definitional ceremony

Posted by on Nov 10, 2016 in | 0 comments

Showing 1–16 of 32 results

  • A Child’s Voice: Narrative Family Therapy— Lisa Johnson

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    This article recounts an approach to working with a seven-year-old girl in response to a problem that had muted her voice. The narrative practices employed included absent but implicit questions, therapeutic documents, re-authoring conversations, definitional ceremony, and the use of an ‘Anticipated Petitioner’ to support a ‘consulting your consultants’ interview.

  • Bringing our gaze to perinatal depression— Amanda Worrall

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    Perinatal depression (PND) affects about one in every seven women who give birth in Australia each year (healthdirect, 2017) and suicide is considered to be the leading cause of maternal death in the perinatal period (Ellwood, 2016). Although a number of risk factors have been identified, the cause of PND is still not clearly understood (BetterHealth, 2017). Understandings of perinatal depression are predominantly shaped by a biomedical model, and the insider knowledge of women is given little if any space. Amanda was keen to engage with women to seek some answers to PND. The following questions helped to shape this exploration: What do women consider to be the issues and problems that make up PND? What have they learnt in relation to what reduces its influence and presence in their lives? What becomes possible for women when they recognise their knowledge as legitimate knowledge?

  • Definitional ceremonies as rituals of hospitality— Sarah Strauven

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    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.

  • Outsider-witness Practices: Some Answers to Commonly Asked Questions— compiled by Maggie Carey & Shona Russell

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    The use of outsider witnesses is a therapeutic practice commonly engaged with by those interested in narrative therapy. This accessible paper offers an introduction to, and clarification of, some of the intricacies of this practice. This paper was created through a collaborative process involving well-respected therapists from Australia, the USA, Mexico, South Africa and the UK.

  • Parent–teen conflict dissolution— Ninetta Tavano

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    This paper describes how Michael White’s ‘conflict dissolution map’ can be used with parents and adolescents to assist in ‘dissolving’ conflict in narrative therapy sessions. The author explains how the practice of ‘repositioning’ is combined with definitional ceremony and outsider-witness practices to create conversations that allow family members to re-engage in ways that are based on acceptance, care and respect.

  • Talking about the ‘Suicidal Thoughts’: Towards an Alternative Framework— Loree Stout

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    This paper documents work with two women who have been subjected to suicidal thoughts. Part of this work is presented in the form of a collective narrative document. The final part of the paper presents an alternative framework for conversations about suicide, rather than standard checklists, as well the author’s suggestions for questions workers can ask themselves when meeting with people experiencing suicidal thoughts.

  • The Journey of Healing: Using Narrative Therapy and Map-making to Respond to Child Abuse in South Africa— Ncazelo Ncube

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    This paper documents an approach to working with girls in eastern and southern Africa who have been subject to abuse and trauma. It first summarises the key principles of narrative therapy’s approach to working with trauma and abuse, and then outlines a workshop that was co-created with girls and young women, based on the ‘journey metaphor’ and ideas of map-making from narrative therapy/ narrative practice.

  • The ‘Life Certificate’: A tool for grief work in Singapore— Mohamed Fareez

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    This article proposes an alternative to the formal, impersonal document of the death certificate – a ‘Life Certificate’, a narrative therapeutic document to honour the lives of lost loved ones. The article shows examples of the ‘Life Certificate’ used in practice, as well as a six-stage map of narrative practice that can be used in conjunction with it, to help renegotiate people’s relationships with grief.

  • Towards a decolonising practice: A non-Aboriginal worker finding meaningful ways to work in an Aboriginal context— Grace Drahm

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    This paper describes the development of a decolonising therapeutic practice for working with young people and their families in Aboriginal communities. It shows how different maps of narrative practice have been used to support Aboriginal young people and their families to develop storybooks as therapeutic documents that centre and honour their knowledges and worldviews.

  • ‘A Different Story’: Narrative Group Therapy in a Psychiatric Day Centre— Ron Nasim

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    This paper describes a narrative group therapy model applied in a psychiatric day centre. The group was conceived as a form of definitional ceremony, in which a participant is invited to share an account of a unique outcome that happened to them recently, while the other members serve as outsider witnesses to this development. A detailed example of a therapeutic conversation about depression, and the outsider witness group’s responses, shows how these generative conversations can be held in a psychiatric setting. A second example of this work details how outsider witness group reflections can be used to form the basis of an alternative kind of ‘discharge letter’. Finally, the paper discusses significant dilemmas arising from the work, including how to discern which subordinate story-lines to develop from the many entry points available.

  • A Letter to Robyn: Explorations of the Written Word in Therapeutic Practice— Mandy Pentecost

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    This paper explores the co-production of a literary therapy. It is drawn from research conducted by Mandy Pentecost which investigated the therapeutic writing practices employed in one narrative counselling relationship in which Robyn was the client and Mandy the counsellor. Four different genres of writing were engaged with during the counselling process: ‘homework’ questions, a therapeutic letter, a ‘rescued speech poem’, and a short story. These four genres are described in this paper which is written in an auto ethnographic form in the shape of a letter to Robyn.

  • Narrative Practice and Community Assignments— Michael White

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    This paper describes explorations of the relevance of narrative practices to working with communities which are facing various concerns and predicaments. These explorations have been undertaken in the context of community assignments that have been initiated in response to approaches from communities. In describing these explorations, this paper highlights the assumptions that have oriented our participation in these initiatives and some of the principles of narrative practice that we have found to be of particular importance in them. As well, this paper presents some special considerations in regard to addressing the psychological pain and emotional distress that is the outcome of trauma; discusses the priority given to the development of partnerships between the members of our team and between team members and community members; and provides an account of the structure of the community-wide gathering phase of these assignments.

  • The whiteboard as a co-therapist: Narrative conversations in a generalist counselling setting— Lesley Grant & Rowena Usher

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    This article describes an innovative way in which whiteboarding is being utilised in a therapeutic setting. Narrative ideas and practices have been pivotal in developing our use of the whiteboard. In this article we hope to demonstrate the use of the whiteboard in respectful, mindful, co-authorship of client’s stories as they connect with their preferred way of being. We have been inspired to share these discoveries as they are unfolding – therefore this is not a finished product; this is part of a journey.

  • ‘When The Crisis broke out, our whole world went upside down’ The special skills and knowledge that are sustaining us during the economic crisis in Greece— Margarita Katsikadelis

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    This paper details a project honouring Greek people’s skills of re-claiming their lives from the troubling effects of the recent financial crisis. Canvassing a process that used a questionnaire, collective documentation, and definitional ceremony, this work identifies and celebrates special skills and knowledges that sustain people during crisis.

  • Azima Ila Hayati – an Invitation in to My Life: Narrative Conversations about Sexual Identity— Sekneh Hammoud-Beckett

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    This paper describes a therapeutic conversation with a young gay Muslim man and his brother which was shaped by the definitional ceremony metaphor. Through deconstructing ‘games of truth’ in relation to attitudes to homosexuality and the process of ‘coming out’, space was created for this young man and his brother to realign their relationship. In the midst of the current hostile climate affecting all Arab Muslim families, this paper describes the story of two brothers and their concept of loyalty.

  • Fakebook: Renovating reputations— Georgina Gerber-Duvenhage

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    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.

2,022 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

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