaur, and themselves as a toy baby. They relate actual memories and feelings, and desired scenarios with the dinosaur and baby, in ways they may not be able to describe in a conversation directly about the person and themselves.

  202. Narrative metaphors sound much like identities. They describe and define the understanding someone has of themselves and others, and in turn, this affects how they position themselves in situations, and the relationships they have.
    Thinking about stories in this way opens up possibilities for alternative perspectives and untried responses.

  203. Hi I’m writing from Melbourne, Australia. Letter writing sounds like a fantastic way for the person to have ongoing access to the gems of the counselling session, and I think it could be workable in my context.

  204. Hi Aunty Lauren! So great to see your face and hear your voice 🙂

    I found the work you and the folks and families have been doing very real, inspiring and hopeful. I really loved the different and creative ways the ‘all in the same boat’ metaphor was applied to problems, values and hopes, and in particular to multi-storied descriptions. I especially appreciated the nuanced way shame and guilt were approached and that some efforts and possibilities were explored in separating the shame and guilt loaded upon someone and the shame an guilt that spoke to a preferred valued that may have been compromised or acted against. It makes me feel like these parents are well aware of and prepared to face the consequences of particular actions, but no doubt find it very difficult to do this in the face of a barrage of judgement and shaming from workers, systems and in popular discourses.

    The work you have all been doing together will help keep me stauncher in resisting the binary positions that we are so often invited into in work conversations as well as social conversations. I hope I might also get the opportunity to share some of the parents’ skills and knowledges with people I meet with and will let you know if they have some responses to share back.

    I also very much appreciated that you have an accountability process with consultants who are adults who experienced abuse as children. I wonder, are some of these consultants teens who are still in care, transitioning from care, or who have just recently turned 18? I have met young people in those circumstances who I think would find it very empowering to play a role as consultant to these conversations.

    Great to be in touch Aunty Lauren, thanks again to you and all involved.

    • Hi Troy,

      It’s lovely to hear from you and thank you for your response.

      I have found as you describe, a ‘nuanced’ approach to exploring Shame and Guilt, fosters multiple possibilities. The initial group exploration makes visible both the politics of their experience as well as the threads of their personal ethics of which they’d become separated from. I have since experienced that, where parents have chosen to continue to consult with me, this kind of exploration of Shame and Guilt has contributed to a sense of accountability to the particular principles for living and caring for children.

      In relation to accountability processes I’ve had some opportunity to consult with young people who have lived in care. In a particular instance the young person’s contribution, and what became a two way exchange, was significant in a parent getting back in touch with the kind of parent-child connection they longed for and a commitment of never giving up on their child. I recently heard that the young person consultant still speaks fondly of this experience of contribution.

      I’d welcome and greatly value other opportunities to consult with young people who have insider knowledge in this context of this work.

      Troy, I would be delighted to share documents if you find opportunities to share them with others who might be linked in some way with these experiences or context.

      Thank you again and I will pass on your appreciations to the parents involved.
      Warmest regards,

  205. Hello again from British Columbia, Canada. Within this unit I really appreciated the aspect of the article by Barb Wingard in which healing from loss and the experience of grief was discussed. The writer mentioned that externalizing grief as a way to talk about loss can be very healing. Many of my clients are grieving current and past losses, however the conversations we have are usually very matter of fact. We discuss the stages of grief, their experience, how they are coping, etc, but perhaps the connection to the experience could be more pronounced if we were to personify grief. Grief impacts people on all levels and I imagine that externalizing it would allow for each level to be explored. Even though this article was in relation to Aboriginal culture, I see this as being useful for a wide array of people experiencing grief.

  206. Little by little we make a bundle was a wonderful example of the strength of unity. The opportuntity to make the exercise interactive with breaking the stick amd tying them in a bundle which couldn’t be broken a very powerful example.
    I think hands on approached are much more effective.

  207. Hi my name is Dawn and I am from Mount Gambier, South Australia. I am a Youth Worker. Being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent the narrative metaphor is my culture’s form of story telling. By using the narrative metaphor as a Youth Worker it will assist my role by sitting with the client and allowing them to tell their story without being judged. It is a more relaxed approach to therapy.

  208. I love the story of Sugar. By externalising diabetes and dissociating the diease from the person gives a great unattached perspective for people to engage with diabetes. Wonderful story!

  209. Hello from British Columbia, Canada! I really appreciate the idea of using letters to record a session. So much content is explored during therapy and it is difficult to recall all of the key aspects and learnings that arise. In my personal therapy experiences, I recall leaving sessions and thinking to myself, “There was something really useful that I wanted to share with my husband but I just can’t remember what it was”. In the role of myself as therapist, I have also experienced re-visiting a prominent theme from the previous session and the client looks at me blankly- not recalling the context. Although I see immense benefit in using letter writing as a component of therapy, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed at the idea of an additional component to fit in outside of the counselling hour. I recognize that this is a logistical issue, but an important one to consider when simultaneously being mindful of ‘burnout’.

  210. I love this work you have done its so important for parents to have a voice and be herd around these issues and to be externalised as the guilt and shame internalised causes so much ongoing pain and trauma.

    • Hi Miimi,

      Thank you so much for your comment Miimi. Certainly as a community we have been very slow to realise what difference can be made for the lives of children when their parents’ voices are heard. I have found many parents in these circumstances genuinely wish to address the concerns which have led to child removal, but in so many ways the systems, policies and practices make this very difficult to achieve. Of course the significant effects of Shame and Guilt can be so disabling.

      I’ve always been heartened by parents’ skills for tenacity, to never give up, in spite of Shame and Guilt. I am also heartened that there’s a growing appreciation that, by including the voices of parent’s, we are better able to address the systems that have failed so many children whose lives are affected by child protection and out-of-home care systems.

      The parents involved in this work and who have joined in since are creating ripples across different communities through the sharing of their stories and hard-won knowledge. I feel very privileged to be a part of this as well as very hopeful.

      Warmest regards,

  211. I am from Whitby, Canada and I am a Child and Family Therapist working in private practice. I found the song of survival, and the 12 life saving tips to be inspiring and something I believe will be effective with the youth I work with.

  212. I am from Whitby, Canada and I am a Child and Family Therapist working in private practice. From the information in documents and audiences, the client letters appeared to be important for healing and the validation of client struggles. I often do letters to client in a closure session but have never implemented during the course or treatment which I feel I will try. I also have not included reflective questions to the client in the letter, which I think I will now include as a way to support their continued growth.

  213. This chapter was ver interesting. The process of externalising was well described in the variety of written and visual texts. The story Sugar resonated with me. Not just because diabetes is in my family but also because I work with Aboriginal families. I found the mode of collective questioning and then answers by Sugar very clear and useful for refining the process of externalising. At the moment I feel my questioning is a little stilted.
    I loved he black dog clip. What an excellent visual example of externalising. I am sure to share it with colleagues and students.

  214. This was a good chapter. The process of externalising is a narrative method I could put into practice more when I’m working with teenagers. I think I would need to practise and feel comfortable with some of the questioning techniques. Sugar’s story resonated with me. It was a great example of externalising in action. I also liked how it weaves the concept of shame in the information about working with Aboriginal people. I found the dialogue and questioning interesting and the reflections about the processes adopted in relation to the Aboriginal culture quite useful. The clip about the Black dog was an excellent example of externalisation. I intend to share it with my colleagues and students at school when I return from holidays

  215. Every single one of those practices is inspiring! I was particularly moved by The Mt Elgon, Uganda, Self-Help Community Project. Witnessing how the therapists helped the community to develop narratives that allowed each individual involved to fulfil their hopes and dream was very powerful. Seeing the wider impact that this project had on the community’s development and initiatives is very inspiring.

  216. I really enjoyed watching D. Newman’s presentation about the “skills and knowledge documents” that he uses with the young people he work with in the psychiatric unit. His explanation of the impact of said words and the necessity to use them carefully really resonated with me. Collecting in writing his patients’ ‘skills and knowledge’ to deal with specific situations is a fantastic way to value his clients abilities but also to help others to find their own language through the language of others. The example he gave about the young boy was heartwarming.

  217. I found reading through the transcript with Mark and actively charting the conversation on the statement of position map the most helpful. It really does help you gain a clearer understanding of where you are at in your conversations with your client, and perhaps where you need to spend a bit more time to build that rapport with them. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to see position and externalizing questions put into action. I had taken a Narrative Therapy course in graduate school a few years ago, before officially beginning my career as a counselor. This course is truly bringing those practices back to the forefront of my mind in how I am helping others.

    All the “problems” I can think of could be externalized in some way. The issues we are experiencing in our lives are simply types of relationships we have with issues, not something that is internal, within us. Perhaps there are issues that may require more conversation to learn an externalization that works well for the client, but it just takes understanding, patience, and curiosity to get there.

    I can see externalization making a big impact in my practices. Many clients I see struggle with ruminating on themselves as being “bad” or claiming all the fault for themselves and tacking it onto their identities. Several sessions could be spent on someone ruminating those types of thought, because they are stuck at that point – To change the problem, they much change themselves – But that is not the case because they are NOT the problem. Helping them see the problem from a different perspective, almost like an outside perspective, could assist them from getting past those thoughts of “I have to change ME” to “I need to work on my relationship with this issue.”

    As a new counselor in the field, I know I need to work on types of questions I use in my practice to make externalizing adequately useful. Since we do work in therapeutic practice, those will come with…practice 😉

  218. Lovely Tileah – so meticulous about context ….. again just listening before I come up your way in early November to talk a little to an audience i don’t know .

  219. The resource that I found most useful in this chapter was the Statement of Position Map 1 because it gave me a framework in which to track the conversation and helped me to apply my learning in real-time. The problems that could be externalised in my work environment include confusion about whether to continue or change a uni course, failing a course, and unemployment. I think externalising could help to reduce shame, harness motivation and reconnect a person with their values.

  220. Rachael from Melbourne, Australia.

    Critical thinking for me is about thinking outside the box, it is also about being curious about the way things work, the things I think and the things others think / believe. I think that it is important to practice being curious / critical of oneself, that is understanding privilege, understanding and / or questioning where my beliefs and ideas come from. This then allows me to be curious about others and to not assume.

    Stories: My various trainings and interests have encouraged me to be curious and to think critically, going to uni was a big eye opener for me after living a fairly sheltered life, studying science and after that counselling as well as practicing yoga and meditation I think have contributed to my journey of being curious and questioning. This lesson and this course continues to push me along on this journey.

  221. Most of my collaboration has been between me and the person I am working with, what direction would they like to take, what is important today etc. I am excited to be in a new team where there are more opportunities for working in a collaborative way with individuals, groups and the organisations that support these people.

  222. I really love the idea of externalizing, it feels very empowering, a way to give people back their dignity. The lecture was really helpful in breaking down how to apply this in a way that keeps us engaged with the ‘problem’ and finding ways to explore and manage problems, without them becoming part of our identity.

  223. Hello all! I am writing from near from the center of the United States in South Dakota! I am very excited to have this course available to further understandings of narrative practices. I see the narrative metaphor as allowing one to get a better overall picture of someone’s life. When a client comes in, sometimes it feels like we get a summary snapshot of their experiences, and any and all experiences that support what they feel is their primary experience they’re struggling with. However, there is so much more to people’s lives than that. The narrative metaphor allows us to open up a wide array of possibilities to bring into their field of view, allowing them to see, maybe for the first time or maybe remembering again, other stories in their life that were successful or varying from the dominant story they came in with.

    Thinking about stories this way helps me to remain curious as a counselor. It can be quite easy to get “stuck” in a session, especially as a young counselor like myself, and not know for sure where to go or what to ask. But when I take a step back and think about what I am curious about in the story of the client or what I am curious about that wasn’t present, it helps me gain a bigger picture and a better understanding of the client’s life. The multiple stories in peoples’ lives present ways they have handled similar experiences, and how they could again.

    I especially like that the problem is the problem, and that it isn’t the person as problem. So many people I have contact with feel as if to “get better” they need to change some very vital aspect of themselves- and that can seem very daunting and un-motivating. When you remove that gloominess of it, it seems a lot easier for people to overcome things. They aren’t necessarily changing anything about themselves, they are altering their perspective of it or altering their relationship with the problem. By taking away the ownership of the problem, it allows people more freedom to take action.

    • Autumn I also appreciate how listening to stories keeps me curious as a counselor. In addition to becoming un stuck it also release the tendency to move to quickly by increase the contemplative opportunities.

  224. Dear Anthony,

    Thank you for providing insight into the sparkling work of ‘Didgeri’ and the ‘No More’ campaign. I really appreciate the careful construction of the group, and the way you highlighted your own mindfulness around men attending ‘freely’.

    It stood out as important that your approach highlights the ongoing implementation and effects of colonising practices. As a saltwater Aboriginal woman I am similarly interested in redressing the past tense of various abuses often used, and the resistance our people continue to demonstrate.

    The possibilities created through ‘men engaging differently’ in ‘counselling for non-counsellors’ provides great hope, as our communities respond to the status to which non-Indigenous Australian policies and practices have served to relegate our mob. It sparks thoughts about my own community, and the ‘non-counsellors’ who live here, often tasked with the duty of being a ‘go-to’ person. How might your approach be transported and adopted here? You’ve given me much to think about.

    This is profound practice, rich with strong stories shared across countries. So much can be drawn from your sharing of this particular yarn, please accept and pass on my gratitude to the men of Didgeri.

    Kylie Dowse

    • HI Anthony,
      Thanks for sharing this with us. A topic which still seems taboo in our community. You have created space for conversations that invite men to talk about the effects of the trauma. I love the idea of counselling ways for non counsellors. You have highlighted language being important and with what you have created here, that has been one of your focuses. Getting people in community to talk differently to each other in a language that is uplifting and encouraging, but still acknowledging of the struggles. Are you able to give me the name of that person you quoted for the domestic violence of women. I also appreciated that for my work. Keep up the good work Anthony. We are building an enormous Aboriginal Narrative Therapy empire which has tremendous opportunities and outcomes for healing for our people across this country.

  225. Emilie from Coffs Harbour,

    Externalising conversation is one of my favorite narrative therapy technique. In my practice, I commonly work with individuals who have developed addictive behaviours. Externalising conversation can empower the clients as they create space for them to analyse and work on their relationship with their addictive behaviour/substance. I find this approach much more helpful than the use of labels, such as alcoholics or addicts, which take some form of control away from the individuals as the labels defines a part of their identity.

  226. Angela, Jannali NSW

    I’ve really loved this introduction and it has left me feeling really contemplative. I think this is a really generous and gentle philosophy/therapy that allows for the reframing of what can often be very negative stories that have been told, or we have told ourselves. I’m really going to spend some time thinking about my “I am…” statements… where they have come from, what the alternate stories might be, or what evidence may or may not back these stories up. Can’t wait for the next sessions! Thanks guys 🙂

  227. The importance of collaboration within teams as well as between clients and practitioners. I am also interested in the way narrative practitioners share something of themselves -such as in the story with Sam and how when done in a way that shifts the power it can be really powerful. I do tend to ask if sessions have been helpful I think I would like to enquire more specifically about this and spend more time on it in the future to more fully understand what is working / not working.

  228. I am inspired by all the ways to move ownership of a program to the people it is for. I am curious about how I might go forward in using these ideas with the women I am working with to give them ownership which is important from a point of view of challenging gender steriotypes as well.

    I love the different ways of documenting – be it through song or diagrams (team and tree) – stories and hopes as well as the use of metaphore – I particulaly like the metaphore of the one stick vs the bundle of sticks – working in a bush adventure therapy program metaphores in nature are especially relevant and important.

  229. Thank you very much for this course. In some ways it is similar to Solution-Focused Therapy, but to me – as a writer and a psychologist working with artists – it is more valuable, as it focuses on telling stories.

  230. “Telling our Stories in Ways that Make us Stronger” is a gem. I think everyone should write a memoir about how they dealt with difficult parts of life. And other people would want to read them, I’m sure. There is so much personal and community wisdom to share! Thank you Barbara for your article, it is truly inspiring.

  231. In my work with artists and writers I often hear about how important it is to have a sense of connection. I absolutely loved the metaphore of the “Team of Life” that shows that we are interconnected and interdependent and can use our skills and knowledges about connections to support creativity and thrive creatively. Oftentimes when we think of an artist or a writer, we see them working n their own, but in fact there is a whole community/family/circle of friends and acquaintences that creates the sense of connection and love, so needed in waking the creative force. I could make use of the “Team of Life” metaphor in my work with creatives – to help appreciate the sense of connection they have, necessary for their work to be accepted (and sometimes even make possible).

  232. Emilie from Coffs Harbour

    First of all thank you Dulwich centre for delivering this online resource.

    I really enjoyed listening to Chimamanda’s talk about the risk of misunderstanding that can rise from listening to single stories rather that multiple stories. The examples she uses to illustrate her message, all carry such a powerful meaning. As she says “stories can break the dignity of people but stories can also repair that broken dignity”. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring talk.

  233. Living documents is a great idea not only for others, but also for ourselves… I just had the thought of how often I forgot of my own wisdom… I used to know how to do things, how to deal with trouble, how to handle myslef. In times of stress and pressure I tend to forget the things I once knew and things that were important. So my idea is that making the documents of skills and knowledges is not only a great help for others, but also for myself, to help me remember that I can, in fact, deal with problems in my own way.

  234. In my practice as a creativity coach I can see clearly that one cannot build positive change on guilt. If my clients feel guilty for going through a creative block, they tend to postpone the change. The story I hear goes like this: “If I cannot overcome this block it is because I am blocked. In fact I block myself. Therefore I am the only one able to overcome the block. If I cannot do that, it means I am not a good artist and my creative work is not worth anything.” Once they understand that the story can be told differently about exactly the same situation, they start saying something like that: “This creative block is a villain, that can come and go and has nothing to do with my worth as an artist and as a person”. Once they see that the problem is something outside of their worth, thay can change it, because they stop feeling guilty about it.

  235. Great thoughts. I believe in the power of having others witness and ‘see’ you in life. I have often with one off sessions made a summary of what we have talked about and sent it through to the person as a record for them to look back on – I think I will look at doing this more and also possibly to introduce it in some way with my longer term clients.

    I am getting creative and thinking about ways that outsider witness can be used with groups of women that I work with in a variety of ways 🙂

  236. I’m writing from Calgary, Alberta.

    Which particular ideas or stories intrigued you?
    Why do you think these things stood out to you?
    What from these histories would you like to take with you into your future practice in some way?

    I was particularly interested in, and inspired by, the idea of rich, long-term collaboration to create new ways of knowing and speaking. The collaboration between David White and Michael Epston is so cool, but even more intriguing to me is the collaborations that branch out from that – Cheryl’s engagement with their story, David Denborough’s engagement… It seems like a collaboration that was wholehearted and fully engaged, and because it was so rich and generous, it continues to ripple out in further wholehearted and engaged collaborations. I love that. It’s such a strong, hopeful counter to the scarcity narrative that often surrounds any kind of intellectual work, and I find it particularly engaging because even though I *do* believe we live within scarcity imposed by wealth inequality, racism, sexism, monosexism, cissexism, classism, etc – despite that, I think that these collaborations point to ways that marginalized communities and individuals can write new stories that share what we have and create new richness as a result.

    I am currently engaged in a yearlong collaborative project working on cultivating hope and a sense of self-efficacy among the participants. There are three of us designing, organizing, and facilitating the yearlong project, but there is a growing group of people participating. I love the idea that these collaborations can take on lives of their own, and continue on in new and unexpected ways.

  237. From Swansea, UK.
    The quote from Michael White about solidarity and the excerpt from Continuing Conversations particularly struck me as very human. Not professional, but human. I often think, when I work with clients, “there but for the grace of God go I”. This attitude in narrative therapy and this attitude in myself sums up the appeal of this approach for me.

  238. What really worked in this session for me was “creating” a third person as the problem; educating, influencing and disempowering the problem, how stories when thickened can create new possibilities for the future, how a dominant plot can evolve from a thin description and how stories and plots can impact the past, present and future. Thank you.

  239. For me it was important to see how the position of the problem is so important, it seems to be clear on this one needs to understand the characterstics and effects well. with this clear we can move into values and then open up a whole lot of other new stories.

    In my work I could be externalising shame and things / ideas that might be connected to this such as – life being wasted. Finding a position on this might allow for opening up of alternative strengths and values – Respect, relisience and strength.

  240. Barbara’s article was very useful in my context of the ministry. I work with a lot of people in the western world, south Africa, who moves in a cultural setting of not talking or experiencing their feelings. The internalize it. This brings hardship and trauma to most of them. This article gives me a lot of perspective in the narrative approach of REMEMBERING our lost ones. The act of celebrating and remembering is awesome. I have studied this also in the Biblical hebrew narrative and think this could make and awesome study. Perhaps we should attempt writing about this.

  241. Now this was very interesting. Again, i think, this opened my creative understanding to so much more metaphors. The suitcase metaphor is amazing. I thought of people also caring with them so much “photos” of hurt and trauma…would’nt it be awesome to help them so that the make the choice themselves to remove there from their suitcase of life and live inside a new reality. The outsider witness program, i have use before, especially with parents of children. Just this morning i was seeing someone that blocked out all the positive things in their history…but through and outsider witness, they could hear their story being told…and it was ‘n good story…totally different from which the client would only remember. i am really blessed by this material.

  242. Hi, this is Rachael from Melbourne, Australia

    i find it interesting how people tend to narrow down their story and may latch on more strongly to certain events as it building on their story they have made for themselves. Thinking about stories in this way allows for being really curious about exceptions to dominant stories allowing for new stories and narratives to be made.

  243. Thank you for another great chapter in this course.
    I thoroughly enjoyed the video from Mark Hayward and found it particularly helpful in reflecting how these techniques work in practice. I found that the chart was a helpful tool in guiding where the conversation has been and what still needs to be explored.
    I also really enjoyed the video on the black dog. I feel that it is a wonderful representation of externalising and how powerful it can be in reinforcing that ‘the person is not the problem. The problem is the problem.’

  244. Thanks for the video presentation on mindfulness. I have been asked to explain mindfulness to those I meet in various grieving stages and also in domestic violence work. I will refer others to this link.

    Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    • I appreciate it Emmae. Please do get in touch again if you have any further thoughts on the presentation or other aspects of mindfulness and narrative practices.
      Best wishes

  245. Hi, writing from Cape town, south Africa. It really blessed me to re-think en re-visit externalization. I came across this in a MTh study and to hear this again after so many years just sparked everything in me. I really loved the “sugar” explanation and it unlocked the creativity in my to use so much more in different counseling sessions. The last clip regarding the maps of narrative therapy is something i am already make part of my counseling and it blessed me so much. I really to see the value of this. Bless you for sharing this with us. Because i am a pastor i can really see the value that these information and methods can have on my practice as well as preaching. Thanks

  246. Hallo. I am from South Africa. i have studied Theology and was always interested in how our story connects with the Biblical narrative. Listening to all the really helpful resources and articles it really sparked my understanding as well as looking away from thin storylines to more enriched and powerful stories that could also, in my context of work, relate to the meaningful and richness of the Biblical narrative. What i am understanding is that for me the Bible is full of stories of peoples lives throughout different centuries as well as through different cultures. When reading these narratives it is if i am sometimes looking through other peoples struggles and pain and see the wonderful meaning and love that is projected and described in the biblical narrative, that gives my life and story, perspective, hope and meaning. For me, reflecting and understanding biblical narrative is a catharsis moment, because i get to look and listen and hear my story, told in the biblical narratives of other people, through other peoples experiences and outcomes.

  247. Thank you for sharing your stories and wisdom with us.

    The words ‘times of great sorrow’ and ‘nearly drowned in the ocean of depression’ stood out to me. I have been very fortunate in my life, living without war. But still I have experiences ‘times of great sorrow’ and ‘nearly drowned in the ocean of depression’. I too have used this phrase – ‘ocean of sadness’ I’ve called it. Hard times in my family often involved my loved ones thinking they should die, that they should kill themselves. This brings me an ocean of sadness because of my strong love for them.

    I felt encouraged by your proverb ‘after each darkness there is a light’. This made me picture sunrise over the beach. Maybe there is an ocean of hope or an ocean of joy for us to swim in.

    This proverb also reminded me of the importance of friends. When all I see is darkness, my friend holds hope for me, because I can’t hold it for myself. I imagine her holding a candle in the darkness.

    Thank you for reminding me of the light after the darkness. This is a precious knowledge.

  248. Greetings! My name is Natalie and I’m residing in Newcastle, Australia.

    I see the narrative metaphor as a process of being able to shine a light on other, alternative aspects of self, identity and our story. To use another metaphor – the label on the jam jar is not the jam. Our minds are fantastically adapted to categorising, pattern seeking, and meaning making, however, we are susceptible to narrowing our focus to a dominant story or beliefs about ourselves. In this regard, the Narrative approach appears to be a lovely, person-centred way to explore the stories, strengths and resources that lay outside or subvert these dominant stories. I particularly loved the Dot exercise as a way of illustrating this process.

  249. Dear Afghan Youth of South Australia,

    We are people from Adelaide, other places across Australia, and some places internationally. We are visiting Dulwich Centre in Adelaide to learn more about narrative therapy and community work. As people interested in narrative ideas, we also believe that ‘patients are as important as doctors’.

    Among us are community workers, psychologists, counsellors and a personal trainer. Today, we watched the video you made, and learned about the skills you have developed in responding to hard times. Many of the phrases we heard you give to skills and knowledges for responding in particular ways to challenges you’ve faced really stood out to us.

    One of us lives in Mount Gambier, and works with people who are experiencing mental health challenges. ‘There are many pathways out of depression’ is an idea this person will take back to the people she works with. Others appreciated skills and abilities in ‘taking action together’, ‘helping people who are drowning in depression’ and ‘making my body tired so my mind can rest’.

    The knowledges you shared will make a difference in our lives and the lives of people we meet with. In particular, the reminders to listen to the wisdom passed down from Elders seems very important. ‘You can’t travel a thousand miles in a day’ and ‘after night there is day’ reminds one of us, who lives in Iran, of many poems in Persia about the knowledge that, ‘after every failure, there is success’.

    We have been changed by the knowledges you have shared about responding to hard times.

    ‘Reminding me to be kind to myself’ – Sydney NSW

    ‘Fills me with hope, hearing the ways you have held onto hope’ – Adelaide, Homelessness Services

    ‘Some challenges are universal, there is commonality in this’ – Canada living in Bali

    ‘Made me think about checking in with my friend about their passions’ – Australian living in China

    ‘Reminds me that the people I meet with are the ones doing the hard work, not the community workers’ – Sydney NSW

    ‘I live in Nauru – I really connected with your ideas about Elders, and water bringing fresh ideas. I will think of you next time I go to the ocean.’

    We agree that ‘society needs all of us together’ and we wish you happiness and peace. While ‘history guides us’ too, we will hold your stories in our hearts and share your tips for responding to hard times with other people we meet when we return to our homes.

    From people visiting Adelaide to learn about Narrative Therapy and Community Work.

  250. Dear friends who are surfing the oceans of depression,

    It was lovely to see your video and how you are reaching out to others and help to prevent people from drowning. This resonated with me as this is something that drives me in my own life and helping people finding their passion and obtaining their goals is something that is also preventing my own drowning. I will add your stories and tips to what I share with others doing similar work and seeing your strength helps and brings me joy.

  251. I was inspired by the way you asked to join in the volleyball game. I’m not sure I would have had that courage, but you encouraged me to do the same when I am in a hard place – to be brave and reach out to others.

  252. To the Afghan Youth SA,

    I am a youth worker in Sydney and I work with young people from Afghanistan/Pakistan. Mostly Hazara like yourselves. They speak to me about the worries they have and the worries of their mum and dad which they also feel. I can’t wait to show them your video to try empower themselves and community. Thank you for the honesty and showing your vulnerability.


  253. To the newly arrived refugees of Afghan Youth SA,

    Congratulations! I would like to thank you for coming to Australia. We are very fortunate to have you all here. You will enrich Australia with your culture, language, food and beautiful music.

    I admire you all for your resilience – you have all lived through so much, and are still hopeful and patient.

    I know that the ocean of despair can seem very deep, and cold and dark, with no end. But one day, you will find land. You have found land – a new land, now all you have to do is walk up to the sand.

    Good luck.
    Your ally in Sydney,

  254. My dear friend!

    I am so moved about your story! I identify with you as I also suffer from depression on and off. Leaving ‘home’ is terribly distressing!
    Coming to a new country and starting again from the beginning is exhausting.

    I identify with you as I also found when I arrived here I needed something to take my mind away from all the trauma and losses I had.
    Water is so soothing!

    I admire you and encourage you to keep following your dreams being strong and persist!

    Be patient and all will come true.


  255. Greetings fellow learners! I’m joining you from Kelowna, B.C and (in the spirit of multi-storied identities) I’ll introduce myself as a creative writer and teacher—fiction, poetry, prose, spoken word—as well as a critical care nurse. I am currently in the final stages of my master’s in counselling psychology, and see narrative therapy as a way for me to bridge my two passions: health and story.

    As a lifelong student of literature and language, I was so (SO) excited to uncover remnants of Foucault in White’s work: namely questioning the supremacy of a single view, and an invitation to flip the traditional hierarchical structure of Western psychology by priviledging the unique wisdom of the client (Foucalt’s main tenet is that knowledge is power). In terms of application to my practice, I work a lot with Canadian Indigenous people, and can see ample opportunity to apply Narrative Therapy’s perspective of story-as-medicine. I am really looking forward to diving into this material alongside all of you!

  256. Thanks so much Linda for your interest in the integration of mindfulness and narrative. As you may know, I recently presented with David Pare at the Re-authoring Teaching gathering in Vermont on this topic. I believe this direction fits well with re-imagining narrative practices. I am not sure about questions for the group but here are a few questions I constantly ask myself (there are many others too!):

    In what ways can mindfulness be depicted and what effects could a particular depiction have on the therapist, the person attending and the aspiration for collaborative practices?

    How can mindfulness support narrative approaches and narrative support mindful attention?

    In what ways can mindfulness contribute to understanding the effects of problems, to recognising various shifts in positioning, and to the development of beneficial and preferred storylines?

    How can various discourses and applications of mindfulness and narrative be connected while staying committed to the ethico-politics of practice?

    Hope this is helpful?
    Best wishes

  257. Hi everyone,
    My name is Sarah and I am a provisional psychologist working with young people in a regional NSW town. Thank you for the opportunity to broaden my skills with this fantastic course!

    What stands out to me is the importance of understanding that as humans we have many stories that all work together to shape our unique experiences in the world. The narrative metaphor emphasises the importance of ensuring that we work with clients on their multi-story lives and to assist in encouraging a multi-story understanding to our lives rather than becoming trapped in our own ‘single story’.

    I look forward to learning much more about narrative therapy as we go along the course! I am very new to this style of therapy and am excited to see where it goes!

  258. We have thought that it would be helpful to bring notice to this video to the Facebook Narrative Practice Group. We have been discussing in our leadership group the idea of re-imagining narrative practices as David Epston has been encouraging and thought of this as an example. Are there any particular questions you think could be useful to give to the group regarding your integration practice of mindfulness and narrative therapy. Thanks for your presentation.

  259. Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger by Barb Wingard. I really got something out of this idea of talking more about death and talking about the stories from our friends and family who have died. It is a lot more healing to speak and remember the dead and speak about how much we loved them and the happiness they bought us.
    I also agree that at furnerals it is better to cry and wail then to keep quiet to let your grieve out and not worry what other people think. An enjoyable read.

  260. How would you describe the narrative metaphor?
    I would describe the narrative metaphor important to me as an Aboriginal person and for counselling Aboriginal people because our lives consist of story telling and there are alot of stories and untold stories in out lives to sort out our problems. Narrative metaphor is non blaming approach and centres people as expert in their own lives.

  261. Hi from Wales, UK. As a “cultural receiver of stories of suffering”, working as a support worker and training to be a counsellor I feel enormously privileged that people allow me to hear their stories and a great responsibility to use these stories to help other professionals see that there is more to a client than a label – addict, homeless, victim….. Fortunately I have avoided becoming jaded by hearing about suffering, the same cannot be said for professional people I meet. I hope that by joining with clients to find more than their dominant story I can assist them to get the treatment?support that they deserve.

  262. I loved the tip on going to the water, the beach to feel better. It made me think of a saying I’ve heard ‘salt water cures everything’. ‘Salt water’ can be 3 things – tears, sweat and the ocean or sea. These are also good tips for surviving the ocean of depression and the waves of life. Thank you for reminding me of this.

  263. Hi from Swansea, Wales, UK. I’m loving the chart to keep a log of where we have been and where we can go. Great aide memoire to give me more confidence until experience kicks in.

  264. Hi

    Currently studying a BSc in Systemic Counselling here in the UK and I was recommended to look at the Dulwich Centre website by my tutor. So glad I have. I work with recently homeless people who have substance misuse issues and they frequently have a story so dominant that they “label” themselves. They can see no way forward from this label as that is what they make themselves conform to. That is what they are, to themselves. Already I have seen ways in which externalising the problem can make them consider a different story.

    Thank you.

  265. Karen (Toronto),

    I would like to thank the course creators for this great opportunity. As I am in a bit of a financial crunch, I’m happy to do the actual training and then pay for accreditation later. Not a surprise given the social justice bent of the narrative approach, but none the less, big thanks.

    I would describe the narrative metaphor as a way of explaining the meaning making our brains engage in as we live through very complex layered and intersectional networks of cognitive, emotional and physical experiences. I find it empowering to remind myself that the story I’ve created is just ONE of infinite other meanings i could have/can make. Where “stuck” is a metaphor that is often used to describe depression, anxiety or personal challenges, the narrative metaphor is what can help a person navigate an endless array of alternate ways to move out of the stuck position. Often it involves including hopeful takes on lived moments, establishing narratives that can be added to and thickened to help guide people to more empowering futures.

  266. What stands out for me is a reminder that I am limited when I continue to focus on stories that are oppressive. I miss out on the stories that are useful and helpful to me in bringing forth strategies that influence me to move forward with reclaiming my life from the trauma of my yesterday.

    I am living in Mexico which if you asked me years ago could I have predicted that I would have been in total disbelief. I have a thriving practice here where I also incorporate Therapeutic bodywork.

  267. Michael White’s statement that ‘The Person is not the problem. The problem is the problem.’ has been the most influential and memorable statement of my career. It changed my whole way of thinking and approach to working with people. It was a light bulb moment. I thought Of Course!!

    While I loved the story of Sugar, I think Mark Hayward’s presentation was the most impactful of the resources presented here. Seeing someone else share their work directly is always wonderful. Having the underlying purpose explained and the resources provided makes it feel possible that I might be able to do similar work. But even better was his discussion of the ethical concerns regarding externalisations and how he manages them. The heart of Narrative Therapy is how to work with people in the most ethical way and this is what attracts me most. It is a particularly effective and ethical way to work with people around abuse of all kinds. Fabulous.

  268. From Belfast, Northern Ireland

    The title of Barb Wingard’s paper ‘Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger’ summarises the context in which I wish to use Narrative Therapy.
    Much of my writing and teaching focuses on the lives of women (especially family members) in the last 50 to 100 years in Ireland: women who grew up on small farms and had to leave school early to look after younger siblings, do farm work and marry. That culture had good points too: you were expected to look after elderly relatives but this task usually fell to the daughters, particularly if unmarried.
    It is in honouring and uncovering the stories of these women through research and ‘shared stories’ (handed down through the generations and sometimes embellished along the way!) that I believe we find our own strength. As Barb says: ‘Hanging on to these old people is very much part of our strength. It is part of our story-telling.’
    Thank you, Barb Wingard, and all at The Dulwich Centre for a fascinating paper.

  269. Thank you!!!!!!

  270. Hi everyone! My name is James Olson, and I am from Minneapolis, MN. I encountered narrative therapy a couple years ago when my mother (a behavioral psychotherapist) introduced the concepts of the narrative metaphor to me in my early twenties. Now, working towards the goal of becoming a psychotherapist myself, I am drawn back to narrative therapy and bibliotherapy. I am a fiction writer and an avid reader of fiction, so both Chimamanda’s TED talk and Michael White’s excerpt about the closeness between literature and therapy resonated with me significantly. I have used these methods of narrative therapy in my own life to disrupt poisonous narratives of addiction, and I look forward to learning more so that I can use these techniques to help others. Currently I work for a non-profit program that puts majority African American and immigrant students in professional settings for the summer. Often supervisors of our teens only hear one story from our interns, and I also look forward to immediately putting these techniques to practice in my current work.

    • Hi James! I am an avid fiction reader and writer too, and also currently training to become a psychotherapist (with, you guessed it, a focus on narrative and bibliotherapy). Chimimanda Ngozi Adiche’s novel Americanah is highly applicable to your work with African American and immigrant students…perhaps you’ve read it already but if not, its on my list of all time favourites.

      I too resonated with White’s articulation of the crossover between the skills of storytellers and those of therapists. According to White, “good writers have a way of actively engaging the lived experience and the imagination of the reader, and of inviting him/her into new territories of life.” White suggests therapists have a similar task. “Within therapeutic conversations it is my task to build a scaffolding, through my questions, that exercises and stretches the families that consult me, and that make it possible for them to step into some of the less explored territories of their life.” I love that image, of therapists as constructing the outline for new possibilities within old thought patterns.

  271. What do you like most about Outside Witness?
    At first when I heard about this idea I must admit was pretty sceptical. I think because I was thinking of the therapist and client as a private space and to bring in more people would be complicated but as I begin to learn more about the outside witness I begin to realize it is actually quite therapeutic for the client. To hear someone else’s thoughts about your own live is powerful. Quite often we don’t hear positive affirmations in our day to day life. So this is an opportunity to use a person who is close to the client is a way that gives more value to the client’s story. I am a bit nervous in using this but I think in time it will become second nature. Thanks

  272. 1. What is meant by the term outsider witness?
    Someone who will bear witness to your story. For example, in the context of the classroom, the outsider witnesses can be the other class members who listen when a workshop participant reads out their story. In the context of therapy, it can also be another family member, for example, parent or sibling.
    2. Why is it important for there to be witnesses to preferred stories?
    Outsider witnesses make the story ‘thicker’ by their presence. They may be an active participant (such as a family member, who is familiar with the story already) or they may have no knowledge of the story. However, those who have no knowledge of the story can also help to ‘thicken’ the story. For example, class participants may then share stories of their own experiences of a particular incident.
    thank you – this lesson was particularly helpful.

  273. Traumatic memories can be particularly difficult to handle in a group or classroom setting so using the story analogy – the depression becomes the ‘black dog’ but he can be put on a lead, rather than following you around – will be most useful.
    I found Mark Hayward’s video and Powerpoint especially helpful. The ‘statement of position map’ helped me to ‘break down’ the problem. Characterisation is also a word that we creative writing tutors understand! However, it is this idea of getting into specifics – to give examples and also to take responsibility as well as externalising that I found very helpful.
    I liked Mark’s statement that it was ‘easier to compare two things than describe one’ – that you then see the issue in sharp relief against the other ‘thing’.
    The statement of position was important: I liked the example of the little boy who calls his temper tantrums ‘T-Rex’ and that then puts him in charge of the problem.
    I also liked Mark’s description of values as not necessarily being fixed moral positions but ‘what you hold precious in life’ – therefore your position on something always reflects your values so this then leads to questions like:
    “What is the problem stopping you from doing?” This was a revelation.
    thank you.

  274. The talk about the chart using the transcript really made it clear for me how externalising works. I am new to Narrative and have been doing some of this but not all, my clients are in long term intervention therefore I can take some of my learnings back to the same clients and continue the work. The part about responsibility and externalisation was great as I work with young people who engage in forms of antisocial behaviour and it is important that I am externalising in a way that does not remove the responsibility from the clients. I really admire the positioning of the person on the problem, and that responsibility can lie in how one experiences the problem, not letting it have control of their life. I have learn’t a lot from this chapter.

  275. Hello, I’m Isa Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I got interested in taking this online course after the testimony of a colleague that provided simultaneous translation for a Seminar on Narrative Therapy that took place in Rio.

    I’ve graduated in Performing Arts and I’m taking a post-graduation course in Jungian Analytical Psychology, willing to specialize in Art Therapy, and work as a translator.

    I got very impressed by the richness of the Narrative Metaphor and how it can be of great help for therapists. It’s a wonderful advice to ask only what you really don’t know, something that might not be considered as important, but it matters a lot, because it’s a demonstration of respect and kindness that stimulates an attentive hearing towards the ones seeking therapy.

    Also the idea of possible different stories in a single plot, or even different plots for our lives and for the concepts we have about ourselves, and how the family, cultural, hystorical and social contexts can influence our self-image and what we’re going to emphasize in our history. Very interesting! I’m very enthusiastic, looking forward to taking the next steps of the online course!

  276. Hi from cloudy England!

    The resource that feels most useful for me is Mark Hayward’s session that follows his discussion with Joey. I like the idea of plotting the conversation to have a clear picture of where the discussion has remained or could move to next. I also liked how he sensitively discussed the notion of responsibility when working with someone who has used abusive behaviours. I feel that there is such power in the idea of not defining someone by their actions (which, I guess, goes back to the idea of the ‘thin’ narrative). It allows the suggestion that there is an alternative way of being to surface, rather than offenders becoming locked into self-fulfilling patterns of behaviour.

    In my work, there are a lot of problems that could be externalised. For the young offenders with whom I work, there are often underlying social difficulties and interactional patterns that they find difficult to shift. Anxiety (often at the heart of this) could be externalised (although for these young people, they might call it a discomfort or a restlessness or a feeling like the world is crashing in). In schools, there are often negative behaviours between pupils or teachers that could also be externalised.

    Externalising appears to give people the power to be someone else, not to be the problem personified and to rediscover the ‘myself’ discussed by Michael White in the radio interview previously mentioned. I recognise that idea when someone says, “I know that was me, but I wasn’t myself”. For the young people with whom I work, their sense of ‘myself’ – their identity is confused and painful to examine. Externalising means that the shame is taken away from the discussion so that, with understanding and non-judgement, alternative values can be revived.

  277. Hi from the United Kingdom!

    Firstly, thank you so much for allowing open access to this course! What a resource! I am a psychologist, working with children and I have been very interested for a long time in finding out more about narrative therapy so I have set aside some time this summer to explore these pages.

    For me, narrative metaphor is a way of re-weaving a tapestry. The threads and shapes lying in a certain way might tell one ‘thin’ story but it is only when they are unravelled and woven again that other, more ‘true’, richer pictures might come to light. Stories, especially for younger children, hold security in their predictability but can become too defining and restricting for the other themes to grow.

    Thinking about stories in this way is helpful for me, particularly in finding ways to empower and humanise young people’s experiences. Helping a person to understand the impact of context (social/political/historical/cultural) can be reassuring and helps them to see themselves in a different light – as someone who has been resilient and resourceful despite the odds. I like Alice Morgan’s key points about centring people as experts in their own lives – to give them that sense of control using a non-blaming approach.

  278. Hi all,
    The most useful resource i enjoyed from this chapter was the story of ‘Sugar’. I was inspired by the fact that this substance sugar can do so much damage to our bodies, to the aboriginal people especially, and when it was displayed as a person called Sugar I believe clients would see how they can draw on their own wonderful strength and crush this desire. They can see how amazing their own traditions of catching fish and eating healthy can be such a wonderful strength in themselves and their community. What a wonderful narrative display of showing the aboriginal people how they can overcome this substance called sugar!!

  279. My name is Carina and I’m from Copenhagen, Denmark. I currently doing my master in psychology and next semester I’m doing an internship at Narrative Perspektiver ( = Narrative Perspectives) where I’m going to follow the work of two psychologists, participating in workshops and having my own clients (under the supervision of a skilled psychologist of course). I’ve taken a course in narrative therapy when I did my bachelor’s degree, but I think this online course is a great opportunity to brush off my knowledge and learn even more! Thanks to the Dulwich Centre for this!

    I’m very inspired by the narrative metaphor and the position it puts me in as a therapist/counselor. I feel it sets my mind free of diagnosing and instead listening with curiosity and empathy to the story the client has to tell. Every response has a purpose even though the response might not be appropriate anymore. That’s why you need to dig deep into the layer of a multi-storied life instead of just accepting a single story as the final truth.

  280. Hi, I am from Sydney and I am excited about doing this online course. I have done a few narrative courses. However, I did them a few years ago so it is great to have a online course available so I can refresh my thoughts and revisit narrative therapy. I love narrative therapy it is amazing how we as therapists do not have to be the person with all the knowledge but we speak about the client being the expert. It is wonderful to be able to help them find within their story, which might start off as thin, the ‘positive thick’ storyline so to speak. To be able to discover with them the skills they possess that maybe they didn’t even know they had. Also, to bring meaning to the more neglected events of their lives.

  281. The story about sugar was amazing. I live and work in a remote indigenous community as a youth worker and I would love to do an act of similarity to this as I believe it would be so beneficial to mob living here because they would be able to identify very well with it. Taking sugar and creating an identity for it is the perfect idea.

  282. Hello all, this is Lucia, from Spain.
    The two concepts that have touched me most or that have made me look at some of the things that surround me differently have been the externalization and the critical thinking. As coach, many times I have to give courses, teach people to deal better with theis lives, and these two concepts have helped me enormously in building the new couse we are launching in september. I have found that externalization is vital in order to see the circumstances that we are living as something apart from the person because when people start identifying the problems as a part inherent to themselves it is much harder to get the out from that idea. I really wanted to do something different to what people are used to here, in my country, and narrative practices are not common at all in Spain, so this I’ve found this approach really helpful, specially in some tough context such as abuse or cultural differences with foreigners (that some don’t get to assume).
    I’ve talked about these two, but I have found so many useful tools (Narrative documentation is awesome and the sense of collaboration enriches the entire community) in this course and such an awesome approach to therapy that I am going to apply it in my job and in my day-to-day life.

  283. Hello again, this is Lucia from Spain. For me, critical thinking is questioning, not taking things for granted, not thinking that something is correct (or not) just because somebody I admire or someone in a position of power says it is that way. For me, it’s about being objective in each situation and taking a moment to think and look at the opinion, fact, situation, problem or whatever impartially, though it is really hard to put aside our own assuptions, beliefs and values.
    I think the toughest part is start practicing it but, if you try to do it each day, you can get to make it your usual way of thinking and analyzing.
    Loved the chapter, thank you!

  284. Hello everyone, this is Lucia, from Spain. I found this one to be a beautiful and inspiring chapter. I deeply believe in collaboration, sharing, group work and accountability in order to grow (though it’s not easy!), learn and achieve better outcomes because if you close yourself to what you know, you are placing limits. I really likes what The Family Centre, beautiful work full of meaning and with a very clear base. And Tileah’s video was a wow, inclredibly insightful and with an very powerful concept for me, the Strong Line. I’ll try to (and will, whenever it’s possible for me) apply it from now on.

  285. Hi everyone,
    I’m Britt and I have recently graduated with a Bachelor of Counselling. I have decided to complete this online course as I feel that I need to develop my understanding of Narrative therapy.
    I have been using Narrative practices with my clients over the last 12 months (Michael White’s Maps of Narrative Practice has been like a bible for me).
    I am interested in how power and privilege impacts the cultural and individual stories that are told. Watching Chimamanda Adichie’s ted talk on the danger of the single story impacted how I view individual stories and cultural stories, understanding the complexities multiple stories and remembering that focusing on single stories is dangerous as assumptions could be made on both the individual and surrounding culture. focusing on a single story does not give an understanding of the whole individual and their multiple stories would not be investigated.
    The dot exercise was impacting on me as it allowed me to visualise the complex, rich and varied stories that make each and every person.
    thinking of stories as being many different roads on a map (cross roads, straight roads etc.) and not knowing where we will go with our clients gives me encouragement leaving me with the ability to ask questions and explore the curiosities that will arrive. Allowing the client the option and decisions in their therapy, empowering them to tell all of their stories and separating the problem from the individual excites me as a therapist and working within the community.

  286. I am a clinical social worker in Toronto, Canada and studied narrative therapy many years ago. It was a powerful lens with which to view my conversations with clients and gave me the language and framework to work more collaboratively. I have wanted to re-visit the writings so I can resist dominant therapy discourses when they don’t serve me (and the client)well and provide space for more helpful interactions.

    Love the reminder about the importance of alternative (and often neglected) storylines. The concept of the single story resonates strongly – how we like to box ourselves (and others) into thin stories about who we are. Love the threads between narrative therapy practices and writing.

  287. I loved the TED clip by Novelist Chimamanda Adichie.
    The culturally rich information about the single story was really thought provoking and inspiring. It works really well with ‘thin description’. I’m very interested in the stories of culture and power. Who tells them, what aspects are told and what aspects are tacit

  288. Hi, I am Dzung from Vietnam but just call me Emily. It’s easier 😀
    I have arrived here in Adelaide to study Master of Disability Policies and Practice at Flinders Uni. This is my first semester and I will take Conselling Topic in this semester. It is very kind that my topic coordinato sent me the link of this course. Acutally, conselling in general and narrative thereapy in particular are completely new for me and I feel lucky to know this online course. i do hope that I can get some knowledge, skills and lessons learn from you guys. After watching the story, I realized that I sometimes wrote single stories only based on my imagination or sometimes I just rely on one way stories to judge some. It is not only unfair but also makes me misunderstand them. Now I know ‘it takes two tango.

    • Hi My name is Nadia. I am a school counsellor in a senior secondary school. I am interested in learning about Narrative therapy and how I can work with members of my school community to surface rich thick desctiptions.

  289. Love this journal. Stories and practices so useful for my lecturing, supervision and client work as a community psychologist

  290. I’m Tiffany, writing from Calgary Alberta Canada. (Actually writing from Sylvan Lake at a family camp – lovely.)

    The idea of sparking sustainable small social movements immediately resonated with me, and I wonder about how I can bring this into my own work as a self-care and narrative coach. So many of the people I work with are struggling under intense intersectional oppression – not just racism, but racism misogyny. Not just misogyny, but transphobic misogyny. Not just poverty, but ableism and poverty. They stack. The stack gets heavy. I often perceive myself an an Eeyore – I appreciate ideas that leave room for despair – and I wonder how I can use these ideas to build hope without “bright-siding” folks. I don’t have a specific idea for how to use this yet, but I’m going to sit with it. I really like the idea of a pedagogy of desire, as well. I’m going to research that further.

  291. Vanessa, I sit on Warumungu country as I listen to you sharing your innovation. Wow! so beautiful, practical, accessible. As I listened to you describe the My Meeting Place map, I felt sparks of curiosity about how I can use your creation! several children came to mind, who might playfully engage, and then I started to think about some adults, some living with a disability, and then some young people for whom life has failed to give them much incentive to live on (Tatz, 2005). I am wondering about an ‘anchoring quality’ to the map, and then… some family groups, I could think of who would be interested in coming together to focus on a family member – in a possible outsider witness experience (what they know of and value about the person etc). The grace in the visual depictions, strong and sure symbols, lending themselves to generate preferred story development.
    thank you,

  292. Thank you so much for sharing this, lots to think about.

  293. Your review *

  294. Thanks for your work Keri. I started listening in a process of trying to find some resources for a client I met with this evening. And I listened to the end. One aspect of your presentation that stands out, as I listen, is your attention to each person’s experience of the practices (“group”, questions and interviewing,writing practices)and what you did with that knowledge. I imagine the effort to keep doing that, to keep that perspssective/positions. The image of someone travelling lightly comes to mind: having maps but not being limited by the map, being able to take other paths, other ways. This traveller has companions on the journey and actually meets people along the way. She has a little smile derived from sheer enjoyment of the discoveries.
    I am slowed down in my thinking about how to work with my client: proceeding slowly with respect and appreciation for the lives of women who tip the apple cart of oppression.

  295. Hello! This is Lucia, from Madrid, Spain. I think I’ve always known but this chapter comes to remind me that listening is as important as speaking in narrative and that taking into account the opinions of the others, treating them as you would treat yourself, being fair and understanding the other persons’ abilities and values so you can really appreciate what they propose and what they feel about something, is as importante and valuable as just creating a good narrative. Sam’s story has deeply touched me and has made me want more on narrative practices because I want to get to do something as wonderful and insightful as that.

  296. Hi im H from NSW. I am just sitting with all these wonderful ideas and thinking about how to apply them to my practise. I have recently created a document with children, using art. They each creates a visual representation of what they wanted to say, which had a particular theme and healing intention. They could put their name on it if they wished and it was displayed.

  297. Hi I’m H from NSW. In her article, Alice Morgan wrote that she has been involved in conversations with children where the power relationships were minimised. I work with kids in groups and there is a level of behaviour management involved, which changes the power relationships. However my aim is to let kids express whatever they are feeling without feeling pressured to do anything they don’t want to. Sometimes they need some encouragement though!!!

  298. The entire way the black dog was depicted is interesting. I liked how depression is taken out and treated as a separate individual, makes it easy to identify the issue. whats more is that in many other methods to deal with depression, it’s difficult to understand what this, is as it’s not visible. By creating the image of the back dog it is easier to see and deal with it. maybe we can use the same principle, to deal with other issues.

  299. I am writing from Europe.

    The use of outsider witness seems very appealing to me, especially when used with patients; it can give them a confirmation of their preferred identity and story. Also this method allows them to get asked deeper questions about their narration. It also allows the patient to hear their story told by another person. The outsider witness practice can be applied among patients suffering from different types of disorders or other issues. I was immediately thinking about patients suffering from Eating Disorders.

  300. Which resource in this chapter particularly caught your attention and why?

    For me the best resource was the powerpoint presentation. It gave so many examples of how to ask externalising questions. I like having examples of the questions particularly in relation to working with narrative therapy and children.

  301. Mr name is Nicole. I am a therapist in Adelaide. I am currently doing my Graduate Diploma and my focus for a portion of my study is on Narrative Theory. I am enjoying what I am hearing and learning so far and I am excited to help myself and my clients journey through their stories.

  302. Talk about lightbulb moment, Hugh Fox through his article Using Therapeutic documents has provided me the opportunity to really challenge my relationship with a client, and my idea of the clients relationship to therapy. By challenging the ownership of case notes, or written representations of the clients story was incredible. “Of course” I state, why had I not thought of that myself, I believed that I was operating from a client first stand point – apparently not. Love that this has hit me in the face, and made me look at the concept of ownership/control and concept of expert/victim. Great stuff.

    I love the use of outsider-witnesses. The support and connection to the declaration of a persons preferred story or identity by outsiders appears to be very productive. I particularly like the idea of having outside witnesses that have walked similar journeys being part of the process, being an additional resource to draw on to remain on the path of the preferred story.

    fantastic chapter, continue to be loving the learning.

  303. The idea of externalising can be very helpful, since it starts with distancing the person from the problem. Very often, we encounter people who let themselves be defined by a mental illness, which very often is self-diagnosed. I have encountered individuals who define themselves and their choices by a traumatic event that happened in their lives years ago, and everything they do or do not do, they put the blame on that traumatic event. Although a traumatic event can have shattering consequences in regards to a personality, Narrative Exposure Therapy allows individuals to take some distance from the said event. Also this therapy helps them realise who they want to be, and allows them to find better ways in coping and becoming their “best” selves.

    E. Becker from Europe

  304. What a fabulous online course for me, an isolated rural social worker. This introductory session has opened my mind to the thousands of interlinking stories that exist in rural communities; which are not often explored or put into a context that people can understand and draw meaning from. For me it is the tapestry of life, the different threads and colours and the warp and the weave that create a story and it up to me to allow people to see this richness and not see themselves cast in one colour or as one character.

  305. I found Narrative Suitcase to be extremely informative and adaptive to my work – a practical approach to developing an alternate story

  306. Hello everyone, this is Lucia, from Madrid, Spain. I really enjoyed this chapter because I believe that internal community stories do shape the way that entire comunity sees and faces the world. I take all the knowlegde learned from other to see how to apply it in social projects in my community, so we may help children who suffer abuse or women who suffer violence or maybe even adults that need to face radical changes in their own communities and don’t know how to face them. Incredible work!

  307. Hello, this is Lucia, from Madrid, Spain. I found very interesting this whole chapter, but what I’ve really found useful (and I will start using right away, with clients and groups I work with) are the letters for recording sessions. I love writing letters and I think it’s a graet way of not forgetting anything. Al the other documents are really useful too, but the other one I’m going to start using right away is the Documents of rite of passage. It’s been a while that we’ve been thinking how to mix the rite of passage in our group sessions and this chapter has really inspired me. Thank you!!

  308. Hi all, this is Lucia from Madrid, Spain. The idea of externalizing is awesome so people get some distance from the problem and really feel that THEY are NOT the problem, the problem is the problem (awesome statement, I’ll begin to use it!). I really connected with the Sugar story, it really touched me. The black dog called depression video is incredible. The first time I saw it, it caught me in a really “tender” day and, up to the middle, I found myself with tears in may eyes and finally celebrating the success of the character. Amazing! And Mark’s video, well, he is an incredible communicator so it gets things clear. Learned so much with chapter, thanks!!

  309. Externalising is a powerful tool that enables people to gain distance from their problems. This assists to diminish the direct influence of the problems, giving space to review and observe situations without judgement. It assists to avoid the identity trap of feeling defined by ‘insurmountable’ problems. Therefore the concept “The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem“ allows the problem to be scrutinised from a safer proximity. This can lessen the direct effects of the problem and lead to more options. Externalising also allows the room to explore preferred stories, which can help fortify identity in the face of problems.
    Externalising has been useful for me in navigating my personal and professional experience. Through building my own resilience, I have also been able to assist others in my care, and it offers me a ‘periscope’ that allows me to view and celebrate the bigger picture as a tangled narrative of shared and diverse stories and journeys, and strengthens the narratives shared within the community context. In the broader context a problematic dominant story can compound social problems. Through my work with vulnerable people, I have seen first- hand how social services such as police, legal practitioners, doctors, nurses, psychologists often lean towards the attitude that ”it is them that have the problems not us.” This appears to create dislocated interventions that aggravate and compound social problems. The Narrative approach reframes of problems as separate to people, definitely not a bunch of ‘uglies’ hosted by the disadvantaged to be tackled with gloves on at a safe distance. This is a great human leveller in which the ethos of equality can operate more freely, and we can share more concerns as a community.

  310. In my current position I am my first ‘meeting’ of clients is often through their referrals, case notes and files. It is in this context that I wish to discuss The Narrative Metaphor. As Narrative Practices teaches us, case studies and files generally present flat one dimensional ‘shadow’ of a person’s profile. They undermine the complexity and richness of each individual’s life. They do not speak to their social context, their multi stories, possibilities and hopes or dreams. Words are ever powerful and The Narrative Metaphor embraces the richness of multi-storied self, illustrated by potent words and descriptions. It celebrates the journey of un-sung heroes and self-created competencies. As practitioners we are cautioned to beware of the impact imposed by one dimensional story lines and should make it our business to be guided by each individual client and learn from them with an open heart, as things are from their point of view. This is the first step to opening the possibility and creating the space for the richer tapestries of life to emerge.
    In her book “What is Narrative Therapy: Alice Morgan discusses the effect of Dominant stories, alternative stories and dominant plots. She outlines how alternative stories play a powerful role in redefining our lives. These alternative narratives can be strengthened to remind the ‘author’ that they have numerous abilities and strengths that may be ‘put up’ against the dominant story if it is one that is reeking-havoc, demeaning or furthering the experience of adversity. This can be a powerful awakening and it can assist people to manage tough times, through connecting with their own unique strengths. The function of the many possibilities of stories, other than one dominant story line is also highlighted in Jill Freedman and Gene Coombs’ Animated Narrative Therapy Dot Exercise.

  311. Whilst I really enjoyed learning about the Statement of Position map and having a hands on example of keeping on track and moving a session through a process of the 4 different levels , I can’t help going back to the Black Dog video. I am obviuolsy a visual learner (initially an art teacher by trade), and a dog lover. The manner in which the dog morphs into different forms to impact on so many parts of the characters life, shadow, mirror image, glassess, etc. Amazing. A great example of how these strongs feelings can morph and expand to the status of hijacking. Just loved the use of the dog to demonstrate externalisation thanks for including this.

    I will definately use this video link with my clients as an example of how the feeling of depression can be visualised and considered. having a visual tool is avaiable is just great.

  312. So excited to be participating in this training and energised by the first chapter.

    I am in the very early stages of supervision as a provisional psychologist and totally get how I am at the beginning stages of my learning.

    The literature, audio and video information was presented in a way in which all my senses were engaged (especially the hearing of the birds).

    Its perfect timing that I am doing this particular training as I am working with two clients, one adult and one child who are struggling with the concept of establishing new story lines, holding on fastly to their dominant stories that have caused much distress in their lives. The ability to share the idea of the dot exercise from Jill Freedman and Gene Combs was brilliant, providing opportunities to look up and out at the different events and experiences that have been ignored up to this time. The resistance however has been incredible to the possibility of alternatives and I can’t wait to keep expanding my learning to expand my ability to support my clients in their journeys.

    Totally love the concept of curiosity and asking valid questions, not those that just fill in silences. I look forward to remaining curious throughout this training.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts everyone loving what each of us get out of it.

  313. I have really enjoyed this course and would like to progress to the Externalizing Conversations module to develop further skills and knowledges! 😉

  314. My overriding observation and reflection on my past work is that “threat” acts as a huge barrier to truth within direct intervention with people. This threat seems to come from a fear of judgement, and consequently professional actions which might have significant consequences for people and take away control from their lives. A typical example in family work would be child protection issues and processes. The documents in this section reveal to me the differing ways in which practitioners have enabled the barrier of threat to be taken down. This seems to be a combination of taking time, building trust through genuine interest in the person and their agency being shown, and enabling the person to retain (or regain) a sense of control and agency enacted through their narrative. This has been really inspiring, and I feel hat focusing on this could really help me develop effective ways of working with people at a more truthful, and therefore resonant, level.

  315. Hi all, this is Marcia from Sydney.
    I love this Module about Externalising as I have been already using with clients and I can see how powerful tool this is. Clients even change their body language and we start separating them from the problem and I also find that creating a dialog between the external problem and client can also bring significant outcomes during sessions. Also in this module I found very interesting the Statement Position Map1 and I would like to explore more about it.

  316. Congratulations for this amazing work.I had attended also your workshop in Barcelona during the fourth Europe Conference of Narrative therapy and Community Work in which we participated with our workshop entitled ”the use of the Collective document in different audiences” a work based on the responses of the Greek people while facing the troubling effects of the economic Crisis.We would love with my husband to practice the ”beads of life” although we don’t work in a foundation .We hope we could contact you if there is a chance to try this practice. Thank you!!!!

    • Thank you for watching the video. You are welcome to contact me, if you are thinking of setting up a ‘Beads of Life’ group. I also run whole day experiential workshops to teach people about running ‘The Beads of Life Programme’. if you are interested in the days workshop – let me know.
      Are you continuing with your work – using collective documents?
      Best Wishes

  317. Hello once again, myself Sunaina (Shillong, India) in relation to video on “I had a black Dog and his name was Depression”. It is very clear to understand about “externalizing the problem”. Where the black dog “depression” was the problem which kept following the master where ever he went to the point that it became huge and overtaking the master.

    This video very creatively has shown the impact of problem can have on people to the point that they are afraid of themselves because they are so very weak. Having no more control on themselves thereby making them to believe that it is the end of their life. How true it is with us humans when problem overtakes us we feel down to the point of being trampled by it. With no hope for life and future.

    But thanks to externalizing the problem where we look at the problem separate from the person and thereby work accordingly. Through doing “right things” taking care of ourselves and “talking to right people” who will journey with us and help us through the problem.

  318. I found the session on mapping extremely informative and I am keen to read more about it. The position map is an effective tool to identify where the problem connects in the context of a person’s life and the effects it has. Although a little tricky to get the hang of, I feel with practice and further study mapping will be an invaluable tool.

    • Alan,
      I would highly recommend the book: Maps of Narrative Practice, Michael White. It is a wonderful read and tool to use with clients.


  319. Hi, everyone I am Sunaina from India I have been following on this Narrative Therapy for months since I got a taste of it.The study has helped me reflect my own story, how each events in my life have influenced/shaped me.Thanks to narrative metaphor to help me see the bigger picture and not just the tiny small picture of my life story.

    Narrative metaphor in my understanding is the re-telling of my stories not just one part but every part in a more powerful way. Where the thread of story line is seen connected “across time” since the day I was conceived till now. And where every life events is considered significant.

    In looking at life as stories-telling approach it gives the sense of ownership/authorship to the teller. Where he or she has the power to take the story in any direction and in this context in a positive hopeful journey. Thus for me I would say Narrative Metaphor is a “non-harming” steps toward helping people see life purposefully.

  320. Hello All, Michael from Adelaide here.

    I found this lesson on externalizing very interesting. The idea that,’the person is not the problem, the problem is the problem”, I think would be extremely useful in a clinical setting. Problems do tend to ‘take over’ people’s lives and identities, and creating space between the self and the problem, I think, would be very relieving for people.

    I think the idea of externalizing the ‘good’ things is also quite interesting. I never would’ve thought of doing that, but it may be helpful and useful to do so. By externalizing the ‘good’ things, it may give he person more power over them and therefore more control over their lives.

    I thought the idea of the ‘black dog’ and of Sugar (within the indigenous community) was extremely useful also. I think if therapists use externalizing ideas and humour with clients (in order to not be overwhelmed by the clients problems), then that may be helpful in a therapeutic context.

  321. Hello, I am Michael from Adelaide.

    I found this introduction to Narrative Therapy extremely refreshing. It helped me to make sense of my past and inspired me to continue on the path I am currently on.

    Specifically, this introduction ignited thoughts about people’s identities and how changing one’s identity can be helpful and useful in a therapeutic context. For example, if a recovering drug addict comes to see someone for therapy, it might be useful (after some time has passed and the person has dealt with the addiction) for the person (and people close to them) to no longer see the individual as a ‘recovering drug addict’, but to see them in a different way. A person could be a ‘recovering drug addict’ for years, and may even go back to the drugs because of this identity. It may be wiser for the person and people close to them to think of them in a different way. They could change their identity based on other things they do; for instance, they could say, “I am a carpenter”, or, “I am a husband” (or a wife), or “I like to eat pizza”, or “I am a funny person”. In this way they have changed what may be a problematic identity into a more useful one.

  322. Hi all!! I am writing from Sydney….I found this first lesson very interesting as we dive into the Narratives perspectives. I had a little contact with Narratives back in Brazil in 2005 and now I am finding myself “curious” about what else can I learn, explore from this experience. For me the highlight of this first lesson was explore the Alternative stories and assisting clients to also explore and experience themselves other than their “thin stories”, Powerful!

  323. Wow! A chapter full of smart insights and worth thinking about it. I’m Spanish, from Madrid, Spain, and I have felt exactly what Chimamanda Adichie describes: Spain seen as an underdeveloped country and almost not part of Europe for some time, time when I lived in the USA and I had to listen to so many critics. And my story was different to this one. Spain for me was sun and fun and amazing people willing to share. And when I grew up and undretood the other point of view, my story grew too, and became better and more productive.
    I love telling stories and listening to other people’s stories, this enriches me so much and makes me a better person and counselor. And here is where it comes the narrative metaphore: I deeply believe that when we narrate our story, we are able of telling things that in any other “format” we wouldn’t tell, because of fear or not wanting to be judged. So the plot, the theme, the timely sequence helps us structure something that any other way may seem impossible to organize and retell.

  324. It’s rare to stumble on something so well thought out and inclusive as this. I am in a perfect position to teach this new version to my students at school and I don’t anticipate any opposition. From little things……

  325. I really connected with Sugar; particularly with the permissiveness that her program gave it’s participants. I also really got the flexibility that can be found in presenting psycho-education to clients; that doesn’t come of as lecturing or patronising.

    I was also, frankly, amazed that something so engaging and humours could sit within the uncomfortableness identifiable and still invite active participation from participants. It seems that by externalising and characterising a problem, we can, in a way, curate conversations that remove typical roadblocks that might have otherwise been encountered.

    But it think that it was the way that externalising allowed Barb to be so mindful and respectful to culture. Externalising gave her the freedom to build up their own approaches based on client/community needs, and I think this may be of huge benefit to brining talking therapy into communities which otherwise may have been avoidant.

    I’m thinking of my own work and can see where enabling a client the space to sit with the pain and trauma of pregnancy loss in this way. Where by she can begin to untangle all of the shame, distance and isolation by looking towards her experience/s in a way that allows for better access to resilience and strengths.

  326. Critical thinking means thinking deeply and reflecting on your interactions with others as well as doing self reflection about your own viewpoints, opinions, and decisions. It is this thought process that allows us to create change within our world. Without critical thinking and reflecting in this way nothing would ever change in society and we would not be able to move forward. I believe that in my own life and practice that I must always keep an open mind and refrain from ever viewing any one person as a ‘case’. Since everyone is unique and has their own life story and experiences, you can always learn something new from them, and they have a unique journey. We are always learning and it is important to keep an open mind and to always use critical thinking, reflection, and asking questions to learn more to further our knowledge about the world, our techniques, and ourselves. An image that comes to mind when thinking about critical thinking is a moving river – always flowing, never staying still and never being in the same place twice, yet being everywhere all at once.

  327. Hi, I’m from Sydney, Australia. I see Narrative Metaphor as a means of exploring stories and building alternative stories. As someone who is just starting to explore narrative therapy, I can see the benefits for a client to, not only tell their story, but to develop an awareness of their story’s meaning. Through sharing their story, I see that an individual can open themselves to a richer description of their life.
    I thought the presentation by Chimanda Adichie was brilliant and reminds me that we should not rely on a single story and that we need to engage with all the stories of the subject (person/place)

  328. Dear Amanda and June. I have just watched this video as part of my course. How inspiring. I always knew that I had to fight paranoia, (like Loretta, I call them negative thoughts) but until watching this video, I had not realised how deeply entrenched they were. I could identify with so much of what June described. I too live alone with just my dog but I work with seniors who share their stories with me. Your image of getting in the car and leaving SP at home was so helpful. It is something I have now adopted. When with friends, I often wonder what they are really saying (paranoia) by taking June’s advice, I will now watch their cues and if still in doubt, ask them. Amanda, your PP’s were very helpful. I will be spending some time reflecting on the “Mapping the effects” and the quotes and other guides you provided. Thank you both again.

  329. The work of Paolo Friere resonates with me in regard to narrative practice – I am fascinated by the delving into the context surrounding the issues affecting individuals and families – so much of the time “we” make assumptions about these issues and fail to see them with depth. I love the way the Friere expresses the complexities surrounding hunger, seeing it in a context of politics, education, violence, as well as wealth and the family’s own ability to manage food and hunger. I think the tree of life could be extremely powerful in exploring similar issues with individuals… hmmmmm…”food” for thought (sorry, too cheesy!)

    • “Too cheesy” – I see that pun!

      I agree about the Tree of Life as a rich source of emotional/mental nourishment.

  330. Hello all. I write from Cairns, Australia. The narrative of my life is that I have lived in different world locations across decades of life and that I am a multistoried person with a desire to understand the same in others.

    As a nutrition counselor, I see that the narrative is often limited to what people eat related to the health risk of that story. But food is such a rich part of our lives that the story needs to include a universal view of why, what and how we eat what we do.

    The narrative metaphor allows us to see ourselves and others in creative tangents like a drawing of hills, valleys, and oceans to cross. We are heroes that can be read and drawn in the storyline of our own lives.

  331. I feel that my genuine interest in people and their stories fit naturally into the mould of collaborative practice. I am of CALD background, born in Greece – the listening of stories and telling of stories was embedded in my family and (in reflection) a way of keeping my parent’s dreams and hopes of their motherland, our roots – family survival of the Greek Genocide, culture, traditions and language alive (resonated with Tileah Drahm-Butler presentation).

    Every story we give or receive is a little like gift giving – each gift opened has a story that has lived within and a ‘story behind the story’. When we work alongside each other we awaken the untold stories and by doing so we honour the knowledge, skills and ‘survivance’ of the story-teller, whoever that may be in a ‘de-centred and influential’ way.

    Policies, confidentiality, funding, management/organisational position, our positions of experts holding power/authority problematise the stories we are told. I feel, these are some of the things that get in the way of Narrative work/Collaboration. Sue and Amanda’s pieces unlock creative thinking especially around the clever use of Amanda’s outsider witnesses. Making consented de-identified documents/letters available to outsider witnesses for their responses may be a way to overcome the confidentiality-policy hurdles. Perhaps wishful thinking on my part.

  332. For me, critical thinking is the art of engaging in any activity with reflective scepticism in a disciplined, self-directed way. I thought I knew what critical thinking was until I started my counselling course. At first it was difficult to critically self-reflect, after constant practise and reminders, I realise that my curiosity and determination helped me dig a little deeper every day.
    Engagement with these materials has sparked mini explosions in my mind. Giving me more ideas to continue challenging my beliefs and values so that I am always willing to explore new things. The more in-tune I am with myself the more available I will be to provide support for my clients.
    I have a symbol, the flowing yin-yang sign (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsHw-wPJ4Xw).

  333. The way I have found to enter collaborative practise is to prepare well to ease congruency, understanding and openness. Be patient, build rapport and understand that trust takes time. Be explicit about the goals by listening to what the clients need to help them choose the preferred direction for their lives. Entering these practices with clients that are not ready to talk openly or clients that challenge your ability to remain congruent would make this difficult.

    Campbell, Tamasese and Waldegrave’s idea of connecting with people is a terrific way to start ‘Just Therapy’. I also like the transparency of quantifying data to get policymakers to understand. As well as the movement to a value-based rather than medical model to capture issues based on social constructs. I also resonated with Sue Mann’s reflection on the issues of representing client’s lives. I thought the way she brought to life the concept of a collaborative practice working towards partnership is a respectful model which opens new possibilities. My next step is to work with my clients writing their case notes with based on the information they consider significant. Tileah Drahm-Butler notion of a ‘strong story’ is a powerful idea that influenced me. I love the way her narrative map unravels the causes of this suffering because of colonisation.

    Perth, Australia

  334. I related deeply with Barb Wingard’s ‘Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger.’ I aspire to be a counsellor who can “…see the abilities that people have but may not know they have” (Barb Wingard). Counsellors that approach the therapeutic relationship with a humanistic curiosity create a safe space for clients to reflect and embrace their vulnerabilities in the collaborative journey of storytelling which paves the way for healing. The beauty of walking in nature side-by-side on a journey of inquiry and understanding fosters therapeutic relationships of respect and acceptance. I believe this perspective is useful to draw on people’s strength and resilience while respecting the experiences of grief and trauma by paving a journey of hope and courage. It’s hard to specific how I would use in the future because there are so many inspiring and innovative concepts.

  335. For me, Malawi’s “Little by little we make a bundle” was a powerful and effective way to reduce stigma and improve community conversations around HIV/AIDS. Intense expressions of grief, fear, anger and hope in the “Life Saving Tips from young Muslim Australians” was invigorating. The Tree of Life approach is culturally evocative project that provides a powerful and inspiring tool to use
    with individuals and communities.

    Narrative therapy lends itself to cultural sensitives opening opportunities for collaborative group practises that bring hope and healing. I am fascinated by the ease of integrating narrative practises into community projects as it invites diverse conversations that bridge the generations creating unity and compassion. I wish to explore using these methods to reduce stigma of mental health and using creative works of art and language to advocate for marginalised communities. I love the projects they offer inspiration to explore innovative ways to apply narrative therapy.

  336. The Suitcase Project stands out the most for me, since it is a powerful way to engage clients in a reliable source of self-expression and acknowledgement. The use of art made for creative stories that offered a deeper meaning of people’s lives. The letter describing the session seems like a wonderful way to conceptualise the clients story.

    Being able to create a concrete document helps to make the stories real which can have a transient effect on clients. I like the outsider-witness practices and definitional ceremony structures and how they can be used in various contexts. I was fascinated by the roles that outsider witnesses play on the narrative adventure

  337. The vulnerability around Sam’s story for both persons was impressive with a touch of humour – it demonstrated genuine reciprocated respect, free of power, judgement and hierarchy.

    These learnings take you on a journey where ‘an informed not knowing’ become part of you as a practitioner not just part of practice. I feel that I am on a tour as a co-tour guide – my role is to ‘assist people to know their own knowledge, to discover and rediscover their own knowings, values and alternate stories’ and the client’s role is to take me on this guided tour and ‘seek their versions of how they go about their living of their lives’ events and to re-story.

  338. I love the ‘Tree of Life’ resource and use it for self and my family. It is heart warming to learn that in different pockets, all over the world, great work is happening. In regard to music, it is like a smile – speaks all languages 🙂

    Many elements of what has been presented here has sparked enthusiasm and curiosity but one piece in particular was Paulo Freire’s article – for me, it fused together what we have heard, watched and learned. He said ‘Education can give people the greater clarity to read the world’. I rotate the word ‘education’ with other words like ‘understanding’ and ’empathy’.

  339. Barbara Lingard’s “Sugar” caught my eye.  When she claims, “who knows what future directions will hold”, I believe it sums up the flexibility of externalising. As well, inviting the group members to ask questions was a brilliant way to offer psycho-education and get the clients curious about how the problem influences their lives. A wonderful way to help groups and individuals discuss the ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I don’t understand’ blockage that often arises in therapy. I think any problem can be externalised. Narrative discourse is the opportunity to describe details of the stories of our lives. Which often help clients articulate problems without knowing the specifics of the problem until it unfolds through the discourse. 

    The landscape of people’s stories offers the narrative processes rich possibilities for the conversation to move beyond the world they perceive. The philosophical basis of narrative work thrives in ways of being with people that transform the storyteller and the listener. Thus, creating shifts that give rise to new meanings of the client’s story, evoking alternative views. Naming the problem opens the possibility to make decisions about the issue’s place in our lives. Opening a range of opportunities for action that are not available when problems are within individuals.

  340. The narrative metaphor is a way of animating the of stories of our lives., so our world becomes a three-dimensional holographic novel. Our curiosity helps us find alternate stories and explore various points of view. We pay attention to the multiple stories that create our world and we create. Re-inventing ourselves and our lives as we go along. By thinking of stories this way, a world of possibilities with infinite opportunities opens giving us more choices and more control over our lives. As a child, I thought my life was a movie that someone, somewhere was always watching. My behaviour fuelled by emotions I didn’t understand. Often wandering if the people watching understood something I was missing. My curiosity made me venture past my ‘self’ and others. Which led to questioning everything. With an insatiable appetite for knowledge, I walked around plot lines, looking at the characters, places, events and emotions, curious about what happens if I do this, or that.
    The narrative approach is useful in practice as the emphasis is on understanding and searching for the meaning of events and behaviours as precursors for actions. As a result, narrative therapy is essentially a corrective experience for the client because it helps the client assess how the problem affects their ‘self’ and others, decide what they want to do about it, and develop strategies to cope with it in the future.

  341. Something in each, deepened my need to immerse self in the poignant yet inspiring stories shared and the creative ways in which narrative therapy gave voice, gave life, gave hope to the experiences yet to be re-storied.
    Stories of the ‘Suitcase Project’, David Newman’s presentation and the Outsider-Witness are extremely powerful ways of thinking, engaging and working with clients.
    How to implement the latter when issues around confidentiality/protecting clients privacy pose challenging in practice – sit in my own question box as does the great concept of letter writing/documentation – a wonderful empowering way to work with clients. Thank you for the eye opening learning journey.

  342. I can see that externalizing problems is a really powerful way of coming away from blame and judgement, which then frees people up considerably in processing their experiences. I found the section on externalizing and responsibility particularly as I often work with families where there have been issues of violence and abuse, so learning strategies for actively “not colluding”, and being clear about where responsibility needs to be acknowledged is extremely important. I plan to read more about the statement position maps and use them as a way of processing people’s progression through the process, helping me organise my own observations. This has been a very useful module, thanks

  343. I found the frequently asked questions very helpful, particularly highlighting that externalising is not a technique but more a way of having conversations and a perspective to take. I was interested to learn that strengths could be externalised as I had previously thought it was only problems that needed to be externalised. The most effective example of externalising for me was the “I had a black dog” video clip. I work with depression frequently and think many of my clients would find this useful.

    I see clients who are experiencing a vast amount of different problems so almost anything could be externalised – depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, loss, anger, self-esteem, eating problems, shyness etc.

    I think it would reduce shame and self-blame, I think it would help the client to feel more hopeful and more powerful. I think it would create more connection in the therapy space and help the client to feel less isolated and alone.

  344. Hi,

    I’m Janet from Sydney, Australia.

    I’m interested in the idea that there are many possible stories however we choose and others around us who make meaning of our actions choose to privilege and pay attention to only some of these stories. I was particularly interested in the idea that thin conclusions are often made by others, rather than by the person who is experiencing the problem.

    Thinking about stories in this way will make me more aware of what is not said, what is left out of the narrative and how important this information may be in reshaping or thinking differently about identity and meaning. I will now be listening more for the alternative stories and the information that may make sense of a person’s behaviour and the problem they are experiencing in a different way that gives them access to more hope and possibility for positive change. Hopefully these alternative stories will also help them to understand their identity in a way that resonates more authentically with them and is not problem saturated.

  345. The dominant story is like a ball of yarn and narrative questioning represents the knitting needles that unravel the yarn to create something beautiful. As humans, we often hold on tightly to the ball of yarn, refusing to imagine that it can become anything different. Narrative therapy shows that the yarn quickly unravels when we let go of the ball and allow for the other possibilities, the “alternate stories” to unfold.

    The idea of making room for the “neglected stories” is so important. The Narrative Metaphor has taught me to look at situations in my own life that have been “problem-saturated” and step outside of them into the “unexplored areas” that have been overshadowed by the dominant story.

    Bellingham, Washington

  346. The commonly asked questions were very helpful to me because they helped me understand how to better use externalization in practice. For this reason, that was my favourite resource in this module.
    I believe that externalizing can be used to help people see themselves as separate from the problem, and this makes it easier to see the problem more objectively. When we can look at a problem as outside of ourselves, it can be easier to work through.

  347. Most of what was presented in this module was of value – thank you. The use of externalising the problem from the person and scaffolding from that space in the work with post separated families has been quite effective.
    Mark Hayward’s discussion around our need to be mindful of ‘professional language’ and its impact ie tone we set, assumptions we make, where we position ourselves on the hierarchical tree – great refreshing reminders. For me, that applies in both personal and professional worlds. Mark did a great job in drawing our attention to the sensitivities around externalising abuse, violence and bullying.
    I also thoroughly enjoyed ‘Sugar’ (ignites interest in ways to incorporate the concept into group work with separated parents and children…hhhmm) and ‘I had a black dog, his name was Depression’

  348. My name is Emma and I am an academic from the South of England. Before I joined academia I worked in social care with vulnerable families, and now I use narrative psychology to research experiences of parents and children facing adversity. I am fascinated in how the narrative metaphor enables people to express their own unique family culture, through the experiences which have surrounded their lives. I’m really interested in how we can re-author our stories and see this as a powerful mechanism for helping families come through crises – I’m exploring how families cope when they receive high handed messages that their family culture and practices need to change – but in ways which may not resonate with them. For me narrative is a way of understanding people’s past and present, and enabling them to co-construct a future idea of themselves. I loved Chimamanda’s TED talk – people never have just one story…I must narrate several versions of my own everyday!

    Kassandra, your work really impressed and inspired me. I think that this metaphor and the out of the box questions will contribute in an amazing way to the deconstruction of the problem as we have seen in the video. Congratulations!!! THANK YOY!!!! I am looking forward to using this ”box” in my practice with your assistance of course!!!

    • Thank you Margarita! I’m glad you found interesting the ideas of deconstruction and I’d be most interested to hear what difference might your exploration with the use of the box make to your own practice!It’s a project in process, so I’m curious how other practitioners, like you, can adapt this practice in their own contexts of work, so that I can learn from the possibilities that their ways might open up for this project.

  350. Perfect words and would be a fantastic revised anthem. Will spread the word!

  351. Fabulous, absolutely fabulous. I would vote for a change to this in a heartbeat!

  352. Indeed, this has my vote, in fact this is the version I will be singing from this day forward. Thank you for making our anthem something I can be proud of.

  353. I love this and would be proud to have it as our anthem. Thanks and congratulations to all involved.

  354. Calgary, AB
    Which resource in this chapter particularly caught your attention and why? I liked the imagery of the black dog through the video. The dog became bigger when it almost overcame the man, but when he accepted it, it shrunk, took a back seat out of his main space, and became leashed. The moment where he hugs the black dog was powerful in that we can take our problems, love them and control them to a degree.
    I also liked the mapping piece as a way to follow the different areas to keep track of what is going on. I had attempted to do some narrative therapy, but was not aware of this mapping. (It was not really discussed in class very well.) If I had such a chart with me as a guide in a session, that might be helpful to place myself and how things are going.
    What sort of problems could be externalised in your context? With an individual I work with, the anger and temper that flares up over small concerns. The feelings of abandonment from family and friends.
    What difference might this make? I think externalizing a problem can allow for the item to be manipulated and controlled. It can take away shaming and those features that can be overwhelming and overpowering.

    • I’ve been thinking about how anxiety and depression can be externalized. It think it could be useful in having an almost outsider’s view on what is going on for yourself. I like the idea of exploring the problem as a thing and looking to what gives power to that thing. The trouble I’ve found is when people just aren’t feeling this externalizing piece. Can’t name it. Recently I’ve been trying to connect the idea of power. Who has the power?

  355. Moved me to tears! So beautiful! I would proudly stand for this anthem! Bravo xxx

  356. I would describe the narrative metaphor as recognizing and understanding that there are many different stories that make up our lives. There may be themes that we focus on, but we must not forget to look at the other themes and perspectives. We are not 2-dimensional, there is so much to every one of us that you cannot possibly sum up our lives in just one narrative. We must use many.

    Thinking about stories in this way helps us get out of distorted ways of thinking. Often our distorted thought patterns are caused by focusing on only one aspect of ourselves and making it much larger than it is, while disregarding other aspects (or stories). An example of this is magnification where we magnify negative details, while filtering out all of the positive ones. We can combat this through the narrative metaphor when we realize that there are many more stories than we previously thought. Drawing attention to these alternative stories brings them to life and allows us to see the bigger and more complete picture.

  357. Hello and may I say a huge congratulations to all those involved in the revising of the our national anthem
    This is the most beautiful and well thought out wording alteration. I am just in awe.
    These new words are exactly what is needed in our world and particularly for our country RIGHT NOW.
    It appeases everyone and every culture.
    I shared this to my Fb and its a smash hit.
    What I would like to know is how I can help to get this out to the rest of Australia.
    This should be on everyones lips and list to make the change.
    I love it and again THANK YOU whoever it is that has put faith back into mt human spirit.
    I really feel good about this.
    Well done
    Scott Chambers
    Wagga Wagga

  358. THIS! This right here is what it is to be Australian and I would proudly sing this.

  359. Wow! That is so beautiful, and inclusive!
    Brought tears to my eyes and pride to my heart!

  360. Absolutely apt and to up to date.

  361. This is a very inspiring video! I really liked how Kassandra with the use of the idea that “problems have ethics” brought in the therapeutic conversation wider political, social and economical dominant interests and discources that support these ineterests. I was also impressed by the way she scaffolded the “out of the box questions” and assisted her client to distance herself from “hellblame” and to position herself in relation to the problem and the dominant discourses that support it. One the other hand this process assisted her to be in closer touch with her values and to be involved in her prefered social action. Thank you Kassandra!

    • This is a very accurate description of what this “out of the box” project was all about Daniil! I wonder if there is something that resonates with you in this work and if there are ways you might be interested to carry this idea/practice back into your work. Thank you for watching the video with such care and attention Daniil!

  362. I would happily belt this out with pride and a full heart.

    Is there a petition to share and vote to change it.

    Where do I sign up?

  363. Thank you Kassandra!I love this possibility to create and make something touchable to represent stories, questions, solutions and alternative solutions. The ethics of problem is a gentle way to identify values.

    Nice video, also! 🙂


    • Hi Francesca!

      Thanks for your comments!I agree with you, co-creating something touchable with the people to capture the outcomes of our co-investigations open up possibilities in therapy. My project was focused on deconstructing the “ethics” of the problems represented in the “box of problems”. I really liked you idea to co-create something touchable that would represent the preferred stories..perhaps a box of local knowledges, skills, values, hopes etc? Sounds like a new avenue to explore! Thank you!

  364. Thank you! I love the sensibility you work with I found very interesting this certificate and its applications.


  365. I found the video of the black dog most interesting. I felt that visual metaphors like this one would be particularly useful for the people I work with. Being able to seperate a problem or concern via a simple metaphor I found very useful in demonstrating just how logically the technique can be used. I think in the context that I work with externalising anxiety and behaviours of concern would be particularly useful as the people I work with often become labelled with their problem or difficulty. I think externalising would be useful to the individual but also for the people who support them as they are not often able to seperate the behaviour from the person. I think this could have a big impact on both the person but also how they are treated.

  366. Dear Kassandra,

    Many congratulations for this special work that you have done! I remember following your presentation at the Barcelona Narrative Conference, but I also remember having the feeling that I was “not getting it”: What is the box, and why think “out of it”? In this video, you addressed this question very clearly: You get the person out of one box and put him/her in another, so that there is a new point of reference to use. Thanks for this explanation!

    One point that is still not clear in my mind concerning the box is, do you really have boxes and cards in the therapy room? Or did you use boxes in your presentation for illustrative purposes? And if you use them in the therapy room, do you write and draw on them with the person in therapy or do you prepare it yourself?

    Many thanks for the inspiring presentation!


    • Dear Yorgos,

      oh yes, I do remember the query look on your face after my presentation in Barcelona!I’m so happy that this video provided a clearer picture of the process occurred.

      I find your questions very thoughtful and important to clarify them as well. This specific box was created for illustrative purposes by me and then it was shown to Anna to have her confirmation. The picture of Hell-blame is Anna’s, the rest are mines. However, while I was creating this box for illustrative purposes I felt uncomfortable doing it by-myself so that is how emerged the idea to use actual boxes in therapy during conversations of deconstruction, that will be co-created with the people we work with. Unfortunately this idea came in the end of my work with Anna but now I do have some available boxes in my office which are ready to be drawn and used in collaboration with the person in therapy.

      Thank you very much for your lovely feedback Yorgos!

  367. *Inspiring! How do you keep in touch with asking “small questions” in therapy?
    I was thinking how powerful the knowledge óf language is both as regards including and excluding practices. This could be a great exercise for children

    • Dear Jeanette,

      “small questions”…to be honest, especially when it comes to questions that seek to make visible power relations or structures or the power plays of individualism/patriarchy/neo-liberalism etc I find it particularly challenging, but also exciting, to scaffold my questions in a way that ground them to people’s daily life-experiences. I think that having a box in front of us, with different sides that represent different aspects of the broader contexts that sustain the problem make it easier for me to offer “smaller” questions and it also enhance the idea of co-research.

      Is’s great to hear you having this idea to translate this practice as an exercise for children. Is that an area you are working in? It would be awesome to see what would this exercise look like and how children would respond to it!


  368. I’m writing from Calgary, Canada.

    I have used the Tree of Life exercise with coaching clients in the past and found it helpful. I love the idea of documents of knowledge and am going to introduce the idea of a book of knowledge that can be shared forward in my next group session.

    I’m also really interested in using certificates. So many of the people I work with are struggling with long-term issues, and recognizing their successes and unique outcomes seems like it could be really valuable.

  369. Hi Loretta,

    Your presentation was inspiring.

    I’m still a student in mental health and I find your work a great antidote to the predominant “diagnose and treat” model which, while often well intentioned, to my mind, inevitably leads to “victim blaming and shaming”, rather than to its social, cultural and political roots.


    • Hi Geoff,
      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate knowing this work might be part of the antidote to a system which can often lead to victim blaming and shaming. I agree that much of the work in mainstream services is done by people with good intentions. My passion is around making visible the social, cultural and political influences on the life of problems, so I’m really pleased this stood out to you. All the best with your study. I hope these ideas support you when you work with people like Sarah, who are up against such strong forces.

  370. The Narrandera Koori Community Gathering is a program that has particular relevance and resonance for my own Central Australian context. Foremost, this program recognises the importance of working collectively in a space that honours the power of cultutre and utilises community development principles such as collaboration, participation and empowerment through the language of the community; song.

    The songs comprised by the community were centered around articulated the strengths and resources present, and the capacity for healing through mutual respect. Importantly, all members present at the gatherings are involved in the composition of the songs in a way that is intentionally accessible to the members and the broader community at large. This was ensured by having melodies that are easy to teach and sing, rhythm is simple and clear and the chorus is memorable. Upon reflection, this is a powerful Narrative therapy technique of co-authoring alternate story lines which provide a strong sense of hope.

    Through the guidance of the communities I work with and the communities I work for, I can see the potential for using song and language as a means of exploring alternate story lines of culture and of history.

  371. I’m writing from Calgary, Canada.

    Which resource in this chapter particularly caught your attention and why?

    I found the map really helpful, and had to pause the video to go order the book. When I’ve talked about externalizing with coaching clients, I’ve gotten a lot of resistance to the idea that they are not the problem. Often, when we’re marginalized and have suffered trauma or abuse, the idea that we ARE the problem is so internalized and becomes part of our identities. Definitely it was that way for me until I started doing this kind of work in my own life. The map is helpful because it offers a gentle and non-judgemental framework for easing away from that very closely held belief that “I am the problem” and resituates the person into a new position of control. Often “I am the problem” is a desirable position because if I am the problem and I am in control of myself, then I am in control of the problem. If the problem is external, then it might not be our own fault, and we might not be able to control it. But this framing allows someone to move from “I am the problem” (and therefore control it), to “I am the expert in the problem” (and therefore control the narrative about it). I love that.

    What sort of problems could be externalised in your context?

    The problem I run into most often among my communities and coaching clients is “I am unloveable/unworthy” – there are a lot of different issues that can inform this problem, and I think externalizing could be really helpful.

    What difference might this make?

    Hopefully, successfully externalizing the problem would open up some space for people to recognize counter stories from their own lives when they have felt loved and loveable, or worthy.

  372. I’m writing from Calgary, Canada.

    I’ve found the narrative metaphor incredibly helpful in my own life – using the idea of finding the alternative stories, the ones that challenge the dominant “thin” conclusion, has been really helpful in reframing my own responses to trauma and neurodivergence. I use a lot of these strategies in my work as a coach, and I’m hoping to become a counsellor. The non-blaming aspect is particularly helpful, and the idea of rich, multistoried lives even for those of us who have experienced trauma and can feel trapped in those stories.

  373. Thank you for the opportunity to discover a therapy that reflects my personality. This introductory course has given me an insight to the complexity of Narrative therapy and the potential for a better person-centered approach to psycho-social work. Cheers, Shane.

  374. Which resource in this chapter particularly caught your attention and why?
    I would have to say that Mark’s Hayward description of the framework for externalizing was of great help.
    What sort of problems could be externalised in your context?
    As I mentioned before, I am very used to working with anxiety issues and following a cbt approach. However there are many people who consult me with “stories” of divorce and existentialist issues concerning their life choices, dreams, objectives, ideals. I can see how externalizing these subjects from the person may help them unblock and facilitate actions towards the changes they feel would help.

    What difference might this make?
    For instance, there is a women who is living an unhappy marriage for 6 years now. They have a daughter. She sees herself as being unlovable, and therefore, although she really wants to get divorce, she cannot take action because she will be alone forever as she is unlovable. I believe externalizing/ separtating this unlovable view of herself may help her not be defined by that!

  375. This material encouraged me to reflect that our ways of making meaning often favour one perspective, and as a result can often ‘push out’ other co-existing or alternative meanings and interpretations.

    In my work with children who have experienced trauma, it has reminded me of the importance of making the whole child visible. This means facilitating alternative stories that no longer define them by their experiences or by their behaviour. Working alongside the important people and systems in these children’s lives to explore alternative meanings and thicken the identities and stories of these children’s lives is central, as is working with the child to bring out their playfulness, their personality, and their essential ‘themness’ that makes them both similar to others and much much more than the sum of their difficult experiences.

  376. Hello. Iam Natália writing from Porto, Portugal.
    I would say the narrative metaphor is like poetry: you can add words (stories) to each other and create beautiful, intense meanings… and even when many people read the same poem they will interpret it differently… bringing a bit of their own being to that interpretation…and even the same person, in different times in her life, may interpret it in another way: adding or changing meaning to the poem.

    Working with Anxiety issues mainly, I tend to choose cbt as the main intervention. However there are clients that don’t “fit” this approach… either because they are more in tune with their inner selves, more descriptive and less analytical, more sensitive or they are storytellers.
    I believe the narrative approach is an option that answers the needs of these clients.
    Enabling the process of storytelling, in an open empathic way, opens a multitude of meanings, by which people can signify their life events. For me it is almost like promoting a new insight into our lives. Sharing and telling to others gives the possibility of adding new perspectives about experiences, helping us become more flexible and adjustable to life and its contradictions.

  377. I have still to overcome “a trepidation” when it comes to using narrative ideas/practices but what I say back to “trepidation” is I am filled with curiosity and excitement at the prospect of it becoming a whole new way of working with women. All the practices resonated with me but I was especially smitten with the learning’s of Documents and Audiences. How the written word can help people get their language back, how it engages the reader to enquire “what’s next”, how it documents the PAST,PRESENT and FUTURE and the fact it is literary as opposed to diagnostic and therefore tells a story. I want to have more narrative conversations , not relay advice. As David Newman says ‘the spoken word can often be confronting and complex in its tone, rhythm, or the way we sit.’
    I want to invite women to contribute and co-write their case notes as well as their support plans and give them the opportunity to acknowledge their achievements and share their pride.
    I believe I am becoming more aware when someone uses a narrative description because I feel a warm and fuzzy happening, such as when a woman recently said how she sometimes pauses, unsure of what she really wants to say, so she refers to it as her “speech bubble”.
    Thank you to “the team of Life”

  378. Before this chapter I had a basic saying (and story) that connected me to critical thinking that was from a textbook from earlier studies that included an entry from an Occupational Psychologist whom was a CEO of her own corporate company in America. When the psychologist interviewed a prospective employee, she had interviewed him at a restaurant; and while waiting for the meal to be served, she had asked him if he had ever ate at the restaurant previously. He declined, and as the meal arrived, the prospective employee added salt o his meal before he had tasted it. This was grounds for the psychologist to not employ him, as the psychologist believed that critical thinking involved taking in all the available information before making a decision (i.e.; trying his meal before deciding to add the salt).
    Although now I believe the availability of all information would not appear to consciousness unless as a co-author/author we were to take a post-structuralist stance on recovering the information or knowledge. This may have invited the psychologist to ask the question “why did you add the salt?” without concluding with a belief that may not be an accurate event. Alternatively, the prospective employee may come from a culture that doesn’t add salt in their cooking techniques until after the meal is presented, or other alternative stories that may not appear available at the time.
    This form of critical thought I feel I have used in this analysis appears to reinforce a lot of narrative beliefs and values for myself; a post-structuralist stance, questioning the influence of power and interpretation, and the belief that as humans we are continually cognitively changing (or beliefs and direction). The meaning of critical thinking to myself would be the investigation of “separating sense from nonsense” (Ruscio, 2006), using a deductive and then inductive reasoning strategy (Rene Descartes’s scientific method), with the knowledge of the potential dangers that arises from a single story.
    Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts,
    Cheers, Shane Thomson, Busselton, Western Australia

  379. Critical thinking to me means the taking of risks and the opportunity to break down barriers.
    It gives me the opportunity to give the women I meet in my work positive affirmations and feedback when they identify the difficulties they are experiencing eg. “who else knows how hard you are working on living a life free of abuse”.
    Stories: I grew up in the 50’s/60’s and although my parents were ‘good people’ they were also a part of a culture that were prejudiced, ignorant and racist. I sometimes wondered if my grandparents were of the same ilk because when I heard my parents speak it sounded ‘parrot fashion’ During the 70’s I had the opportunity to travel and found myself excited and stimulated by new languages, cultures, history and experiences. I returned to Australia feeling more confident and seeking change through participation in marches against the Vietnam War, women’s equality, a patriarchal society and Aboriginal Rights to name a few.
    I was also hungry for knowledge.

  380. Thanks so much Manja and Gipsy for your video. What a beautiful relationship you have. I found your explanations of intersectionality very helpful particularly as this is a relatively new concept to me. I am very interested in my work at exploring discourses around the notion of being a ‘burden’ and how this is internalised by people who are receiving care even though oftentimes the people who are providing the care do not feel it as a burden at all, rather it is about reciprocity as you say Manja. Thank you both very much for giving me more to think about. Kind regards, Lisa

    • Thanks Lisa! I’m most interested in the concept of being a ‘burden’ too and how we are invited to feel that way even when the people helping us do not hold that view. It is a very strong discourse deeply tied to the idea that we all ‘should’ be independent and produtive bodies. I hope to explore the idea further in my thesis about young adult’s experience of chronic illness. We wish you all the best in your continued exploration of intersectionality and problematising this pervasive idea of ‘burden’. We would love to hear any insights you glean from your own work on this topic.

  381. The TED talk with Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche was extremely powerful and being an avid reader and aspiring writer myself it made me think about extending the various types of books I am reading with my two children. Her comment “How impressionable and vunerable we are in the face of a story – particularly as children”. I do not want them to think of a certain race as per one book they have read or stereotyped. This will not help them understand the narrative metaphor – many stories make many beautiful adventures.

  382. The concept of externalizing is one of the main reasons why I found myself attracted to narrative therapy as a type of therapy. I think that it can be very powerful for individuals to separate from the problem because it allows the person to be the hero of their own story again rather than the villain.

  383. Hi David, Thanks for the video. I found it a really useful summary of the theory, principles and practice of using documents. I found your observation about ‘asides’ useful in thinking about how to improve my listening skills – as well as the acknowledgment that sometimes I might be surprised that these are seen as not helpful when I receive feedback. I would be interested in hearing a little about what sort of things you consider when you thinking about what form the document might take. What makes a poem more appropriate/helpful/expressive than a letter? Is it based on the type of language spoken and what that inspires? Thanks again. Leanne

    • Hi Leanne,

      Thanks so much for your comment and your interesting question.

      When I consider my practice over the years I think I have chosen a document that is resonant with the people/person I am writing to. There are perhaps three options I can think of for practices that assist in resonance:
      *Sometimes this takes the form of noticing what people are drawn to (for example I see that for many young people poetic expression is resonant) or
      *Sometimes it is part of the local culture (for example with children documents can include explorations of the ‘picture book’ genre) or
      *Sometimes it is what people express their preference to be when I ask (often people say ‘could you please write a note to me in an email’ if I offer to write them some of the rescued meanings from the conversations and not for instance as a handwritten note or list that I might be about to write).

      And sometimes I have to have more creative options… Quite a few times recently in the psychiatric unit where I work part time the young people have said something like the following, ‘oi David, how’s it going? We going to do yet another letter in today’s group?’ So sometimes I know I require some more creative options!

      Thanks again for your questions Leanne.

      David N

  384. Working with women who are victims/survivors of domestic and family abuse I am constantly reminded of the stories women come with, of incredible courage, resourcefulness and imagination which can easily go unheard or acknowledged. (Thank you Sue Mann) They really are the experts.
    Using collaborative representation we ask women if there is anything in particular they would like recorded on their behalf. Women are also given the choice to compile their own ‘support plans’ or collaborate with worker to do so.

  385. Good to see and hear you Tileah. I heard you speak of Yarning(counselling),Storytelling, strong story, History, externalizing, Shame, centring people as the experts and honouring others’ knowledge and emotional and social wellbeing. Thank You.

  386. I found myself at times with “a struggle” to grasp Histories so I read and re-read, then Aunty Barbara Wingard introduced me to “how a lot of problems nowadays relate to what happened in the past and how it is not a time to forget and move on but a time to remember and to stay connected and put people more in touch with their healing ways.” The story with Sam resonated with me especially the momentum and camaraderie and the regrading of the conversation where usual power relations were flipped.
    David Epston gave me a healthy reminder that respectful curiosity is a good thing.

  387. Hi everyone. I’m currently in Sydney NSW.

    For me, the narrative metaphors is conjuring up this glorious permission to be curious. For opening up a space to identify and explore all of the stories that are our experiences. Through looking just beyond, we can allow ourselves to move away from those single, dominant and/or problematic stories, and invite ourselves to become both more aware f and curious about the whole self that exists in our experiences. And through this multifaceted approach to stories we begin to explore, negotiate and listen too deeper meaning.

  388. Magnificent. I would happily learn these words and sing with gusto, something I do not do now.

  389. I wept – so beautiful & meaningful to me as a non aboriginal woman privileged to share this sacred land. I am sharing as far as I can

  390. Zorana, integrative counsellor from the UK, now living in Sydney

    I have used the ‘tree of life’ with clients and found that it is a useful way to begin to get to know clients. It’s a creative stand-in for more traditional counselling assessment sessions. I find that counselling assessments can often be challenging for clients, especially young adults. They occur at the start of counselling when the therapeutic relationship is in it’s infancy, yet the client is expected to share a very personal life history. I have also used the tree of life with a client with a history of trauma towards the end of our work together – I hoped it would give her a sense of her own resilience, strength and courage which had been so evident to me. I wanted her to hear what I had heard, in her own words.

    I am really enjoying this course. Thank you!

  391. Absolutely love it!!!! Very Australian

  392. What does ‘critical thinking’ mean to you?

    To me, critical thinking is a process where ideas and situations are examined in the context of my understandings and beliefs. It is a process where my values and beliefs may be challenged, where my habitual ways of thinking are recognised and I decide if the new idea fits within my existing structures and whether I can assimilate the idea into my belief systems (and I need to clear up any contradictory ideas to do so) or whether I feel that the new idea does not hold truth for me in which case I reject it. Other times after undergoing critical thinking for a new idea I may give it a probationary period to see whether it is valuable for me and if it achieves positive benefits, in which case I keep it, or otherwise discard it if it is not helpful.

    How might your practice be different on account of your engagement with these materials?

    I would like to continue challenging my beliefs and values through critical thinking, I do not believe I have everything nailed down to my liking so I am willing to explore and try new things.

    Do you have any stories or sayings that keep you connected to ‘critical thinking’?

    As a child I wondered if I was the only real person and that everyone else I interacted with was somehow defined by my experience with them. I have now learnt that it is typical for children as they develop to hold this sort of worldview and of course most of us grow out of it as we develop empathy. When I learnt that other people have their own lives, I realised that though I placed a lot of value on my self, I wasn’t exceptional (and that everyone else has their own world that they carry with them).

  393. Hi Mark,

    From the position of just commencing the Masters program, and being new to narrative practice, I want to express sincere thanks for your SOP presentation. There were many helpful points I took in particular the reminder of the ‘pathway’ (process & questions) and the relationship with the problem, and the value- in -action of the child becoming the consultant on the problem, the many connecting questions I heard, and the relaxed, and meaningful way you described the thoughts going on for you, your reflections on your questions and timing of same, and the relationship to charting the steps in the conversation. This unpacked the Map and charting process and I could relate refreshed to the helpfulness of the process-making me feel more close to it, less afraid of it! I will remember the ‘map in my mind’ comment you made, which connects to a habit I feel is starting to develop already for me in conversation with others, of listening differently, deeply, yet thinking always thinking, with agility -ahead and sometimes from behind -and catching up!

    As my work will involve working in an environment in remote Australia where professionals speak constantly about ‘the bully’ and not enough about same children experiencing trauma, day to day trials of hunger, having safe, engaging environments in which to sit, learn, play, I found your approach to balancing responsibility for actions of a child with working quite hard to help ‘Joey’ find his place/position on the behaviours that upset and hurt others very helpful.Children here seem to equip themselves with a suite of behaviours ready to act out to protect themselves from being offended by another. your talk has prompted more thinking for me about a collective approach to assisting community members (professionals, children, elders, family, parents – everyone) to put some words to the endemic behaviours that exist, affecting people in all generations/life stages and explore ideas, values, actions…

    thanks Mark.

    warm regards

    michelle bates

  394. G’day from Busselton, Western Australia.

    Most of the innovation projects recorded in this lesson seem to be inspiring to myself, although implementing these concepts would need to suit the clients best skills, beliefs, and culture. alternative projects may include the use of photo’s in a group album, or short personal stories that can be incorporated into a group book or journal (similar to the document chapter) and used for public display if permitted by the authors.

    Cheers, Shane Thomson

  395. In my career I have had a few roles where I have worked with clients from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural backgrounds. I have always tried my best to work in ways that respect and empower my clients, but as a white person myself I’ve stumbled many times when making assumptions and value judgments that stem from my own culture and upbringing.

    It’s something that is really quite hidden, this concept of white privilege, when you grow up you get used to your own cultural norms, and I have accepted as normal all the opportunities that have come to me over my life.

    But now through my work I have been exposed to my own privilege, to know that my achievements have come with far less struggle. My education, my job opportunities, my family upbringing, my health, my skin colour, etc. have all been advantages for me.

    Learning of structural and institutionalised racism, the negative media and politics, the impacts of colonisation, the stolen generations, etc. have all taught me how lucky I have been to have been born white, male and middle class.

    To be accountable and to collaborate effectively with my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues and clients I feel like I must always reflect on the privilege I have experienced and the injustices that my clients have experienced, so that I can be fair in my thoughts and that my behaviour, attitude and actions can demonstrate respect and integrity.

    From a practice standpoint, I think this means to not be afraid to acknowledge the elephant in the room, i.e. my own cultural biases and privileged background, whilst sharing my desire to be of help .

  396. I’m feeling inspired to give the Tree of Life program a go. I like how it enables participants to share their stories in a way that is creative, non-threatening and that offers opportunities for psycho education and self reflection.

    It seems like a great tool for exploring alternative stories and finding strengths.

  397. I am looking forward to trying out the Tree of Life program as it looks to include aspects of documentation and audience.

  398. I particularly enjoyed the video with the Black Dog named Depression.
    The video is full of metaphors for how depression can make you feel (e.g. like there is a big dog that you have to drag with you wherever you go).
    What was interesting for me was to recognise that these sorts of metaphors are what externalising can be about – the feeling (or problem) can be named and described like a metaphor and externalised.

  399. I felt inspired after viewing the Mt.Elgon Project especially around the gift of giving eg. seeds to encourage sustainability and The Tree of Life which does not re- traumatize but strengthens relationships with history, culture etc.
    At my place of work a group of women recently completed an eight week strength based and often narrative domestic violence support group. The “acknowledgement of achievement was” celebrated with women receiving a boater ( a hat usually received after graduation)followed by the women, as custom would have, throwing it in the air in joyous celebration.

  400. I am hooked by David Newman’s clear illustration of living documents/collections of letters and especially sharing of documents – a whole new way of connecting /communicating with people and in turn people learning new skills of Recognition and Meaning.
    I loved the example of a living document ” What we can say back to despair “.

  401. This lesson on externalizing I find most valuable and exciting during my work with woman and children impacted by abuse.
    Listening to women initially blaming themselves then witnessing them describing their situations in different ways when externalized and allowing women to be given the opportunity to reclaim their lives from the effects of the problem can only benefit them on their journey to growth and healing.

  402. “Hello” from Nova Scotia, Canada! 🙂

    Working with the elderly in the comfort of their own homes, allows for so many layers of narrative practice to unfold. My work aims to bridge the gap between Isolation – & – Community, as well as its effects; Loneliness – & – Meaningful Connection. I feel that the use of documentation, especially “Documents of circulation” in the form of lasting Legacy Projects (combining expressions of ART and WORD) will provide a great source of self-expression and acknowledgment for my clients. Representing meaningful ideas/stories that a person wishes to explore as well as pathways that connect that story to a supportive audience. I feel that this form of documentation will richly contribute to connecting people around shared intentions and values.

    The use of “Living Documents” has proven to be such an empowering outlet; evident through the stories shared as well as through personal experience. This course teaches of the many examples of peoples stories living on in the lives of others. I have been blessed to be part of an 8-session workshop offered here in Antigonish, by Nancy Gray and Cathrine Chambers through the “Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre”. Together they created something very special. Nancy received training through the Dulwich Centre and does amazing work, providing ground for people to transform their lives through the context of narrative therapy. The workshop’s focus was on “Mapping and Exploring Self-Care through Art, Mindfulness, and Spoken word”. It was through the process of creating and sharing a “living document” that we were able to have an audience and gain a sense of recognition and meaning to the alternative stories and preferred landscapes we’ve been exploring. I now have a tangible collection of the women’s art and words to refer back to and enjoy for years to come. These living documents truly do provide a lasting pathway to our alternative stories and sense of shared connection.

    Much gratitude to all of the authors and presenters involved in providing such insightful material for this chapter as well as to fellow course participants for your personal reflections!

    Warm Wishes,

  403. I love it! Thank you very much! 🙂 I am using it with two couples and it allows me fantastic conversations.

  404. Reflecting on the Draft Charter of Story-Telling Rights I quite agree with the idea of allowing others to express themselves and their stories in their own words. I find that when talking to my own clients that if I pick up on and use the language they do that it is easier to generate a rapport and the conversation flows more easily.
    It is easy for a disconnect to occur when I get caught up with my own ideas and understandings of a clients situation.
    The rights in the charter all seem to reflect the need for caregivers to listen and enable self-expression.
    In the context of Suicide Intervention, I did the ASIST training yesterday and it included the Pathways to Assisting Life (PAL) model. One of the essential steps in the model is to Hear their Story, you cannot find the turning point for the person at risk without first listening to their story and then asking questions to find their connections to life. The person at risk may disengage from the conversation if you allow your own values and judgments to creep in and don’t see things from their point of view.

    Each of the articles in the Charter seem to reinforce what is also needed when doing suicide interventions.

  405. G’day from Busselton, Western Australia.

    Unfortunately I was unable to watch the digital media for this lesson for some reason, although I found Hugh Fox’s review very easy to follow the theme of using therapeutic documents. I believe that letters recording a session should be available to both a referring doctor and the client.

    Recently I had seen a Psychologist for a crisis situation that was effecting my well-being, and when the session had been “summed up” towards the end, vital points were missed or misinterpreted by the therapist. With the hindrance of time and money, I didn’t argue these points, although came to the conclusion that the particular therapist might not be the one for me. I also wondered what she was going to pass on to my GP.

    In this instance at least, a letter explaining the session may have the potential to be changed if the therapist misinterpreted the clients story, and be aware of the communication processes between the therapist and the GP, as therapy should be conducted with transparency for ethical and trust-building purposes.

    When I start practicing myself, I believe that this initial letter is a must, and I would like to incorporate more documentation to assist in reminding people of their own alternative story.

    Thank you again for this opportunity, Cheers, Shane

  406. G’day from Busselton, Western Australia.

    The concept of externalising was very interesting for me, as I had wondered on the impact this would face in a clients willingness to accept responsibility for their choice in the case of maladaptive behaviour, although this was clarified in Carey & Russel’s article on Externalising – commonly-asked questions. Exploring the effects of the problem on ones self as well as the effect on others would appear to give a client awareness to the choices and consequences of the decision making processes, both providing insight into the effects contributed by the problem, and the insight into the effects associated with the contribution of the clients actions.

    Exploring the maladaptive schema that may be sustaining a problem appears to provide full acknowledgement of the effects of the problem during the implementation of the Statement of position map 1, during the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th stages.

    After watching a TED talk by Elyn Saks – a tale of mental illness,this had shown me the potential of exteralising the effects of mental illness was both a way of coping and accepting the effects that chronic schizophrenia has on her life, and the lives of others suffering with mental illness. This had also appeared to reinforce the need of medication to control the psychosis she suffered; showing that Elyn has and is taking responsibility in her actions, although can still externalise the effects that chronic schizophrenia has in her life.

    Thankyou for the opportunity to comment, Cheers, Shane

  407. I would also firstly like to thank Dulwich Centre for offering this free narrative course online. Thanks also to David for taking the time to introduce the Friday afternoon sessions with the explanation of the place, history and traditions of the Fri afternoon sessions. It was very fitting to get all the additional information as part of the discussion about the Charter of Story-Telling Rights. Freeman and Combs’ dot exercise to build on the ‘thin’ story and Chimananda Adichie’s talk about ‘The Danger of a Single Story’ are both so relevant today as the business of life can so easily mean we look at the single story and respond instantly, without being curious enough to seek more detail and explore alternate stories. Tamara (Geelong, Australia)

  408. Dear Meizi,
    Thank you for sharing ‘Recipes for Life’. I really appreciate the metaphor of ‘uninvited ingredients’, and the skillful concepts used to externalise and locate women’s experience of violence outside of identity. It seems a significant adaptation of narrative practice for culturally resonant groupwork.

  409. Thank you Kylie for your presentation – so like the idea of a support group for shame giving responsibility taking some breathing space. Thank you for including Gary’s story, there is something tangible in acknowledging affect when Gary says his partner “did not deserve” the abuse. Now to check out Brene Brown.

  410. Thank you! This is very creative and useful. 🙂
    What about Tandem? Coul it be a nice metaphore for couples?

  411. I am compelled by Freedman and Combs envisaging of the potential of narrative therapy for not simply solving an isolated/particular ‘problem’ but for giving people a vehicle to explore new ways of living as a whole.
    It is helpful to be reminded of the many and varied external factors that can influence the thinking of an individual. Helping people to ‘story’ these influences and giving dignity to their story is not only beneficial to the individual themselves but may be useful in helping them to have broader perspectives in regards to their perception of and relationship with others. I am reminded of Wheatley’s comment, “You can’t hate someone whose story you know”. Coming from Northern Ireland, and living in a community influenced by a legacy of conflict, I am interested in the possibility of ‘storying’ for divided communities too.

  412. I was curious regarding the use of religious music. How did the clients react when you used the Amazing Grace song with the added chorus of being set free? Did they come from a Christian experience?

  413. G’day everyone,
    I currently undertook a unit in the theories in counseling and psychotherapy,and although the postmodern approaches were covered, it was after the units reflective journal and essay. This had made me critically examine Beck’s cognitive theory, and in particular the use of schema(mental representation of events)-change methods. As the collected data on schema changing appeared to be convincing as an effective treatment, although the assumption of a “cognitive distortion” or a maladaptive core belief did appear to be at the discretion of the therapist. The therapist is then asked to persist in arguing this belief of the client (Persons, Davidson & Tompkins, 2001).

    This therapist controlled situation felt to me to be a hindrance in the therapeutic treatment of Cognitive therapy, making an uninformed judgement (or thin description) of the client, and contributing to the blame society.

    The Narrative Metaphor to me represents the acknowledgement of social injustices, without the accusation of delusions or dishonesty. In a cognitive view on Narrative therapy it may be explained be the story being the schema, and the problem saturated story as a cognitive distortion (although this I feel should be replaced with “dominant schema or story”). This still appears to be more complete with the assumption that the person is not the problem, the problem is the problem, or a victim will always “own” being the victim, and not a survivor of a problematic situation.

    As I am still studying, critically thinking in a Narrative way will play an influential part in my future assessments.

    Thank you for the opportunity to write on your forum,
    Cheers, Shane Thomson
    (raised in a major city in WA. residing in a rural city in WA)

  414. Hello, I am writing today from Nova Scotia, Canada. The resources in this chapter have provided an array of practices for externalizing conversations, all of which confirm Michael Whites notion; “The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem.” Mark Hayward’s discussion using maps in narrative therapy really caught my attention. Creating a guide to externalizing problems and what the process might look like when we are introducing questions and responses that create space between the person and the problems they are facing. Maps are such a profound metaphor for life; a birds eye view. I feel the knowledge shared from this chapter will serve myself and many others who become involved in these conversations. As we let go of attachment to dominant stories and create space between ourselves and the problems we face, who knows what new opportunities and possibilities can come to be!

  415. In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?

    From Melbourne, Australia.

    In my work with children who often don’t initiate sessions with a helping / allied health person, I have noted that there can be lots of resistance from the child to ‘the teaching of psychological strategies’ which is the dominant discourse for providing support via Medicare and Mental Health Care Plans. My understanding of a strengths perspective seems more aligned with narrative therapy in that we are helping the client identify their preferred ways / skills in addressing problems – and I find that children are more likely to experience improved functioning when they author (depict) and identify there own coping strategies rather than me ‘teaching’ them techniques.

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?

    What makes it difficult are expectations from parents and other professionals that something will be taught (i.e., new skills that don’t necessarily resonate with the child) or some deficit discovered, rather than identifying or enhancing a child’s capacities, empowering the child or acknowledging how they are already coping – and also the problem of their wider context. I too often feel I am being asked to help children adjust to unhealthy or unsuitable contexts – which sits very uncomfortably. Also parental and teacher focus on ‘the child’s problem’ and schools wanting to label and diagnose children for funding / medicare requirements for a diagnosis of a disorder for session-funding, which requires assessment of symptoms / deficits. It seems so easy for organisations to place responsibility for problems with individuals.

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

    I am beginning to incorporate children’s voices into email correspondence with parents and teachers, and in reporting letters to GPs. I also have parents check over and okay assessment reports before they become part of the record, to share ownership and control. I keep working to help adults understand how influential people and contexts are for children and their behaviour!

    I really appreciated Amanda Warrell’s work and telling of June’s story – thank you!

  416. Thank you Tileah for sharing your work. I am hopefully that non-indigenous people in the cities can hear more and more strong stories – it is good for all of us.

  417. From Melbourne, Australia

    I loved Mathew Johnstone’s depiction of depression in the story of the black dog. I had stumbled along one of his books previously and have found it very helpful in explaining the experience to clients of all ages. It seems particularly appropriate with children also, who can be helped through making abstract concepts such as anxiety more concrete.

    Externalisation seems like a very intuitive and human thing to do – like in cultures or traditions where moral qualities are deified – I’m very interested to know more about it – I am thinking also about the need to be careful around the notion of responsibility and self-efficacy- if you locate the problem outside of yourself, do you feel equally able to do something about the problem?

  418. From Melbourne, Australia

    The stories of the histories of NT present as very consistent with it’s principals. I found all the readings to be comforting from the perspective of the client – that is empowering and ‘re-grading’. It was great to read about the history of family therapy – and timely in helping my daughter with an english task analysis (looking at the movie “What’s eating Gilbert Grape” and considering the role of Arnie vs wider contexts in the family’s problems).

    I recently experienced someone’s objections to the notion that all people’s experiences or stories are granted this special title of ‘knowledge’. I am wondering how it might be handled when someone holds on to their stories which might be viewed as problematic and destructive (i.e., I may perceive that they don’t make them stronger and are harmful to self/ others) and whether these things should be granted this title of knowledge. I am wondering if the clinician’s skill is in questioning to encourage alternative stories and how tricky or difficult this may be, and whether this still honors the client …

    I would like to use more questioning in my sessions – I notice that I may shy away from questioning at times because it feels invasive and I fear that the client might not have any answers – I think I need to have more faith- and also the tension between professional boundaries and joining with the client through including ones own challenges – this is more difficult when there is no screen / much less collaboration in my therapy context.

  419. Thanks Vanessa for this inspiring video. I really enjoyed hearing about this creative and de-colonising work. I appreciated your inclusion of example questions. Very useful to my work with parents. Thanks again.

  420. After thinking for a long time that I wanted to explore narrative therapy, I am so grateful to have found this page and this this on-line course!!

    I see narrative metaphor as an opening to the world around oneself, so often we see our journey and that of others as one way or another but in actual fact there are so many perspectives that can been seen. A bit like a kaleidoscope depending on how you move or view the picture your story can change or can form greater meaning/understanding.

    To continue to be curious about the other untold stories and knowing that other stories exist, is for me the uplift I need to keep going within my work. To promote change to continue within my workplace that focuses on the rights of the people we are working with but also each other.

  421. Hi Ryan,
    I am searching for any papers ,external conversations about young boys acting out with violence(age 7-10) after being in domestic violent home situation.
    Do your troublemaker cards work here as well

    • Hi Diane,
      Thanks for your message and interest. I think the Troublemakers are more helpful for use with men who use violence and making changes to their abusive actions/behaviours. Of course the 7-10 year old boy should be seen as victim/survivor of DV and responded to appropriately. The Troublemakers are a bit too sophisticated also for a child. Perhaps something could be adapted for victims/survivors and children.

      When female survivors of DV look at these cards its important that no matter what they have done, that the man who has used violence is 100% responsible for participating in these discourses. The exploration of these ‘Troublemakers’ tends to help give women a better picture of how the man strategises his abuse and that she is in no way responsible. A common theme is that women blame themselves because 1) He blames her and 2)She is socialised into believing her self-worth relates to the satisfaction of the needs and desires of others.

      If I could suggest that you post your question on the Facebook group ‘Narrative practice discussion group’, there may be some other helpful responses.

  422. From Melbourne, Australia.

    A phrase from the Mt Elgon Self-help community project stood out to me, in the context of circulating their documents of commitment for change: “it makes it possible to run without getting weary”. This resonated with me – I thought it a beautifully simple way to communicate the ways in which lack of hope and sadness can take away your energy / make you weary.

    I really liked the use of questioning the personified problem / or feeling. I intend to create questions for children to ask of some kind of anxiety character to help with the psycho-education aspect of my work with children. This device is often used in social emotional picture books for children and they love it – this will help me tailor for a client.

  423. My response may or may not fit the posed stimulus questions for us to consider and comment on. There is so much I would like to share, but justice would not be done to this in such a short space. However, I believe what I am about to share is an honest recount of what I am moved to say in regards to this Amazing introductory course on Narrative Approaches. That what I share is up to the readers to take from it what they choose if anything.

    The contents of this entire course resonates well with me. To single any thing out is a challenge, because they are all a necessary part of the tapestry of Narrative Therapy (NT). One thread missing can begin the unraveling of the rest of the tapestry. There is such wholesome ‘goodness’ in the ‘tapestry’ that Michael White and David Epston have created and woven that others have embraced.

    What I would like to share, is something I see and value highly especially when working with others, i.e an underpinning, fundamental principle which is a Positive Spirit of Intent that seeks Peace knowing that the highest happiness is Peace. Healing is a path to Peace. How this is achieved is in the first instance is dependent upon the Therapist’s qualities, knowledge, skills and abilities to engage with the person seeking therapy and build a quality relationship underpinned by Respect and dignity, that can creatively navigate the path ahead for both to successfully achieve desired changes/healing/outcomes. I have worked with people from birth to the aged from different cultural backgrounds. Respect, Dignity, Validation and Acceptance are some critical core desires and expectations that hold substantial weight in human existence. Narrative Therapy highlights that these are a necessary requirement of its constructs and practices. Coming from a cultural background of a minority group, that is consistently and continually having its life essences squeezed out of it like a slow death; I believe Narrative Therapy provides opportunity for people to engage in critical conversations that can enable them, to arrive at a place and space that can be: empowering, healing and peace making, grounding and balancing oneself within and with the world around them.

    I would also like to share one of the challenges of my culture in terms of communication/engagement i.e.’Silence’. This is a critical element with a special place and purpose in communication. Documentation regarding this is scarce and my experience with those who have been alerted to it, is that of a lack of understanding and misinterpretation of what it truly is and its purpose. This issue of ‘Silence’is one that I believe Narrative Therapy Approaches have capacity to respect and support, in ways I have not yet observed outside of my culture. It may simply be that I have not come across documents/books that might now discuss this issue. I would be interested to know of any other culture that has this element of ‘Silence’ in their communication system.

    I want to explore further the aspect of “Silence” as it plays a very important role in my culture and communication. It is much broader and more complex an issue than that of silence raised by Heath, M. (2012) “”On critical thinking”.

    I would like to that the Dulwich Centre and all those who have contributed to this course. Thank you also to the other course participants for their comments which I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning from .

  424. What does critical thinking mean to me?
    For me, critical thinking is a scientific process. A cognitive activity of scientific exploration, which involves making judgments based on fact and evidence that have been well considered in a process of enquiry, using questioning techniques and drawing conclusions from these. There is a place: for some element of skepticism ( in the sense that blind belief of what someone says can be dangerous to truth/facts/evidence); for curiosity (it is important to desire knowledge about what is being explored in order to better understand with greater depth and breadth of what ever the curiosity is), to know about something or more information; and humbleness to challenge ones own thinking and standpoint in the face of evidence to the contrary. In therapy it involves shared humanness, experiences and courage from a place of great positivity!

    How might your practice be different on account of your engagement with these materials?
    I find it is usually refreshing and affirming in many instances to engage in materials full of others knowledge and experiences in the area of Therapy, where we are privileged guests on an exploration of another person(s) life journey. This is because we have been invited along for the purpose of supporting someone in need to critically think and analyse their own journey with assistance from another perspective in a professional, sensitive and respectful way. How this might impact difference in my practice requires that I have more time to consider this point.

    Do you have any stories or sayings that keep you connected to ‘critical thinking’?

    How can a round peg fit into a square hole?

  425. I found both the Externalizing – Commonly asked questions as well as Mark Hayward’s video to be very helpful. I was particularly interested in the portions about responsibility and avoiding externalizing “combat” themes as well as finding the client’s way to describe a problem that may have previously been a diagnosis (depression) or adult description (temper tantrums).
    How would this be applied to couples dealing with infidelity? I would love to know if there was information out there specific to couples dealing with this issue especially at the beginning of the process when they are in crisis.
    I am excited to begin practicing externalizing conversations in my own life/world before jumping in with clients. I can see many applications to any problems a client may have.
    I am writing from Lakeville, Minnesota, USA.

  426. Questions:
    In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?

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

    I hold many views. One of which is- I cannot change another person. However, as a therapist, I can provide tools and assistance that have potential to enable persons seeking therapy, effect changes they desire for themselves to bring peace, harmony and balance in their life. This Chapter has been very clear on respecting individuals identities, empowering and respecting them as owners and tellers of their own life story/journey and the critical posture of being “DeCentred”. That the “problem is the problem” not the person. I have a passion for engaging in collaboration and consultation with others where they have sought it. All these elements I believe, are only some of the fundamental prerequisites for success in collaboration.

    As a professional, I have experiences in collaborative consultation (which is embedded through out Narrative Therapy Practices as I understand it). Unchecked Ego’s, ignorance, racism and all sorts of bias whether perceived or real, disrespect, acts of negation, pre-conceived ideas, minimisation, lack of Practitioner qualities, skills and abilities to effectively undertake work as a Therapist and such, are just some of the factors, that can substantially and negatively impact entering into Narrative Therapy Practices as a whole.

    The Narrative Therapy Practices discussed in this Chapter fits well with me and I embrace the wisdom and experiences shared in it by the various authors/presenters.I look forward to sharing with others the further evidence that NTP is a highly effective approach to supporting individuals and groups in working through their trauma’s that led them to seek therapy.

    NTP speaks my language and is ‘like music to my ears’. Thank you

  427. The narrative metaphor is a beautiful way to see beyond stereotypes and labels we tend to give ourselves and others. To be able to understand that we are not defined by a singular story is very freeing. I was especially drawn to Chimamanda’s ted talk because I had previously been thinking specifically about the individual, couple or family and had not thought of the cultural context.

    Thinking about stories in this way allows me to have genuine empathy and compassion for both myself and others. I loved the idea of connecting the dots outside the dominant story line to see multiple stories and create rich descriptions.

    I’m writing from Lakeville, Minnesota, USA

  428. From Eyre Peninsula S.A. Australia.

    Rather than being intrigued, I am more grateful to Michael White and David Epston for:
    (1) The Humanistic ethos that is demonstrated in this Chapter of work on Narrative Therapy. I have deep respect for the journey and spirit of adventure that these two professionals have undertaken. Which has culminated into a significant body of work, that is an enormous and invaluable legacy unselfishly shared in order to support others to learn and grow from it.
    (2)The unwavering bravery in continuing to pry open the mind to an expanse of creativity that can be available to anyone who chose to follow their lead. Especially in relationship building; and problem solving with the client/interviewee in the position of empowerment/shared power and shared influence in the Narrative Therapy process.

    It is difficult to single out or ‘short note’ what I would use in the future, as there is so much that resonates well with me. I enjoy and appreciate their life time of work, which in my opinion from having been a researcher myself, demonstrates enormous intelligence and expertise in combining the contrasting scientific methodology of ethnographic research with the freedom, creativity and flexible of a humanistic approach in working with others. Especially to bring this to a place and space that can be easily understood, embraced and practiced by such a wide audience across different: cultures, languages, communication modes.

    Simply Amazing!

  429. I am from the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia, Australia.

    Is there an idea or project that stands out to you most at this time?
    What about this idea or project has sparked your enthusiasm or curiosity?
    In what ways might you begin to experiment with these ideas or methodologies?

    I find that all of the ideas and projects no matter how large or small, individual or group stand out in their own way for me, so choosing between them is a challenge. Therefore I choose to value and respect each of them equally because as one slogan puts it “from little things big things grow”. I deeply appreciate the way Narrative Approaches can be so creative and dynamic, having positive impact cross-culturally. That it encompasses incredible freedom that draws on diversity of cultures and thought in creating positive ways that influence change among complexities and trauma that can exist for many individuals and groups of people and bring healing and empowerment. What I see as a common element that seem to underpin all of the projects highlighted in this Chapter which resonated strongly with me, is the value, respect and embracing the place and influence of positive Spirit in building meaningful relationships. I am moved at the continued respect and empowerment of people that seem to underpin Narrative Approaches and Methodologies through shared experiences and pro-activity . Thanks for this uplifting chapter.

  430. I live on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia, Australia.

    I believe all of that which has been presented in this Chapter (especially the different ‘tools’, strategies and creative ideas) provide great opportunity and flexibility that enables individuals preferred ways of communication and needs to be more appropriately and successfully met. I can see how these respect, value and build the client/interviewee’s “sense of autonomy”, empowerment and ownership of his or her experiences and healing. In a way that is: safe, building his or her capacity in taking control of their choices, life and future while protecting their Spirit. The information and ideas provide Practitioners with opportunity to broaden existing creativity (stimulate the creative juices as the saying goes) in creating new ‘tools’, problem solving strategies or ideas. Ncazelo Nucbe-Mlilo’s “suit case” idea and strategies (which I am thankful for) are great stimulation for developing further creative ideas. I am touched by the depth of commitment, determination and endurance shown in supporting the children in working towards achieving a better future and life they are each seeking.

    In terms of the “Documentation” component:
    *I can relate to the issue raised in one of the recent comments regarding Court Subpoenas of client/interviewee documents as evidence.
    *I have worked with people of varying ages, and Documentation is a method that can be adapted for use with different ages and cognitive abilities, especially as a visual tool and “trigger” for memory recall e.g. the phrases to assist an individual to remember and stay on track with the desired changes, while at the same time assisting in changing old unwanted/negative/damaging thought patterns to new positive ones.

    I’m loving this learning opportunity

  431. The Narrative metaphor resonates so closely with my experience particularly working with children.

    So often the children I work with are referred as a ‘problem’ child or ‘naughty’ child and have had many many thin descriptions pertained to them over time by people in power, such as their parents, teachers, principles, medical professionals so often that they have internalised these stories of themselves and as such have temporarily lost the ability to recognise that they have other alternative stories and other skills, strengths and resources at their disposal.

    I love the messages depicted in ‘the danger of a single story’.
    Power is such an important factor and I loved the statement ‘power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person but to make it the definitive story’.. this is my complete experience working with children, who are vulnerable and not in power.

    People in positions of power in the child’s life have strengthened their thin descriptions and made thin conclusions from these by giving privilege to stories and events that support their ‘angry’ or ‘naughty’ label which completely disregards the students strengths or value.

    I also love that narrative therapy highlights the person as separate to the condition/disease/diagnosis/issue/event- this in itself is so empowering.
    It is amazing how often I speak with children and they think all they are is ‘angry’ when really they are a person who experiences anger.

    Something that stood out to me is the notion that dominant stories are ever changing and constantly being edited through personal experience of attributing meaning, through other people’s attribution of meaning and also the social and cultural context in which the person exists in. fascinating.

  432. I would describe the narrative metaphor as a means of realizing that we are all experts of our lives. Each of us with a multitude of stories; thin and think in description, dominant and alternative in focus and varying in meaning and levels of interpretation. I have been witness to the changes that occur in ones life through the process of narrative therapy. As alternative and unacknowledged stories come to the surface there is such a natural release in grip to the once dominant, problematic story lines. As our attention becomes guided towards the stories that fulfill our sense of connection and life force we are able to open our eyes to see things from a view point we have not yet stood before. A place of respectful, non- blaming openness to the stories of our fellow brothers and sisters travelling through this human journey, under this great blue sky.

  433. This aspect of NT has validated and helped me understand further the negative impact of certain documents that are used in mental health (in medical contexts) and schools. I have had a number of clients distressed by use of a school’s ongoing record (it exists in the classroom across years) which documents a child’s ‘bad behaviour’. It also helps understand parents distress at documents which describe and label (and emphasize) mental health and behaviour problems for the purposes of acquiring funding. I find it disheartening that these methods and protocols continue.

    I have created posters with children which label and depict through drawings, coping strategies or strengths, that we have identified in sessions together – children enjoy sharing these with parents and peers, and to keep for review in the future (which subsequently is reported to be helpful to them). Also the use of ‘coping cards or power cards” are a kind of document which help children through using words to access their knowledge and coping.

    Overall this material has helped emphasize in my mind the importance of respectful language and communication as adjuncts in therapy with children, as feedback is the norm to caregivers – also re-affirming that documents are so useful – as I often spend lengthy amounts of time writing emails to parents to enhance the work, and sometimes feel this is more useful than the session with the child.

  434. Hello everyone, I am a fourth year social work student and I found Mark Hayward’s discussion on externalising particularly helpful. Utilising charts to map conversations was the most insightful aspect of this discussion. Charts would be a helpful tool for reflection and something that I would like to incorporate into my future practice. I also found the discussion on being responsible with the use of externalising with perpetrators of violence and in situations of abuse useful. Thank-you for this content.

  435. Thank you Chimamanda for introducing me to not only the single stories but how they can be related to the more neglected events in people’s lives then how to build scaffolding and step into some of the less explored territories of lives and be on the lookout for multi stories.
    It was good to be reminded of how easily we can become patronizing, express pity and assume and therefore misunderstand the single story.

  436. I was quite moved by the interview with Khader Rasras. It seems so simple, yet also profound: art therapy with children and renaming objects for their use other than to perpetuate torture or abuse (like rocks – they can not just be thrown at houses, but they can also be used to build houses). This is a good reminder that every detail in narrative therapy counts. Each aspect of the narrative needs to be unpacked and described in order to identify all of the stories that live within it.
    I am also feeling energized by being at a point in my master’s studies where I am recognizing names: David Denborough authored the book we read in my class last semester (Collective Narrative Practice); a study by Dr. Mary Koss was referenced (I was lucky to have her as a teacher at the University of Arizona for my undergraduate degree) – perhaps the old adage “It’s a small world” rings true yet again. I have to say, there is something comforting about narrative therapy being a tightly knit circle.

  437. I really enjoyed the various audio and texts introducing the narrative metaphor – such a wonderful device for conceptualizing the way we talk about our experiences and our *life*, and what we give meaning and attention. I am aware of making links with other therapeutic approaches and concepts, and understandings within psychology. For example, the idea of rumination in depression – when we can’t move away from particular thoughts or a particular set of memories which sit with our depression, this is similar to the notion of a dominant story which is ‘problem-saturated’. I think the narrative metaphor would help clients become less overwhelmed or stuck in a negative self-story – similar to a mindfulness or ACT approach where we try to visualize thoughts as external, and have the idea that we can change our focus to other thoughts and stories about ourselves. This makes NT resonate with me.

  438. Thank you for providing this resource. I am attracted to narrative therapy because it seems to resist trauma that can happen in other forms of therapy. It empowers ourselves and our clients.

  439. The ‘Narratives in the Suitcase’ mode of documentation and expression particularly resonated in the space that I work in, which is a culturally diverse one. What I think is really integral about this practice is that it is exploratory and interactive, and I can see this as an empowering journey for people inquiring all about their relationships, possessions and environments. In the Central Australian Aboriginal context I work in, perhaps a ‘suitcase’ wouldn’t be so relevant, but the concept of using some sort of sculpture, maybe something more culturally appropriate, seems like it would work really well. Creativity is such an important component to this documentation, and many of the Aboriginal people I work with communicate and express themselves through their art. In this way, we could move away from trying to assimilate people into our modes of engagement, and allow them the safe and supportive space to autonomously to explore it themselves. I also think that there are amazing reflective and activating questions that this mode of documentation can support the exploration of, and to connect people to what they have created in their suitcases/sculptures. Some of these include: What is it that you are in pursuit of? What values do you carry along? What are important memories of family? How have you preserved these important things as you have journeyed along? What skills have you used to hang onto these things? and Why is it important to you?

    In the Outsider Witnesses article, I found that the discussion of specific practices to avoid a point of critical reflection in my work as a practitioner. These included; avoiding applause, attending to alternative stories, consciousness around how much I am talking and getting carried away with my own storm, and never to impose values. I have reflected on how sometimes these practices are considered natural, normal and appropriate and actually how they can create a very harmful and damaging experience for the people we work with such as communicating judgmental messages or reaffirming power imbalances where we are “entitled” to judge the actions of the people we work with.

  440. Angeline – Singapore

    I was intrigued by Michael White’s Legacies: particularly how his diverse readings together with his therapeutic co-research and partnership fed his inspiration and innovations. It affirms how valuable it is to read, write, explore, be open to learning & new ideas, feedback from clients and intellectual discourse with other therapists.
    I found Barbara’s article moving: conversations under a tree that reclaimed heartfelt authentic stories, reconnecting with lost loved ones and forgotten memories that made people stronger. And how it changed the ways we listened: searching for people’s abilities and knowledges and skills.
    And finally the conversation between Michael and Sam was an eye-opener and the same time inspiring.
    It speaks to me about deep connection and a more compassionate, enabling approach. One that decentres the therapist and seeks to empower the client and restore dignity.
    I hope to take these lessons forward my art therapy work as the externalising conversations & narrative metaphors can naturally complement and enrich the externalised art image and vice versa.

  441. The Narrative metaphor is so important in the lives of people we work with. I work with children who have experienced trauma and their narratives can be so terrible but we have the power to write a new story for them and that can be powerful

  442. Since beginning this online course I have been constantly thinking of the narrative metaphor, how excited I am to learn more and how thin stories affect my own life. Just this one section has been incredibly enriching. I see the narrative metaphor as enabling one to explore their multifaceted human experience. Not just the positive and/or negative thin stories but rich, all-encompassing experiences, endured and enjoyed by all humans.

    Thus, it enabled me to explore my own self and experience and notice thin stories which frequently arise telling me a certain ‘truth’ I have come to believe. As a practitioner I constantly try and practice from a strengths-based approach I believe narrative therapy is an amazing framework for doing so. Not just for acknowledging someones strengths but supporting people to explore themselves in a new way.

  443. I am commenting from Wisconsin in the United States. Like many others have mentioned, I found myself struck by the reflection that therapists keep well-detailed, organized case notes but it is really the person seeking the therapy who could most benefit from having much of the information. Working in an outpatient setting, I find that many of the people I meet with have very busy lives and often hear that their therapy hours are sort of respites for them. Letter writing and documents of knowledge have the capacity to help them find their way back to this respite when they need it most. Working in a rural community, I was also struck by the collective documentation methods described. I am wondering about adapting this to be used in an outpatient clinic setting. Being a rural community, many people describe feeling isolated from one another due to geographical barriers and stigmas.

    Last– one of the programs that our agency offers is a comprehensive teaming approach– an individual in the program may interact with many helping professionals and supportive others such as their therapist, a preferred teacher at school, a parenting educator, a family member, a psychiatrist, child welfare worker, friends, religious leaders, mentors, etc…. we have even had probation officers be asked to join teams before. I think that this lends itself well to the outsider-witness approach and is something I would like to start incorporating in the teams that I am involved in.

  444. Thank you Tileah for sharing your story and stories!!! I am inspired to share this video with many friends from both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds. I am currently a PHd candidate and really hope to link via email with you!!! Kindest regards, Melanie Murad Baldwin

  445. Hello Kylie and I was fascinated by your Practice Innovation. I would like to get in contact with you. I was wondering if you have worked with children of domestic violence using Narrative Practice?

    Kind regards, Melanie Murad Baldwin.

  446. Dear Vanessa, thank you for sharing your practice innovation. I live in Tennant Creek and work with young Aboriginal children and families in my privileged role as an educator. I will be sharing your story with friends and colleagues in the community. Maybe you get to come to Tennant Creek to share your journey.

    Truly inspirational!

    Melanie Murad Baldwin.

  447. Hi, I am writing from Adelaide, Australia. I particularly, enjoyed the case study example, by Mark Hayward. I think it clearly demonstrated how externalising can be used in a counselling conversation.I think the vast amount of problems can be externalised but Mark Hayward also highlighted where he set his limits for externalising problems in relation to violence and abuse. I think the difference it makes is it allows the person with the problem to be an active participant and an expert on how to resolve their own problem rather than a passive participant. It allows more insights to be gained on the problem this way and to achieve greater depth in the conversation.I think it also results in more solutions which are generated by the individual with the problem which in turn means they are more likely to act upon as you have their buy in.

  448. I’m a new social worker, having just earned my MSW last May, and I work in a mental health hospital within the California prison system providing group and individual therapy to incarcerated men. I was drawn to Narrative Therapy after taking a class in Solution Focused Brief Therapy where the concept of externalizing was introduced.

    My understanding from this first chapter is that the Narrative Metaphor is a way for people to reflect on the paths they have taken to understand who they are and examine whether conclusions reached via these paths are warranted. It seems to me that narrative therapy seeks to encourage people to think outside of well-worn paths that lead to thin conclusions that don’t serve them, and instead become curious about the neglected paths that paint a more detailed and complex picture, which honors both the impact of suffering on our experiences of life as well as the resilience we all carry inside us.

    Thinking about stories in this way is helpful in my own development as a social worker, as it helps me to notice when I am reaching thin conclusions that disrupt my ability to progress (such as self-doubt influenced by my new-ness to the profession). This also helps me in my work with clients who are routinely seen as their problems in a system that is meant to reinforce that thin conclusion over and over again.

    I am incredibly grateful that this course is available online and at no cost! Thank you so much for this opportunity. I am excited for what’s to come!

  449. Thanks Vanessa! As a non-Indigenous counsellor who sometimes works with Aboriginal young people in a youth mental health service, I am always looking for ways to offset the inevitable centring of my privilege and power in our conversations.

    Your video is one I will return to time and again as a strong inspiring reminder that while Decentred Practice describes a Narrative method, decentred practise is a verb and something that I need to actively do in every Narrative conversation I enter into.

    I really loved hearing about your work and I look forward very much to hearing more from you! When will you be making the next video? ☺

  450. Thank you for sharing this beautiful practice innovation, Vanessa. I really appreciate the care and careful consideration you encourage among non-Indigenous practitioners in not appropriating Aboriginal art symbology, instead urging identification of resonant symbols for individuals they are working with.

    Curiosity is piqued in wondering what ‘My Meeting Place’ might have evoked for Kiara, and the many others whom we, as Aboriginal practitioners, walk alongside. I’m really looking forward to trying out your ideas in practice, and thank you for your very practical ideas for delivery.

    Kylie Dowse

  451. Hi Vanessa I have been waiting for this to come through. It has further enlightened me as to how art can be used in narrative and through the Tree of Life. Cultural space, safety and culturally respectful considerations keep coming through. What a beautiful respectful way of supporting Kiarra to work through the dominant story of her not knowing much about her culture and having her to tear back the layers which have kept her in this space rather than her preferred story. Your work with her is very respectful, caring way of acknowledging her experience. I can see you having lots of conversations in this way with people like Kiarra going away with new insider knowledge of themselves. The use of artwork and narrative ways of creating space for the conversation make this journey possible for anyone that we work with.

  452. There is much to be said about the passion and energy Michael White and David Epston committed to this work. It seems obvious that they loved what they do and loved the families they worked, both of which I believe are recipes for success. What a generous contribution to the field of family therapy they provided. During the interview with David Denborough, Michael White stated “Every family I meet with is different and comes up with unique ideas to address their problems, many of which I find that I could never have predicted, nor imagined.” This statement is powerful in that an experience therapist such Michael White would not allow some of the common stories that families experience mar his insight to the uniqueness of each family and each story. This statement I want to carry with me, to allow curiosity to lead me to the next question. To never think I know what the other person is thinking but to keep listening to the multiple stories people hold.
    I liked the article Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger by Barb Wingard and the work she did with grief. This provides yet another insight to how we can meet and sit with people. She is so humble and I can see how this can allow her patients to feel comfortable in sharing their stories. I am going to explore in debt how I can improve how I support people olong their grief journey.
    I feel this opens the door to so many good and new ideas for me to explore… I look forward to learning more.

  453. I´m studying in the year long program at the Evanston Family Therapy Center and I will like to suscribe to this journal.

  454. What a powerful thing shame is! I wonder if anybody can claim to be unaffected by it. Yet through this practice it seems to be tamed quite considerably, comes out of hiding, suns itself on the rocks and becomes willing to engage in civilized discussion, is acknowledged and loses its power.

  455. Upon reflection, Maggie Carey and Shona Russell’s article was a particularly insightful resource about externalising because it really spoke to the conscious and unconscious space that creates, influences, forms and establishes experiences in our lives. I really connected to their encouragement not to judge the externalising process, but to be curious about it: to dissect it, to learn about it’s history and place it in a context and culture, and accepting the changes and evolution of what is being externalised. Pertinent to this process is that our thoughts and our stories do not manifest abstractly, rather, there is a history to everything and once we can externalise and see it form as “our story” we can begin to challenge it and critically reflect on its relevance.

    I practice Social Work in Central Australia and I think that post-colonial trauma can be externalised in this context. And to clarify, I don’t mean externalising it in a way that devalues and diminishes the experience of that trauma, or negates responsibility and accountability that we all must take on in relation to this trauma, but to locate it in a bigger sphere of systemic violence and oppression is important. On the one hand, this effect can produce a level of disillusionment and helplessness, but I think it can also be externalised in a way that can promote solidarity, resistance, advocacy and resilience.

  456. As I have not used narrative therapy practices at this point it is difficult for me to reflect on times when I have done so. I am eager to get started and have enrolled for the online course in externalizing conversations after witch I will do re-membering conversations. I am planning to use narrative documentation as part of a project I will shortly be beginning with a group of people who wish to produce a play about lived experience of mental illness. The aim is to show the play to interested groups and in schools to help reduce the stigma attached to mental illness. My plan is to begin the process of writing the play by asking people in the group to draw a time line of significant happenings for them in their experience of mental illness and then introduce this to the group. I will then invite the group to identify common themes and the strengths people used to help them through difficult times. From this we will look at the story we wish to tell.

  457. What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?
    As I work with refugees, I found Glynis Clacherty and The Suitcase Project particularly relevant to my practice. Due to language barriers – I find that art and play therapy are versions of documentation or expressive mediums that resonate with these individuals. Through this creative expression, they are able to tell their stories, acknowledge trauma and work toward a sense of safety, meaning and connection.

    As all of the clients I see are from refugee backgrounds and have made long and arduous journeys to a foreign land, I feel that using the suitcase metaphor may be empowering in acknowledging their resilience, identity and sacrifices.

  458. I really enjoyed reading about ‘Sugar’. I think having a physical representation can really help to externalise and being able to engage with ‘Sugar’ by asking questions was extremely helpful. Externalising has so many therapeutic benefits and can enable a person to examine a difficulty and problem solve more effectively when the problem is distanced somewhat from themselves.

  459. How wonderful it is to read everyone’s perspectives on the narrative metaphor – so rich and diverse. For me, the narrative metaphor means an opportunity to understand something that can be difficult to interpret or make sense of.

    Thinking about stories in this way offers a lens through which to uncover the meaning behind human experience and validate the varied conscious connections that intersect during lives. I think that it is a way in which empowerment can be fostered and strengths can be remembered – allowing the individual scope for choice and control in their life. In this process, unique to each of us, the self is freed of a particular story or narrative which presents the opportunity for liberation, growth and transformation.

  460. I have always been a story teller myself and in my work I learn about people through the telling of their story. I realised through this unit on the Narrative Metaphor how much I already use story telling in the work that I do. I really enjoyed learning about the thin story and the importance of looking for more than just the dominant story, that there is a rich tapestry of stories that describe our lives. I look forward to hearing many more stories from people I work with and assisting them to find the rich story that is their life.

  461. Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia.

    To me critical thinking means being constantly reflective. Not just in my practice but in my life. Eg. if I feel confronted by something or someone I dig deep and question why I felt confronted – what assumptions were challenged – what can I learn from the person or situation – what can I do differently or what adjustments do I need to make to thinking and behaviors?

    I will do some further reading and thinking on the ideas and topics touched on here, especially critical thinking and how I use it in my life and in my practice. Perhaps the questions to be considered are: ‘Do I use it in my practice in a way that fully supports my clients journey and my own?’ and ‘How can I strengthen my critical thinking to do that?’ The answers to both these questions could offer opportunities to make changes that could benefit both my clients and myself.

    I went to a course which was being offered at the Psychosynthesis Foundation in London some years ago. In large letters at the top of the whiteboard for each session were the words: ‘THIS IS NOT THE TRUTH’
    to remind us that nothing is fixed or immutable and everything can be questioned or challenged.

    I am a Quaker and we have a little book of Advices & Queries which invites us to constantly examine where we are in our lives and how we live them. One of the Queries ends with the advice to ‘Hold that you may be mistaken’ about what we think and any opinions that we have.

    Both these short sayings constantly encourage me to appraise and re-appraise both what I am offered and what I offer in living my life every day.

  462. Thank you for this Dulwich Centre. My name is Melanie I’m a Social Worker writing from the Gold Coast, Queensland, Aus. My previous role was working within an Emergency Department Hospital in NSW. This content helped me to reflect on what I found challenging when working within a health setting. I would often find patients would be defined by their illness or Mental Illness and this alone, would be their common story while being treated. Although it is true that these diagnosis need to be brought to the forefront in order for them to receive appropriate medical care, many other aspects of the person would be overlooked. Acknowledging and validating these other ‘stories’ would often effect a patients mood, recovery time and discharge plan in a positive way. It’s difficult to sometimes see a ‘whole’ person in an environment such as a hospital however if we try to, the health outcomes can often be greater.

  463. I am from Metford NSW Australia. The narrative metaphor is a method of identifying and externalise a story and emotions connected to it. I think of a pipeline that runs from a big dam into different pipes. When a client start their story, it is like a dripping tap. It is a therapist job to encourage a client to open that tap to allow a thicker stream of “story” to pour out.

    What might thinking about stories in this way make possible for you?
    As a therapist it allows me to understand where the client is coming from better. To know what life event have influenced the client and the original single strand (dripping tap) story.

  464. I have worked collaboratively with people in the field of personal development. I have facilitated workshops which offer people opportunities to tell their stories and explore possibilities in making change to those stories. Within the context of the workshop sometimes suggestions are offered but always on the understanding that they do not have to be accepted, or can be adapted by the participants to make them more relevant and useful for them, or simply used to spark ideas to explore with the participants alternative ideas they may already be contemplating. Collaboration was made possible by discussion prior to the workshops to talk about what they were seeking from the workshops and inviting them to join the workshops from the position of being the experts in their own lives and simply seeking new knowledge to develop a future of their own choosing.

    What makes it hard to enter into these practices is that I must always be aware of my own agendas – both those I can easily identify and acknowledge and more particularly those which are hidden because they are embedded on a deeper level and not yet identified or acknowledged.

    Working collaboratively does fit for me. A permanent step which I continue to take and retake is to develop increased awareness of my own issues so that I can deal with them in ways that support me, and allow me to set them aside when working with clients and participants so that I can focus wholly on their stories in ways that allow them to choose their own goals and ways forward.

  465. Alice Springs in Northern Territory Australia.

    I especially liked reading about Michael White and David Epston coming together and bouncing off each other to create new ways of being and approaches to therapy. It sounds very exciting and inspirational. The kind of relationship that invites creativity and encourages exploration.

    I also enjoyed reading Auntie Barbara Winguard’s description of working with the man who was grieving sitting on the earth.

    Both these stories stand out for me because they speak of people being true to themselves and sharing themselves with those they are working with.

    What I would like to take with me into my future practice from these stories is the courage to be wholly in my own skin while I walk with people on their own unique journeys.

  466. I am logging in from from Manitoba,Canada.
    I really like the writing notes in form of letters. I am not sure I could intergrade into my current practice as the “official document” but am interested in learning how the individuals I work would respond to this.
    I offer Dignity Therapy to patients I work with during the end of life. Dignity therapy involves an interview about life history, and then turning this into a legacy document for patients to gift to their loved ones at the end of life. this story telling helps patients to define and refine what their ultimate story is. In my experience this has been a very rewarding process for both the dying patient the loved ones.

  467. I live in Alice Springs in Northern Territory Australia.

    I think the thing I was most inspired by was the number and differing types of projects across the world. – The universal application of this approach (in widely differing places with the peoples of many cultures and contexts) and the richness of the resulting outcomes. – How individuals and communities grew and thrived from engaging in them.

    It is the universality of Collective Narrative Practice which sparks my enthusiasm and I will think about where these ideas can be put into practice in the multicultural community in which I live. – A way that might bring together a diverse group which can create a project to promote inter-racial engagement and break down the barriers between different racial groups and foster acceptance of all.

    I am about to start a drama project working with a very mixed group of people who are wanting to create a play that will give people an understanding of what it means to live with mental illness and through this medium help to reduce the stigma of mental illness. Collective Narrative Practice could be a good way to create the story line for the play.

  468. Dear Linda
    Catching up with last year’s videos, I’m so glad I started with your inspiring account of the various projects you have been involved in with children and families facing death. A few things that particularly struck me: 1) Your careful honoring of participants’ stories of distress and difficulty – not rushing things, but taking the time to allow alternative stories to emerge. 2)The rich creativity that you document and which those projects allowed to flourish shows a different way of bringing out alternative stories. 3) the care with which you worked with language and translation. All of these are lessons we could learn from here in South Africa. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much for your comments Ray. I appreciate your words and they encourage me to continue this work. I love the chance to create with these children and with their parents and appreciate the chance to share these ideas with others. Some of the ideas I learned in South Africa when I went to a conference there, the the learning and the sharing goes round and round. Sincerely, Linda

  469. I am sharing from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia.

    In grief work documentation is often used in the form of Memory Books are created by the person who is grieving to to tell the story of the person they have lose; in the form of programs that are used to record a ritual the grieving person has created to honor the person they have lost (to create closure to the experience of having that person in their lives); and also in the form of letters addressed the the person they have lost describing how they are feeling and telling the person who has died how the person writing the letter is adapting to life without them.

    Outsider witnessing could be used to offer the grieving person an opportunity to tell the story of the person they have lost and have their grief witnessed, acknowledged and honored.

  470. Chris thank you for sharing your inspiring work with this group. I found it very interesting and moving….thanks again. Emer

  471. I live and work in Alice Springs in Northern Territory of Australia.

    I was particularly drawn to the cartoon video of the Black Dog. This visual display of someones experience of externalizing and exploring depression, together with the commentary, clearly demonstrated how powerful this approach can be.

    I also enjoyed the talk given by Mark explaining how he had worked with Joey in a way that allowed Joey to define and own his bullying behaviors without shame or blame.

    I believe that externalizing could be used in grief counseling to encourage people to explore, describe and experience their grief in a way that allows them to accept the death of the person they have lost, express their pain, and ultimately create a new relationship to the dead person which can assist them in adjusting to life without that person.

    This might prove a particularly effective approach when grief process is prolonged rather than adaptive.

  472. My name is Tracy, and I reside in South Florida, USA. Narrative Metaphor has been an ongoing fascination of mine, that I didn’t recognize as I grew in my profession. I kept hearing others comment that I always focused on someone’s story and was encouraged to pursue narrative Therapy. I was particularly drawn to the concept of identifying thin conclusions or rather the danger of thin conclusions, and the ability to develop thick and rich stories that better reflect the overarching journey of life. I am currently a therapist at an addictions facility, and have seen firsthand the danger of focusing and believing the negative thin conclusion placed upon many ‘addicts’, ‘junkies’, ‘down and out’ clients who have lost the ability to expand their story or cannot remember other parts of their story that can inspire, teach and develop growth.
    I was thrilled to find this course, and am looking forward to gaining a better understanding of narrative therapy as well as how to honor people by assisting them in recognizing the fullness and richness of their story in a larger context.

  473. Looking forward to keeping up with this exciting journal

  474. I would describe narrative therapy as a way of looking at individuals through their stories. We all carry stories and how we relate to those stories can shape who we are. Sometimes individuals resinate with single stories or thin stories rather than opening to the multi-storied narrative on one’s life. Narrative therapy provides a framework in which we can explore and become curious about the stories individual resinate with and maybe investigate how to include the whole story or multi-storied factors of the individual. I love the TED talk by Chimamanda Adichie . It’s it funny how we so often make assumptions about cultures when there are so many facades that remain unexplored. Without this awareness we risk missing out on the richness of the multi-stories of people’s lives.

    Thinking about stories in this way will help me develop a better understanding of the whole person. I hope to develop awareness of how I listen to stories and learn to discern how the thin stories impact our lives. I hope to develop a better understanding on how to be curious enough to help individuals seek out the stories that have been suppressed. I look forward to what else I will learn through this course.

  475. I have tried utilising Influential-Decentred approaches, however always find myself drawn back to Centred approaches. You can see the difference when it is Decentred, however I am usually working in a brief therapy setting where, because of funding pressures and care plan timelines, you feel more rushed to achieve where you need to go.

    I find it a lot easier to work on a decentred approach with children and teenagers than with adults, as they haven’t come in to see you with the knowledge that you are a “professional” and are looking for directed answers.

    It is something that I am continuing to work on, and with certain clients I can see it being more difficult but worthwhile.

  476. Although all the articles were fantastic, and gave inspiration to many future quotes and variance in my practice, I have found that reading through the discussion board has been the greatest teachers for me. All the people who are sharing how the history of this practice has an effect on them and their thinking, their interpretations, their own experiences, has been the greatest teacher on this one.

    For this, I say thank you to everyone who has posted and added insight. Your words are invaluable.

  477. For me, I think that I will need to think about this particular part of Narrative Therapy a lot more. In my practice, I have previously been hesitant to write/co-write and sign documents with the client. Documents of achievement or knowledge frighten me a little, particularly when holding in mind if notes are legally requested. In those cases we are presented with the difficulty that a signed document by us as clinicians may hold implications in court (e.g. “William is a good father and loves his children” being used in family court as evidence to retrieve children from Child Safety). As I said, it is something that I need to think more on before I start using in session.

    In regards to the outsider-witness, I believe that it will be useful later in therapy, but historically, I have tried to encourage persons in session to approach those they wanted to share the information with on their own volition and share the information themselves and then reflect back in session on how they went. In this way I hope to avoid clinician dependence and build the clients independence and pride, however I can see how that may be a more harsh and hard process compared to the outsider-witness pathway. The exception to this is parents attending sessions with children as, in this case, the parent is the main attachment that has the power to help facilitate the flow of information.

    As I have said, I will have to think more on this lesson and whether it will fit with how I can provide my interventions. It may be that I can get the client to self generate and sign these documents themselves and use me as a sounding board and to use me as an audience to the experience. A very interesting concept though.

  478. Hello everyone,

    I guess the resource that stands out for me is the 4 step process for statement of position. I have worked with externalising before in regards to Acceptance Commitment Therapy, however, it has not got the same emphasis on position, as we always assumed that it was a negative position on the difficulty or story.However,I can see how this aspect can increase client control on the topic and shift the power away from the therapist and into the clients hands.

    I have used techniques in externalising across multiple settings, from diabetes management and lifestyle change through to panic disorder or victims of crime. I find the process to be brilliant at depersonalising the difficult experiences, however I also like to use it in regards to some positive feelings, such as when a father is involved wholly with his children, or someone with depression is able to get on top of their distress. The reason for this isn’t to decrease the effect of the moment but to build recognition for these moments and have them further develop the clients story of success.

    In essence, by using externalising techniques, the clients are able to better understand their own journey and understand that they may not be “angry” but they are experiencing anger and by depersonalising it, they have better recognition for it and more likely to treat it.

  479. Hello everyone, I’m Myles and I live and work as a clinician in rural QLD, AUS.

    I found this lesson, the narrative metaphor, probably the most eye opening information around therapy (and personal experiences) that I have come across in my practice thus far. Although a simple concept, it is amazing how often we oversight it, particularly the “one story” process, whether we are stereotyping or delivering brief intervention therapy for services. It is very easy for us to say as people and clinicians “Ah… there is the problem, this is what has caused it, let me structure my thinking around that one precise story”.

    The narrative metaphor itself is a beautiful way to describe someones life, much as some of the best books in the world have multiple characters, story-lines which all tie together in a wonderful tapestry to provide character development and create the holistic story that we can appreciate and understand. To read one such book from a single point of view, or to read a chapter out of context, so to speak, would cause the reader to make a judgement, positive or negative, which may not represent the book appropriately. In such a way, it is with people, we can judge on simple stories or explore them more with the person to understand their character and difficulties with them.

    In this way, by thinking about stories which create people, I hope to become a better clinician by better understanding the client journey and providing better intervention around it. I think the concept of shifting the perception of “victim of trauma” to a “story of survival” to be a useful one and may help with attribution change during therapy.

    I am looking forward to learning more about the core concepts of Narrative therapy and applying them in my practice.

    • Myles,

      Reading your paragraph when you stated, “describe someones life, much as some of the best books in the world have multiple characters, story-lines which all tie together in a wonderful tapestry to provide character development and create the holistic story that we can appreciate and understand.” That was wonderful, and I realized that I have always enjoyed reading and subsequently I enjoy the stories of people’s lives in much the same way, and recognize how that impacts how I work with clients.

  480. Excuse me while I take a moment to applaud this video without restraint! (I know, I know. You’ve gotta be careful with applause.)

    Isn’t it a thing of beauty when violence is met with an informed but non-violent response? Yes indeed!

    • Thanks so much for your encouragement. Sarah and other women I’ve met with similar responses to violence inspire me.

  481. Always usefully practiced based

  482. I found the presentation by Mark Hayward and attached material particularly useful to help guide externalising conversations beyond externalising the problem to helping the person consider their context, values and weave alternative storylines.
    Seeing the black dog video again also powerfully highlighted the value of externalising.

    I feel that as Social/Community Workers we are trained to consider and naturally consider people in the context of their culture and history and much larger systems, so we naturally externalise peoples problems. However, this gives me the tools and language to assist people to externalise problems for themselves and to use this as a means of reclaiming their lives.

    Problems that I may assist people to externalise in my context might include mental health, parenting struggles, alcohol use, violence and self-esteem issues. I feel that in externalising these things, people are given an increased sense of self-worth and empowerment, and confidence to move forward with their lives.

  483. Therapy is my second career; my first is as a technical writer so the ideas of language and meaning being so interconnected resonates strongly with me. I am drawn to the concept that we identify so strongly with our dominant story that we lose sight of the other stories of our lives and even more importantly identifying the possibilities of other deeply buried stories and desires. This approach reminds me constantly that people are rich, complex human beings and that to simplify ourselves based on what we currently know or think we see is limiting and a disservice to them and to myself. I love that this approach requires us to always challenge our biases and the way they limit us.

    I am just starting out and so am in the process of finding my voice as a therapist. Thank you for this introduction, and I am looking forward to understanding how to hold these creative conversations with people.

  484. Hi Kylie,

    Great to watch your video, I was hanging on to every word and took a lot of notes seeing that this is the field I work in (I’ll send you an email too). Alan Jenkins’ discussions around shame is so crucial to this kind of work. I liked the metaphor of the ‘support group’ in order to counter the degrading of shame, which I thought nicely addresses the dominant discourses around assigning others (this time a personified idea) a spot on a social hierarchy. I wonder, have you since maintained this metaphor in the group around other ideas. I can imagine you could provide a support group to’ownership’ or ‘self-centredness’ also and it would start to become part of their new language. What do you think? For example, “What did you do differently this week Jack that you’re proud of?” …. “I provided ‘ownership’ a support group before I opened my mouth” … “How did you do that etc?”

    I never thought of externalising shame Kylie, so thank you for that.

  485. Most of the resources in this chapter were extremely useful in furthering the understanding of externalisation
    In my work setting these ideas are especially helpful with clients who have internalised negative attitudes about themselves. it is also helpful to those who have internalised oppressive social structures and identities.

  486. All of the resources are useful. I particularly appreciated the “Statement of Position Map 1” because it is a sensible, practical, ‘simple’, ‘working tool’ to keep on track with observations notations, conversational progress and success level, especially where a person’s “attention” skills and thought congruence are challenged. Besides the person asking the question surely would be challenged to remember everything that transpires in a session LOL 🙂
    Working with individuals from ages ranging from young children-adult in culturally diverse contexts provides for a vast range of problems and management of these.I loved the “Black Dog” as a metaphor for externalisation of the problem especially in relation to those with language difficulties.
    What difference might this make?
    I love the way this provides a safe place/space to explore difficult, painful and or scary issues for the individual concerned.

  487. Hi, I am writing from Adelaide, Australia.
    I would describe the narrative metaphor as how we perceive ourselves through our experiences and influences which has the potential to
    be continually redefined.

    I think what thinking about stories in this way makes possible for me is the exciting realisation that through this approach I can assist others and myself to re-evaluate the external influences that effect their life and my own which can be life-changing.

  488. I found the video of Mark Hayward is really useful with the transcript of Joey. It make me understand the externalizing much better and very practical as well.
    After studied this chapter, I have better knowledge that externalizing is just a start of narrative therapy and it is different with other theories. It is going to enrich the alternative stories and making people to externalize the problem from people. This golden rule “The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem” is kept in my memory now.

  489. I live in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia.

    It seems to me that the best examples of narrative metaphor are those given given by Elan in the therapy interview where he describes his extreme guilt first as a dark spirit and later as a funny cartoon character as he feels the weight of the dark spirit lifting. From this I would describe the narrative metaphor as: a way in which an individual can express their personal relationship and understanding of an experience they are having in a way that describes or conveys to another their own unique perspective of that experience.

    Thinking about stories in this way would assist me in being able to empathize more fully with the people I am working with as a counselor, because I will be able to more readily accept, acknowledge and come to an understanding of each persons sense of what has happened (or is happening) for them.

  490. Hi , My name is Maya and I am a post graduate social work student from India. My specialisation is in the area of mental health. Most of my work is centred around children in institutions and experiences of trauma. Mental health as a field , especially child and adolescent mental health is , still dominated by deficit oriented approaches. Mental health services for children focus to a large degree on behavioural regulation. i was drawn to the idea of the therapeutic space as a vehicle for social change and i feel narrative approaches have done a good job in blending the perspectives.
    What i would like to take back from the narrative metaphor is
    – a strengths based approach to solving problems
    – and looking at a person as a part of the wider context and addressing wider questions of power and dominant discourses.
    – viewing the client as an expert in their own lives.
    This is especially important while addressing experiences of trauma and violence.

  491. I’m exploring more about narrative therapy from the United States, and more specifically from Wisconsin where I work in a rural community which is highly polarized in terms of socio-economic situations for residents. There is a small extremely wealthy population of farm and company owners as well as retired individuals who chose to retire to very high-valued lake properties and then a very large population of working families. I work as a mental health/ substance abuse therapist in a public mental health system. Professionally, I am highly involved with individuals who have substance abuse or criminal justice involvement. Personally, I am very interested in mind-body work and helping people to find alternative expressions of their stories through the way they integrate their mind and their body.

    In response to the reflection questions, I think that one of the things that is the most important for me about the narrative metaphor is that it encourages and gives permission for people to look past the narratives that cause them to feel “stuck”. So many of the individuals I have the opportunity to serve report feeling “stuck” and report that the problems that they describe are multi-generational (and in fact staff at my work who have been around much longer than myself frequently attest to this), and being able to identify those narratives as just one strand of a larger story can be utterly transformative. I am interested in integrating these techniques with mind-body practices as I believe that these frequently help people to break out of the “thin narratives” that are discussed here.

  492. This lesson confirmed my understanding of the cross-cultural and cross-life situational nature of understanding and meaning. I wonder if things work best when the therapist are positioned in a more homogeneous setting where similar power structures on shared and understood? If you are not able to do this, you need to be very self-aware of the power structures.

  493. I think I often enter into collaborations with an end in mind and this is counter-productive to the collaboration process. Trying to give advice based on my own experience makes it hard to enter into collaborative practice. Steps I can take include setting up these discussions in safe, relaxed environments, using my own experience to act more in a peer support rather than an advisory role, and practicing active listening to ask more questions that make people aware of the skills and knowledge they have to solve their own problems.

  494. A major idea I took from these stories is about the patient’s agency in the therapy relationship. Denborough mentions Michael White’s contribution of taking a ‘de-centred but influential position as a therapist’ where the patient held a key role in their own therapy and re-storying, as well as sharing this with others, making them not only patient but quasi-therapist in a generative way. The concept of co-research described by Epston adds to this notion of the patient having agency in their own re-storying of their lives. While the therapist is asking questions, the patient as co-researcher is discovering and developing their own knowledge. Aunty Barbara reinforces this by showing how telling stories makes people stronger, and finally Michael’s recount of his conversation with Sam shows how to encourage this co-contribution by valuing the skills and wisdom of the patient. I think these stood out for me because this is a path that I have had to take myself. I would like to take this theme of agency into future practice to empower people to be agents in their own growth and healing.

  495. Some of the things that resonated with me were, regardless of the form documentation takes, to ensure ‘recognition’ ie. using language that represents the unique voice of the participant, but also translate the spoken word so it is ‘perusable’. The suitcase metaphor was extremely powerful and set me to think about other creative metaphors for practice. The idea of sharing these documents resonates with my work in therapeutic life writing – making stories available for others to gain benefit, and the concept of allowing others to add to the document would make for an excellent group exercise to thicken the life stories of others.
    The materials on outsider-witness practices were very thought-provoking and allowed me to consider how involving outsider-witnesses in the life writing process may lead to a deeper exploration and recording of alternative life stories. Narrative therapy and life writing align as both are working with stories and both ultimately have an audience.

  496. The Commonly Asked Questions provided a great background to the meaning of externalising, based on how problems are internalised. Placing space between the person and the problem I understood already, but the idea of externalising ‘good’ as well as ‘bad’ experiences/traits added to my understanding.
    The Maps of Narrative Practice video provided a practical example of how to apply these concepts and I found myself applying this to my own personal situation as I worked through it.
    In my context, I saw how I could externalise attachment issues, and rather than being labelled a ‘bad’ mother, partner and daughter, I could use this distance to explore the effects of the past and how I reached this identity under the influence of others’ ideas and beliefs.
    The difference this might make is that I am able to explore alternate definitions of mothering and partnering that allow me to retain a sense of separate ‘self’ which may not be ‘bad’ after all.

  497. Hi, I’m Leanne from Brisbane, Australia and I am doing practice-led PhD research into therapeutic writing. I am interested in using narrative therapy as a framework for my research/writing.
    I see the narrative metaphor as representing people’s lives as a story. As such, the story can be changed. Thinking about stories in this way allows people to re-story their lives, to move away from the dominant ‘thin’ story they have told themselves, or have been told, and have indoctrinated as their view of identity.

    • Hi Leanne, your research sounds really interesting to me. Is there a way I can follow you or read your findings when you’re finished?

  498. So I’m exploring the benefits of narrative therapy for a post grad course I’m studying at Cambridge University in the UK in Child And Adolescent Psychotherapeutic Counselling. I work with adolescents who have cancer and I’m fascinated by ways in which we can support individuals to prevent their cancer identity becoming their dominant story. Also the impact that is made in relation to positive survivorship when that is the case.Would love to hear from anyone else working in the field of TYA/AYA cancer

  499. These ‘Talking about Australia/Invasion/Survival Day’ readings and replies have been sitting with me this past week and I have read with both; appreciation and multi threaded pondering – in regards to;
    The histories, familiar and new, as well as the thoughtful responses of others that I felt both a kinship with and a humility from. I have been very moved by the shared reflections. Thank you to all.

    I do not have a history of celebrating the 26th January with nationalistic pride, inclusion and joy. As it is a date that marks a historical context of murder and dispossession of Aboriginal people, for me and to many many Australians – to celebrate this is clearly a shameful and sorrowful event.

    I was born in Vietnam and with gratitude I possess Australian citizenship and consider Australia to be my childhood home. However my relationship with Australia is a long standing ambivalent affair and I recon i am not alone in saying that the role that Nationalism plays on an identity is such a tricky biscuit!

    I feel heartened and drawn to the meaning and poignancy of survival day celebrations. As I read about these days, and the testimonies Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people who make this happen – I felt such pride and a connection with the community of people who are committed to acknowledge the existence of Australia’s colonial legacy and meaningfully celebrate the survival histories of Aboriginal people/communities. If Survival Day were a public holiday in Australia, I can only imagine the stories of restoration this would create. It would be with quiet joy, to shield my eyes from the sun and look upon the Aboriginal Flag, perhaps in the company of other flags flying in solidarity triumph on on such a day.

    I have loved ones whom enjoy celebrating the public holiday in a meaningful and connecting way. I am currently not in Australia, and was warmly wished a ‘Happy Australia Day’ from well meaning friends from other countries. Both of these experiences highlighted to me the tension that this event carries and the importance of thoughtful conversations such as this – in order to stand with integrity. I have not always been able to be gracious in these interactions, and there are times when confusion, outrage or sadness brings silence. And I do not that either acts are as constructive as they possibly could be.

    Which is why I am very grateful, for the opportunity to share in the questioning of this complex, consequential and evocative event. It is very helpful to have this resource and it is beautiful to me to feel joined to deconstruct and revise this issue with Aboriginal and non Aboriginal Australians, Australians with immigration histories and people who live in a country where this issue is at the heart of their concern as well.

    This conversation has lead me to think about National Day Celebrations world wide. These commemorations come about almost always at the detriment of non-dominant and/or other communities’ lives and histories. A totalising national day of rejoicing can feel to many to be a horrifying disregard for unspeakable atrocities, and thus by its annual celebration enacts further injustice.

    Encouraged by the conversation here – I have had some interesting and inspiring chats with people from South East Asia, North America and the Middle East about how people create alternative days and ways of acknowledging complex significant historical events in an inclusive and lamentful tradition. There are unique differences between political and social cultures, but I feel lightened that in this perplexing, polarising and weighty issue that perhaps there is a path..unmarked and unformed as it is, that is paving a new way, inviting the sharing of renewed information and innovative creation towards a future time of inclusive honouring to be proud of.

  500. I am exploring more about narrative therapy from the Riverland, South Australia.

    The resources included in this first chapter have strengthened and added much depth to my understanding of narrative therapy.

    I see the narrative metaphor as the therapist walking alongside others to lead them to see themselves in a range of new ways, to see strengths and stories they have never noticed. This will help people to have positive self image, it will empower and build confidence, it strengthen people to continue to resist oppression and live happier, fuller lives despite the problems/barriers they might face or continue to face.

  501. Hello, my name is Nicola, and I’m from Brisbane, Australia, studying counselling.

    How would you describe the narrative metaphor?
    I found the dot animation very helpful, that there are many events that occur in our lives, and focusing on one theme and using events that only support that theme can lead to a very limited way of thinking about yourself or others. It reminds me of Sean Covey’s book the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, and he talked about how paradigms are the way we see ourselves and the world, and if you look for events to support a paradigm or mindset, you’ll find them. I love that narrative therapy brings possibility and adds richness to the stories we tell about ourselves and others.

    What might thinking about stories in this way make possible for you?
    Thinking about stories in this way means that I can help clients to break out of limited stories or themes that define them in negative or unhelpful ways, and look at other ideas and stories in their lives, ways they can identify things about themselves that are more helpful or beneficial.

  502. As I reflect on written documents that I have created with clients I recall a report I wrote for a client (who had suffered hideous childhood trauma) to the institution responsible for his care at the time,. When I showed it to him for his approval before I sent it he wept and said that it was so validating to have someone understand that he had suffered, that I really got what he was telling me and this showed him. I feel I had forgotten the power of this document and Hugh Fox’s article has reminded me, I am grateful.

  503. Thank you for sharing the history of Australia’s National Day. It was indeed an invasion day, filled with slaughter, subjugation and sadness for many souls.

    This struck me a lot and I quickly visited websites about China’s National Day on 1 October. I did not have much feeling toward the day except that it is a public holiday. The forming of Central People’s Government and the victory of Mao Zedong also meant the death of many people in the Civil War – nothing to be happy about!

    Today, 1 October means demonstration – a way for people to voice out our opinions, even though the Government may not want to hear about them. It’s still a day for voices.

    I do wish we all live in peace and learn to respect others and honouring the history of different nations.

  504. Hi. I’m a Psychologist in private practice. I have a part-time contract to provide services to an Aboriginal service. I also see a lot of older adults. I believe that Narrative Therapy offers a lot to these groups. My first impression of the readings was pleasure at how congruent the values and methods of Narrative practice are to my own. I like that the environmental context is important and that the approach allows for appreciation of people’s survival skills and knowledge.
    I would describe the Narrative Metaphor as a structure for envisaging a person’s view of the world which provides me with a starting point for understanding their story and ways of assisting them to develop, strengthen and enrich alternative stories. it is a respectful approach which acknowledges context and the possibility of change.
    I think it will provide a framework for my curiosity towards alternative ways of supporting and helping people identify alternative, less problematic ways of being in the world.

  505. The subject of Story-Telling Rights is a very important one. It helps people to see themselves as survivors who can make valuable contributions to others. I am interested to know more about it. I particularly liked the framework for receiving and documenting testimonies of trauma. It is a useful and respectful framework.

  506. The approach highlighted for me in a more structured way the importance of the story. I always have appreciated stories in my personal and professional life. The concept of narratives unwraps opportunities for the therapist and for individuals and communities to experience new dimensions and meanings for life events and stories.
    I found narrative therapy to an empowering strategy for people and gives them the chance to re-tell their stories and to learn ways to transfer the knowledge and skills they have to future life situations. People within the context of the concept of narrative therapy are the experts of their lives and have the right to re-claim their stories and to share with others. I particularly appreciate the notion of healing associated with the concept of justice.

  507. WOW! I am a social work student from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, and I was directed to this website and course by one of my instructors.

    After finishing this first section, I am extremely impressed with the model for helping myself and others unpack the stories that we are telling or that we are being told about ourselves or about others.

    I would describe the narrative metaphor as an umbrella. When the umbrella is closed the story is being told, but is not effective for shielding the individual from the harm of such a unilateral and partial description. The object is still an umbrella, but it is not operating as it should be. When we open our selves and our stories up we see that from the centre there extend different lines, each one unique and heading off in its own direction. This opening covers the individual in sunny or rainy weather and provides them with a sense of security and confidence. It also creates a safe space for others to come under for shelter as well, inviting them to also explore not only the wonder of our open umbrella, but perhaps they will discover that theirs will open as well.

    Thinking about stories in this way makes it possible for you to explore, wonder and probe with curiosity the underlying assumptions I am making and it opens me up to be able to consider alternative possibilities and storylines. This makes the umbrella fuller and more effective!

    • This metaphor of the umbrella is brilliant. It seems the perfect way to visualize the strengths and pitfalls of one story or many. Thank you for connecting us with this everyday image amidst a sea of academia.

  508. Hi all, firstly I am happy and excited to tell that I’m starting to take further study in narrative therapy. The reason for that is because of this statement “The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem”. from Michael White. Actually, it is really difficult to work on but we shall try it when negative thinking comes out automatically, our cognitive distortions.

    How would you describe the narrative metaphor?
    For this reflective question, the immediate thought comes out in my mind is the conversation between Michael White and Barbara Brooks on ABC Radio National and online. Indeed, it’s a very fruitful conversation. In the conversation, Michael said “And in my own work I find that I meet many, many people who are feeling quite desolate and quite empty and it’s pretty clear to me that most of these folks have a very ‘thin’ sense of that stream of consciousness, or a ‘thin’ experience of it.” For me, it’s so important to have this idea for starting to learn about narrative therapy. Narrative metaphor is all about thin description, think conclusion, and how to make it towards a rich and thick description through those alternative stories, according to Alice Morgan’s influential and highly popular text, What is narrative therapy? An easy-to-read introduction.

  509. Dear Kylie,

    It has been such an enlightening experience to hear about your thoughtful work when we met in Adelaide and I am so happy to watch it again!! This video has been a great reminder of the new counter-Shame possibilities that the externalizing of Shame and the Shame support group brought for this group of men to re-engage with stories of accountability and preferred identities.

    One of the things that stood out for me was what you described in the beginning of the presentation* your intention to center women’s and children’s safety by ensuring the prioritizing of their voices, as well as your capabilities to utilize the aboriginal practice of really listening and noticing the insights of your community in order to respond in ways that would be aligned with this consideration. I was also drawn by the totalising accounts, you mentioned, of men’s identity as perpetrators, since these prevailing ideas were waiting in the corner to nurture the disorienting operations of Shame. Finally what stood out for me was your commitment to stay in touch with men’s meaning-making of the experience of Shame, even though their descriptions didn’t fit with the therapeutic suggestions of the supposedly helpful/unhelpful aspects of it. It reminded me a lot of the skills required for the absent but implicit practice. Does that make sense to you?

    While reflecting on these points I had an image of your group work as a playful, creative and yet mindful process of demolishing walls and creating new relational bridges! If you ask me to imagine the color of this bridge it would be multi-colored, as the free-of-Shame mulit-voiced identities and relational options that was inquired. By walls I refer to all the dominant discourses that seemed to support men’s Shame, degrade women’s safety and threaten your therapeutic stance of de-centerness, eg descriptions of men as hopeless, blame-assigned patriarchal ideas around women’s role in the abuse, therapeutic ideas around the two aspects of Shame. Given the context of these dominant discourses that were addressed to all the parties involved in this project, your intentions and skills of co-creating a territory that would be safe enough for these men to take responsibility for the abuse but not the shame, evoked for me this image.

    I work with men and women who have been experiencing the effects of Shame in many occasions and I have also witness the risk of letting Shame take over our therapeutic conversations. I would be really interested to put in my practice the scaffolding process of externalizing the Shame with the use of an actual seat, and the Shame supporting group. You made me really curious to find out more of what is it that the Shame might speak of for these people and what alternative ways of being might become more available if they are provided enough space to evaluate Shame’s presence, power practices and supporting system?

    It has been lovely to meet you my dear friend!It feels such a bless for me to be inspired by your carrying spirit that is reflected both on your work and your whole participation this year!


  510. I felt a recognition in the article of Sue Mann. It was inspirational for me. After a session, I write a small report in the medical record, I copied it and talked about it with the client (after reading Sue Mann). I experienced that I was much more aware of what to write. I wrote in a more respectful way, much closer to the words the client used himself.
    At the same time, I felt towards doctors and colleageus a bit of shyness(?) because the language did seem not professional. I realise that I collaborated more with them than with the client. This makes it hard to explore it more but I am still going to develop it.

  511. The narrative metaphor is the paradoxical story we tell and retell to make sense of, interpret, and even justify our experiences. I consider this concept a paradox because I understand the narrative metaphor to be, in one regard, cathartic and liberating in that it involves defining and labelling our experiences. In the other regard, however, I understand the narrative metaphor to be entrapping as it is prescribing just one, often linear understanding and interpretation of our experiences. Many of the authors in the resources included in this chapter often referred to the latter as the “thin story” because it fails to incapsulate the substance, complexity and fluidity of our experiences.

    Thinking about this process makes it possible to understand the ways in which we are conditioned to find one story, adopt it, and use it as a framework in experiencing our entire lives. In a world of fear and anxiety, I consider this part of a coping mechanism. Change forms when we challenge the story we are telling ourselves and explore where it comes from and if there are any other stories in our space. Part of that challenge requires strength in being vulnerable enough to let go of our old stories and embrace the possibility of new ones.

  512. Which resource in this chapter particularly caught your attention and why?
    Externalising, in particular the point about “professional language” which has become such a common experience, for eg when a client is referred to you by their GP because of their depression or anxiety, they already have their problem internalised. I also really enjoyed The Statement of Position Map 1with explanation from Mark Hayward – I found this very useful and could see how you could use this as a framework to create movement through a session.

    What sort of problems could be externalised in your context? What difference might this make?
    I work in trauma and torture and the impacts of these including the somatic symptoms could all be externalised. In the case of refugees who may not speak the same language as their counsellor this technique could benefit clients where they are able to describe the characteristics (or draw, paint etc) of their problem rather than being confused by traditional psychological professional language.

  513. I have to say I actually got a great deal from Phillipa’s closing. In it, she simply says that in Narrative Practices our goal is to remember we are not very different from one another and we all have something to contribute. While I believe that is the core of NP (the client is the authority, not the therapist), it’s important to be reminded of that every now and then.

  514. Leading up to and after January 26th, emotions fill me that are hard to describe. Feelings of sadness, anger and frustration surround me before, during and after the day has finished. I know the day is arriving. How could I not? Slogans of ‘coming together’ and ‘unity’ fill billboards and television commercials, Australian flags, singlets and boxing kangaroos fill the shops. There will be invitations to celebrate with people and feast on ‘traditional Australian’ meat-Lamb. But how or why should I celebrate a day that has signifies my people being dispossessed, murdered and our Culture stolen. Make no mistake, this day has contributed to why I cannot speak my traditional language. This day has contributed to my people becoming disadvantaged within different determinants of health. This day has contributed to my people being grossly overrepresented within the criminal justice system and child protection systems. It is a day of sadness and mourning for my people. It is not something to celebrate. Would America celebrate September the 11th annually? I think not.

    Today we flew our flag and wore our colours with pride. We are proud of who we are and where we are from. We fly our flag and wear our colours every day of the year.

    Warming my heart is the non-Aboriginal brothers and sisters who stand alongside us, united in protest to this day, joining us in the collective struggle. This for me, is what ‘coming together’ is about. Taking local, political and social action together in acknowledgment of the right thing to do. Not eating lamb on a BBQ in a singlet covered in Australian flags listening to Australian Crawl. People can do that any day of the week, why wait until January 26th? Maybe thats why this day angers me- the notion of racism, discrimination and exclusion portrayed as patriotism being rubbed in your face for one day, on a day of sorrow for my people.

  515. I read something today on http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/ about what an Australian Muslim, Armed, said about the 26 January while at an Invasion Day rally in Sydney:

    “Armed agreed … that Australia Day should be cancelled. He said there should be proper reconciliation first and a treaty with the Aboriginal people before any talk about a new date. “There’s a lot that needs to be fixed before we have a date,” he said.”

  516. I remember getting together with my family when I was young – there was nothing of particular note in a political context about the day. All I was interested in was playing with my many cousins. My family wasn’t especially political, we just got about our business.

    I remember the bicentennial celebrations in 1988. We were holidaying in a caravan park on the central coast of NSW – this was a real extravagance and while I hold great memories of this adventure, I also remember the parade. The parade is emblazoned in memory like an old film, the kind you’d see on one of my grandfather’s treasured slide nights. You see, we all got a bit excited because there was someone dressed up as a likeness of an Aboriginal person from 1788. I don’t know if he was Aboriginal or not. This was well before ‘blackface’ – cultural appropriation wasn’t even a term I’d heard about. In any case, we didn’t see much representation of Aboriginal people anywhere… so we felt we were in for a treat.

    While we weren’t political as a mob, we could be fairly loud on occasion, and we started cheering this fella on. Then, a re-enactment began. The man in the blue and gold jacket and tight white pants pointed his fake rifle at the Aboriginal character and shot him. The Aboriginal character took quite a long time and a great deal of theatrics to finally die. The crowd cheered and the Captain Cook character bowed. We fell silent and my father turned away. “Come on kids,” he said, “let’s go for a swim.”

    I tell this story because it represents a time in my life when the penny began to drop, and I began asking a gazillion questions that my relatives didn’t seem to want to answer. As an adult, a mother and grandmother, I fully appreciate now that this was an act of protection. This can be hard to talk about for everyone.

    Nowadays, I sometimes join with other Aboriginal people from a whole range of mobs at a cultural camp near my home on the Mid North Coast of NSW. There, we’ll sit on the beach, or join hands along the shore. We tell stories of hope and ‘survivance’, women teach children to weave, and we get by.

    I look forward to a time in the not-too-distant future when we can celebrate our nation together.


  517. On January 26 my family and I go to the survival day march. Last year my 10 Year old son and I joined the Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance as they shut down the streets of Brisbane with a big march and defiant dancing at every intersection. It was chance to talk history with my son and make new history, one our family can be proud of as people who are not Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islanders. Then I went home and listened to the Hottest 100. I love this land but January 26 fills me with sadness, more so because there is no Treaty or process for addressing the suffering experienced by the first peoples of Australia. January 26 also reminds me of my on family history, how we were cleared off our land on the Isle of Lewis to make way for sheep. I think we should celebrate Australia on January 1st, when we became a federation.

  518. Thanks for opening up a space for this very important conversation. I really like all the possible alternative dates you have proposed, and ( Tileah, Carolynanha and Anni) for getting me thinking more about the complexities of this day: That we want to ‘celebrate with our mates with a barbi,’ but that it’s impossible to do that on what is ‘Invasion day’ to many of us.

    The official website says: “On Australia Day we come together as a nation to celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian. It’s the day to reflect on what we have achieved and what we can be proud of in our great nation.” http://www.australiaday.org.au /australia-day/about-our-national-day/

    As a young first-generation Netherlands immigrant, it always genuinely puzzled me as to why we were being asked to celebrate ‘Australia’ on the day a British penal colony called ‘New South Wales’ was established.

    As an adult, I have come to find it offensive to celebrate on a date that is a day of mourning for many Australians, and I want it to be changed.

    As a South Australian immigrant, I learned in school that our state was founded as a British province, not a penal colony, by ‘free settler immigrants’ on December 28 1848, and became part of a federated ‘Australia’ on January 1 in 1901. Calls for a Treaty by Aboriginal South Australians challenges this notion of the ‘free settlement’ of South Australia on the grounds that the legal foundation for settlement, which clearly and specifically recognised and protected Aboriginal occupation and ownership, was never adhered to. (Shaun Berg, (ed) 2010, Coming to Terms: Aboriginal Title in South Australia, Wakefield Press) http://www.wakefieldpress.com. au/product.php?productid=152

    As a first-generation immigrant, I would also prefer to celebrate “what we have achieved and what we can be proud of in our great nation” on a date which more appropriately includes the incredible courage, vision, and the years of hard work and sacrifice which my parents and generations of other Immigrants have contributed to Australia.

    I agree with Luke Pearson, who says: “Australia has only had 21 years of holding Australia Day on the 26th of January, surely that isn’t too many years to acknowledge that it was a poor choice and move it to a better day.” http://indigenousx.com.au/what-is-australia-day-for/#.WIgQEBt9600

  519. When I was a kid, I can’t remember ever having to protect my spirit on a particular day like I do now on Invasion day. That’s because, as I have realised from this page, celebration of this day didn’t start until 1994. I recall feeling particularly resentful about this day since the Cronulla riots in 2005 because for some, since this day the Australian flag is used as a weapon. For others, it feels like a weapon, even if it’s not intended to.

    There is complexity of this day, because I want to have a day where I enjoy a barbi with my mates; to feel as though I’m celebrating all that it means to be a part of this society, on this land that we now call Australia, what is, and always will be Aboriginal land. But this day is a sad day for all.

    On Invasion day in 2017, as usual, we have hung our Aboriginal Flags in various places around the house. I am working tomorrow, and I have written to my workplace requesting that I do not be paid penalty rates, as I do not celebrate this day. This has some people talking. I really like the idea of the 3rd of March, Australian Independence Day, at least until, as you say, we become a republic!

    Thank you so much for having this yarn here. This yarn is spreading like a ripple. The conversation to change the date (#changethedate) is growing. My workmates have told me about the conversations they’ve had with their children about the real meaning of this day. Australian flag car-window-thingies seem to be on the decline. Whole communities of people, and even a city have cancelled festivities! Workplaces are staying open, even on a much much much loved Public Holiday!

    I’ll be ringing Dulwich Centre tomorrow to thank you for your leadership!

    • Thank you Tileah and to everyone who has contributed so far, especially our First Nations Peoples. That 2005 date was significant for me too because it was then that I started noticing racism and something that was being named as patriotism but seemed to be more like white supremacy infiltrating celebrations on January 26 (Kylie’s story about ‘re-enactment’ reminds me these things have been present for much longer). That was when I started to resist celebrating Australia Day on January 26 – this has slowly progressed through me learning more from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Peoples as I started to work more closely with communities, families and people. As a white Australian of mostly Cornish and Irish descent who was at school in the 80s I received a very white-washed ‘education’ of the history of this land. I’m fortunate and grateful to have learnt a lot more from our First Nations peoples since then, especially about the ongoing effects of invasion, colonisation, stolen generations, slavery, abuse and more. I no longer celebrate Australia Day on January 26 though I must admit I am having the day off. On another note, a colleague and friend shared a post today about ways white allies can support Invasion day rallies – it ended with the hashtags #fuckthedate #changedthesystem . It reminded me of two things. One, that in these conversations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s voices should be privileged. And two, the importance of continuing grassroots work to try to make a difference in people’s lives. That post made me write a very different comment to what I might have otherwise – instead I am writing one much less focused on my own experience and history. Thanks very much again to all the contributors and to Dulwich Centre for, as always, continuing the conversations.

  520. The older I get I realise more and more what the celebrations of this day means to us as Aboriginal, First Nations people of this country. Australians are drawn into commemorating a day of massacres, rapes, etc which drove fear, terror, despair, loneliness, grief and loss into the physical body, soul and spirit of our people. In the past I have attended this day because friends of mine have got their citizenship. I must say that Aboriginal people werent citizens in their own country until 1967. I was 6 years old then. I remember the many challenges my parents had in negotiating in a world that was foreign to them, a world that was created and built on terror, fear, massacres, control, abuse, rape, a world that was once their own, but no longer theirs to live in peace and harmony in. Today I resist these celebrations and the Australian way of doing things that make it all glamorous and covers up the reality. I am firm in my position around discussions about this day. I make no excuses for the way Aboriginal people respond to this day. We are all on our own journeys, because at the end of the day, Aboriginal Australia has the same history, we have just had individual experiences.

  521. The 26th. January is , to me, Invasion Day. I attend a March in Melbourne and we usually then attend the Invasion Day Concert in the Treasury Gardens.
    Sometimes we lay wreaths on the steps of Parliament House.
    Lest We Forget..
    I would like to see more discussion about changing the date that we celebrate our nation in all its cultural diversity.
    I feel that the present date is inappropriate, given the history of genocide. Settler – colonisation has taken away so much from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Celebrating Australian on the date of the arrival of the First Fleet seems insensitive.

  522. Now that I have read through the chapters in this course and listened to fantastic presentations, I see the chapters intertwined and therefore find that no single chapter resonates for me more than the other. This course has been inspiring and has made me reflect on my ways of working. The multiple stories, presentations and articles have provided insight and motivation to utilise narrative practices – validating the person seeking assistance as the experts of their own lives and inviting the person to find those hidden competencies and strengths to reclaim ” their preferable lives”.

    I had a great opportunity to apply externalising conversation and writing a letter after a session with one of my clients. I had just finished reading those chapters and was full of excitement of applying those methods. The opportunity came so naturally and I thought now I’ll give it a go. From the very first moment I walked through the door to greet my client she described feelings that she was experiencing, strong and very descriptive words which had a strong impact on her. The descriptions she used “stood out to me ” and I began asking questions about The feeling and how it was making her feel and act etc. As other mixed feelings and thoughts rose during conversation I asked if she was comfortable for us to do a ” Mind map” as we spoke using her own words – to visualise The feeling/ impacts and the aspects she would prefer. I asked if she would prefer to do the mind map – she preferred me to do the writing. I believe this visualisation was a useful tool for her to gain control of those mixed feelings and to visualise her purpose.

    At the end of our session I asked if she would feel comfortable and agreed to me writing her a letter based on “her story” in todays session. I described a little about narrative approaches and if she felt comfortable trying this approach. My client agreed to this and I wrote her the letter. Although I was very excited of the opportunity to write my first ” narrative letter”, it wasn’t as “easy” as I thought. I questioned myself if I was using the right language; how well did I use externalizing questions and metaphors, was I interpreting her use of words correctly… I worked on the letter trying to apply the wisdom from chapters I had completed in this course and by validating her story. With some guidance and suggestions from my supervisor whom has a wealth of knowledge in Narrative Practices I had my first therapeutic/ narrative letter written. I felt so pleased to have had this experience. When we met the next time with my client she felt slightly hesitant to read the letter. I asked if she wanted to read it at the appointment or take it with her. She chose to read it at our session and stated ” I like this, this is what is happening”.

    A great experience, something I will endeavor to continue in my context, however I think ” practice makes a master” and you learn by doing – to become more confident in using narrative practices, – the usage of language, scaffolding questions and understanding in practice for example ” Statement of Position Map” in externalising conversations.

  523. For me, as a practitioner, “critical thinking” means taking the time to “step back” and critically reflect on the values, opinions and positions of power and privilege that shape and influence my practice.

    In reflecting on these materials, I am encouraged to be more mindful of my interactions with the communities I work with (migrants and former refugees), particularly in terms of how they might see (as a “white Australian” or “expert” in a position of privilege).

    However, I too came to Australia as a migrant (my parents escaped from Poland during communism and were granted asylum in Australia), which gave me a first-hand insight into the prejudice and discrimination that migrants face.

    By sharing this personal history with the communities I work with, I am able to identify a “common ground” on which to work from, while acknowledging the unique and diverse challenges of their individual journeys, as well as reminding them that I am not the “expert,” but they are the experts of their own lives.

  524. For me this chapter ads depth to previous chapters and ties up with the previous. Through narrative lenses people have multiple stories in their lives and behind all those stories is a unique context which reflects those stories and the persons identity. Gaining an understanding of the persons “suitcase” requires one to think holistically lead by the person as the expert. I believe if the person is not given the opportunity to this or the worker does not take into account multiple storylines assumptions and shift of power takes dominance.

    I am ” privileged” to have experienced being ” unprivileged” based on my culturally and linguistically diverse background. As a child I migrated from Australia to a small Scandinavian country, Finland. I didn’t speak Finnish, was a child of a single parent and had no idea of the school/ social norms. In the 1970’s changing of attitude, awareness, knowledge and acceptance towards multiculturalism weren’t issues a small Northern ” in-closed” country had to deal with previously. Although having Caucasian appearance, I was seen as different, someone who dis not belong to the dominant society. At school I was “punished” for not being able to communicate appropriately, I was isolated from the class room to study individually as ” I caused distraction”. Assumptions were made about my cognitive and social skills, negative assumptions were made about my overall wellbeing and my mother’s parental capacity as a single parent. I had not been seen, listened to, treated as a young child with mixed feelings – fearful of a completely different culture, language, social norms, cultural norms – a child full of energy to become included, skills to learn the language,courage to make new friends, wish to feel safe and accepted at school. In today’s world the situation would be entirely different,small Skandinavian countries are as multicultural as other Westernised countries. Therefore I value ” critical thinking” – to get to know a person’s storyline before making those critical assumptions and using the so often ” unseen power” over someone.

  525. Just the idea of how people tell a single story, rather than recognising that everybody and everything has multiple stories, that our lives are “multistoried” with a dominant and alternative stories, has helped my own introspective organisation of story. I enjoyed reading about this new topic (for me), and the refreshing language including thin conclusion vs rich description. It served as a timely reminder to practice curiosity and asking questions, also that people are the experts in their own lives. Taryn, Broome.

  526. Ludo Van Deuren – Belgium
    The tree of life is what stands out to me mostly. As an occupational therapist I work with materials, so this fits with me. It gives people time to reflect, what they come up with is written and becomes a document. Many aspects of someone’s life can be told about. When in a group you create a forest of life, you can connect (re-member) people to each other. It is something I am going to be working with.

  527. I really liked Mark Haywards video. He described externalization gracefully and also when to be careful with externalizing.
    In mental health depression, psychosis, anxiety, and not wanting to take medication could be externalized.
    This would be helpful in seperating someone from the problem so they could describe the problem and discuss its impacts upon them.

  528. I found the description of outsider witnesses to be most helpful, particularly the questions one of the witnesses used to keep themselves focused. Also, adding the examples of documents into his article “Rescuing the said from the saying of it”, David Newman clearly illustrated the variety and depth with which we can help people express their thoughts and share those thoughts with their care team.

  529. I was intrigued by Barbara Wingard’s article, in particular the ideas that through grieving we can become stronger and that by not addressing injustice the grieving process may be interrupted.
    I lived and worked in northern Canada for 14 years as a teacher and counsellor. During that time I met with many adolescents carrying multiple griefs. As described in this article, many students had experienced loss in many forms. It was tempting to perpetuate the idea of forgetting and moving on as it was so painful to exist in the present. “Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger” presents ideas that allow the honouring and acknowledging of what was lost to allow us to move forward relating to grief in a new way.
    Thank you for this article.

  530. Historically it has been difficult to engage in collaboration around mental health with the refugee communities we work with due to the stigma surrounding it.

    However the case study of ‘Just Therapy’ has inspired me to look at how we might address wellbeing more holistically, and begin conversations around traditional models of wellness and staying “strong” that are culturally resonant, while at the same time advocating for political, structural and social change that addresses the discrimination and disadvantage faced by refugees settling in a new country.

    While genuine collaboration may not be easy, without it, our efforts will be futile.

  531. I was really impacted by Barb’s article, ‘Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger.’

    This paragraph in particular stood out to me: “It’s important for us as Aboriginal people to make the links between justice and grief. We need the injustices addressed so that we can grieve our losses. We need our stories told and acknowledged. Working on our grief in these ways is working towards justice.”

    I believe this perspective is useful to keep in mind when working with anyone who has experienced grief and trauma, including (in my case) refugees. I was encouraged by the way this approach honours people’s backgrounds/experiences, not diminishing the grief or suffering in any way, while drawing on people’s strengths and resilience to nurture hope for the future.

  532. I love the way narrative therapy marries perfectly with asset-based community development in this section, and found it incredibly inspiring and relevant to the work we do with former refugee communities in Cairns.

    I was encouraged by the case study from Malawi “Little by little we make a bundle,” where community narrative practice was effective in decreasing stigma and increasing community conversation around HIV/AIDS.

    I am interested in exploring how a similar framework might be used to address the highly stigmatised area of mental health among the refugee communities we work with.

    I also found the Tree of Life methodology powerful, inspiring, and culturally resonant, and hope to use it as a tool in some community conversations we will be holding with elderly members of refugee communities in Cairns.

  533. I love the transcripts of “Externalising – commonly asked questions” and the video of Mark Hayward, which provide contexts and practices helping to understand where and how externalising works. Besides, the video of “I had a black dog, his name was depression” demonstrates a vivid example of externalising for me.

    Actually, I feel that externalising does exist in our daily life, typically when interacting with small kids, though we may purposely avoid it wth the grown-ups considering that it might be naive.

    A few days ago, when I used externalising in the discussion with a lady who was suffering from depression, the sense of humour did intrigue kind of curiosity from her.

  534. I loved the Suitcase Project and think this may be useful to our work with former refugee communities, in helping them to identify and express their strengths and hopes for their future in Australia.

    I also found the outsider witness article very helpful in terms of raising my awareness of the value of acknowledging people’s stories as they seek to define their preferred identities

  535. The narrative metaphor is the way in which we assign meaning to experiences in our lives in order to understand our lives and build our identity. Like Joan Didion wrote, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” By allowing ourselves to look beyond a single narrative or dominant storyline, we are able to see alternative storylines and perhaps different opportunities or identities we didn’t even realize were there or had simply forgotten about. For instance, I may believe I am socially awkward and that I’ve always been that way and always will be. But if I allow myself to remember times when I wasn’t socially awkward or if I ask other people what their perception of me is and they see me in another light, I might start to believe a new version of myself and a different future for myself as a social being. Erica, Los Angeles, CA

  536. I’ve always struggled with the story I feel has been imposed on me in therapy, they always bring out the tragedy more than I feel comfortable with so that the days following a session are shaky as I hold together through the gauntlet of bad memories. My thin description has been one of “well at least it wasn’t as bad as…” while I internalize a bully. I think David’s story of the therapist colleague re-telling his patient’s story was very powerful.