collective narrative practice

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  • Do you want to hear a story? Adventures in collective narrative practice — David Denborough

    $22.00

    Author: David Denborough

    Can narrative practices be used to respond to injustice and social suffering?

    Can they spark and sustain social action?

    In response to these questions, this book offers stories from Australia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Turkey, Kurdistan, Myanmar, Spain, and West Papua.

  • ‘Narrative therapy: Constructing stories of dignity and resistance with survivors of torture and trauma in Colombia’— Mariana Saenz Uribe

    $9.90

    This paper introduces readers to the sociopolitical context within Colombia and provides examples of the use of narrative therapy and collective narrative practice with survivors of torture. In particular, this paper focuses on responding to women who have been subjected to sexual violence in the context of organised political violence. Detailed accounts of work with a mother and her two daughters, and a group of women survivors, are offered.

  • Definitional ceremonies as rituals of hospitality— Sarah Strauven

    $9.90

    This paper describes the project of Abdul Shirzai, Badam Zazai, Shakila Yari, Jahangir Safi, Niaz Mohamed Miyasahib, and Sarah Strauven.

    In looking for ways to respond to the difficulties Afghan refugees are experiencing in Belgium, both related to fleeing their war-torn home country and rebuilding their lives in a new and foreign country, they have created a mobile and interactive exhibition.

    This small project is a citizen’s initiative framed within collective narrative practice and defined by volunteerism and informality. A crucial part of the exhibition is the definitional ceremonies that the group have come to understand as ‘rituals of hospitality’.

    These rituals represent an antidote to the negative effects of asylum policies: impoverished and damaged-centred single stories of their lives and identities on the one hand, and inhospitable experiences on the other hand. These rituals include the creation of receptive spaces, multi-textured stories, and art pieces that stir imagination and conversations that compel reflection. The group hopes to cultivate an active receptivity, openness, and wonderment in their ‘audiences as hosts’ that will inform how people will define their responsibility towards refugees in the future. Through visiting local communities with their exhibition, they aspire to bring about social change.

  • Recipes for life: A collective narrative methodology for responding to gender violence— Meizi Tan

    $9.90

    This paper explores the use of collective narrative methodology in a two-day group retreat organised for women who had experienced gender violence in their intimate relationships. The women developed ‘recipes for life’ by using the skills and knowledge they had developed through responding to gender violence. Outsider-witness practices were used to acknowledge the women’s alternative stories of resilience and resistance to gender violence. Narrative practices of collective documentation, externalising the problem, and deconstructing social discourses that support gender violence, were incorporated through the creative use of food metaphors. This supported the women in breaking their silence and reduced the sense of isolation, shame and disempowerment that often surrounds gender violence.

  • Finding the ‘voice’ to speak: Women and men talk about relationships— Dion Anderson, Bea Edwards, Mark Hammersley, Marnie Sather and Greg Smith

    $9.90

    Winja Ulupna (‘women’s haven’) is an Aboriginal residential alcohol and other drug service for women. Galiamble (‘dry place on a hill’), the equivalent service for men. These services are open to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Winja Ulupna and Galiamble are services of Ngwala Willumbong (‘dry place’) Cooperative. Based in an Aboriginal service, narrative group work was used to assist women and men talk about relationships, in a safe and positive manner. Exchanges of collective documents between the groups led to joint readings and song. The women reported positive developments in attitudes and support provided by men at the service. The men reported improved understanding of the circumstances of the women and improvements in the quality of relationships with their partners. The article provides a case study of one approach to supporting positive developments in relationships in Aboriginal settings. The approach may also be relevant to non-Aboriginal settings. Also included are a series of reflections, responses and critiques from experienced Aboriginal health workers.

  • Resonance, rich description and social-historical healing: The use of collective narrative practice in Srebrenica— David Denborough

    $9.90

    Are there ways of engaging with histories, collective narrative documentation and definitional ceremonies that can contribute to social-historical healing? This paper describes the use of collective narrative practices to generate opportunities for resonance between the storylines of people from different sides of an historic conflict. By telling the story of a workshop that took place in Srebrenica, Bosnia, this piece introduces new concepts to the field of narrative practice and includes two collective narrative documents.

  • Fakebook: Renovating reputations— Georgina Gerber-Duvenhage

    $9.90

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

  • Joe’s voyage of life map: away from alcohol— Nick Coleman

    $9.90

    This article explores using a visual therapeutic document, the Voyage of Life map, with men living in Aotearoa/New Zealand. These men, who are revising their relationships with alcohol and other influences on their lives, have had previous experience with twelve-step models and broader ‘recovery’ approaches. 

    The Voyage of Life map, and the broader narrative practices that surround its use, are demonstrated through the story of one man, Joe, who is of a mixed cultural background. Through the process, Joe renegotiates his life in relation to alcohol, and re-claims aspects of his Māori whakapapaʼ(history/genealogy).

  • Responding to lives after stroke: Stroke survivors and caregivers going on narrative journeys— Esther Chow Oi-wah

    $9.90

    Stroke survivors and their caregivers can become ‘trapped’ in ‘problem-saturated’ identities constructed by biomedical discourse. This paper describes how stroke survivors and caregivers can de-construct problems through engaging in externalising conversations, unearthing unique outcomes, and reconstructing purposes in life and preferred identities through re-authoring conversations. Through reconnecting the survivors and caregivers with their strengths, values, beliefs and life wisdom that developed during their earlier years, persons with stroke and their caregivers can rebuild their lives within the limits of their debilitating challenges.

  • Responding to survivors of torture and suffering – Survival skills of Kurdish families by David Denborough on behalf of Kirkuk Center for Torture Victims and Dulwich Centre Foundation International

    $9.90

    The Kirkuk Center for Torture Victims is a human rights organisation assisting victims of torture, persecution and violence in Iraq. We believe in a democratic society where the dignity of the human person is respected, where adults and children enjoy the right to life and liberty, and where citizens are free from torture and terror.

    Dulwich Centre Foundation International (DCFI) is an Australian-based organisation that responds to groups and communities who are enduring significant hardships, co-develops culturally-appropriate and resonant methodologies to respond to community mental health issues and collective suffering, and works in partnership to build the capacity of local workers.

    In November 2011 and September 2012, David Denborough from DCFI conducted workshops for the counsellors of the Kirkuk Center for Torture Victims. This publication describes a number of the narrative methodologies that were discussed in these workshops – The Tree of Life, The Team of Life, and the use of letters, documents, poems and certificates. It also includes stories from local workers about the survival skills and knowledge of Kurdish families.`

  • Exploring narrative group work for responding to burnout in novice teachers— Fan Lingli

    $9.90

    This paper describes a project supporting six novice teachers in Chinese public kindergartens to successfully take charge of their lives during their first year of teaching. With the help of externalising conversations and re-authoring conversations, we explored the realities of being a new teacher, and how burnout had invaded these teachers’ lives. The teachers came to recognise themselves again and to honour their own uniqueness. Using the mobile instant messaging software WeChat, the project established a virtual community for teachers to gain further interpersonal support and develop skills and knowledges about extricating themselves from their predicaments. Finally, through a definitional ceremony, the project created an opportunity for teachers to tell their stories more vividly and to build consensus with more people. All participants in this project came to understand burnout in new teachers as a sociocultural product. We hope that structural change will happen in our educational system.

  • Passing hope around: Youth messaging strategies for becoming drug-free— Warren Whyte

    $9.90

    Collective narrative practice facilitates geographically separated groups of people to share their experience and wisdom in standing up to common problems. This article documents a particular collective narrative practice between a group of youth in prison at Burnaby Youth Custody Services and a group of youth in treatment for substance misuse at Peak House in Vancouver, Canada. The purpose of outlining this exchange of solution knowledges is to highlight certain practical and theoretical aspects of collective practices that were effective for the youth, in order to continue the narrative discussion for future practitioners. By assuming the youth had healing knowledges, by providing them with a relevant audience, and by offering them the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to others; this writer was able to facilitate young people in sharing their own solutions with each other in mutual encouragement against a common social issue. Exchanging collective narrative documents with other youth seemed to cultivate a sense of self-determination towards therapeutic work, a feeling of solidarity and belonging with similar strugglers, and a sense of hope and enthusiasm that change is indeed possible.

  • The Team of Life with young men from refugee backgrounds— David Denborough

    $9.90

    This paper describes how the Team of Life narrative methodology can make it possible for young men to speak about what is important to them, what they have protected, held onto, despite the hardships they have seen. This way of working also makes it possible for young men to speak about identity in a collective manner, to celebrate ‘goals’ that their ‘teams’ have already scored, and to make plans and preparations for the future. This way of working utilises sporting metaphors which are powerfully resonant within masculine culture and yet, significantly, provides possibilities for supporting and acknowledging alternative masculinities.

  • Two-way learning as respectful community practice: Honouring, co-creating and facilitating access to the knowledge stories of the Men of the Mimosa Creek Healing Centre— Troy Holland

    $9.90

    This article comprises two related accounts: first, a short history of an attempt to develop respectful practice in a two-way learning partnership with a community; second, a description of a collective narrative practice knowledges project with Aboriginal Australian men who are participating in a residential rehabilitation program.

    Developing respectful practice is explained in terms of acknowledging and responding to the effects and operations of invasion, colonisation, privileges, and power, and earning and responding to invitations to become a participant and to be influential in a community. The collective narrative practice knowledges project demonstrates ways of externalising and historicising problems; cataloguing existing and aspired-to knowledges; acknowledging and honouring existing personal, familial, and cultural knowledges; being influential but de-centred in the co-research of new knowledges; and the documentation and reciprocal exchanges of knowledges.

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

    $9.90

    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.

2,027 Comments

  1. In one of my groups it seemed there was a desire to talk about food preparation and sharing food. This discussion started informally before the group started. I allowed it to continue and asked ways in which participants have built community in their lives. What made this possible was the fact that I was running the group alone without a co-facilitator, allowing me to be more flexible in my approach. Organizational rules of what my group was “supposed” to focus on could prove a barrier to this collaboration.

  2. I liked this paper – I find that after I do my harm reduction groups, I am wondering what to write in the process note. I think I will try asking the participants of the group to suggest what I might include.

  3. Hello my name is Christopher Hanlon, I live in LIghthouse Point, FL. I am interested in learning how macro and micro social work practice may be intertwined. I loved article 4 in the above proposed charter that stated: the person is not the problem, the problem is the problem. Getting away from the individual and more to systemic causes. Just beginning this journey. I don’t like seeing problems through the limited lens of pathology – one in which my MSW clinical social work program seems to promote. I welcome any feedback!

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

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

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

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

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

    • Hi Clayre,

      I am in a practicum as well, in New York City, working in a harm reduction center. I would also like to employ narrative therapy with participants in the program in one on one counseling sessions. I am glad to see you are doing it!

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

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

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  10. Hello all! My name is Krysta Rathwell and I am from a small town in central Alberta, Canada. I am currently completing my Masters in Counselling Psychology and have a Bachelor in Education Degree. I have just started my practicum and have been studying narrative therapy as that is what I am interested in pursuing.

    A narrative metaphor encompasses how a person is shaped by their stories. These stories have an impact on what people do or believe about themselves. Hearing clients’ stories, from their perspective, helps the therapist to understand their responses and gives the opportunity to seek to find hidden events or meaning.

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