Posted by on Nov 15, 2016 in | 0 comments

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  • Toward a theory of relational accountability: An invitational approach to living narrative ethics in couple relationships— Thomas Stone Carlson and Amanda Haire


    This paper describes an approach to couples therapy that seeks to help couples intimately apply the ethics of narrative ideas in their personal lives and relationships. This intimate application of narrative ideas is focused on helping partners to gain an appreciation for the shaping effects of their actions on one another’s stories of self and to engage in intentional relationship practices that nurture and positively shape the stories of self of their partners. While this approach to working with couples is centred in a narrative philosophy and ethics, alternative practices are presented to help couples challenge the negative effects of individualising discourses on their lives and relationships and to enter preferred relationship practices that are informed by a relational understanding of self and accountability.

  • On Critical thinking— Mary Heath


    This paper begins by defining critical thinking and setting out a personal history of the author’s journey toward becoming a critical thinker. It considers two common barriers to critical thinking: cultural disapproval of critique; and confusing critical thinking with criticism. In response, it argues that rigorous thinking offers benefits—and not only risks— to cultures as well as individuals. It considers where cultural resources supportive of critique might be found. Further, it argues that critical analysis should be understood (and undertaken) as a process of collaborative support for rigorous thinking rather than as a form of hostile criticism. Some dimensions of critical thinking are outlined, together with questions which might allow readers to apply them to specific contexts. The paper closes with some reflections on the process of writing in which some of these dimensions of critical thinking are applied to the paper itself.

  • Talking about sex: Narrative approaches to discussing sex life in therapy— Ron Findlay


    How do we discuss sex issues in therapy with a narrative and post-structuralist, postcolonial approach? This paper discusses the ethics and practices of narrative approaches to talking about sex in therapy. It discusses ways to reduce the influence of shame and embarrassment, promote local knowledge and skills, and to minimise the impact of the gender and sexuality of the therapist.

  • A first person principle: Philosophical reflections on narrative practice within a mainstream psychiatric service for young people—Philippa Byers and David Newman


    This paper is a collaboration between David Newman, an experienced narrative therapy practitioner and teacher, and Philippa Byers, a narrative therapy student with an academic background in philosophy. The paper charts ideas developed during Philippa’s student placement with David, as they discussed narrative practice, other mental health practices and philosophy. The paper draws on philosophy of language and the philosophy of Paul Ricoeur, applying this to Michael White’s injunction to look (and listen) for the experience-near in the words and phrases that are offered to narrative therapists. It offers philosophical reflections on an ethical principle of narrative practice which Philippa and David call a first person principle. The first person principle is elaborated in a discussion of David’s narrative practice with young people. This offers philosophical and practical insights to some of the issues and questions that may arise for narrative therapists who, like David, practice within mainstream services, encountering ‘neuro’ and other professionalised discourses and accompanying expectations.

  • 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.

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


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


  1. As a Badimaya woman (Aboriginal) and a therapist, I’m excited to have a look at your free course!

  2. This chapter really highlighted for me the gratitude I feel when working in this field. I love collaborating with clients and taking as much learning from our interactions as they do. This work is synergistic and the stories of competence for clients are also true for the therapist.

  3. I found myself engaged with the idea of sharing the skills of one community with another. I can see how this would increase their sense of capacity as well as their connections. I imagine the reduced isolation would create more hope for change.

  4. Hello from Ontario, Canada! I appreciated Michael’s question “How to you create catharsis?” and his thoughts that catharsis can be found through hopes, intentions and purposes. It has me reflecting on how I slow down my practice enough to open up these hopes, intentions and purposes by thickening the storylines. I think I have a bad habit of leaving storylines thin, but those might be some great ingredients to help me thicken stories up.

    • Hello from the USA! I want to reiterate my delight to find this training and really appreciate this offering. I am a nurse, and am in a Clinical Mental Heath Counseling masters program, so I am still learning and forming my own opinions, approaches and philosophy related to counseling. I am finding that Narrative Therapy fits with my personal thoughts regarding listening to our clients, helping them to thicken the story, moving the problem to the problem, outside of the person. This theory takes into account the social, environmental, power influences on an individual and his/ her challenges. Thanks so much!

  5. Hello from England! I’m very grateful to the Dulwich Center for making this fantastic course and all of these wonderful resources available online for free. As someone who has only just begun to train as a therapist, I’m very interested in the narrative approach. I like the emphasis on curiosity as a central therapeutic trait, the centering of the client as the expert in their own experiences, and the way that the narrative metaphor allows us to acknowledge the plurality of stories and contexts that are part of our lives in a way that I believe is less common in traditional Western thought. I’m looking forward to learning more as the course progresses.

  6. Finally got around to watching this Hamilton and so glad I did. I particularly resonated with your reflections on privilege and learning as a barrier to feeling like a genuine peer and vice versa. I think this is rich material for self-reflection and for co-reflection.

    • Hi Lorna,

      So lovely to hear that you have watched this. I hope it and the associated ideas can prove useful for other consumer and carer workers in the future.


  7. Glad that I found this website and thankful to Dulwich Centre for being so generous to share with us the resources on Narrative Therapy. I would like to be more cautious on the thin description given during the therapy that might lead to thin conclusion. Instead, I am excited to build more on the positive dominant story and invite alternative stories to create more possibilities that eventually helpful. Thank you! Counsellor – Singapore

  8. I am from the Seattle area in the US. I believe thinking critically is necessary for all of us therapists who work with people, especially the people whose stories may be very different than our own. It is important to hear what they are saying clearly and recognize that they have the most information about themselves and create meaning from what they are sharing and allowing me to be a listener to.

  9. I really think that writing letters to clients is such an important thing to do. Maybe times people do not remember what was said in session and they will ask for something afterwards via email as a reminder. Our stories written out are powerful. I liked the response fo the girl in this chapter that said the letter was the nicest thing she had ever received. The is a pretty amazing feeling for both the client and the therapist.

  10. I really enjoyed this chapter and all of the lessons in it. As a therapist of color, I am always thinking about ways to connect with people through listening of their stories, especially people who may have experienced some sort of injustice or trauma. I love using narrative therapy as my approach in private practice because it a working theory for everyone. The narrative metaphor is a perfect start to healing.

  11. Greetings from South Dakota! I like the concept of how one story is not enough to describe who we are and how one story can cause a stereotype to form. I feel it is important for clients to be heard and allowed to “fill in the gaps” of their story. I think narrative therapy would be excellent for clients who feel unacknowledged and it would validate who they truly are.

  12. The idea or project that stood out for most in this Collective Narrative Practices chapter was in the article Little by Little we Make a Bundle. In particular, personifying the problem of aids and allowing the community to talk about through the medium of drama. In particular, I found it really neat utilizing the two characters of Mr/Mrs. Aids and Mr/Mrs. Carer to address change and create the alternative narrative from suffering to courage.

  13. The sharing of documents is something I use quite a bit in my own practice. These are more “informational” style documents with the purpose to inform, educate a client on a certain concept, such as the flight/fight response or identify strategies for coping with stress. This narrative section has opened a whole new world to me on the potential and therapeutic benefits of the sharing of documents. From the four categories of documents identified in Hugh Fox reading it is the narrative letter session that resonates most with me. In particular, I can see significant benefit in recording a session for a client in this form. Something they can refer back to for recall of main ideas, motivation, and ongoing encouragement well after the session has finished. My only apprehension with the narrative letter is the time to prepare the letter, however, I take comfort in the article emphasizing that the narrative letter does not have to be long.
    I found the idea of using outside witnesses in therapy interesting. While I have not used this tool in my work it is something I am keen to try. I can see the benefit in the sharing of experiences with others. One is it appears to be a valuable way to process ones experiences while receiving empathy and support of others. I can see also can help lighten the emotional load for a person as well as validate their emotions.

  14. I can see significant benefit in externalising and giving a problem a name, particularly so with the presenting concerns of depression and anxiety. From my work and my own experiences internalisation of these two concerns leads to considerable feelings of guilt, shame and a sense of helplessness, all debilitating in their own right. Separating depression from the person and giving it a name as shown in the video “I had a black dog, his name of was depression” has the ability to undermine the power depression has over a person, inviting a sense of agency, as opposed to helplessness.

  15. Thank you for this page, I am a criminal justice student studying sexual assault and sex crimes against inmates. I found this page to present, personal stories, strong ethics and good morals.

  16. This presentation was incredibly insightful. From a student, thank you Vikki for your work and for leaning in.

  17. I did further research on the narrative of Mr/Mrs AIDS and Mr/Mrs CARE and it really cemented the principles of externalizing and how powerful it can be to pull out the problem and out it into the light so people can see how they interact with it, how they can build up their language to create a story around it. I could see how powerful this tool is and I look forward to learning more.

  18. Wow! I really enjoyed reading this article. is this your personal?

  19. Andrea from Costa Rica.
    I’m so happy to aboard this material, externalizing is the opportunity to see the problem in many different faces, and sometimes the problem don’t want to show who really is and try to be part of the personal identity. But this conversation give the opportunity to explores what feed the problem and what take the power off of the problem and helps the person take decisions to make changes in the relation whit the problem. This changes can re significant the history of the life and don’t live attach to the problems.

  20. Las conversaciones de externalization permiten que las personas además de nombrar ese problema que en muchas ocaciones las identifica y en medio de eso revela aspectos que no habían sido tomados en cuenta antes y que son más beneficiosos para la identidad que el problema. El comprender que estas conversaciones también identifican historias alternativas, le da un gran potencial a la externalizations como una oportunidad de cambio para las personas, enriqueciendo también la narrativa sobre ellas mismas

  21. Just watched your video as part of my WK1|SEM2 homework for a Bachelor of Counselling. Brillantly thought provoking. Thank you 🙂

  22. I really like that externalizing includes finding and talking about the small “p” political work. I find this really helpful in discussing and being curious about why people are confronted with specific problems in their lives. Further, the creation of space between the person and the problem is really helpful for finding ways of “thickening” their story and talking about how we can always see a problem and ways of overcoming that problem from various angles.
    I am in particular interested in nature based therapy where the use of metaphors also plays an important role. This fits very well with the focus on finding metaphors in narrative therapy.

  23. I write from Copenhagen, Denmark. It has been so inspiring to dive into the practice of narrative therapy and story telling. I am a trained geographer and have recently started working with nature based therapy for socially marginalized groups and I have been looking for learning a form of therapy that I can actually use without being a trained psychologist.
    The whole method of narrativ storytelling and narrative therapy makes perfect sense to me and I very much enjoy the thought of that thickening “thin” stories. The people I meet are often in despair and feel that they dont have choices in their lives. This perspective of the many stories enables us to see that we actually have many different choices – we can even choose to re-phrase the story of ourselves; and put our story into broader explanatory context such as culture, class, norms, expectations. It feels wonderfully liberating!
    Thank you to the Dulwich Centre for making this class and knowledge available!

  24. Thank you Fareez.

    I would like to use “the life certificate” with my clients.

    All my gratitude for sharing this legacy.

  25. I have had the privilege of watching Chimamanda Adichie’s video a few times now and it is still incredibly powerful every single time I have watched it. A constant reminder of the dangers of single stories and the power of listening for more than one story. What I love about narrative therapy is the challenge of redefining the single (dominant) story and the healing journey that leads to this point. Celebrating that people are the experts of their own lives and being a part of the healing process as a psychotherapist is a true privilege.

  26. I am so grateful for this opportunity and look forward to learning new skills in narrative therapy practice!

  27. looking forward to this course. i live in yangon, Myanmar and work in Myanmar Institute of Theology as a Assistant to Chaplain.
    thanks to join with you all …

  28. I agree wholeheartedly with Aunty Barbara with regard to the beauty of Narrative Therapy not hurrying a person when they are sharing a story. I have noticed too many counsellors hurrying a person when they are discussing an important experience.

  29. I appreciated hearing Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk and being reminded of my own prejudice when I focus in on the single story. I am also reminded of the problem of stereotypes in my community where indigenous people share space with a large mining focussed community. There is so much damage caused when stereotypical thinkers ‘make the one story the only story’.

  30. Thank you very much for all these videos and for everyone sharing their experiences, observations and knowledge. I found myself reflecting on my own experience of shame and accompanied emotions in a transformative way – shame can be very difficult to verbalise but this is where visual art techniques can be helpful or working with symbols or music to convey what one is struggling to communicate. ‘Yarning with a Purpose’ was beautiful, thank you Carolynanha Johnson for sharing your experience and knowledge.

  31. My connection to the Martu people of the Western Desert has lead me to this course. I am a foster carer and also work in the Social and Emotional Wellbeing sector here in the Pilbara, Australia. For so long I have wondered why there has been a silence when it comes to addressing the healing of trauma in my community. There are a plenty of exciting initiatives happening in the context of community development however, there is a huge gap when it comes to exploring healing and trauma informed practice. Thank you for this opportunity to learn more about the healing that can come from “telling our stories in ways that make us stronger”.

  32. Thanks so much for this video. I was concerned about how to incorporate Narrative work within the postpartum/perinatal work we do. What have you found most helpful. I am working with women daily who suffer PPD.

  33. Hello all, I want to say that I feel really grateful that this course is available to anyone who is interested in this way of understanding ourselves and others.
    With regards to the metaphors explained I feel the concept of the single story resonates with me more than the dot metaphor. I know that there are many single stories that family and friends have assigned to me, as well as those I have assigned to myself at different stages of my life.
    I also know that I have assigned dominant stories to friends of mine and when they have diverged from these I have experienced a range of emotional responses. There are times when I have embraced these new aspects that have been revealed and other times when I am guilty of rejecting these friends for not fitting with my expectations of them.
    I think it is really useful for all of us to understand that there are so many possibilities for us to create a sense of self from as shown through the dot metaphor and that these possibilities allow us to extend beyond the dominant story-line that has been self-imposed or imposed by others.

  34. I enjoyed the video ‘Living in the Shadow of Genocide’. This video got me thinking and reflecting on the different ways people cope, heal and transition through experiences of genocide. There really is no one size fits all despite shared commonalities. I also realised that story telling can be initiated with a person by inviting them to talk and share what sustains them during hard times including their community and culture.

  35. Thank you Annette Dudley for this inspiring presentation. After hearing this presentation, I shall certainly be using creative letter writing when working with clients to express and acknowledge what needs to be heard and felt. Creative letter writing offers the opportunity to connect a relative to a past family member who they would have liked to have met. I can see creative letter writing to help process grief and loss.

  36. Thank you Tileah for sharing your experience and knowledge. One thing that struck me was the importance of using appropriate language when working in the community services sector and with Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Using the correct language is important for example, when I support people recovering from mental illness the approach is recovery focused rather than clinical and person centred. Such a helpful video, thank you!

  37. Thank you for offering this wonderful opportunity to learn more about narrative therapy. I am from Calgary,Alberta Canada

  38. What a wonderful introduction to Narrative Therapy. A reminder of how beneficial effective listening can be for the speaker, to be heard without judgement and without the single story as explained by Chimimanda Adichie. After listening to the videos I begun to reflect on my own listening style and how I could improve. Based on my experience listening and creating a space of trust, openness and suspension of judgement can support a person’s healing and health and well being. Everyone has a story to tell about some aspect or stage of their life and for some simply being heard is all that is required and to be supported. I look forward to the next lessons and believe the skills I acquire from this foundational course in Narrative Therapy will assist me to support others as a spiritual care practitioner and mental health support worker.

  39. I feel very inspired by the collaboration of community in understanding challenges and concerns and putting the community at the centre of how to overcome these challenges. It’s so important not to assume one way of thinking, grieving or healing is best – which can be so destructive. A community’s social and cultural past and peoples’ strengths are not sidelines in this section’s stories. I am particularly grateful for reading Healing Stories Partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities. Thank you for allowing us to learn and understand more.

  40. I have a Bachelor Degree in Psychology. I live in Australia and I have moved toward Narrative Therapy as I have found it to be an approach to therapy that really is person-centered. By including multiple stories, that are inclusive of thick and rich definitions, not just thinly defined, one-sided stories, the door becomes open to create new meaning, new possibilities, alternative explanations and new definitions. The narrative approach is refreshing and the theory, “the problem is the problem, not the person”, while being quite a basic concept, is also a very progressive concept.

  41. Thanks for this journey! I learned so much these last 2 months. This course was easy to navigate and the order of articles really helped scaffold my understanding. I am taking a Narrative Therapy Intensive course in person in Toronto in a few weeks and I feel more prepared to contribute and understand what is presented. I am looking forward to taking Externalizing Conversations next, and to start my practice with my students. I have uploaded my essay 🙂 Leah, Toronto-Cairo

  42. I have been a writer/editor for some time, and an educator prior to that. I have worked with storycraft from this perspective and have developed a deep understanding of the power of story in the healing process. Narrative therapy feels like a good fit for me – it feels familiar in many ways.
    I realise that my life is full of thin descriptions of my own self – stories I tell others, stories I tell myself in various contexts. “What do you do?” I am asked. “I’m a writer/editor,” I respond…but of course, this is not the whole story. In some contexts, this description is sufficient. I am not suggesting that we should only ever communicate in deeply explored rich storylines, this would be impractical. I guess I am just becoming aware of the stories in my life and where I might benefit from a little deeper exploration.
    I am looking forward to learning more about narrative therapy.

  43. This module had me making many connections to what was going on in my life both past and present.
    Mary Heath’s description of growing up was very similar to my own and reminded me of some stories. I was raised Catholic, and went to Catholic school. The Catholic school was beside the public school and I assumed in my childhood that there were two types of people; The Catholics who were good and going to Heaven, and The Publics who were OK but weren’t. I always felt privileged that I was one who could have an afterlife in paradise as long as I confessed my sins every week. I also knew I was privileged because whereas the “publics” never came to our church or functions, I was able to go to the Public Library all the time!
    When I was about 7 years old, I was playing in a neighbour’s back yard and fell down and skinned my knee quite badly. The neighbour girl, who went to public school, tended to me in the most caring and loving way, very mature for only being around 7 or 8 years old herself. It was then I started having bigger ideas about our identities and what it means to belong to a certain group. Of course my friend was a good person, even a better person that I was! Why wouldn’t she go to heaven? That didn’t seem fair or right and I started questioning religion right then. I still believed in belonging to the religion I was raised in for another 10 years or so until I moved to a bigger town, met even more diverse people, and questioned even more what I had been taught to believe.
    I wonder now that we are teaching more critical thinking and independent learning in schools if this generation of students will come by it more naturally. Like Mary Heath, I grew up in a system that obliged us to obey. I was rewarded for having the “right” answer, so instead of following my own thoughts or conclusions, I aimed to please. It was more comfortable. But I was also good at drawing and painting so was encouraged to pursue art. Once I did the world of critical thinking really opened up to me.
    Teacher’s College has taught me to be reflective and to celebrate diversity and foster inclusiveness. One thing I need to work on though is collaboration and inviting in the help of others to help me realize my assumptions.

    Reading “An invitation to narrative practitioners to address privilege and dominance” reminded me of a few articles I saw in the news lately. When in the example someone was writing about how the very role of social worker and the “profession we are part of has played an extensive role in subjugation, dispossession and marginalization of indigenous people (and people of colour)” I thought immediately of this article I had just read
    How could this possibly happen, and by the very people meant to help?!

    Later on in the example response the person was reflecting about how we may assume that the person seeking counselling wants the same things out of life that we do; or that parenting programs may depict a ‘correct’ way of parenting that fits with a white middle class way of relating. On both my maternity leaves I would go to our Ontario Early Year Centers, a free drop in programs that allowed parents to play and interact with their babies and toddlers, offered free coffee and snacks and lots of ways of stimulating the children along the milestones they were meeting. I did often wonder why most of the people partaking in these free services seemed to be middle class, professional and mostly white, even though my city is 51% non white and has a large population of recent immigrants. Are the centers not reaching others so they know that they are there and available? Are they not making the centers accessible enough for non English speakers? Does what the center offer not appeal or fit with the ways of raising kids other cultures have? How can we address those things?

    When the document asked “If you see a member of your own social grouping replicating dominance, what is your immediate response?” I thought about a Facebook post I saw today from my hometown.

    What is the best way to respond when you hear/witness racist/homophobic/sexist jokes or harassment?

    -Leah, Toronto to Cairo and Back Again

  44. This was a great introduction to the core principals of narrative therapy. In owning, telling and reframing our own stories we can empower people on an individual level, and also shift the cultural and political landscape.
    A great example that comes to mind for me is NITV (SBS), now a 24 hour free to air channel accessible to everyone. Many stories, many voices and many opportunities for Aboriginal people to see and hear themselves and their stories being told. For non Aboriginal viewers, they are given an opportunity to expand their knowledge and perception of the breadth of Aboriginal cultures and experiences that mainstream Australia still has very little understanding of.

  45. Thank you to everyone behind this. How good would it be to be able to sing an anthem that makes sense, one that all Australians can be proud of on an Australia day that was celebrated on a date that has a positive heartfelt meaning for all Australians?

  46. Shared on Facebook – a much better representation for a modern Australia.

  47. Absolutely perfect reflection of Australia, and what it is to be Ausralian.
    Such compassion, inclusion, resolve and hope for people and country.
    Tears were rolling down my face whilst listening to it.
    It is an anthem I CAN sing and feel proud of.
    A true masterpiece.

    I will be posting and sharing this wonder.

  48. I’m loving the idea of writing some letters to my clients. I think that email would be an effective way, but I find myself concerned because it is such a non-confidential form of communication. Has anyone navigated this concern effectively?

    Also I often have my notes requested by the legal system. Would you keep copies of these letters in the file.


  49. Hey Chris. I notice you will be presenting at the AABAT Forum in August. I really look forward to meeting you there. Haven’t seen an email from you yet!

    • Hi Lucy – sorry I’ve been connecting with a lot of different people – I may have missed responding to you. I’ll get onto that this week. And yes I’ll be in Queensland for the conference to present and will look forward to catching up in person. Speak soon. CD

  50. Catherine from NW Western Australia. I was inspired to hear about ‘Little by little we make a bundle’ metaphor. A fantastic visual for remembering an important message and so the facilitation of the message meant that the learning was meaningful for individuals on so many levels.

  51. The documentation method that stood out to be most relevant in my context, is the mapping exercise described by Ncazelo Nucbe-Mlilo. In my work within an indigenous Australian community, the people have often stated that they are not comfortable accessing traditional ‘Western’ therapies. They are actually quite open to sharing collectively though amongst themselves and in fact have initiated the formation of a culturally focussed ‘yarning’ circle. I can see the mapping exercise being a positive therapeutic documenting tool for them to use particularly because they enjoy the use of iconic, pictorial language over the more confronting, traditional ‘talking’ model used in most therapy

  52. I’m really enjoying these online chapters on Narrative Practice. I work with people who have co-occurring substance use and mental illness diagnoses. I am intrigued by the story of “Sugar” and how that approach could be used with groups in a substance use treatment center. I think that externalizing the addiction and the accompanying problems could be very helpful for clients who are trying to detach themselves from an identity of “Addict”.

    I also really appreciated Mr. Hayward going through the Statement of Position Map 1 and especially the chart. The example of how conversations move from one aspect to another within this map was very helpful.

    I can’t wait to complete the rest of this training!


      I really enjoyed the video by Mark Hayward and the transcript of Joey. It was so helpful to realise how to work with someone that may actually be the perpetrator and strike the right balance between helping them take responsibility for their actions and change while not feeling condemned and not having their identity enmeshed with the problem. I loved how Mark got Joey to the point of admitting that he was a bully, but in reality his preferred story was to be a good friend. Also seeing Joey go from bully to the beginning of EMPATHY by expressing that when he himself was the subject of bullying, he didn’t like it, so he could begin to understand how others would feel when he bullied them and he didn’t want to be that person causing that pain.

    • Hi Serenity,
      I am from the USA- Indiana. I was intrigued by your post and the ‘Sugar’ application to addictions. I had a similar thought-how is Narrative therapy used in this population and also in group work. In his videos Mark also talked about the balance of avoiding clients from not taking responsibility and when it is appropriate to externalize. I will look forward to more information in these two areas of practice.

  53. I have a strong connection to some people in a community in Arnhem Land and have been training in Narrative Therapy. Thank you for this course, I’m looking forward to it.

  54. Being based in a large indigenous community, I found the article titled “Introducing Sugar” very helpful. I’m excited about the potential for adapting this concept when unpacking the issues related to alcoholism and binge drinking which are endemic problems in my community.
    As a foster carer, this chapter has helped me to put words to my thoughts about the foster/adoption triad. “The problem is not the child or the biological parents or the foster family, the problem is the problem.” This concept is central to helping my foster child to explore her understanding of her story.

  55. Culturally inclusive for all Australians and homage paid to the First Australians. I would be very proud to be able to sing these words with my fellow Australians … anytime:)

  56. Fantastic! Much more appropriate for todays Australia. I refuse to sing our current anthem but this version I would be proud to sing.

  57. Hello – a friend posted Briggsy’s comic take on the national anthem yesterday (what a cracker, Briggsy rocks) and today another friend has sent our new anthem on to me via your link. I just love it. I won’t stand for the current anthem nor will I sing it. I live in the Byron Shire on the northern NSW Coast and am secretary of our local reconciliation group Sisters for Reconciliation (Northern Rivers) and the Cavanbah Reconciliation Group. I have been involved in the reconciliation movement since 1997 when the Women for Wik movement emerged out of Canberra and was adopted here in The Shire. I have just mailed this link on to all those in our membership folder, and a few other folks as well. I have typed out all the words and I would very much like to hand them out at our stall in Byron Bay for NAIDOC on Thursday July 11 and in Mullumbimby on Wednesday July 10. Is that permissible? I do hope so. This needs to happen NOW and I very much hope we can get cracking on it right away. Thank you so much to all involved in making this happen. Kulcha has a wonderful voice and I loved the way mob in back all stood up, one by one, to honor the sentiment of the song. Bravo!!!

    • Hi Bronwyn, Yes of course please share the lyrics 🙂

  58. Hello again – Leanne from Calgary, Canada here.

    I have loved the notion that “the person is not the problem; the problem is the problem.” I work with family and friends of individuals who have some form of dementia diagnosis; we often hear some variation of the following from clients: “Oh, I don’t think he has dementia; he just needs to focus more, listen better, get more sleep, etc…..” My colleagues and I usually provide some form of explanation such as “the brain is an organ and when someone has dementia, their brain is going into organ failure.”

    I will probably continue to use the above statements but I believe I will take this conversation one step further and gently suggest that dementia is the problem, and that stronger focus or listening efforts or more sleep may not be a solution to this problem.

    WHAT WOULD YOU CALL THE PRINCIPLE OR IDEA? GIVE IT A NAME. SAY SOMETHING ABOUT IT ….YOUR UNDERSTANDINGS OF IT, IN YOUR OWN WORDS. This is a tough one; “the problem is the problem” says it so beautifully!! The only thing that comes to mind is something like: “the person with the diagnosis probably wishes that he/she didn’t have to give up driving, can no longer use the stove on their own, doesn’t recognize his/her grandchildren, etc.”

    With respect to my role as the coordinator for support groups, I have started asking individuals (who are interested in joining one of our groups), “What is happening for your at this point in time? Why are your interested in a support group now?” The replies I receive indicate that this is an important question; individuals either start to cry (which is completely understandable; we simply stay on the line with them and say something like, “It’s OK to let go; I will be with you for as long as you need.”) or they can point to a specific event or a conversation they have had with another professional/family member/friend. This conversation is often the catalyst that causes them to reach out to our office.

    I think these actions are important in my role because many of these caregivers have never been asked what has been happening for them; when they meet with other professionals (typically doctors, nurses, Home Care Case Managers, etc.,) these caregivers are TOLD what they need to do and when to do it. Our agency may be one of the few places which ASKS the caregiver what is going on for them. We also often remind caregivers “You are the expert on the person for whom you are caring.”


    When speaking to a caregiver for the first time and after listening to their story, I often say something like: “Wow, you certainly do have a lot going on at present. Do you have an idea or a sense of what is the most important thing for you or the thing which you would like to address first in our work together?”


    Again, it has been my experience that clients often are taken aback that a professional has asked for their input rather than simply telling them what to do. I have found that the majority of clients, after a sentence or two, can tell me which thing(s) they want to address first.

    When clients say something like, “Oh, I have no idea,” I give them one or two options for handling this question: I suggest I call them back/they call me back at an agreed upon time; I also advise that they can contact me by email if that would be more convenient for them.

    2. YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT YOURSELF? I am so very happy to be able to provide choice to clients who rarely have choices in their situation.

    3. THE OTHER PEOPLE WHO WERE WITH YOU? When our agency has practicum students who observe these meetings or telephone conversations/email, they are usually quite pleased to learn that we do all we can to provide choices to our clients.

    4. YOUR HOPES OR PLANS? I really like how this principle of Narrative Therapy dovetails with the social work tenet of “meeting the client where they are.” I have found working with a client is much more helpful/therapeutic when the client feels like they are an active participant and that I am not simply “telling them what to do.”

    5 AND 6. YOUR FEELINGS? WHAT WAS THIS LIKE FOR YOU? DID YOU LIKE IT OR NOT? There are times that I feel a bit awkward or frightened that the client will not contact me again for any number of reasons which may or may not have something to do with me/our conversation. While there are times when I do have second thoughts about what I said/how I said it, I firmly believe that allowing clients to be the “experts” and decide when/if they want to contact our agency again is the best method of practice at present.


    I believe that the use of this principle suits me in over 95% of the conversations I have with clients. Please see my previous comments with respect to my reasons for giving this evaluation.
    This has been an exceptionally helpful course. I join with others in thanking the Dulwich Centre for providing this resource to, seemingly, the world!!

  59. Hello from Leanne in Calgary, Canada.


    I really enjoyed each of the “articles” in this module. I was particularly intrigued to learn that Michael White and David Epston had worked with/had been influenced by Karl Tomm from my home city. Up until reading this information, I had not heard of Karl Tomm. I “did the Google” and found his office is not far from my home; I also recognized some of his staff as instructors in the Master’s of Social Work program at the University of Calgary (from where I graduated in 2012 with a BSW.)

    I was also reminded of my experiences in working with Aboriginal individuals on a reserve west of Calgary when I was the Program Coordinator of Victim Services with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. There were some aboriginal officers in our detachment who suggested different ways of communicating with individuals on the reserve who had been impacted by crime. These suggestions were very simple but made a huge difference in the number of people with whom we were able to connect and to whom we could provide services.

    I was also reminded of my role as a “Family Coach” with an organization here in Calgary which works with women and their children who want to leave the sex trade. Listening to each of these women’s histories was part of our services and provided great insight to me with respect to how these women survived.


    I believe these things stood out to me because I always have (and hope I always will) consider it to be privilege to be invited into people’s lives at which is typically a very low point. I learned very quickly, as I listened to their stories, that while I personally may not have been responsible for the circumstances which led women to become involved in the sex trade, it is almost certain that some of my British ancestors were responsible for the policies or the lack of services which caused women to sell their bodies to feed themselves and their children.


    I feel very fortunate that in my current role (as a social worker with the Alzheimer Society of Calgary,) listening to and recording family histories is part of my job. I want to continue to make the time to listen to each client’s history and work to find and explore the “threads” of clients’ pasts which may have brought them to their present place.

  60. I LOVE this meaningful version of Advance Australia Fair!!!!
    As a child, I could never understand what we were singing about. Back then, I thought the lyrics of our anthem were ‘Australia’s sunburnt ostriches.’ not ‘Australians all let us rejoice.’ It does kind of sound like ‘ostriches’ when a thousand people are singing it at once.
    Not surprisingly, my teacher was far from impressed and made me sing it alone to the entire school at assembly. The principal thought I was the class clown when I sang my own rendition again. Boy, was I in trouble. Well, at least the kids liked it.
    Your version is the best I have heard, and I would love it to be the revised anthem.

    • So beautiful. It reflects our country’s history, her future and the amazing cultures that inhabit it. Congratulations for putting this all into words.

  61. This module was great for self-reflection. As a first-year school counsellor, I have not started documenting my meetings with students in a file or chart per se; but come next school year I will try the collaborative approach that Sue Mann uses in the hospital. I think writing letters back and forth to my students would be a beneficial practice I would like to try. I am teaching in a country not of my origin and the idea that therapy and counselling can be colonizing in a country that has been colonized by English speakers was eye opening for me. The idea of “yarning” would work with my student population, I think. I am also starting to see that some of my students’ problems could be culture-wide injustices and not just family problems. A lot to think about and re-work the way I practice. Leah, Canadian in Cairo

  62. Hi. I am teacher trained but working now in the social and emotional well being field in remote north west WA with indigenous communities. I am also a foster carer.
    I have been introduced to narrative therapy practices recently and am enthusiastic about learning more. So far, I see it fitting with the strength based approach used in mentoring.
    I also see it being useful in collectively empowering people who are trying to break the cycle of trauma in their communities.
    Im looking forward to learning more about exploring strength stories in the midst of trauma.

  63. Hard to sing it through my tears! Thankyou for creating this inclusive anthem. Love it. .

  64. Hard to sing it through my tears! Thankyou for creating this inclusive anthem, am hoping we can sing it at my children’s school every Monday morning very soon!

  65. This is perfect! How can we replace our current out-dated anthem with it?

  66. I sincerely believe this could be the perfect response to the question of a new anthem. It’s simple, inclusive, non-aggressive, and keeping the traditional tune, structure of lines and verses, and even some entire lines, was a masterstroke. I’ll be sharing as widely as I can, and doing the new words when I sing at a tavern night in the small but very cool Victorian country town of Meeniyan later in the year. Good luck with your campaign. The video is a superb marketing tool!

  67. A true 360 of what Oz aspires to be. Just love it, love it, love it.

  68. Hi Chris,

    It was a real pleasure to walk the journey that you take the young people on through the narrative walk.

    I love my work as a counsellor and being outdoors equally and am excited by the idea of bringing this concept and experience to women recovering from family violence.

    I think from memory you are presenting at the AABAT Forum “Turning Over a New Leaf” as am I and I hope to have the opportunity to hear more of the walk process then.


    • Thanks Angele. Id be happy to connect and hear how you might adapt this program or other outdoor programs to suit the women you work with. Email me or find me at the conference if you like, I’ll be there for the full three days. CD

  69. Very powerful lyrics and yet so simple. They encapsulate who we are and what we should be. Very inclusive, and respectfully recognises all those who live here

  70. I love this version, it includes all and especially the traditional owners of this land and if they also approve of this version then government need to change it

  71. Excellent. Preserves the tune and some familiar lines which many are attached to, while making it inclusive for all. The only way forward.

  72. Perfect. I have shared with friends and will continue to share as widely as I can.

  73. We actually had an afternoon get together at work to watch this clip.
    We all agreed our anthem should be changed.
    With that our program manager shared the link in which we have all shared it further to get this message out there.

  74. It encompasses us all in this beautiful country. A great anthem.

  75. The words are humble meaningful and refer to the truth and equality, so much better, easier for all to embrace


    I enjoyed hearing David Newman’s thoughts on “Rescuing the said from saying it.” We often use this principle in our work with informal caregivers for individuals with a diagnosis of any form of dementia. When we first make contact with these individuals/families, we typically send our information regarding the specific form of dementia diagnosed as well other information we believe would be helpful for this specific family. We also suggest that no more than 2 of these documents be read at one time and that this reading take place before 6 p.m. as we have heard from other caregivers reading more than 2 items can be overwhelming and sleep can be difficult if this information is read too late in the day.

    I find this practice relates to Hugh Fox’s use of letters to his clients; many clients have told us that it has been very helpful to be able to review these documents, much like Hugh reviews, through his letters, what has happened in session with his clients. We have always taken these steps from a practical/informational perspective; I think it would be very helpful if we started doing this with our clients from a relational perspective as well.


    I loved the information and suggestions included in Carey and Russell’s paper on outsider-witness practices. There are a number of principles that I want to share with colleagues!!

    This statement by Hugh Fox particularly resonated with me on both personal and professional levels: “Narrative practice is founded on the idea that the stories that we tell about ourselves are not private and individual but are a social achievement.”

    I recently underwent a complicated hip surgery and have seen a myriad of medical professionals through this process. As I met with these various individuals, it was important to me that these professionals thought well of me and considered me to have reached “social achievement.”

    Professionally, I am thinking of the wide variety of clients with whom I interact and how I often sense they wish to be considered to have reached “social achievement.”

    It is my hope that I can create a non-judgment environment with clients in which they feel they have reached “social achievement.” This goes back to the tenet of “the person is not the problem; the problem is the problem.” I also want to create this type of caring environment for myself, within my own stories as well.

  77. Thank you Hamilton Kennedy, i am ex psychiatric user, here in Rwanda we have many cases of mental disorders because of Genocide was happen here, but the problem is to reintegrate the mental patients when are discharged from the hospital, only we, as victim or survivors of mental illness, took an initiative to do our best, i thank you for what you did, and wish to collaborate with you, our created association of mental patients here is named OPROMAMER

    • Hello Claver!

      I too am wishing to collaborate with you! Thank you for the work you are doing in Rwanda. Hope to hear from you soon


  78. I love this version
    Proud of it
    Bring it on

    • This is the answer

  79. Love it. Perfect!

  80. I am Leanne Hill from Calgary, Canada. I am a social worker at the Alzheimer Society of Calgary and work primarily with informal (non-paid) caregivers for individuals with all forms of dementia diagnosis.

    Article 7 of the “Narrative Therapy Charter of Story Telling Rights” particularly resonated with me. My role is to oversee the 4 support groups for caregivers which operate under our umbrella. Regrettably, we almost always have wait lists for our groups; our staff levels (related to our funding levels) does not allow us to start any more groups at present.

    Virtually all of our support group participants declare at some time that support groups profoundly help them in two ways: (a) They learn they are not the only ones who are on this difficult journey; and, (b) They learn they are not the only ones who have made mistakes along this journey. The “contributions [made] to others in similar situations” can provide enormous relief as well as strength for caregivers along this difficult journey. I count it an enormous privilege to be part of these caregivers’ lives.

  81. Hello! I am Leanne from Calgary, Canada. I, too, am grateful for this opportunity; many thanks to the Dulwich Centre for providing this exceptionally high quality course.

    I work as a social worker at the Alzheimer Society of Calgary and work primarily with non-paid caregivers (often family members) for individuals with any form of dementia. The basis of our work and educational programs is “life story” so much of the information in this module resonated strongly with me.

    My role is to “manage” the 4 support groups which we oversee for caregivers. I found the words of Article Seven of the “Narrative Therapy Charter of Story-telling Rights” to be particularly applicable to the work in which I am involved with our support groups: “Everyone has the right to know and experience that what they have learned through hardships CAN MAKE A CONTRIBUTION TO OTHERS IN SIMILAR SITUATIONS.”

    We are rarely without waiting lists for our support groups; due to our staffing levels at present, (which is directly related to our funding) we are unable to start any further groups. I never cease to be amazed by the healing which takes place in these groups when individuals hear the stories of others which confirm they are not the only ones who have walked this difficult path and are not the only ones who have made mistakes along this journey. This also embraces Article 4 – “The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem.”

    I was also reminded of an experience I had in university. I entered university at age 46 and graduated at age 50 with a bachelor degree in social work. During one of my courses, we were required to keep a journal of our reflections of our experiences during one of our practicums.

    I was 48 at the time of this practicum and while I had learned much about navigating computers, I still was not nearly as comfortable as my younger classmates. Many of my classmates created beautiful collages online for their journals while I simply told stories. I received a note of criticism from the prof asking that I use less narration and start including photos, etc in my entries. I had had this prof for other classes and was VERY frightened of her.

    I worried about this for about 3 days and wondered which of my classmates liked me well enough that I could ask them for help in this regard!! 🙂 🙂 I then realized that, for me, stories were how I learned best. I then wrote a very respectful response to the professor stating that stories were my preferred method of learning and communication and asked if she might possibly reconsider her directive.

    I received a reply from her in a day wherein she stated that I could continue to complete my journal using stories. I was one grateful student!!!

  82. Hi everybody from the beautiful city of Bad Homburg right in the middle of Germany!
    I am so grateful to be offered this course. My deep appreciation to everyone who contributed to its design and execution.
    I am a Story Practitioner and I work with stories on an organizational level and not on a therapeutic one, although most of the times the boundaries between the two seem to be quite blurry.
    I was happily surprised to see already from the beginning the reference and video to Chimamanda Adichie, whom I love.
    What I keep from her story at this particular time which I would like to share with you is this: “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story. . . . The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.”
    A core part of my work is to bring and/or enhance humanity in organizations as they have become quite cruel and harsh for their people nowadays. The narrative approach helps me so much with my mission.

  83. I Like it! A lot more appropriate for todays day and age

  84. After listening and watching the single sided story, I now reflect on the stories I have heard about the indigenous people of Canada that made me see the dangers of a single story.”

  85. What a beautiful anthem – One I would be proud to sing.

    • Agreed I’d love to sing this

      • I heard about this on the radio this morning, so it’s very new to me but I love it! (Sorry I don’t know how to comment only reply) . I had to then hear it sung and found the new future version on youtube. I already feel like I know it better than the original. I’ll try to spread the word

  86. Chris Dolman and David Denborough have given me a lot to think about as I reflect on the western and pathologizing ways of experiencing grief. It has given me so much to think about in terms of those situations where the ‘stages of grief’ are just not ‘working’ for people – the notion of saying hello again is so beautiful and healing. I really appreciated that.

  87. Hi Chris
    I love the idea of your narrative walk program. I work in community mental health in Ireland and unfortunately narrative practice has not really taken hold in the service. I was thinking of maybe trying something similar as we have some amazing scenic walks. Unfortunately weather is not quite Perth but hopefully that won’t put us off. If possible could you send me some of the materials/workbooks you use in the program. I’ve been really inspired by your talk on narrative walking. Many thanks. Paul

    • Thankyou Paul – Sounds amazing – dont let the weather put you off, wet weather and storms brings all kinds of opportunities for the narrative metaphor and reflective thinking I have found. Ill send you over the resources I have and would love to here how it goes. Chris

  88. I love the reminder about the lens of “Survivance”. Working in often deficits based systems, it is easy to get swept away from the stories which make us stronger. Thank you.

  89. I really enjoyed the reference to Sharon Welch who spoke of creating a ‘heritage of resistance’. This idea makes more visible some of the social justice ideology attributable to the retellings. It’s the collective re-authoring of identities that are magnified in such a way that they transcend time. The significance of which is profound.

  90. Community gatherings is a “common unity”, and “com” for comunication. The community gatherings is the imparting or exchanging of information so as the community can be on the same page with each other. This helps identify problems and than find solutions. The Narrandera Koori Community Gathering document mentions, “Now we don’t have the same opportunities for get-togethers”, “These days people stay at home in their lounges enjoying their stereos, televisions, video recorders, and video games, and don’t mix so much with others.” For me this suggest an “escape from reality”, but then we have Facebook, which is a digital community, that connects everybody but its still a digital world where we don’t come face-to-face with people. The Narrandera Koori Community Gathering document was written in 2002 so Facebook was not around than. In this new digital world, where are Aboriginal communities gatherings at, in 2019? Statistically, there are higher Aboriginal suicides and higher mental health problems than the rest of the community. However, I digress, I loved the idea of the “listening team” to listen and than retell the stories. This gave the community gatherings a stronger and richer “innerstanding” (understanding) of what is going on in the community. Metaphorically, its like holder a magnifing glass to an ant to see the unseen details that you know are there but just need some help in seeing it. The listening team is a powerful reflection tool for the collective group.

  91. Thank you for this powerful reminder that we can create sacred, healing spaces in which people can tell their stories in ways which make them stronger – a powerful resistance to some of the deficit based practises which exist in social work/ psychology.

  92. What stood out to me most while exploring this module is the idea of collaboration and collegian sharing. The very fact that I am taking this course for free to better inform my practice shows that the founders of Narrative Therapy are practicing what they preach.
    “The practice of teaching was not separate from the originating. Michael was also learning when he was teaching”. The ideas of sharing, reflecting, reviewing to generate new ideas, to build upon ideas, to connect ideas and to hold one’s self accountable is how I strive to inform my practice when I teach Positive Discipline and in my small group adolescent counselling. I am constantly learning from all those around me, there is not hierarchy. And, like my students, I also learn best when I practice. Teacher AND Learner is in my instagram bio 😉 maybe a better phrasing would be Learner AS teacher.
    When I work with students, I also think of myself as a “co-counselling” with them. I start with the premise that they are the architects of their own lives, the experts of what their values are and the goals they have on the way to achieve a life living within those values. I am here to co- research into ways the student can change their relationship with their problem and practice accessing their skills and abilities in order to be able dip into their archive of knowledge as they move into their adult lives.
    -Leah, Canadian in Cairo

  93. Hi Maureen from Australia, WA originally from South Africa. I loved the song by Mary Heath regarding domestic violence. This song touched me as this was my story for 23 years. Yes, indeed the question is not why doesn’t my sister just leave, the question should be When will you leave my sister…. alone. I am no longer a victim I am victorious.

  94. I loved the creative ways that narrative therapy can be used in counselling, whether in a group setting or with just one person, it works by helping people to bring out their stories in a culturally respectful environment. I actually sat down with my visual art journal to go through the Tree of Life on my own and I found myself writing “breaking” with a habit or “breaking” transgenerational trauma. I stopped myself as I felt the word “breaking or break” was too harsh and negative plus I felt like I was breaking my tree or breaking the branches and it felt wrong to use that word, so I used the word “heal” in its place and it felt so much calmer to my mind and heart. I want to “heal transgenerational trauma”.

  95. I only recently heard about the term “lateral violence” and it makes so much sense. I really appreciated that reading and will be more aware of those types of situations in my professional and personal life. I would also love to include those theatrical personifications of problems in my work at some point – it seems to really disarm everyone and make people comfortable to eventually ask their own questions and share their own stories.

  96. I absolutely love that Migration of Identity map in the example about Etta. What a simple but powerful visual to be able to reference – and something that can be used in so many scenarios, not just in therapy! Definitely want to learn more about that technique.

  97. I absolutely loved that TED Talk – very thought provoking. I live in Canada and the Indigenous communities here have historically been treated in such awful ways. As Chimamanda said, the dominant story begins with “the arrows of the Native Americans” and not the arrival of the British in North America. There is one dominant story about the Indigenous people which has created very negative and painful stereotypes. I wonder how things would have been if we had been taught the complete story throughout our education as children. We have such a limited understanding (if I can even use that word) – we all need the whole story to truly understand.

  98. I have been a practicing therapist for almost 20 years in Canada. I continue to find myself drawn to metaphor and to externalizing the problems presented by clients. I’m always amazed by the excitement clients have as they start to see their problem as something outside themselves and start to embrace their internal skills and abilities that are accessible to manage that problem.

    I’m feeling re-inspired as I gobble up all this information and eagerly apply it to my work.

  99. In reading “Strengthening Resistance: The use of narrative practices in working with genocide survivors”, the sadness I felt when reading about the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi people in Rwanda. But at the same time I was transported back in time to what it must have been like during colonisation and the mass trauma experienced by the Australian Aboriginal people, in which sadly, can still be felt and seen in ill mental health, suicides and many other devastating ways 200+ years later. Sadly, the Aboriginal people did not have access to immediate mental health therapy at the time until many, many, many decades later. I can see that sharing documents between countries can have a profound effect on helping others and each other to heal and strengthening resistance.

  100. This is such a fantastic course. Looking forward to the course and putting it into practice

  101. Everything about “Sugar” is so incredible! That passion for service is palpable. THAT is how you reach people and change lives!!! Reading the transcript of Sugar really reinvigorated me in my practice. Making folks feel like they belong to the story is so imperative. Often. colonizing culture tends to make characters so generically appealing that they alienate certain groups. This flips the script on that idea!

  102. I absolutely love the Migration of Identity map that was adapted. So client focused! This seems like the best way to work with all types of folks.
    Also, more to the effects of colonialism…how we understand colonialism and its subsequent effects, definitely changes everything. Suddenly, a person can re-characterize themselves!

  103. Re-membering and honouring our lost loved ones is such a great way to help people turn grief and sadness around and as Barbara Wingard states; ‘mainstream ways of talking about grief, there is sometimes a focus on the actual pain’. I loved Chris Dolmans video on “Re-membering reciprocal relationships”, how he was able to turn a simple statement into an honouring of re-membering of the lost loved one and bringing forward that story to be built upon thus refocusing the pain from the self to re-emerge into a re-membering and honouring of the Other (the lost loved one) and possibly other people who are still in their lives.

    Justin Butler’s paper “Who’s your mob? Aboriginal mapping: Beginning with the strong story”, was a refreshing read and as an Aboriginal person, I could relate to what he was saying about the Aboriginal mapping questions because its common to ask another Aboriginal person these 3 questions and to find out if we are related or connected in some way. In relation to re-membering I feel these questions keep our history and our ancestor alive. The article, Re-membering Practices by Paul Martin, he writes; “I feel  when thinking of  ways of  re-membering are we limited in what we are enquiring about  in conversations, are we always  looking to reconnect with the ones that we have lost or is it possible we are looking to find parts of ourselves that may have been lost or forgotten through time”. This gives another spin on re-membering as I feel it widens the scope for deeper “innerstanding” (understanding) of our personal journeys with those loved ones who may have helped influence that journey.

  104. I am really excited to participate in this course. I am privileged to live and work in Calgary, Southern Alberta in Treaty Seven Territory, which includes the tradional territories of the Blackfoot: Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, and the Tsuut’ina and the Stoney Nakoda: Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley First Nations and Metis Nation Region III

  105. Hello all, my name is Bonnie and I am from the home of Narrative Therapy, Adelaide Australia!

    I’m currently in my final year of a counselling degree and am also taking the time to complete this course as it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I first learnt about Narrative Therapy.

    I really love the format and concepts of Narrative Therapy as I have always been drawn to the stories of people and places. I love listening to people tell stories about themselves and I have a huge interest in anything that presents a story to me.

    I feel the metaphors used to describe narrative therapy such as the dot experiment show that there is such a rich and deep meaning to our lives that is comprised of so many layers. By using the concept of storytelling it can help people visualise how they want their story to go on which can inspire them to go forward and make choices that enhance their lives in meaningful ways.

  106. I was really intrigued by the Aboriginal Mapping article by Justin Butler. Particularly the questions he posed that asked what one might speculate about how their continued cultural practices or ways of living would be seen by their ancestors. It takes the idea of re-membering conversations and applies them to ancestral contexts. What a brilliant way to intimately connect past, present and future in the most respectful acknowledging of culture, kin, land, and family.

  107. Unity as a Sign of Strength
    The bundle of sticks metaphor stood out for me:
    *one stick can fairly easily be snapped, but several sticks bundled together are impossible to break in half: little by little WE make a bundle.
    *1 stick can create a small fire easily extinguished. Many sticks can burn an entire bush. Strength in numbers.
    For peoples who are accustomed to communal living group therapy can be more culturally in tune with the needs of the community. I like the example of how the group would break into smaller, more homogeneous groups (men/women/youth) in order for their voices to be better heard and where they would then document a plan of action.
    Another metaphor, The Tree of Life, intrigued me. Someone mentioned in the comments below that this methodology has faced criticism. Can someone point me to those critiques? A google search doesn’t show any negative reviews as far as I can see.
    Talking about how some problems (cancer) can be meaningless and have no answers resonated with me. There are no answers to “Why?’ So how do we find meaning? Perhaps when the trees of life come together in the forest, families can see how their skills and knowledge can help others “get through the storms” and all is not for naught. Little by little our tress of life builds a forest that makes meaning and creates strength. In the Linking Stories and Initiatives article this concept of unanswerable questions was also addressed. One youth said that asking unanswerable questions is important because it shows respect for the person who has died. The living document of this article reminded me of the Making Sense of Suicide document from a previous module and I find these community documents helpful for all involved.
    Leah, Canadian in Cairo.

  108. “Unpacking” when working with “externalising the problem”, it seems to be very helpful as it projects the “problem” outside the self. Its like giving form to a label in which:

    * we can than help to unpack
    * to see more clearly
    * to focus on the “label or form” and not see yourself as the problem.

    It is almost like giving oneself some breathing space. Like the “Shame Mat”, people can separate their shame so they can unpack their problems and issues.

    Its giving space for healing to begin.

  109. Oh, thank you so much, Fareez! I watched your presentation and am now reading your journal article: you have give tremendous thought and creativity to your idea of a Life Certificate: I am grateful for you for sharing!

  110. I think this concept is very valuable and applicable to practice as it provides a novel ways for clients to look at their situation and explore it in greater death. One question that comes up for me is what to do when a client is particularly attached to their problem? I have met individuals who are very “at home” in their depression and use it to explain everything that they do. I feel that externalizing depression in these contexts may minimize the problem for the client. Has anyone been in a situation where they have worked through this before?

    • Hi Thea, Thanks for your comment and your interest. There’s nothing about externalising practices that seeks to ‘minimise the problem’ .. .in fact its a practice that involves acknowledgement of the effects and operations of any experience (positive or negative). It also seeks to assist the person in discerning what may be helpful and what may not be about any phenomenon. hope this is helpful. Good luck with your explorations! Warmly, David Denborough (Dulwich Centre)

  111. I found the comment regarding externalizing as the first step rather than the outcome to be especially relevant. From this article, I took that the real work comes from building the externalized problem into existing and new storylines. Without this commitment to integrating the concepts in a way that makes sense for the client, they would be left with a problem that could be understood as separate to themselves, but nothing more. This would be the same as handing a client a chapter to read on anxiety reduction techniques, rather than conversing with them, understanding their anxiety and looking at how they can integrate certain techniques into their life.

  112. Hello everyone!

    My name is Thea and I am a masters student from Toronto, Ontario. I was especially moved by Chimamanda Adichie’s Ted Talk on the dangers of a single story. I work with children and youth who are subjected to these single stories every day, defined by thin descriptions and created by other people. Oftentimes these stories become so deeply engrained that the individual believes it as the ultimate truth. I think that a narrative perspective is so valuable because it provides the space and techniques to unpack these deeply entrenched personal narratives that dictate all aspects of one’s life and how they experience the world.

  113. From personal experiences if non-Indigenous “Helpers” in therapy do not know the history of colonisation than they could possibly do more damage. It is very important to know the impact of colonisation to better understand the compounded trauma of Indigenous people.

  114. This is a great foundation to begin my journey into narrative therapy: “stories are important”, “people are the experts in their own lives”, the dangers of a single story” and “telling stories that make us stronger”. History has always been written by the dominant culture and therefore most of the stories (children books, tv programs) have been written by the dominant culture. But this is changing and the “Other” is starting to tell their history and stories.

  115. Lovely Welcome from the First Nations Narrative Practitioners. Look forward to learning more about Narrative Therapy in this Free Online Course.

  116. Understanding the problem by taking distance from the person who is experiencing it makes it easier to step down to observe without judgment, guilt or shame and possibly to thank him for his presence in our life to let go. I find the idea of “unique results” very interesting because it allows us to recognize that we have not always done something in the same way, but that sometimes we have taken other paths, inquiring about the circumstances that favored these events, setting up an alternative line of argument. Similarly, the distinction between the narrative approach and other psychological approaches leads me to understand that it highlights the construction of a narrative identity, which is shaped through the relationships that we establish, the stories we weave with others and ourselves. I also recognize that narratives are configured under places of power, from where it is stated, who enunciates it and the historical moment in which it does, therefore, it is valuable to inquire about family conditions, social and cultural aspects of these discourses.

  117. Hello Everyone, my name is Marnel and I’m currently living in Cali, Colombia. For me the narrative metaphor is an ideal way to give new and rich senses to our life. Faced with situations that have been signified as traumatic, they tend to have simple narratives where the traumatic event becomes important, leaving aside the diversity of everyday experiences. I agree with Michael White, when he proposes that families assign alternate meanings to events, it is about becoming aware of those strategies they have intuitively used to continue living, finding new threads to weave stories of hope and new purposes to fulfill.

    In my case as a psychologist, it will serve me so that the attentive listening of the stories of children and adults will be a starting point to accompany them to put the magnifying glass on those experiences that emanate life, but many times they bury themselves under a single, unchanging version.

    I am currently working in kindergartens, one of the situations I see is that parental separations increasingly occur within a few months or years of the birth of the child, who find it difficult to manage this situation, generating in turn an impact on their children. I find it interesting to be able to accompany both parents and children back to their stories, going back to key moments that allow them to stop and observe, find internal resources, empower themselves from their decisions and current situation. Thanks

  118. This 3rd module of the introductory course has explained many things I didn’t understanding before in my more casual reading about Narrative Therapy.
    *Using Living Documents for “Assisting people to find their language through the language of others” is an idea that would work great with the youth I work with. They are not accustomed to creating original work, they use the internet to find ideas for any academic assignment and prefer to have a “correct” answer that already exists instead of trying to think of unique solutions with their own set of knowledges. I think that by having a living document with other youth who have contributed to it readily available for them to peruse, would help scaffold their own voices. I think seeing how what others wrote helped them would reassure them that their writing about their own skills and knowledge and experiences will not be for nothing: it will help other too.
    *I think I will try to encourage the students to create a text like this, perhaps about how they got through bullying, or how to navigate social media in a healthier way, or whatever concerns they think would be best addressed. Reading “Holding Our Heads Up: Sharing stories not stigma after losing a loved one to suicide” was a heartbreakingly beautiful example of sharing skills and knowledge used to get through painful experiences.
    *I never thought of writing letters to recap a session, and I like this idea, especially the reminder that we need to negotiate how the letter will be used so it just doesn’t remain unopened or in the garbage.
    *” The Narratives in A Suitcase story” was great, as I mentioned in comments on the previous module, I am very interested in the relationship between NT and Arts Therapy. Metaphors reminds me a lot of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (which I am NOT well read on yet), is there a connection between ACT & NT too? Taking the suitcase metaphor further by Mapping of the Journey and having a Story Circle (which brings in outsider witness practices right?) ensures their stories are truly enriched and thickened and help others as well as themselves.
    *Finally, I knew nothing about Outsider Witness before. I always believed “It takes a village to raise a child”, and I guess, as is quoted at the end of the article “It takes an audience to solve a problem”. I will need to practice this much more, as I never thought of therapy in this way (I’m new to counselling) but I love that it creates accountability, creates a link to “real life”, that the preferred story becomes more authentic, gets us out of our head, and gives a feeling of being helpful.
    Leah, Canadian in Cairo.

  119. HI I saw it on facebook last night and have shared it there and to twitter. It is beautiful and will learn the words. thank you

    • I love it and the way it includes the original owners of our fair land. A remarkable revision of an anthem that I have never liked.
      Saw it on face book earlier this year and wanted the words.

  120. Two things really stood out to me. 1) White’s discussion on externalizing voices associated with schizophrenia – unpacking their authority, and diminishing their power – this resonates with my work. 2) the Introducing Sugar and Lateral Violence scripts are amazing and I’d like to try that forum with the problem of methamphetamine in my hometown.

  121. There was so much to celebrate in this session. Mr & Mrs aids the Mt Elgan Self Help stories of the children and the creation of a solar panel. The learning to celebrate with traditional dance. The stories from the indigenous communities were and are inspirational. I am learning so much from these sessions. Thank you to all who have contributed.

  122. Thank you for these amazing stories and listening to Tileah. What a great way to encourage the remembering of a rich culture and to enable the positive stories to be revealed that allows healing. It helps this non indigenous parent of indigenous children/grandchildren to have tools to build restoration, healing & pride in my family & the wider community I work with. Thanks again

  123. Each text was a piece of a puzzle building a bigger picture for me of what Narrative Therapy is.

    The PPT has helpful sample questions for me to start practicing the different language practices of NT so I can become more seamless and natural in this way of thinking and speaking.

    “Sugar” gave a great tip about who the group is culturally and individually. Giving questions beforehand scaffolds confidence for participants to develop and ask their own curiosity questions when the time is right. I also liked how “drama” therapy through role play was shown. In the PPT art therapy was also mentioned “Could you draw a picture of this problem for me?”. I am personally curious to learn more about how drama/art/play therapy can work within the Narrative Therapy philosophy/framework.

    The Commonly-asked-questions gave even more chances to practice with words and ways of speaking/thinking that can give the problem a living form.

    This chapter of the course solidifies for me that I stumbled onto a practice that really suits my ways of thinking and I am looking forward to learning so much more.

  124. It was very helpful for me to picture changing the adjectives people use to describe themselves (and therefore their problems) into Nouns. Even proper nouns through personification, like Mr Mischief, or Ms AIDS, help externalize the problem for both adults and children and lesson some of the personal shame and/or cultural blame that often stigmatizes many problems.

    Also helpful was realizing we can help develop richer alternative stories by externalizing positive perceptions too.

    Finding other metaphors to use rather than combative or conflict related metaphors was a good reminder that there are plenty of ways to find and describe unique outcomes by looking for the ways the problem was escaped/revised/tamed/ etc…

  125. hi All.
    am Indian American, not born in the US but in India. America is now my country and my childrens, I hope we could have an anthem where no none have to kneel, but stand and sing with pride and joy as this one.

    best wishes

  126. Hi course-mates. I am Canadian writing from Egypt. I work with adolescents in a school setting.

    When academic/career counselling my focus has always been that the students are the architects of their own lives and can use their existing expertise to work through the choices they are contemplating. Narrative therapy fits right into that as I am learning to be a social/emotional counsellor as well.

    Question: If we decide at the end of this course that we would like the certificate, can we pay and do the tasks then, or must we be on the certificate track from the beginning?

    Thanks, looking forward to learning with you all!

    • Hi Leah, You can do it either way 🙂 It’s fine to just work your way through it all now and then decide at the end if you want to attain the certificate. We hope you find the course helpful.

  127. Just uploaded the essay. Thanks to the Dulwich Centre for walking me through my first Narrative Therapy experience/learning. I will definitely be returning to your site and courses in the future.



  128. Between the lines of every story, there is nothingness. Who are we if we drop the stories we carry around about ourselves? This is a scary question. So it would seem understandable that we do not easily drop our old worn out stories.

    Narrative therapy is a tool to help re-write for ourselves an alternative story line in which we can ultimately feel reborn. The space we occupy becomes bigger and greater through the development of alternative stories. By engaging our imagination, we begin to see ourselves in a new light and with a new purpose. We awaken to ourselves through a process that is both cathartic and transformative.

    B.A. Beal, Colorado

  129. The different mediums of documentation reminds me of the various mediums of community storytelling – which is narrative therapy in a group setting. The incorporation of outside witness within this process makes documentation even more potent. I really love this idea of documentation for it will serve as a positive reminder. This is especially important when the person is having a crisis or is experiencing a trigger.

  130. Critical thinking about privilege really opened my eyes. I am a female of Indian descent. I always walked around thinking that I was not a privileged member of society since I am Brown and Female. However, the reading in this section opened my eyes to the privilege most of us carry with us and do not even realize. This opened my eyes up in understanding how there are various types of privileges even when someone feels like one is a marginalized minority.

  131. HI,
    Just wondering about the Certification for the Aboriginal Narrative Practice course and how it is progressing. Thanks 🙂
    Angele James

  132. Hi all,
    I work at an AOD agency supporting clients whose children have Child Protection involvement. Some of my clients identify themselves as Aboriginal, and I want to know more about working with the client cohort. Look forward to learning a lot from this course!

  133. To me, ‘critical thinking’ means filtering ideas, situations and way of thinking before taking up those as mine. It allows me to take my own perspective and to interpret the object in my own way.

    As a relatively new comer to the Australian community, I observe and hear very different things from my own culture. This background helps me to stay awake in doing critical thinking instead of taking everything for granted or as natural.

  134. Hello from Texas. I appreciate the information in this chapter, especially moving from naming and connecting to taking a position and making a value statement. I can see how all four stages of externalizing really begin to empower the client. I am most excited to help the client move toward taking a position in regard to the problem and establishing their values in relation to the problem. Great teaching. Really enjoying this course.

  135. I am Quandamooka woman and a counselor and I look forward to doing this course! Narrative therapy is a beautiful resource for mob, can’t to learn more.

  136. Hello from Texas! I am excited to begin training in narrative therapy. I first became interested in narrative therapy while in Grad school – I naturally gravitated to it as a former English teacher. We are full of stories, some good and some challenging, but if we “read” our stories with patience and compassion there is an opportunity for growth.

    I am trained as an EMDR therapist. After using that modality for several years, I have become inclined to see it as too harsh and intense for survivors of trauma. I have seen many successes with EMDR, but there is such a risk involved with staying within “the window of tolerance.” What appears to be true for most, if not all, who suffer with PTSD is that thoughts and beliefs become internalized to the point of shame, anxiety, fear, etc. So, the concept of externalizing is what most interests me about narrative therapy. Externalizing feelings, negative beliefs, and harmful thoughts or behaviors seems paramount to understanding our wounds and let the healing begin.

  137. Before studying this chapter, I had already searched around to find details of “Tree of Life”. While, found more about it that lead me to implement one in my own practices. Thanks for sharing all these and look forward to gain more experiences for it.

  138. I found the practice of outside witness amazing and powerful when have someone with similar experience and witness the therapeutic process. I believe that not only the person consulting therapy being helped in the process. The outsider witness is being helped too, that may further strengthen their beliefs. Amazing

  139. This section made me understand the great benefits i received from taking my family to the Bouverie Centre in Melbourne for family therapy. In the sessions i had there i was at first very surprised by sitting in a room in which there were five therapists behind one-way glass in another room as i talked with my family to one therapist in the room with me. The feedback i received from the therapists gave me a tremendous amount of energy and i felt very loved in a way i had never experienced in therapy. It was such a support and somehow an honour to be the focus of so many people’s attention at one time. I went for four sessions and came away with new ways of thinking about my family as well as pointers for how to re-imagine my history in a new positive light.

    I also found the suitcase project very inspiring and am thinking of how to adapt it to the people i work with in the “disability” field. Many clients come to the centre who have very limited ways of expressing their individual stories or any way to communicate what their lives are beyond the centre in which they find themselves. Small books that are sometimes made of “who they are” are usually treasured with great pride by the clients who show eagerness to have that focus on themselves and to be able to share that. The suitcases would provide a tool to develop that reservoir of information in a more sensory, more delightful and hopefully enjoyable form in opposition to a “book” which sometimes seems depersonalising and formal, almost negatively bureaucratic.

  140. Anita from Waikato in New Zealand. I have been part of an on-line mum/step mum community for about 9 years now. While it isn’t set up to run on narrative therapy principles, a big part of the support offered is about challenging the narrative. It’s about helping each question our presumptions and assumptions. This community has evolved to become a group of friends committed to ‘owning their sh*t’ and becoming people who challenge their own narratives, along with supporting our friends to do the same. I think there can be a great value in exploring on-line communities and support groups. There is always a danger of these groups becoming echo chambers and spaces where people become more entrenched in their narratives, narratives that are perhaps not serving them as well as they could. Looking at how we can embrace narrative therapy principles and practices in an on-line community is a big part of how I want to develop my practice.

  141. What a wonderful alternative discourse, inviting conversation around such meaningful and memorable experiences. We are too often caught in the web of popularist paradigms and this gentle approach to grief offers a message of hope for us all. Thank you.

  142. Gelmar C.
    Tampa, FL (USA)

    I particularly enjoyed the Externalising – Commonly asked questions (Maggie Carey & Shona Russell) resource. It provided practical guidelines for common problems that I have experienced during therapy. Externalizing truly brings the client into an equal position with the therapist to consult and work together against the problem.

    I plan to externalize more problems with children in my practice who are experiencing ADHD, depression, and anxiety. I believe that it will allow them to trust the process further, understand that they can make changes/have power over the problem, and collaborate with others at school and home.

  143. I am very happy to participate in this online course. I love narrative therapy, I am from Chile and I study at PRANAS Chile.
    This course gives me more breadth of learning and I resonate with the words “thin description”. I think about the importance of a story being thick, because that gives strength to an alternative story to the problem and to a limited identity of oneself.
    I think that if we promote alternative stories, we can change people and the world. Yes, I have a hopeful view of life, but it is because I have known the power of narrative practices in people.
    I work with children victims of sexual abuse and abuse. For me it is still hopeful in the dark, it is to make them shine with different stories, love stories, stories of care, protection and happy moments. Thanks to these stories, we all advance to a new and welcoming territory.

  144. As a Social Prescriber I frequently work with people who see themselves as in crisis, overwhelmed and stuck. I am beginning to recognise how I might use a narrative approach to support my clients to identify their own current stories and support them in co-authoring new and/or different ones, knowing that they are not the problem, the problem is the problem.

    • Yes, this resonated with me also. I was looking for another approach to support clients who feel helpless or stuck – the Narrative metaphor can help people explore, develop and live alternative stories to ‘thin’or problem oriented stories! This approach is a client centred approach which helps us to see people have more than one story – rather there are multiple possibilities, all impacted by time, history and social, structural and cultural constructs. Thinking about stories in this way makes hope and exciting opportunities possible. It makes it possible to see people as more than limited, thin labels, stories or problems. It makes it possible to see the exceptions to the dominant stories, and to challenge these dominant stories with alternative story-lines that open up gaps in peoples otherwise problem-saturated stories. These alternatives can then be richly described to help create real and preferred possibilities as people re-author new and preferred stories for their lives.

      Thank you for this free course!
      Regards, from Sydney, Australia

  145. Thank you for this excellent online course!

    I’m enjoying thinking about the ways that we story our lives, and how narrative therapy can open up opportunities to re-author our lives in ways that are more multi-faceted, complex, and full of possibility than the tired thin storylines that can sometimes dominate the ways we make meaning of the world and our experiences. For myself, this chapter had me thinking about a dominant storyline in my family about how I’m not sporty or athletic. It’s a story that has gotten in the way of me relishing movement, and working through the resources in this chapter had me thinking about all the moments from alternative plot lines, where I have been physically adept, and getting excited about uncovering the subordinate plot lines of my life, and the ways that they may better serve me now, and into the future. I’m looking forward to learning more, and thinking about how I can integrate learning from this course into my work as a social work educator. I’m keen to get creative about what narrative ideas look like in a community context.

    Tanya, Whangārei, Aotearoa New Zealand

  146. Thank you so much for this course. I uploaded my assessment and I hope to learn more in this new field/life of Narrative Therapy.

  147. Thank you for the course. I just uploaded my assignment.

  148. I entered into collaboration with a client who was experiencing auditory hallucinations with multiple voices constantly talking to herself and interfering with her ordinary routines. I and the client together named each voice like ‘grumpy (client’s name)’ and ‘risky (client’s name) and discussed their impacts on the client’s functioning. That allowed my client to put those voices under control and contributed to regaining the custody of her child. This surely empowered her and got back the sense of ownership for her own life.

    It seems that the sense of entitlement as a professional can work as a barrier for the collaboration with clients.

    What I think is important for collaborative approach with clients is to do reflexive practice. By reflecting on my own thoughts and feelings with clients, I can avoid going into the sense of entitlement and can enter a genuine partnership with clients.

  149. what particularly intrigued me was the idea surrounding connection between dominant narratives that individuals hold and social/structural aspects. It also reminded me that even the concept of family can be changed with different ideas and cultures affecting us.

    The history shows that as human beings, we are allowed to open to new narratives, not stuck in the current dominant stories. This seems to lead us to social movement seeking justice and human rights.

  150. In my original culture, people are not familiar with the concept of therapy, however, still have a lot of trauma in their history and cultural oppression. This collective way of working with narratives appear beneficial for my people’s group to overcome their dominant narrative.

    I am currently making effort to connect to a narrative practitioner in my own culture for a possible new project. I hope this goes well and I can contribute to the recovery of my community.

  151. As an AOD Clinician offering counselling sessions for those with substance dependence issues, the Certificate of Abstinence or Reduction can be utilised to acknowledge their efforts and achievements. It might be possible to change the colour of the certificate depending on the number of days of their maintenance of abstinence or reduction.

    The idea I got from this lesson is that I could create documents for my clients or encourage them to keep the journal of their change and include other people surrounding them. I would have to discuss matters in relation to confidentiality and organisational policies, however, can offer the chance to my clients at least.

  152. The PPT file regarding the statement of position was identified very helpful with some good example sentences I could use with my family. structured and well-guiding.

    I would be able to externalise my issue in relation to watching too many dramas on Netflix these days and then explore its impact on my life along with how it has impacted other people as well.

    As the material indicated, externalising the problem would enable more thick and rich description, and distant myself from the issue.

  153. I would describe the narrative metaphor as a medium to create meanings of our identity and life. We allocate particular meanings to events, people and situations to be aligned with the story we hold for ourselves. It is noteworthy that our stories are also affected by social and structural elements.

    I like the possibility of re-authoring that narrative approach may offer. As a clinical social worker, I would say that the narrative space allows my individual clients to reflect on their own way of interpreting their identity and to reconstruct it with their strengths, resilience and competencies. Collective identities might also benefit from group re-authoring process.

  154. Thank you for providing access to narrative therapy. I enjoyed the challenges presented by the course and look forward to further training. My essay has been submitted.

  155. Thankyou, fantastic intro to Narrative Therapy and looking forward to using this therapy in community

  156. Problems are products of culture, history, indoctrination; not people. When it is understood that people’s relationships with problems are shaped by history and culture, it is possible to further explore how gender, race, culture, sexuality, class have influenced the construction of the problem. This is how identity is shaped. Create space between the person and the problem or their personal qualities, which are commonly internalized. Once problems and qualities are externalized (e.g. they don’t simply exist as an inherent aspect of a person) they can then be put into story-lines. Now we can begin to provide people with a lot of information and richer understandings of how they might be able to reclaim their lives from the influence of a stated problem. Externalizing conversations can be flexible and creative! They are also ongoing. We do not use externalizing language one week and then use internalizing language the next. We address one particular externalized problem at a time (as there can be many).

  157. Gelmar C.
    Tampa, FL.

    I was reminded of the importance of being curious, collaborating with our clients, and honestly believing that they can bring as much expertize into the conversation as we allow them too as therapists. People’s dominant stories indeed have the opportunity to change depending on the way we choose to explore, challenge, highlight, and empower their current perspectives.

  158. Really thorough session. I feel that mapping tools is very useful. It seems is would be especially when struggling or not feeling effective. I also appreciate taking a stand about who the expert is.
    I enjoyed learning from Jack, the pouncing wolf monster expert. ☺

  159. Joy in the Wheatbelt, WA
    I really appreciate the invitation to participate in an ongoing conversation about privilege as well as the invitation to examine our own place in the world and how that impacts our practice and how we interact with those around us.
    I am naturally a reflective person and I may not always say things in the moment but if an idea or situation makes me uncomfortable, I often come back to it and examine why. Just yesterday, in a conversation with a white Australian woman, I found myself uncomfortable with the suggestion that I should be introducing Aboriginal children to Aboriginal art. I have the opportunity to do a bit of teaching and we always include coloring because the kids enjoy it and they would miss it if we chose to do something else at the end of the lesson. Anyway, this woman was talking about her experience growing up with an Aboriginal boy in her home and how creative he was. And then suggested that I incorporate Aboriginal art techniques into these teaching sessions if possible. I mentioned that if that were to happen, I should probably find individuals within the families themselves who currently practice traditional Aboriginal art to be the ones to impart this value and knowledge. My comment seemed to fall on deaf ears and the conversation went elsewhere. In reflection, I wish I had been more clear that it is not my place to teach culture in that way since I am not Aboriginal or even Australian for that matter. It is one thing for me to go back to the US and share with children the symbols and some of the art I have been introduced to and the significance as a way of introducing them to Aboriginal culture. It is quite another thing for me as an American to teach children from Aboriginal families about their own art and culture. Facilitating this experience, perhaps there is a role. Encouraging artistic expression and providing a venue and/or materials if asked and invited in, once again perhaps there is a role. But teaching or imparting my limited knowledge as a means of engaging and encouraging culture crosses a firm boundary for me.
    I find this is one of the hidden ways that privilege sneaks in to everyday conversations. While this woman said nothing outright negative and indeed she was praising the creativity and artistic gifting of indigenous people, it was giving fodder to stereotypes and felt very disconnected to me. And she was also implying that these children aren’t receiving this education, to which I have no knowledge one way or the other. This chapter helped me work through some of my own thoughts in relation to this conversation as well as others. And hopefully this materials will help engage my mind to produce some questions and words to potentially dive into a harder conversation about privilege with this woman should another opportunity present itself in the future.

  160. Thanks for this beautiful song.
    I played it at the start of my team meeting. It was part of the welcome to country. The other people in the team asked me to email the link around.

  161. I wondered if the therapy can be performed like a workshop which helps more people, unlike we usually do as individual session. How powerful it is ? or how is the people/technician ratio like to make it impactful

  162. Really looking forward to learn a lot from this training session.

  163. Hello,

    My Name is Danae and I am a therapist working with males struggling with substance abuse issues. I have worked with those reclaiming their lives from substances for about 5 years now. I would love to act as an outsider-witnesses for those taking steps to change their relationship with substances. I would also enjoy being a part of a support system for narrative therapist working in the field of addiction. I have had my fair share of struggles working in this field, never with the clients I am in conversation with, but rather the bigger systems and ideas that influence the field of addiction.

  164. Hello all, it is Shane again from the Okanagan Valley, in British Columbia Canada;

    The idea that most intrigued me was the emphasis by Epston & White on the importance of maintaining “a sense of adventure” with the work. I found this idea freeing as it seems to give permission for individual practitioners to continue to grow the practice of Narrative Therapy. In addition, I found it comforting as a developing practitioner as it belies the idea that the therapist must know the final destination. For me it was identifying that with each new client, and in fact each client session, we embark on a new adventure of discovery, during which both the client and therapist will experience change.

    For me it will be challenging to maintain this permission to explore, I know I will want to search for definitive answers and structures to achieve these answers. So, moving forward I want to bring into my practice the thrill of curiosity and find ways to encourage clients to see their attendance with therapy as an adventure that has goals but no defined limitations (minus the necessary ethical ones) on how to achieve those goals.

    Thanks for reading,


  165. In the context of special needs in which i work, externalising is useful as a way of talking about problematic anti-social behaviours with lightness and playfulness. I already use social stories as a way of talking with participants who have behaviours which cause them to be excluded from public events. Externalising techniques shown in this chapter show me how i can further explore difficult subjects without judgement and using the language which is the most appropriate i.e. not pathologising or steeped in pyscho jargon.

  166. As I work on-line, as part of the relationship building with my clients, I set each of them up with a private facebook group with me. It’s their space – they use it in a variety of ways. Some use it to outline their situations and the work they wish to do with me, before we meet for our first session. It is also used to post session summaries, I do the summaries initially, but as the client becomes more comfortable and confident, they begin to post their own summaries. I find it a useful tool to see what resonated with the client. The clients can also use this to post memes or articles, I also will also post things I think are useful or supportive. I find it helps the client to feel ‘held’ in between sessions. They can also reach out in times of crisis. The comments I have received have been overwhelmingly positive – one client who had been working with a psychologist for years prior to working with me noted she felt more accountable. She was aware of the work between sessions and continued to work on things, whereas before she had walked out of the session and forgotten about what was discussed til the next session.

    I wasn’t following a theoretical framework when I decided to work this way. It was reassuring to go through this module and find one.

  167. I love the idea that externalising removes us, as therapists, from having the voice of power, and the position of expert. Is this not, in itself, a form of justice and healing (as discussed in the Charter for Story-Telling in the last module)?
    I would also like to comment on Handy Hint #2 from Externalising – commonly asked questions, “Try to remember that externalising the problem is just the start. The next steps involve richly describing the alternative story”. Personally, this is my key concern relating to externalising, that we see only two steps: step one – externalise; step two – explore additional stories. While the shifting from internal problem to external problem is certainly a beneficial step, my primary goal is to transcend the idea of ‘problem’ altogether. Externalising can offer excellent tools for this if we follow it through to what I see as step three – realise ‘problem’ as story.
    Once we invite ourselves to consider that the idea of ‘problem’ is, itself, a story, we can move beyond the frustration and potential powerlessness of there being a problem at all. While I do not advocate re-internalising an externalised construct, I do support realising that the construction itself is an internal process, and we, therefore, have the power to change it, or even transcend it.
    To put this into context, I can begin to shift from
    Step one: I am a problemed person
    Step two: There is a problem
    Step three: I created an image of a problem, the power is mine.
    From step three, I usually explore the problem as opportunity/gift, or the problem as illusory construct pointing to a deeper meaning and value system in our lives.
    Of course, this must be done delicately, and is only suitable for a certain set of the population, namely those viewing life from a subtle or causal construct, to use the words of Terri O’Fallon (O’Fallon, T. (2017). Concrete, Subtle, and Causal Tiers. Seattle, WA, USA: Pacific Integral.)

  168. What a powerful TED talk. I had never considered the fact the children’s books in Australia presented one story and one experience and the consequences this would have on children are not part of this single discourse. It is also interesting and so true that I feel foolish for not even considering that there are multiple stories and discourses of White Australians and New Zealanders where there is only limited stories of Indigenous Australians and New Zealand Maoris, and often these stories are so limited and provided by individuals who are not part of these cultures. I find this perspective very refreshing as I have witnessed the negative stories attributed to Maori and seen how it does not fit with my Maori family and community. I hope in the future there is more than a mere shelf of Maori children’s books.

  169. Dear David,

    Thank you to you and everyone at Dulwich for continuing the long legacy of inspirational leadership that intersects healing and justice work.

    All the best,


  170. Hi Chris,
    I am intrigued and inspired by your Narrative Walk program. I live in the US and recently graduated with my Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. In the past, I have worked in ministry, and in that role, I often noticed how creating opportunities for connecting one’s mind, body, and spirit with the natural world builds hope and opens one’s mind to considering new perspectives in overcoming challenges. I love this program you have created and was wondering if you would share your manual /forms with me, as I am interested including a walk like this as part of the curriculum for a group for adolescents struggling with anxiety, depression, and/or self-esteem issues.

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful program through your video!

    • Hi Barb, you put the intentions of the program into such wonderful words. I’ll send over the Hosts Manual. You can also read about the program in the latest International Journal of Narrative Therapy and some examples of trials I ran initially in developing the program.

      I have had so many people contact me and discuss the different ways and populations that they may use the program with. Please keep me informed as to how you go. CD

  171. Singapore.
    The project “Little by Little, We Make a Bundle” struck me as powerful for communities who are facing external issues which threaten/ harm their communities.
    For example, urbanization has impacted Ulaanbaatar’s agrarian economy, and many are struggling to find employment. Some who fail inadvertently turn to alcohol for solace, and this in turn affects a whole generation of youth who need adults to guide them through this confusing time.
    Framing these challenges as external events may help them take a step back to assess what is happening to their communities, and help parents and children alike to look hard at options/ creative ideas so that good healthy choices can be made while they figure out how to adapt and overcome the challenges

  172. Pedro (Spain)
    The project that catches my attention is the tree of life. In my opinion, an incredible way to connect the person with his roots and likewise the rest of people inside of the community. I think that a way to work with this could be using the tree of life in jails, with prisoners. We tend to think that because they did something wrong they do not have feelings, emotions, wishes and, of course, hope. So, it could be a fantastic experience to use the tree of life inside of a prison and connecting prisoners with their origins and also within the system. I am wondering what this could bring?

  173. This chapter was enlightening for me as it bought clarity on the importance to where the outsider witness/es are pivotal in ensuring insight for a written narrative to be a true reflection and where support is on track to nurture positive outcomes. Also the positive aspect where written documents can help in so many ways.

  174. What I found interesting is the silence associated with stigma and where narrative therapy can investigate this area and assist in the realisation that stigma is not something you have to live with. Stigma is not a personal problem but a problem within society.

  175. Thanks for putting together this great resource and opportunity. I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land upon which I am studying today, the Turrbal and Garumngar people, and I’d like to pay respect to their Elders past, present, and emerging. I feel our country has much to learn from a narrative approach, from listening to story and supporting both ourselves and others to move away from oppressive discourses.
    Thanks again, Jess

  176. Hi Chris,
    Your Narrative Walks program is inspiring to learn about. I’d be interested in trying it out at the medical clinic that I practice out of. Do you have guidelines as to how many people can participate in a walk, how many facilitators are required, and what kind of screening you do?
    Thanks for all your work,


    • Hi Mike, the groups that I tend to work with are around 8-15 people in size. For every 5 people I add an extra facilitator (I call them hosts) e.g 10 – 2 facilitators, 15 – 3 etc. I’ve found that this works well for the outsider witnessing groups and exercises in separating the participants up into groups of around 5. It also helps manage risk and time. The extra hosts are not necessarily mental health workers and are often people that have completed a Narrative Walk themselves in the past.

      Groups have got bigger since I opened the criteria up and I have found the conversations diverse and rich when mixed gender and age.

      I ask participants to complete a consent and information form with questions around any diagnosis or physical injuries that could impact the walk. As this is non-pathologising (and in many cases de-pathologising) program, exclusion criteria is often only around acute symptoms reported by the participant and can be discussed before the walk. I do highlight the importance of it being a self reflective process and responsible sharing through the Welcome Letter and before the walk begins.

      Thanks for your interest. Feel free to ask me any more questions. CD

      • Hi Chris,

        Thanks for the details, I really appreciate the information (Would I be able to get a copy of your manual and consent forms for reference?). One other question I have is do people do the walk more than once or is it a one time experience? And is it sometimes offered while somebody is participating in therapy?

        Thanks again,


        • Hi again Mike. Ill send my forms over to you.

          Some people do the walk a number of times and even work on the same problem. Even though the process is the same each time, people report different experiences depending on the other people in the group, they’re mood, the weather ect. Also some people may come back if their problem starts to sneak back into their life. It can also help the process if there are people that have experienced the walk before.

          Something that I have found is that people sometimes have wanted to return, not necessarily for the therapeutic aspects of the walk but for the sense community. And whist that’s is great its not really what the walk is designed for. When this is the case I have gently helped them find social walking groups.

  177. Hello from Melbourne!

    I work in the special needs field with participants who are often limited in their vocabulary to express themselves. There is one person who has an anti-social habit of yelling very loudly and banging the wall with her fist. It is not clear what she is trying to achieve by this behaviour and though she has some language it is tightly scripted around three key phrases that she repeats over and over. The narrative therapy concept of externalising may provide a way of talking about this behaviour, which has caused her to become socially isolated and no longer invited on many of the programs, without making her feel is simply “wrong”. To understand how this behaviour is benefitting her seems i.e. her position seems an imperative first step in order to work out how to use alternative means to achieve what she wants. With the use of the suggested questions in the powerpoint and the concept of the chart, in which success and failure can be plotted without dismay at some questions falling flat, hopefully there will be progress made in gaining a more full understanding of the woman’s unmet needs and more support to lead to an expansion of her emotional vocabulary.

  178. I love how Michael refuses the dichotomy of omnipotent therapist and helpless client. How often do we have difficult days ourselves – pants falling off or otherwise – where we feel we have to hide our problems? It must be so liberating to be able to ask out clients for help, when appropriate.

  179. Pedro Betancor, Spain.
    What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?

    In my context, working with people with Schizophrenia, I guess that letters could be the most relevant and resonant aspect to use. Different types, showing who they are, what they want, welcoming or saying goodbye.

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

    Watching the video about “Narratives in the suitcase”, an idea came out to my mind related to psychomotor activities. Usually, I work using techniques that make the clients write, paint, cut and paste, and use their psychomotor skills, but I didn’t realise until now that this can be used to create their “Narrative Stories”. The video was revealing to me.

  180. Joy in the Wheatbelt, WA.
    I am really struck by the ability for Collective Practices to cross to larger groups of people. So often counselling is an individual work for a single person or a couple. This can extend sometimes to a family but so often trauma and problems that impact the individual are communal and have a much broader reach. An individual can work through things on his or her own but I can see the potential for larger change that could come with collective practices like these.
    An example of this is from the project in Uganda where when only one child was sponsored, that this child would then be able to make a gift to the other children in the family. This is a physical example but I think it could extend to emotional or spiritual gifts as well.
    Another gem that I pulled out from this section was from the interview with David Denborough. When he talked about “rescuing the words” I was reminded of the role of the counsellor in this practice. Instead of rewriting or giving someone different words, the goal is to pull out, repeat or “rescue” the words that the individual or community are speaking or using. This was also practiced in the Uganda project when the outsiders gave their perspectives but used the words that they were hearing from the community. There is something amazingly powerful in this seemingly simple practice.

  181. Astrid from Amsterdam. Although I have used session notes with counselling clients in the past succesfully now ideas come up in how to rephrase parenting agreements we draft more focused on intention and recognition than just focussing on agreements made and potentially even a news document that could be shared with the children. Also the suitcase work may be done in a varied way when working with children of seperated parents, it will be interesting to see if we expand the metaphore of a new journey after separation into one where the children feel much better packed.

  182. I’m amazed at how much success patients attribute to the therapeutic letters. They consider it to be equal to 3 face to face visits or 70% of their clinical success!

  183. Cordet Smart, UK, Devon. This chapter has been very reflective for me – it has reminded me of ideas such as post-structuralism and critical thinking, which I draw on everyday to analyse various interviews and texts. However, it has also furthered my thinking – the table illustrating the implementation of post structural therapy was particularly helpful, as it clearly shows the ways these ideas can be important, which students often struggle with. I particularly liked the method of introducing discussions of privilege, and the suggestion that discussing common reactions to the conversation first. I really liked this technique, and am keen to implement it.

  184. My name is Joy and I’m currently living in the Wheatbelt, WA.
    I find documentation and outside witnesses really interesting and an important part of Narrative Therapy. There are so many different types of documentation but I find in current reflection that the ability to have something tangible to come out of the sessions to be a potentially very powerful tool. Even a small document produced in conjunction with a client can then lead to something that is a good reminder but also something that can be revised and edited as goals and circumstances change. Or even as a reminder of how far someone has come.
    As for the outside witnesses, I feel like I still need to dive deeper into this and understand more about their role. I see the benefits of bringing others in to support and encourage but I also see potential struggles if those being brought in are not understanding or willing to participate in positive ways. I’m also wondering about this in an Aboriginal context but hopefully that will be covered in the Aboriginal Narrative Therapy course. Definitely more to contemplate and explore here.
    I’m continually encouraged by the flexibility of this practice to be able to be molded into different contexts. From David Newman’s use to living documents to Ncazelo Nucbe-Mlilo and the suitcase project. Each of these is documentation but done in a way that is beneficial and appropriate to their own contexts. I’m excited to start exploring some of the ways to work this into my current context.

  185. Singapore

    HOME is a shelter where foreign workers find refuge while claiming for lost compensation/ unfair dismissal. While enjoying free meals and board, they unfortunately have no legal status in the country, are subject to curfews, and restricted from employment. This all adds to a deep sense of displacement, and many lose their identity while caught in the bureaucracy and the waiting.

    That time could be put to use in creating documents which witness their resoluteness to fight for what they believe is rightfully theirs, and thickens their own story – often centered around love and sacrifice to provide for their families.

    These could be artistic endeavors (like the suitcase), song or poetry – shaped during their commitment to patient endurance of due process. Those documents may also function as an alternative kind of ‘outsider witness’ to encourage others who later come into the shelter under similar circumstances.

    Produced during the time and space of their agonizing wait, the document serves as a permanent marker which validates their existence in an otherwise transient place which will often forget them after they are gone.

  186. I am interested in how I as a worker facilitate conversation and use/manage my power. I have observed a particular look or shake of the head with an Aboriginal mum who talks to me when things are not going well for her, she wants to talk, but some of her story is not for me. She takes the lead in the decisions on which parts of the story to tell. There is still plenty of room for the double story and this is helpful with the shame narrative.

  187. This shows the importance of providing the opportunities for people to narrate their story and the importance of us to encourage people to explore the different narratives of their life and not only settle on the one story.
    It shows how easy it is to make assumptions about others when we only focus on the single story and how this gets in the way of how we see others.
    we start to show empathy and compassion when we are able to see a person from their many experiences and then we are able to see more of the sameness than difference.

    • I am really appreciating the stance of narrative therapy. I have had many conversations with coworkers about how our words to each other affect the work we do with our clients. It is essential to hold that curiosity when you are with clients and when you are updating/debriefing with coworkers. Especially in times of high stres.

  188. This idea of people having the right to define their own problems in their own words and on their own terms is so relevant for me right now. this is the only way therapy is meaningful.

  189. I am excited to learn more about narrative therapy. The idea of enriching peoples stories and expanding on their ideas to create to broaden their perspective is so interesting.

  190. UK
    I work as part of a school re-integration team at a children’s hospital. My role is to support children and their families with the multiple challenges which accompany returning to school following head injury, complex orthopaedic injury, or intra-abdominal injury.

    I would describe the narrative metaphor as a way of understanding: a person’s perception of self; their perception of how different systems in the world around them interact; and finally their perception of support and resource available to them. This narrative can be thin and one track or diverse and multifaceted. For people who have experienced trauma, this trauma often becomes the dominant narrative and all others become secondary to it.

    Sadly, single/thin narratives are common in the hospital setting. Although we will gather a broad range of information about a person in our assessments, we still tend to define of the child in terms of their injury rather than thinking of their injury as one of many stories which make up a much richer narrative. As a result, I think we can dis-empower families from using previous stories/ experiences to allow them to cope and re-define the current story.

    In my work, I think I could use the narrative metaphor to encourage children and families to think holistically about all of the skills and resources they have developed in the past and how these experiences/ stories can be drawn upon to create or return to a much richer multifaceted story which allows them to move forward with this injury.

  191. Diolch Iawn for all the introductions and comments. I acknowledge that I am learning on Wiradjuri country, the elders and Aboriginal people here, and their stories. I am a little excited to understand for myself how using narrative in a cultural context can work.

  192. Hi Again.
    Cordet, UK. I was most struck by the conversations, both from Barbarah Wingard and with Sam. These conversations for me normalised the notion of narrative ‘therapy’. They took away the ‘difference’ that can make therapy itself seem so mystical – and seemed to provide honest insights into everyday lives and challenges. I was also struck by the learning cycle from the clients that Michael had worked with, and the ways in which the narrative approach seemed historically related to research methods, including anthropology. This took me back to my own research using narrative methods, and the similarities drawn, particularly in how joint analysis can be conducted, which I have recently written about. Again, I am inspired by how it appears that these are ‘informed conversations’, rather than therapy, and how the therapist themselves therefore might be just a ‘normal’ person in how they act with another.

  193. I feel like this chapter feels very practical and applicable. I am ready to start applying externalization with clients now. Thank you!

  194. Hi all, Cordet from the UK again! I have once again enjoyed listening to and reading these innovations. I was surprised to see the tree of life metaphor here, which I recall being used in a conference that I went to a year or so ago, and remember then being inspired around service user involvement in the development of service user involvement in the UK. It was really interesting to see how it was developed, and to engage with narrative practices in a broad, community based manner. The projects were inspiring to me as they seem to be approaches to ensure that collective voices are heard, and how to engage with, and respect a broader range of culturally different groups. I felt particularly gifted to have the opportunity to witness some of these different interventions and was in awe of their creativity.

  195. Hi, Cordet from the UK again. I am finding that these new ideas are coming more quickly, and it is reminding me of practices that I have been involved in. I love the letter writing idea, and this is not something that I have used, but I am considering getting students to use to themselves, about their own learning. There are so many thoughts from this module – I loved the creativeness of the suitcase, and the simultaneous metaphore of journey and narrative, and the careful way in which this seemed to develop alternative stories for those in the workshops. I am also inspired to do more group work, as I can see that these group connections might be exceptionally validating.

    Finally, I would like to comment on the outsider witness paper, which I enjoyed, having worked in reflecting teams, but was interested in its extension to use lots of different people who might have similar experiences. Again, I was intrigued by the connections, but also a little struck by the skills that may be required in order to manage disclosures in this way. The balance of this is something that I will continue to reflect on.

  196. I guess I was struck most in this section about how very similar the construct of externalisation is to qualitative research and methods, which I have studies and worked with for many years. I guess that I was wondering how narrative therapy might go beyond these ideas, or differ, but actually it seems to me that the client in these contexts becomes the narrative analyst. I was also struck by the development of narrative therapy from social justice backgrounds, and just started to become intrigued by the discussion of ethical principles, and the real challenge of developing an approach that is inspired by human rights, and the upshot challenges of cultural sensitivity, which I am keen to pursue.

  197. I am enjoying the exposure to the narrative therapy and look forward to learning more. I was particularly struck by the parting words on the Friday Afternoon Talk – “We cannot separate healing from justice”. As a social worker, this is something I think we don’t give enough attention to.

    • San Antonio, TX (USA) The Narrative Metaphor in relating one’s story reveals the impact of significant experienced events in shaping one’s world. These narratives can be a mixture of both good and bad experiences where an individual has a choice to build upon successes, forging their healthy narratives emerging strong and resilient. Narratives chosen and focused exclusively on bad experiences/influences weaken the human spirit and require intervention to lift the veil of the negativism creating problem(s).

  198. Patricia Lewis from Sydney Australia, Christian Counsellor and Spiritual Psychotherapist

    The Narrative Metaphor is liberating for people who have experienced trauma and have been stuck in a box with a thin conclusion that only involves the traumatic storyline. To be able to re-author their lives with an alternative story where trauma is not the defining factor in their lives anymore is a door of hope and a door to freedom. As a spiritual psychotherapist, people come to me to explore their traumatic experiences with the added opportunity of exploring their spiritual dimension. Some spiritual leaders were great storytellers like Jesus and they used metaphors to communicate their teaching in a meaningful way to their hearers.


    What forms of documentation…

    Right now, I am inspired. Realising that being flexible and adaptable to the individual or group using this brilliantly obvious methodology is where its power lies. The ‘suitcases’ being a great example of this adaptation. Taking what is offered, and drawing the best out of it to help with what needs to be achieved. All of this info is relevant to the therapeutic alliance, and a very worthy vehicle to ease the journey of empowered healing, forward movement and growth… (Creating a lotta peace too!!!)

    Are there particular ideas or practices…

    My toolbox has increased.
    The use of documents that can be constantly referred to, daily reinforcing the chosen desire to be accomplished can be used in a 5 minute session on the street with a stranger (if pen n paper is on hand), through to a fully blown counselling session.
    Powerful stuff!!!
    I guess that I’ve realised that I am an outsider witness even without importing an outsider, and reading the hazards to being an outsider witness cuts close to bone of being an effective listener, so it’s not so much as what I would draw on, but the changes that have taken place in my being from the exposure to this work; influencing my future.
    Thank you!

  200. Jerusalem, Israel
    In my work with adolescents an overriding theme has been, ‘People don’t get the real me’. In narrative terms, ‘people only see this theme of my life, which has come in and taken over my life’. The message of, ‘I really want the ‘real me’ to be seen by others and for the ‘real me’ to connect with others’ has been an underlying message. As such the concept of documents has really resonated with me as a way of helping a client facilitate connection of the ‘real me’ with others, in a way that is not confrontational and can be done on their terms. In particular the idea of a Document of Circulation really struck a chord of allowing the ‘real me’ to share with others something that may not know about me because of an alternative theme.
    Letter writing has also been something that has resonated with me, especially as something to use in a case where a client moved to another country. Giving him something in a tangible form that allows me to share my thoughts of the meeting is for me showing, showing the client that you made an impression on me and that even when we’re not sitting with each other, I have thought about you.
    I am fascinated by the concept of outside witnesses. This is something that I really want to incorporate into my work. The idea that we can bring non professionals into the room in a non-judgemental way, purely to hang out with the emotions of another and explain the impression that these emotions have made on them is phenomenal. For me the biggest thing in a therapy room is opening the terminals of connection, in directly teaching a person the power of connecting with others in some way. Outside witness allows them to feel what it is like first hand. I am excited to explore this more.

  201. Pedro (Spanish) writing from Australia (Darwin) and Spain (The Canary Islands: Lanzarote). I was living in Darwin until recently and I had to come back to Spain.

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

    Everything caught my attention but specifically the story of Sugar and how conversations and externalising can be a powerful tool to teach others and let others speak about their worries, concerns and wishes to know, understand and learn.

    What sort of problems could  be externalised in your context?

    I think that I would like to know a little bit more about conversations, externalising and Schizophrenia, this is the field where I currently working and also AOD. I see different connections between both aspects and I consider that a deep research on this could be amazing for me.

    What difference might this make?

    A lot of difference, first let the clients speak about what they think about the illness, what the heard and know about it, and how they are living their own stories, that sometimes, as professional, we forget to consider.

  202. Thank you so much for this course I havr learned so much. While I am not a therapist, I will find this practice really helpful in my mentoring position. A lot of parents in the area of mentoring I am volunteering with, are judged by others because of their children’s association with the criminal justice system. They feel judged as parents and feel their children are judged also. This practice will be of immense help to me and other mentors. We have touched on the topic, but this course has really illuminated what I had touched on.
    My wish is to get into community research and to collaborate with the homeless community in my own community. Homelessness is a problem I am passionate about. Those living without a home are stigmatized greatly and it is a problem that is seen as an ‘individual’ problem. It is assumed those living without a home have alcohol, drug or mental health problems when really it is a much broader structural problem. We must examine our assumptions about a community of people who have hopes, desires and dreams just as we do and to work with this community to assist in realizing these hopes,dreams and desires would be so rewarding.
    If anyone has any experience of using this practice in community research I would be delighted to hear from you.
    I look forward to continuing my journey of narrative practice learning. Thank you once again Dulwich Centre for sharing this wonderful knowledge with the world.
    Ann from Dublin in Ireland

  203. Jerusalem, Israel The narrative metaphor, for me, is a way of seeing that life, instead of being black and white, is so rich and interesting. By giving labels and putting people neatly into a box, identities are squashed to the extent that the recipient believes that life all or nothing. I’m either completely motivated or I am not.
    The narrative metaphor is about hanging out with the grey; seeing that as humans, our lives are complex and that we all have an interesting story that has shaped who we actually are. When looking at life as a story with lots of different themes running through it, different facets of identity can be seen. Stories are therefore widening the identity of individuals, showing that instead of life being very narrow and rigid, people’s lives are actually so rich and super interesting.
    Thinking in this way has been an empowering experience for me. The typical DSM labels have always scared me. How can I possibly work with someone who is ADHD, depressed etc? However, thinking in terms of, hanging out with the grey, has turned things around. It’s now exciting to meet people with these ‘labels’, knowing that there is so much more to them then a black and white diagnosis. There is a story there waiting to be told, which in turn has strengthened my curiosity.

    • Patricia Lewis Sydney Australia. Yaakov I share with you the thrill of finding in the narrative metaphor a way of escaping from the box that people seem to always try to stash me in. I relish the freedom that it brings to realise that we have multiple stories, that often those stories may seem contradictory to others and even irreconcilable but they still form part of who we are as people. I have found family members, coworkers and acquaintances often try to force a dominant story on me, and myself protesting HEY, hang on a minute, there is so much more to me than that. As a therapist, I hate labels. I see my clients as people with stories to tell. Nearly 100% of my clients come to me as a result of trauma, so to find an approach to therapy that allows me to see them outside of the lens of trauma survivors, is refreshing. You are from Israel and this reminds me of Jesus who was from Israel too and was a great story teller. He told stories to help people make meaning of their lives. As a spiritual psychotherapist, storytelling is a great tool for me to have and to use in reaching out to my clients who often come to see me due to the opportunity of exploring their spiritual dimension with me.

  204. Hello All;

    It’s Shane again, writing from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada. The idea that stood out the most for me was the song writing/playing. I find it interesting that this would be the stand out project for me, as I don’t have any musical capability so I cannot transform this idea into action on my own. However, what I really liked about it, and the rest of this module, was the demonstrated scalability of the Narrative process. It can work for individuals, small groups, larger communities, and as demonstrated by the “Song for Australia” it has the potential to resonate at a national level. This is level of flexibility I have not encountered with other modalities.

    In all honesty, I doubt that I will action any sort of song writing (and definitely no singing) in the immediate future. However, I will keep this idea lodged away for the day when I am collaborating with people possessed of the necessary skills.

  205. I am looking forward to this course. I live and work in Saskatchewan a province in Canada.

  206. The critical thinking reading was excellent for me. I struggle to separate the word ‘critical’ from the act of ‘criticizing’ This paper was so helpful for me. When I was in college I struggled when asked to critique a paper. I had it in my head that the author was more experienced than me and how could I critique their paper’s. I am still learning and this course is teaching me a lot. Ann from Dublin in Ireland

  207. I loved the story of June and SP. It was a great example of using Narrative Practice. I am not a councilor or social worker but I am mentoring parents of young people in the criminal justice system in Ireland. The course is excellent for self reflection and I am trying hard to reflect on my own assumptions and I find the idea of externalizing an excellent one.

  208. Pedro (Spanish) writing from Australia (Darwin) and Spain (The Canary Islands: Lanzarote). I was living in Darwin until recently and I had to come back to Spain.

    How would you describe the narrative metaphor?

    I would describe narrative metaphor as the group of stories created by one person and connected by the beliefs, conditions, social pressures, and place where the person lives. Stories that can be differently observed and understood and that can be modified and evaluated with a different lens if you have the correct tools to do it.
    What might thinking about stories in this way make possible for you?

    Thinking in this way changes my point of view of situations and events. Even a traumatic event can be understood differently if you can see the case through a different perspective, from the outside as something that is happening, something that has a name and that you can identify due to you can modify it ( The story ). This is my guess, and I hope to work even more on this to understand correctly.

  209. Hello Everyone,
    My name is Joy and I’m currently living in the Wheatbelt, WA.
    I was struck while working through this material at the need to develop the skill to listen for the other stories or other ways the narrative could be told. Whether implicit or explicit references are made, it is the practitioner’s job to hear those, recognize them and tease them out through more questions and conversation. It’s lovely in theory to say that our goal is to give the problem stories new, beneficial meaning but how to work through that in practice (especially with deep, internal beliefs) is another thing all together. I look forward to working through this course and seeing some of this in action through different examples.
    I will also need to sit down and spend more time with the 7 specific articles in the Charter and think through how they apply in my work context. As much as I believe that healing and justice do have an important link, I’m wondering if healing could be beneficially separated from justice in cases where justice might not be so easily reachable. It makes sense that healing and justice should go together but I’m wondering how that looks when justice is absent for some reason.

  210. Hi, Astrid here from Amsterdam.
    What stood out for me in this chapter in general terms is that I have always believed that the Gestalt based training I have received was contra to Narrative. And it so is not! It took me a moment to redefine that in my head.
    What I enjoyed most was listening to and watching Mark; if only he could talk us through the whole course 🙂 This lively discourse of all the stages during map 1 and his visual example of it were helpful to me to remain superengaged and keen to try for myself.

  211. Thank you for this course! I’m really interesting in narrative therapy. It’s great I found your site.

  212. I was really inspired by Ncazelo Nucbe-Mlilo’s project called “Narratives in the suitcase.” She expressed how dominant stories of children as being “reckless,” “hopeless,” “good for nothing” can be limiting and very thin understanding of their lives. Through this project, it seems that these children were able to reconnect with their hopes and dreams, to become more aware of their skills and knowledges, to reflect on where they came from and where they are headed, to keep memories of family members close and their values, and to consider their future steps in realizing their dreams. I find all the questions asked in this video very useful for rich story development. I also believe that sharing stories, drawing pictures of their journey, and witnessing each other stories with facilitator can be very powerful experience that validates and acknowledges preferred identities and alternative stories.
    I think that using therapeutic documents can be very useful in endurance of alternative stories and preferred developments. I agree with Epston that, “…the words in a letter don’t fade and disappear the way conversation does; they endure through time and space, bearing witness to the work of therapy and immortalizing it.”

  213. Thank you for this talk Hamilton, your openness and honesty and your sharing really touched me.

    I am currently completing a Diploma in Counselling and one of the Units is on Narrative Therapy which led me to the Dulwich Centre and to your talk.

    I have also considered doing Peer Support Work and found your reflections very interesting and they are definitely giving me food for thought. I too have spent time in a psychiatric hospital. Coming to terms with it rocked my world and turned it upside down. I am starting to see with the help of my psychologist what my experience has to offer others.

    I also like Catherine, feel that lived experience in a therapist actually gives you more empathy and understanding.

    Again thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Hi Michelle,

      I am deeply touched by your appreciation. I initially studied social work, but was drawn to peer support work because of the freedom and potential benefits of it. My thoughts are that my experiences with the mental health system would be useful and meaningful no matter which path I had taken. I should think they would be the same for those like us.

      Our hard earned knowledges and skills are so valuable in this line of work. I hope you enjoy the rest of your studies and continue to show what your experience has to offer others

  214. Hi Chris! I’m Anne-Sophie from France. Your outdoor program means so much to me: it combines the need for human beings to walk and need to make sense, at the same point. Brilliant! I am currently handling a similar program around Travelling.
    A journey/travel is, to my point of view, an authentic manufacture of alternative stories and exceptions, without the social or job pressure. It is a small life too with a beginning, middle and end, and a lot of emotions and sensations. Hope our paths meet one day. Thank you for sharing: amazing job! Anne-Sophie.

    • Thankyou so much Anne-Sophie. Ive been overwhelmed by the responses and by the number of people that are also working in this way. I have completed this program as a 20km walk and a shorter 10km a number of times and find that the 20km walk allows much more space and a sense of journeying and therefore has been more sort after. Later this year Ive organised a 3 day overnight hike on the Bibbulmun Track with a Narrative Walk as one day of the program and am interested in what does for the participants. Happy Travelling CD

      • Hi again Chris, Thanks a lot for your answer and enthusiasm. Could you share with me your manual and workbook for reference? Looking forward to hearing from you. Best regards, Anne-Sophie.

  215. The article “Commonly asked questions” stood out to me the most because it answered important questions and clarified possible confusions with this practice. I appreciate mentioning postructuralism and how not only problems but also ‘strengths’ can be externalized. In my context, all problems that I can think of can be externalized. I tend to listen for internalized statements such as for example, I am depressed, or I am worthless person, and so on. Externalizing makes a difference in many ways some of which include but are not limited to experiencing sense of relief and separation from the problem, increased understanding about the operations of the problem on their lives, experiencing less self-blame and judgment, increased sense of hope that they can do something about their problems, seeing oneself and relationships in a new way, becoming aware of skills and knowledges that are relevant in addressing the problem and so on. I really appreciate this practice because as a therapist I am taking a political stance against pathologizing people and reproducing the dominant cultural discourse that includes normative ideas which are often oppressive and have negative effects on people’s lives.

  216. People are social and interpretive beings who make sense of their lives through stories. They live their lives through stories and these stories have significant impact on their lives. The dot exercise is a great illustration of how we can help people construct new stories by helping them assign meanings and connect those events or experiences that are outside of problem-saturated story. With narrative metaphor we see people’s lives as stories. This thinking about stories make possible for me to co-create new and more preferred stories with my clients. As a result they can live their lives according to their preferences, values, beliefs, commitments, and purposes. Our stories are also influenced and shaped by social/cultural/historical/political contexts in which we live. This makes possible to consider how problems are cultural in nature and socially constructed. Respect, freedom, liberation from oppressive discourses, privileging local knowledge, and non-pathologizing view of people are some of the most appealing aspects of narrative therapy to me. I am looking forward to learn more!

  217. This is so helpful and will definitely affect my work with people – sometimes an Aboriginal mum is referred to me when her kids have been removed and she is to do a parenting course (Circle of Security) with me…just do the course – get the certificate is what they want. I’ve never just done the course, like that but this teaching here is helping me see even more how ‘damaged’ and how that’s a colonised way of doing things and how she is deemed to have a problem – I always bring it back to the collective, the intergenerational trauma, try to externalise the shame etc..but what is offered here is really deepening my understanding and sensitivity to this area of work.

  218. I’ve seen that TED talk before and wow how powerful is it! I love too the concept of stories and storying…and how this fits with Aboriginal cultural ways anyway…and the listening to stories aspect…how we all love to hear stories. I fear this is a skill and a beautiful part of human culture everywhere that is going extinct, listening to and respecting stories and story-tellers!

  219. thank you for offering this for free such a great resource !

  220. Thank you for offering this course, I did a three month training a number of years ago and have been using many ideas. I welcome the opportunity to revisit and incorporate more ideas. Following attending the ‘Power, Threat and Meaning’ Training recently, I have renewed interest in becoming more skilled in listening to and helping develop people’s stories.

  221. I found the video about Joey really helpful and very interesting. I work in schools in the UK – I’m from Essex in the south-east.
    I found the chart a good tool to use, thank you. When I met with a 7yr old boy this afternoon he found making a lego model during our conversation ended up representing what he called his “Bird’s Eye View” of the problem and he used a model I had made to support his “BEV” in exploring ….to be continued ….

  222. I found this chapter a really affirming one. I have been using externalisation with my children since they were little. It gave them space to address and change their behaviours without feeling shamed, I can see how this works in a therapeutic context. I loved the idea of externalising diabetes as Sugar and like another contributor mentioned above, can see how using a similar method with anxiety etc could be very powerful. The thing that stood out to me was the power of giving people questions to ask, as a way to help them find their voices. Such a wonderful technique.

  223. Kent from Indiana in the USA. What stood out to me is the way narrative ideas developed through relationships, dialogue and friendships. It makes me recognize the important relationships I have in my own life and the ways these friendships are shaping my ideas and the way I choose to practice.

  224. Hi, Ann from Dublin in Ireland. I loved Barbara’s article and the idea of ‘conversations under a tree’. I think this is a lovely way to listen to someone’s story and sounds so relaxing. I love the idea of reconnecting with our loved ones who have passed away. My friend recently lost her daughter at the age of 34 and she is struggling with her loss. She has been to therapy and the therapist insists on my friend ‘letting her daughter go’. She is finding this difficult. I think the idea of keeping a relationship with our loved ones much healthier. I hope to help my friend with this idea. I have lost my parents and my son and I always feel they are still with me I have never thought of letting them go. I have a different relationship with them.
    The idea of co-research also intrigued me. The idea of ‘doing research on problems and the relationships that people have with those problems, rather than on the people themselves’ changes my whole idea of therapy. It creates a sense of ‘working together’ rather than an ‘expert’ working on a person to ‘make them better’. As I have said previously, I really admire Paulo Freire and his idea of a dialogue where the people’s empirical knowledge of reality is nourished by the leaders critical knowledge and gradually becomes transformed into knowledge of the ’causes’ of reality.

  225. Hi, I’m based in Waikato, New Zealand. I first came across narrative therapy while doing my undergraduate psychology degree. It resonated with me in a way that nothing else has. I now work with couples and individuals in step and divorced families on-line, predominantly in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. I find a narrative therapy framework very useful for not only helping clients unpack their stories and examine the beliefs they hold, but also in helping them imagine a life that sits more in alignment with their values, with who and how they want to be in the world. Understanding that their story is possibly not shared or understood by their exes or the new partners of their exes is an essential tool.

  226. Hi, I am a psychologist near Sydney, Australia. The contents and basis for NT resonates with me as I have always considered each person’s story as unique to both their experience and, their perspective. The narrative changes the direction of experience, it influences choice and decision, and forms the basis for personal expectation. This is all without considering others’ narrative of oneself! Chimamanda Adichie’s presence is lovely.

  227. Very inspired and energized by the work David Denborough shared about songwriting and narrative practice. As a social worker/music therapist I have frequently used songwriting as a practice and found it very powerful. Now thinking of it through the lense of narrative practice really opens up new ways of approaching this with and makes me feel more connected to others who are using songwriting in their work. I’m very grateful to Dulwich Centre for making this resource available.

  228. Thank you so much for your insight on clinical notes and records, and the choice of words and stories that are incorporated into medical records. I am a palliative social worker who has worked in long-term care (nursing homes) and hospice. I always strive to have conversation and to get to know the person, I have never thought about asking them what they would like to be included or to be excluded in their records. I will start incorporating this practice with everyone I meet.

  229. Ann from Ireland.
    I am a big fan of Freire and was really inspired by his idea of a pedagogy of desire. We have a homelessness crisis in this country at the moment. This is due to a neo-liberal housing policy of over dependence on the private sector for housing. This marginalizes those who cannot afford to access housing in this way. We have seen an increase in men and women, young and old living on the streets. We have families living in hotels and ‘hubs’ and their is a concern for the mental well being of the parents and children living in these circumstances. There is a fear now that homelessness is becoming ‘normalized’. I think this idea of a pedagogy of desire is an excellent idea to make it clear that living without a home is not normal it is a social, historical, political and economic event. We need to explore the reasons for people being on the streets and discuss with the people living without homes, their wishes and desires and what needs to be done. I do not believe that people aspire to live on the streets nor do I believe that it should ever happen. The saddest thing I heard from a man living on the streets in Ireland was ‘If I don’t wake up in the morning, problem over’. I am interested in getting involved in a community based research project with people experiencing life without a home and hearing about their wishes and desires and as Freire says ‘creating a context in which street people can rebuild their wishes and desires’.

  230. Hello everyone,

    Firstly – thank you all at the Dulwich Centre for offering this wonderful online course. I am a training counsellor with a prior degree in English literature, and this introduction to Narrative Therapy made me feel like I had found my counselling spiritual home. I am inspired by its optimistic, kind and just practices, and feel these will help shape the work I hope to do with future clients.

    I was considering the idea of a ‘thin story’ after watching this section, having previously been a creator of my own thin (but for ages completely watertight) story of personal difficulty. A thin story works like hagiography: every moment indicates the inevitability of the saint’s eventual canonisation. For us who are not saints (!), a thin story more often works in desperate reverse. I wish early experiences of therapy had helped me to create a richer narrative that examined and challenged my own thin story of hopelessness: I might have been able to acknowledge and incorporate a capacity to survive, and thus face down a narrative arc which had currency with others as well as myself that I was inexorably destined to fall into a heap. Instead, I was encouraged to adapt to (and therefore accept and remain silent about) the injustice I experienced under the guise of fixing my faulty perceptions of those events.

    I feel Narrative Therapy’s stance is not only egalitarian and optimistic, it is such a powerful way to resist the perpetuation the effects of injustice, personally and socially. Even more importantly for me, it is without blame – we all have our narratives, and we all do the best with them that we can. From time to time we might just need a little help to see the possibility of a richer story.


  231. Listening to the danger of one story made me think about what I have been taught in school and how we are conditioned to believe there is only one story. As children we accept what we are told and read without questioning.

  232. Hi Hamilton, thankyou so much for your wholeness, your honesty and integrity. I have studied peerwork, but am yet to practise it formally. Your talk brought me so much strength that I can do this from my current position, just being a peer to work things out together. I was surprised by your comment that you couldnt be a therapist. I wish more therapists had lived experience and were in it with me. I think this would help me feel human rather than “the person with the problem” all the time.
    I have been considering studying Narrative Therapy in a few years time and wondered how it would link in to peer support. Thanks for breaking new ground in relation to this.

    • Hi Catherine.

      I am so thankful you were able to see honesty and integrity in what was said.

      I think studying peer work can provide us with useful skills to practice in any environment!

      I too have felt very much like a person with the problem and connection with my peers has served to lessen this.

      I hope that peer relationships can influence NT and other fields going forward. We can all be a part of this.



  233. 1. The resource that stood out for me the most is this chapter, is that of externalisation itself. Externalising in a way, to me, is an extension of reframing. This epiphany moment for myself, opened doors within. Not only for those I counsel, but also, and most importantly…for m own journey. Overall though, ‘the problem isn’t the person’ rules supreme as the outstanding resource…why…because it promotes change without the weight of external locus of control.
    2. Any thing can be externalised. This links in with meta cognition skills and separation from physical reality (meditation). I appreciated the information on taking responsibility for care in externalising certain issues from Mark.
    3. Having a solid grasp on the skills of externalisation, from my context in the role I am engaged in, potentially can (and will) make all the difference. Not only does it add to rapport through showing care and interest, but actually gets people ‘out of their own heads’ and stop owning that which needs not to be carried, and most importantly, allow room for self chosen growth leading to quality change.
    Michael must have been a very special man.

  234. Great introduction to a course I am looking forward to completing the course and implement what I have learnt in my work

  235. Hello Hamilton

    I really enjoyed listening to your talk about finding ways to use both Intentional Peer Support and Narrative Approaches. Altbough I have little knowledge or experience with IPS, I could relate to a lot of the questions you raised about power and the politics of mental health. Later this year I am going to be experimenting with the therapist/client binary in a project in which I will join in as a participant re-engaging with longterm, hard to shift problem stories, together with a number of others, while also taking a big share of the organising and facilitating jobs. I’m hoping the shared conversations will reflect a mutual fluid shifting along the spectrum of expert and insider knowledges, rather than being locked into a fixed binary with a hard border between ‘client’ and ‘therapist’. Listening to you talk, I was reminded of the trickiness of doing this, without hiding or ignoring the real intersectional power relations shaping the shared convedsations. Knowing you are experimenting with these dilemmas too will give me heart when I find myself floundering.

    I also share your interest in the proliferation of failure identity stories and ways to subvert these. I’m quite pleased when I come across these stories nowadays, as I always find amazing treasures while rummaging in the failures heap. Its like an old school opshop where everything is jumbled in together and you always find some forgotten piece of magnificence, which can usually be taken home for a song! Thanks again! Manja

    • Hi Manja,

      So glad you enjoyed listening to this talk. I am excited to hear about your future experimenting with transcending the traditional binary. Whilst this can be tricky as you said, I have seen over the past year your non-binary superpowers and know that they will be strong enough to overcome any trickiness.

      Whilst experiencing failure can be a challenge for myself and others they often make possible something to be magnificent to be forged. Thank you too Manja!

  236. I would be so Proud to stand up and sing this beautiful version.

  237. This is absolutely amazing. i wish i could help. I am a youth worker in Canada, please if there is anything i can do.

  238. Newman’s idea that spoken word can be a complex process of expression resonated with me. He mentions complexities and nuances, such as eye contact and pauses that are demanded from talking. Many individuals may find writing a more accessible form of therapy (rather than ‘talk therapy’). Newman’s point about written word being accessible for young people exemplifies this. Verbal expression may be less accessible for a young person who is navigating a problem in their life, along with understanding and developing their identity. ‘Juggling’ these aspects of growing up may better be expressed and interpreted through writing. I wonder whether talking about problems can create another problem? I suppose written word can be a way to truly hear others’ voices.
    Nina, Sydney, Australia

  239. Gerry from Victoria.

    This module reminded me of some meditative practices that I have learnt over the years, particularly practices that deal with that loud voice of shame and worthlessness.
    I really value this module, though I think it will take some practice and adaption to do well within my work setting. I like that it is so fluid and the examples given such as the Sugar story that was culturally intelligent and Marks story of Joey show how it will work in different contexts, the charting is a great tool for helping to solidify the concepts in my mind and gives me more ideas about the various ways a conversation may go. Linking it with histories and culture I believe will be helpful to peoples understanding how pervasive some ways of thinking are arrived at and taken on as normal.
    In the context of my work, I believe the difference I will see with young people is the opportunity to externalise rather than internalise the problem and the chance to see ways of challenging problematic behaviors in a way that values themselves rather than being in a perpetual loop.

  240. Hello All;

    It is Shane again from Western Canada. Regarding the documentation I found the Documents of Knowledge to be particularly interesting. I can visualize the development of this type of document fitting well within the typical 50 – 60-minute therapy session and how it could be used to bolster client strengths. I visualize this as a therapist suggested but client lead activity which because of its collaborative nature could be used to strengthen the therapeutic relationship. Perhaps making it a useful action before engaging with more painful/challenging issues (Note: If anyone has insight on the validity of this idea it would be great to hear).

    Aside from the use of the Documents of Knowledge, I am intrigued by the various ways that outsider witnesses can be used to assist with re-enforcing developing narratives. Particularly the outsider witness approach of being more attuned to an individual’s preferred identity that emerges from the story they tell. Then engaging with that person in a manner that re-enforces that preferred identity, by sharing with the individual how their preferred identity has/had a positive impact on yourself. This will take some practice to incorporate into day-to-day communication but I’m excited to try.



  241. Hi, this is my second contribution here. I support change the date, change the flag and change the anthem. A lot of those opposed to this view, led by our current Prime Minister, respond by saying they are not ashamed of our British heritage. OK, I get that is extremely blinkered, but it is a lesson for all of us with a more enlightened view – stop the “make wrong”. Ask yourself, what is important? Is it important that you are right and “they” are wrong? Or is it important to change the date, change the flag and change the anthem?

  242. Hi Ann here from Ireland. I am not currently working in the area of therapy but I am mentoring. I find the outsider witness practice really helpful. It reminds me that the therapist and the outsider witness is not there to ‘solve a problem’ but to actively listen and and make links to our own lives. I have a lot to learn and I am really looking forward to continuing the course and reflecting on my own history and maybe even documenting some of my own personal stuff.

  243. Hi Chris, I am really interested in connecting with you and exploring ideas around nature connection and narrative therapy. I am a Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide as well as a practitioner using narrative practices in groupwork and counselling. Given the enormous amount of research showing the benefits of nature for health and wellbeing, I am really interested in different ways of integrating nature and narrative practices. I would love to read more about your program.

    • Hi Lucy, thank you. I think there is something about to be published on the program in the International Journal of Narrative which outlines the process of developing of the program. I will send you my email so we can continue the conversation. I’d enjoy hearing more about your work also and anyone using therapy in an outdoor setting. CD

  244. I particularly like the statement of position map/ the chart of maping the problem. I tend to use many visuals when I conceptualize my work with clients, and this is a wonderful tool. I think it is an organic way to reach the values and preferred ways of being, especially for people who may not be able to name what is important to them or how the problems is perhaps influencing their behaviours, choices in ways that are not congruent with their values systems, preferred stories etc. This is going to be very helpful for me in tracking my exploration of the problem and following the client. The format of the video and interactive sheets is an excellent approach to online learning, thank you.

    • Hello from Ontario! I liked the detailed questions that came out of Mark Hayward’s presentation. I appreciate the exact wording of how to complete an ‘externalizing conversation’ with a client. I can really appreciate the question of are you in favour or against the problem- which is something I have never thought about before. We make assumptions that people are against the problems that come up in their lives without asking the person about their position on it. This is key, as Hayward refers to, in being able to tease out what it is like to live with the problem they are having. It allows for ownership in a way I have never seen before.

  245. Hi! My name is Rebeca, I comme from Brazil. I am now living in Wollongong to start a Maste of Social Work.
    I am thinking about David’s presentation on the narrative therapy charter of storytellig righs, because this is a question that is always present in my reflections: not separating justice from healing. The charter reminds s some principles that can be helpfull in our work to enable people to experience justice through the re-authoring of their live in their own terms.

  246. Victoria, Australia.

    What a wonderful introduction to narrative therapy. The power of actively listening to the story and words a person tells will enable me to understand a person and their situation.

    I am currently studying uni and narrative therapy has been something that has stood out to me and I am excited to continue onto the next chapter.

  247. As i was reading the material and watching the videos, I got a lot of clarity, especially with regard to dealing with such cases where there may be a need to take responsibility of the actions. One thing I was worried about was what if the person’s position on the problem is such that they feel they need it to stay with them. I understand that we would still then be curious and try to find out what values these are coming out of and why they feel the need to let the problem remain. I was wondering about how we would then proceed with the conversation?

  248. Stephanie from Brisbane Australia.

    Another engaging unit on collaboration and accountability. I really enjoyed reading about the evolution of Just Therapy Family Centre from providing individual therapy to community development practice. It seemed like such a logical and responsive transformation, and such a thoughtful way to structure inbuilt accountability. I’m looking forward to doing some more research and similar developments in my local area.

  249. Stephanie from Brisbane Australia

    I have really enjoyed exploring these resources on externalising. I think this is such a useful concept, particularly for engaging with populations experiencing isolation, stigmatisation and disempowerment.

  250. Hi, I am Debbie from South Australia, currently on placement and finishing my Master of Counselling Practice. My placement includes a High school and through the Uni practice also see people of all ages.

    Studying “Narrative Therapy” as a subject 3 years ago gained my interest and desire to work with this modality. I now am using this online course as a refresher to give me confidence to develop on my placement while continuing to learn and grow new skills.
    Which resource in this chapter particularly caught your attention and why?
    The black dog video made sense to me of how hard it is when depression takes over. I am keen to share this with a teenage client I currently have who is struggling for words to describe their depression or explain it to their family.
    I am still struggling with mapping, but Mark Hayward’s simple example showed me the importance of really defining the character, how conversations go up and down. To clarify it’s position by the client takes time and needs to be clear before they will be able to get to their values.

    What sort of problems could be externalised in your context?
    Personally, as a beginner counsellor, my fear (problem) of competence while developing new skills can trigger a fall back to externalise “I am dumb”. I have held this since childhood struggling at school.

    What difference might this make?
    This will allow me to less catastrophise or get caught up in my fear and to be gentler and kinder to myself. To put a more realistic perspective to the trials of learning new skills.

  251. Amandine expatriate in Ankara, Turkey, Life coach in education and teacher
    Is there an idea or project that stands out to you most at this time?

    The tree of life project stands out; in fact, I learned initially about narrative practices from this project.

    What about this idea or project has sparked your enthusiasm or curiosity?
    I love the symbol, first of all. In Turkey where I currently live, it is a powerful symbol. With the environemental crisis that we know nowadays, I think it is very relevant.

    In what ways might you begin to experiment with these ideas or methodologies?
    I loved the idea of creating a song about our streghts and resilience. Im sure I will try it with my clients.

  252. I am currently studying psychology with the aim of working as a Play Therapist. I have 6 children of my own and am keen to be engaged in work that gives children the ability to process and frame their experiences and challenges in ways that will support their futures.
    Incorporating NT, especially the assumption that problems are separate from people, looks to be very beneficial.
    I am very keen to continue through this online program, and to learn more through The Dulwich Centre.
    Amelia, Sydney, Australia.

  253. This is great. I am a psychologist but work with art and music therapists, whose founding approach tends to be psychoanalytic. Lovely to have narrative questions to share with them to add to their creative approach

    thank you!

  254. Many thanks – a very warm approach to the work of someone who collaborated with others to form a therapy practice which is so KIND.

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

    I loved the idea of a little card that you can put in your wallet or bag and look at when you need to remember your strenghts! And of course the outsider witnesses. I work more and more with witnesses around my client, and it is very powerful.

    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?
    I will write letters, for sure! In fact, I just realized how frustrated I was for not having received any feedback from my own therapist, many years ago….So, yes, I will offer that gift to my own clients.

  256. Hello all;

    It’s Shane from British Columbia Canada. I find the process of guiding a client to the externalization of an issue a unique and attractive skill. As such, I found the video by Mark Hayward, and the use of the Statement of Position Map to be a useful exercise for understanding how charting the client’s issue(s), values, experiences and effects can all be worked together to help a client assess incongruences. While my comprehension of this tool is just beginning to develop I still find it a useful lens to use when talking with people (and occasionally to myself) about their own (my) story.

    I look forward to working through the remainder of the program material with all of you.



  257. Hi all I am Ann from Ireland and I am currently trying to navigate the site. I am delighted to be part of this course and look forward to communicating with people from all over the world and learning from people with more knowledge in this area. I came across Narrative Practice while training as a mentor for parents of young people in the criminal justice system. I was really interested in learning more and I am excited about the course. Thank you for creating this course at the Dulwich Centre.

  258. Hello! This is Jade, from Toronto, Canada.

    I want to thank you for providing this course—it has taught me more tools for counselling, and relating to others and myself, than anything else I’ve learned! The commitments and values underlying narrative therapy (“the problem is the problem”, justice and healing, a de-centred stance, empowering autonomy, and the importance of language in constructing our worldviews) resonate deeply with my own core values, just as Alice Morgan writes. I feel it gives me hope and the tools necessary to actually tangibly integrate these values into my practice for a powerful praxis. I feel that the accessibility of narrative therapy bridges some complex theoretical thinking with very hands-on skills that can be used in virtually any setting! The tools I’ve learned— externalizing, writing documents, collaboration, outsider witnesses and others— are some skills I’ve already begun to practice and implement in my work and everyday life. Noticing the language I use has been perhaps the most valuable skill, and I have had to opportunity to make a conscious effort to reflect on the language I use to describe people and problems. This is so helpful!

    I am looking forward to beginning my journey with narrative practice, and feel I am able now to begin implementing some of these skills and building on them. I am also looking forward to learning more about narrative therapy, and building on this knowledge. Thank you Dulwich Centre!

  259. Hi, Astrid here, currently from Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

    A few years ago I attended a NT course and was less enthusiastic than most others in the group; could never really figure out why. Meanwhile, while starting on this one to be on par with a team all enrolling in this, I gain some insight in what may have happened. I will leave that for self reflection from here.

    For the purpose of the course reflection: The power of words… although I can get wordy myself I like to keep things simple. All the sections of this lesson on the narrative metaphor show how important it is to recognise a story for what it is: one story. And knowing that there are always many others to invite to the therapeutic space. Whether that is to elicit empowerment or a richer context to a persons background or our experiences of live today.
    I find it enriching to be made aware of this again from so many different perspectives and to now not only apply this to work with clients but also with supervisees. I look forward to the rest of the course.

    • Hello, my name is Tom and I live in Bristol Uk.

      Astrid thanks for your reflection on the power of words, you set me off on an interesting train of thought that I will try and capture here.

      I am interested in the power of words particularly in the sense that it is so often words, language, which we use to articulate our stories. This can be problematic when our language has been given to us, for example through a medical model where specific diagnosis and technical language suddenly have to do with you and make up the words you have at your disposal to articulate your experience. A diagnosis can be very helpful in the giving of a word to describe an understanding that is shared and common. However so many of these words have connotations or assumptions around them that our social as well as medical. On a personal level, after experiencing a series of episodes of psychosis I have tried to find ways to tell that story. I have been sharply aware that there is not just one interpretation of those experiences or one conclusion as to what they say about me. The word psychosis itself carries a cultural resonance that is not always helpful in the telling of my story. Thanks for allowing me the space to try and communicate what the power of words means to me in relation to narrative.

  260. Hi,

    I’m from the Sunshine Coast, Australia. I’m currently studying social work at university.

    I found the article on the FAQs of Externalising interesting, specifically the inclusion of externalising positive traits. I had never thought that even the internalisation of positive characteristics can be a thin way of examination. I can imagine when they are seen as separate from oneself, almost like resources that can be accessed, they become almost more useful because instead of it being a compulsion, it is a choice to use this skill.

    Nonetheless, the externalisation of problems is also fascinating. This separation from identity would be extremely empowering. Even studying a few mental health courses at university lately they have demonstrated how a medical diagnosis can become the identity of the individual and even mould that person’s behaviour to more closely fit that diagnosis. Once that person is labelled and their identity is founded on this problem it is difficult for someone to realise they are capable of acting a different way. When someone expects you to act in a certain way, you will. Externalisation is much needed in the mental health area.

  261. I really appreciate this course. As a social worker and music therapist learning about narrative therapy is opening up ways I can facilitate conversations that allow people to tap into creativity, tell their story in new and preferred ways. My mind is spinning with ways I can incorporate music and expressive arts in this process as I’m sure I will find others already have. Thank you to Dulwich Centre for the care and thoughtfulness put in to gathering these materials. It has really enlivened my work.

  262. Hi Chris,

    My name is Alberto, I’m a student studying the masters of Narrative therapy at Melbourne Uni and a counsellor in Kensington.
    I viewed your video on Friday Afternoons at the Dulwich and was really taken aback at the brilliant work you and your colleagues are doing. I myself have been wanting to utilise nature in some group work I am involved in here in Melbourne particularly with an older mens group who all experience chronic pain/ mobility issues and isolation. At the moment we also have a social work student with us who is interested in Wilderness Therapy and I was wondering if you could share some of the resources you used on your walks with us so that we could potentially get something sorted here.

    We’ll keep you in the loop if anything does progress,

    Thanks again for the brilliant sharing of ideas!

    • Hi Alberto, Thank you for your comments. I developed Narrative Walks in the hope that people would adapted it to suit all kinds populations. It excites me to see people thinking about this too. Your work sounds very interesting and I would really enjoy hearing about how you go about this. I will send you across the manual and workbook I use currently. Thankyou CD

  263. This looks amazing and really valuable. Is there any upcoming training or workshops that would run through how to faciliate something like this?

    • Not at this point Kate. I would love to in the future if interest grows. The best I can do at the moment is invite you to the next Narrative Walks program we are doing in Perth to experience for yourself. I will send you the details. Thankyou CD

  264. Thank you Mark for explaining and clearly presenting some of the foundational values of narrative practices. Always appreciate learning from you!

  265. The outsider witness role in Narrative family therapy is pivotal as this enables the “thickening” and “validation” to the stories and difficulties expressed by the family.
    So glad I was involved years ago in Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Suffolk, England.

  266. I currently work as a Crisis Nurse within an NHS Child and Adolescent Response Team in South London.
    I previously been involved in Narrative Family Therapy as an outsider witness in the past.
    I would like to develop my and the teams skills in using a Narrative approach in engaging young people who are in Crisis due to their mental and emotional issues. Examples of externalising conversations with young people in crisis would be really helpful.

  267. enjoyable course, fascinating ideas, and of course more eager to learn and practice… looking forward for the results and certification to the next level 🙂

  268. Hi all, this is Alireza from Tehran, Iran.
    I really believe “Rescuing the said from the saying of it” enlightened me to make more documentation about the persons who come to consult with me. Writing records of the session as a letter can be a fascinating idea, I will try. I am convinced to reflect my ideas about the session and what I will hear across the talk will help people to take another point of view in their hands. This kind of therapeutic document will help them, not only in externalizing the problem but also to gain the sense of importance for the counselor. I mean, such letters can make them to know that they are important for the counselor why he/she is thinking about them, even in the absence.

  269. Hi all, this is Alireza from Tehran, Iran.
    As I learned externalizing problems is the basic technique and concept which help both the counselor and the person who comes to consult with us to set a goal to achieve, in a cooperative way. “Introducing Sugar” was the most attractive article which I have read twice. The structure of the article which is articulated as a scenario inspired me a lot to re-form it about any other problems. For example, addiction in my society is a kind of problem internalized for many persons and of course many families that can be personified across externalizing methods. But in some contexts, I think, it must assume as a multi-factorial phenomenon and it must have various faces to be introduced.

  270. How beautiful! Thank you for sharing this program, Chris. I wish I could implement an outdoor program like this where I live but I do see great potential in tweaking these ideas to create an indoor, weekly group that is much different from your standard psycho-ed group about anxiety, depression, etc. We are working towards creating some therapy groups in the community centre I work at and this lovely program has gotten my narrative juices flowing. Thank you again–from Toronto : )

    • Thank you Wendy. Feel free to contact me at and I can send you over the materials I use. I would love to hear about how your program goes. CD

  271. I would like to know if Anthony is originally from Alice Springs. I did a Course called the Niche Program (Canadian Indian mixed with the Aboriginal Culture and History. This was in 1991 1992.

  272. Our constitution is our most defining document, while our anthem, flag and Australia Day, our tricorne, are also crucial, reflecting and moulding who we are.
    We are:
    • a diverse multicultural society; with
    • two indigenous races; and
    • a British heritage with a legacy that many treasure.
    However, we are first and foremost a unique, independent country.
    Consider “Aussie values”. They are a vague concept, but clearly equality is one – “a fair go for all” to put it in Aussie vernacular. We could hardly say our origins encapsulated this. Quite the reverse. We were a penal colony. If anything, it grew out of a reaction against these origins. Whatever the case, it is distinctly and uniquely Australian.
    I want the things that define us to focus on our uniqueness and independence, not on just one part of our society. I think it is crucial to our national psyche going forward.
    January 26 marks the day in 1788 the British flag was first raised on our land, proclaiming NSW (as it was then defined) as a British colony. The first fleet had arrived two days earlier and anchored at Botany Bay.
    So we celebrate our national identity on a day when a foreign flag was planted on our soil. This lands for me as un-Australian by definition.
    I also get that Jan 26 is not a cause for celebration for our indigenous people. It marks the day on which the destruction of their lives began. Consider that our claim to support reconciliation is a sham as long as we retain that date as Australia Day. Our national day should unite us.
    I note that many of the suggested alternative dates would put the focus on our indigenous people instead and that to me repeats the same mistake.
    I don’t mind May 8, Mate Day, except it is a bit too blokey for some. I don’t mind ANZAC Day, except some will see it as glorifying war. I prefer September 1, National Wattle Day. Golden Wattle is our national flower. It is something we can all rally to.
    Clearly our flag also lands as un-Australian to me, including as it does that same foreign flag. Consider this alternative:

    Our red centre under a clear Australian sky soon after the sun has set, with the Southern Cross oriented as it was at reveille on the centenary of ANZAC – the same colours as our current flag, reflecting our British heritage; a flag that reflects our indigenous races, both of whom have a strong affinity to land and sky. Subtle references, not “in your face”. A flag everyone can relate to, even those who have neither a British or indigenous heritage.
    There have been many similar suggestions, but the unique aspect of this is morning stars in a night sky evoking the words “At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them”.
    Our anthem is the least contentious of the tricorne and it’s almost passable as is. However, written in the 19th century, it is now somewhat archaic and again many indigenous people do not relate to it. My preference is to adopt “I am Australian” as our anthem. It best reflects who we are and it is a great song. However, I would also be happy with Advance Australia Fair using the new words proposed by the Dulwich Centre. So very well done.
    As for the Constitution, I expect on balance I prefer to leave it as it is.
    I am not in favour of constitutional recognition of our indigenous people, or of a treaty, nor am I in favour of any form of indigenous sovereignty, all for the same reason already expressed: I don’t want to single out any section of our society as “more special” than others. “Australians all let us rejoice”, I say.
    I also have serious concerns about the call to remove “racist” clauses from our constitution, but there has been far too little truth telling on this topic to unravel it here. Suffice it to say that:
    * Australian law as it stands allows for land rights; and
    * If we remove the power to make laws based on race, perhaps land rights will be diminished.
    To me, the only sense in which that power is “racist” is that it pertains to race just as the Racial Discrimination Act does. I can’t see any negative, demeaning connotation to it.
    I would like to see indigenous Australians step up to the plate in several respects:
    1. Closing the Gap. Certainly they will need to work in partnership with the nation in this, but I would like to see them initiate a Truth Telling around all aspects of it and drive the debate on how best to achieve it;
    2. Culture. We missed an opportunity with the Comm Games. Every LGA in Australia should support 3 or 4 events a year with roughly 50:50 indigenous and non-indigenous participation. Let us honour Pastor Doug Nicholls and make “walking together” a reality;
    3. Environment. To me, environmental responsibility is an obligation on all of us and we are all custodians of the land. I would like to see our traditional custodians promote custodianship, not just in relation to their traditional lands, but for the nation as a whole.
    I look forward to reading responses.

  273. A beautiful way to bring the many different people of our land together. I’ll be sharing this with friends and family to create opportunities for discussion and further support. It’s time our nation grew up and this is a fantastic way to lead us on.

  274. Love it. How can we get it changed.its beautiful, respectful and inclusive. Well done.

    We need to get this as the national anthem

  275. Gave me goosebumps. What an incredible offering to all of Australia’s people. Best and most appropriate alternative anthem I’ve ever heard. How can we help to promote this more?

  276. I like this a lot and would back it as our national anthem

  277. Hello! It’s Jade again, from Toronto.

    Wow… this chapter was very invigorating! It is too easy to become discouraged, overwhelmed or hopeless when speaking with others who are experiencing problems that are systemic in nature. It can also be discouraging working within a system that tells one-dimensional stories of people’s lives, placing the problem in an individual or family (I liked Sue Mann’s term, the ‘hospital story’).

    Reading about the ways people have reclaimed their stories, and taken up place as authors, is quite incredible! I strongly believe that recognizing structural forces and systems of power is essential for any practice with people. “Just Therapy” and the other experiences the folks in this module speak about provides some hopeful tools that I will definitely try to build on. Moving from an individualized, medical view of ‘problems’ to one that is structural and systemic is very refreshing!

    I love the collaborative record writing, and will try this in the future. Collaborations with communities for social justice efforts is something that is important to me in my life, but seeing the ways it can be directly intertwined with support practices inspires me. It is great to see therapists, counselors and other support workers holding space for radically deconstructing oppressions, internalized and external. Here in Canada, decolonising practices are very relevant, too.

    I can see how these acts of liberative collaboration could feel like swimming upstream against a current, especially working in a system that is based in individualized, medicalized dominant discourses. When Sue Mann wrote about balancing safety with giving people autonomy over their records, it resonated with me, as I struggle with this in my work on a crisis line. It is difficult to negotiate mandatory protocols that are put in place to ensure somebody’s safety, but “safety” is informed by a dominant narrative that contains certain types of values. This may not always feel empowering for people. It seems that Sue Mann has grown and worked a lot towards empowering people even in systems that can make it difficult to do so. That was so inspiring and educational to read, and I hope I can learn to work like that!

    Thank you to Dulwich Centre and everybody for these contributions. I am looking forward to seeing the opportunities this stance may open.

  278. Love it bring it on my wife cried

  279. This version is wonderful. Great words and beautifully sung. So much more truthful than our out dated current anthem which I can’t stand.
    How can we progress this version?

  280. I appreciated your lovely welcome – Thank you.
    This therapeutic modality really resonates with me & I can hardly wait to complete this course and support people to tell their stories, too.

  281. Hello! This is Jade, from Toronto, Canada.

    I found David Epston’s discussion around anthropology and co-research to be quite enlivening. I love the idea of “ethnographic imagination” and “informed not knowing”. In particular, the statement that resonated with me was:

    “Within the field of therapy, for many years there was an implicit assumption that in order to help someone you must know a great deal about them… However, ‘informed not knowing’ is still knowing a lot. To be able to assist people to know their own knowledge is a considerable form of expertise. It requires a different sort of inquiry, one that involves setting to one side one’s own assumptions, making no pretences that you can know another’s experience and ‘walk in their shoes’, but rather entering into an inquiry based on ethnographic imagination, whereby you seek their versions of how they go about the living of their lives.”

    I’ve always found the idea of “empathy” (or ‘walking in somebody’s shoes’) to have a lot of problematic elements, but I’ve never quite been able to untangle that and find the word that captures a different sort of relating. I feel that an inquiry of “informed not knowing” is so spot on, and I love the possibilities it opens, as well as an emphasis on relating in a way that cherishes differences rather than empathy, which I feel is based on valuing similarities and can tend to erase those important differences and the rich, full narrative somebody is sharing. I think that “empathy” (or maybe, practice based on a value of empathy) risks creating single-storied narratives. I love the possibilities that open up with an honouring, anthropological stance!

  282. I love it. Just what is needed. How can we make it replace our current outmoded anthem. It gave me goosebumps.

  283. Thank you for this course! I have just uploaded the essay, I look forward to hearing from you, and to continuing this work.

  284. I accidentally came upon this anthem on twitter. It is wonderful and so appropriate and inclusive. What an amazing achievement. Beautifully sung by Kutcha Edwards too. I hope you are able to publicise it some more…get it on TV and radio. I would think the great majority of Australian people would love it if only they knew about it.

  285. I’m excited to do more reading and learning around all of the topics. I feel like I could start with the externalising conversations, I have an idea for a document clients might be interested in writing, and am definitely going to continue thinking about justice doing and examining privilege.
    Many thanks for the course, I have been promoting it!!

  286. Sydney, Australia
    Lots to think about! Was good to get a short and clear explanation of structuralism and post structuralism. I have been reflecting on the people I have met along the way who have helped me gain some insight into my privilege, it’s a life long journey. I suppose that’s one thing critical thinking means to me, to keep my radar on for what I’m saying, doing, not saying, not doing etc.

  287. I particularly enjoyed the “Externalizing-Commonly Asked Questions”. This article provided a very approachable structure for diving into how narrative therapy works in practice – not just in theory. Similar to the “Introducing Sugar” article, the question that one may think of as they finally start to practice, were presented to us, and answered in depth. This allowed me to think about questions, and understand solutions and the advice of an expert before putting this practice into action. It got me thinking about how I will personally integrate this into my practice, and what it will look like.

    Problems that could be externalized in my context: depression, anxiety, worthlessness, harsh judgement, fear of failure, impostor syndrome.

    Externalization of these afflictions is so powerful because separating yourself from any one of these symptoms, or beliefs, is the first step to taking back your power. We know that it is belief in control, not control, that protects individuals from depression and victimization. The practice of externalizing reinforces the belief in control and helps to reinforce this constructive way of thinking.

  288. Alkmaar, The Netherlands

    I am delighted by this course and very grateful for your efforts and Philippa’s guidance. Thank you for offering all these resources for free and constructing the material in such an inviting manner.

    I resonate with the values and methods of Narrative Therapy and I’m excited to deepen my understanding. Particularly the ideas of Externalizing and Outsiders Witnesses speak to me as ‘liberating’ concepts to lessen the power of negative self talk and identities that undermine us in a creative and even playful way. I have spontaneously used these ideas in my own life and it worked; I’ll apply them more and start exploring them in my work with others.

    Many thanks and warm greetings from The Netherlands!

  289. This is really interesting. I look forward to the rest of the course!

  290. Alkmaar, The Netherlands

    Mary Heaths’ contribution was helpful to me to better understand the importance of critical thinking and how it is connected to a process of personal development; the intersection of barriers and support on the individual level that either inhibit or sustain our willingness and ability to think critically.

    bell hooks’ words on safety not as agreement, but as knowing how to cope in situations of risk, and how that opens up the possibility of being safe in situations where there is disagreement and even conflict, were an eyeopener.

    Personally I see an opportunity for growth here in taking the emotions out of critical feedback and looking at it more objectively. Also putting my own hardships and or vulnerability into perspective given my privilege as a white person, for example. This helps to get unstuck when I can be stuck in feeling victimized.

  291. Alkmaar, The Netherlands

    I have collaborated and am collaborating now with a Dutch foundation and an Nigerian pastor/social worker, to jointly create a project for restorative justice interventions aiming at African migrants in our country. What makes collaboration possible is a joint vision, open attitude, willingness to build bridges on both sides and experience on all sides in working with other cultures. Challenges can be ‘not knowing what we don’t know’ with regards to cultural miscommunications, and blind spots for white privilege on behalf of us the Dutch partners.

    Reading the Just Therapy excerpt, makes me think that the idea of the Dutch partners being accountable to a African migrant community council could be a good idea, since the interventions are meant to address marginalized African migrants.

  292. I love the concept of finding a balance of the stories of our life. We can’t pretend that some stories haven’t happened but we can create balance by thickening others! Love this TED talk (-:

  293. I am responding from Perth, Western Australia.

    As a uni tutor and writer
    the narrative metaphor offers a way of understanding ourselves, and others, holistically.
    Students introduce themselves to me by explaining who they are and why they want tuition; in effect telling their story, even if it’s a brief one. They elaborate on it during sessions and I offer them parts of mine. We are learning about each other, understanding each other’s needs through the stories; using the way we tell them, the words we choose and the questions we ask each other.
    Narratives in human communication are so important and so enriching for the teller and the listener.

  294. Wow! What to write? I am a teaching assistant in the UK who has had ELSA training by EPS to help children with emotional litercay needs. This is something that I strongly beleive is necessary for our young children as does the school I work with. Over the last two years, I have learned alot and as I continue my journey, I am learning more everyday! I am curious about learning more regarding Narrative Therapy, to further my skills and therefore further help children who need that support. So far, I am understand that Narrative Therapy is a means to help people recognise who they are, what they have and know and realise that they can use their stengths to find their inner self and face everything and anything that comes before them during their lives. As I continue this learning journey, I hope to understand more and be able to help make a postive difference in someones life.

  295. Hello, my name is Jade, and I’m a student in Spiritual Care & Psychotherapy based in Toronto, Canada.

    I absolutely loved the concepts presented in this chapter, and it sparks ideas of the many creative ways documentation can be used across a variety of settings.

    In particular, I do arts workshops and hope to eventually practice psychotherapy with the LGBTQ2SIA+ community here in Toronto, and I think the idea of “rescuing the said from the saying of it” is particularly resonant for me, working within (and being a member of myself) such marginalized communities that have experienced trauma.

    I find the idea of outsider witnesses especially empowering, as I tend to gravitate towards a peer-based, communal approach. I feel that outsider witnesses are a valuable tool I’d love to incorporate that into my future practice.

    The “narratives in a suitcase” project was especially poignant. After reflecting on everything in this module, it inspired me to think up ways I can incorporate documents into my work right now with the LGBTQ2SIA+ community, and in peer mental health support. I love the idea of tailoring the sorts of documents to the culture and life situations of the folks who create them. There is so much potential! It makes me think of “zines”, which are a popular form of expression in the Queer community here, where young people put art, poems, words, and instructions of self-care in a booklet, then self publish it to distribute to others who share similar experiences of sexuality, mental health, oppression, and trauma. I think it would be really neat to integrate collective narrative documents of these sorts with the medium of “zines”! When I get a better handle on narrative practice, I might like to try this.

    Thank you for providing this fantastic course— it gives me so much hope for the future, and I’m looking forward to diving into the next module.

  296. Sydney,australia
    Some really interesting and inspiring ideas, the article about note taking was thought-provoking, I have been aware of the power of what is written in client notes, but there are other factors such as organisational and legal requirements which could complicate collaborative note taking, for example a client might not want me to record a suicide attempt or drug taking when these could have implications for child safety…..I will think about this some more!! Thanks for an amazing course so far x

  297. Paulo Friere makes an interesting point about education no longer being seen as formation, just as training. While elevating the idea of freedom, it does appear as though the dreams and hopes of the individual believer become subjugated to the mass, whether in small communities or large. Within such a system, ‘legalism’ can counteract ‘faith’, forming a spirit that is biased towards actions (externalized vain rituals), which appear ‘more correct’ than words regarding hopes and/or dreams. The environment in which this nurturing occurs is important: a judgmental, harsh atmosphere creates critical, carping people, whereas an atmosphere of nurturing and care gives people the space to intelligently question concepts which may just be social prescription.

    When something goes wrong in a community, whether, for example a family, or a church community, foundations can become shaky. The hope and faith of many is called in question and members tend to isolate themselves with others who feel the same as they do. The only way to prevent a fracture in the ‘body’ is to communicate in an open manner. In this a remembering of the how, what and why this community gathers is reinforced. It is good to learn to know that when one member of a close community suffers, all the members suffer. As with the tree of life projects, I use a ‘seed of truth’ metaphor, which has developed through the marriage of creative writing, art, narrative therapy and art therapy. Externalizing and the witness of the drawing give a voice to the many unshakable foundations we actually have in our lives, and the truths which govern the setting sun or the genetic information contained in a seed. Such knowledge is comforting, a stable foundation on which a community can build a house of hope, which will not be subjected to every wind of change. Music too is an instrument of intensity, capable of producing penetrating emotional redirection and awareness.

    • Hello my name is Tom from Bristol UK. I can’t find a way to make any direct comments for some reason but I am able to respond to Cheryl and her interesting comments, so I will do that instead.

      Paulo Freire reflections in ‘Making History and Unveiling Oppression’ were insightful. Thank you for your additional comments which I also found useful. It was refreshing to frame social injustice through a bigger narrative of the prevailing neo-liberal story and ask how can we be writing alternatives in our communities.

      I will be adopting the Tree of Life project in a refugee scholarship programme I am involved with. We want to nurture the individuals, tackle the isolation they experience and draw them together as a group, it seems like an excellent exercise to do this as it is multi-faceted and well structured. I like your inclusion of the ‘seed of truth’ metaphor in that exercise.

      I was inspired by the Mt Elgon Self-Help Community Project – the way that the community had reframed the role of the sun and the wind in their communities, linking the efforts of the young people with their ancestors was profound.

  298. The power of connection to self and others and the acceptance of difference that accompanies this which is captured so well in times of grief and draws so beautifully on our strengths. What is not to love about this type of work.

  299. As a Social Worker I find the concept of identifying different narratives that I and others have created a very powerful approach. Both in my life and in the life of the people that I work with. By reflecting critically on how these different narratives affect me and whose interest they serve I have been able to break free from some of the oppressive narratives in my life.

    A toxic narrative that I have been able to identify is, “I’m only valuable to society if I am working in a paid job.” I have identified that I have received this narrative through a variety of different people, institutions, systems, structures and stories. During a period of transitioning between professions I have had periods of unemployment while undertaking further education. That narrative has knocked my self confidence down a number of pegs. However, since I have identified it, discovered the exceptions, analysed who benefits from that narrative and began reauthoring a new narrative. I have began to regain my self confidence as I begin my new career as a social worker. These narrative concepts will be invaluable in supporting people as a Social Worker.

  300. Writing from Montreal, Canada. Thank you for such an engaging, informative and accessible course. In reflecting on my work with clients and my own stories, I thought about the importance and beauty of zooming out, choosing different angles, widths, lenses. How when we focus on single (thin) aspects we don’t see or understand the whole picture or ecosystem- the realities,impressions, events, good, bad ugly and otherwise. That we need to consider a full picture, with varying shades, light and darkness, color and texture, rather than mono-tonal, flat pictures that don’t tell the whole story or capture the whole landscape. We cannot see the forest for the trees without zooming out and allowing more than one tree to enter the point of view.

  301. Greetings from the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia – Canada

    Many thanks to the Dulwich Centre, and those participating in this forum for a great introduction to this therapy modality. As a Masters of Social Work student I appreciate the flexibility of the Narrative Therapy doctrine to meet the client “where they are at” and its ability to build an new “at” location using client based and accessible data points. Moreover, I appreciate what I see as the scalability of Narrative Therapy and its flexibility to meet the practitioner (student to accomplished professional) at their own skill level. Allowing the practitioner and modality to grow together as one moves from assisting with the exploration of a client’s dominant narrative (thin description) to acting as a guide for a re-authoring that could have profound impacts on an individual’s whole experience (framing of the past, moving through the now, and planning for the future).

    I am excited to continue my exploration of Narrative Therapy under the guidance of the Dulwich Centre, and with the assistance of those also just starting/returning to this program.

    Kind Regards,


  302. I find narrative therapy to be helpful, as this practice is one of the most empowering I’ve come across, to date, By recognizing dominant story lines, and challenging them, we take back our own narrative power. We are all writing our own stories as we live, and interpret our experiences. We all have the power to challenge the conclusions in which we arrive, especially those that empower a negative and limiting narrative about ourselves.
    One of the simplest questions that I ask myself, or others, when continuing to draw negative conclusions, or further a negative narrative: Is it true?
    This does not mean is it true “for you”, this means is it necessarily true. If the answer is no, then there is room to edit this story in a way that can be more self empowering/ helpful in your own narrative.

  303. carmen from sydney australia, I loved the tree of life idea and have shared it with a few of my colleagues, am thinking of trying it out in a community group I run. I was also very inspired by vikki reynolds’s video.
    btw I couldn’t find the radio program via the link though.

  304. Thanks for the warm welcome! i am looking forward to taking part in sharing of stories in a way that make us stronger. i work with children in the rural communities and this is a need.

  305. Greetings to all

    Feeling enriched by this chapter, and I love the engaging way of the conversations presented here, both in writing and on video. Reading/watching material presented in this personal way, makes studying these topics quite effortless, though I love it that the information provided is sometimes quite elaborate.

    The suitcase metaphor appealed to me, and I will keep that one in mind when talking to my colleague about our work with migrants ho experience marginalization here in the Netherlands.

    Also I liked the outsider witness practices and the emphasis on celebrating the clients live through acknowledgement of how preferred narratives have moved and enriched the witness.

    Thank you !

  306. Greetings from Alkmaar, The Netherlands

    I enjoyed this lesson and particularly related to the WHO video.
    Looking back I’ve spontaneously used the ‘externalization’ approach with fear of insomnia in my mid 20s, it was effective and externalization, to me, brings with it a sense of freedom, playfulness and creativity. In short, it takes me from a place of feeling stuck and fearful to seeing possibilities again.

    I wonder to what extent ‘positive’ traits are externalized in narrative therapy? Is externalizing something a strategic choice for getting the best outcome for solving a problem or is it a standard approach because narrative therapy is based on the view that our identity is constructed by personal/cultural/collective narratives ?

    I work in the field of restorative justice and I’m interested in applying narrative approaches to restorative interventions. I look forward to learn more.

    Greetings, Femke
    (My first attempt to leave a comment failed so I’m trying a second time)

  307. Hello from Bangalore, India.
    Thank you for this wonderful introduction to Narrative Therapy. The word tapestry resonates so well with the idea behind this form of therapeutic healing, that is not a single thread but the entire weave is what makes the experience. I am so glad at least one form of therapy gives equal credence to different genders, socio-economic strata and cultures when talking about people’s lives as survivors and victors of trauma (and not mere victims) than only a white, middle-class, male perspective.

  308. Cheryl Penn, South Africa.
    The absolutely soulful images of Shaun Tan, lends credence to the notion that documentation is not just about writing and/or speaking, its also about producing images as documentation, no matter how naïve or unformed they may be. Stencils are easily made for those who feel they cant paint and the surprising thing is how individual each glyph is, as much as handwriting. Glyphs can also be so loaded and they offer immediate visual nudges which are often increasingly more emotive than words. Words, sometimes hastily written and written ‘the same’ are visually quite one dimensional in accessing creativity in order to solve problems. Further, I have also found that people are quite reticent to share written words, as though committing them to paper gives the emotion a notion of guilt – ‘what if someone else found this and read it’, whereas a glyph can actually have great meaning for the maker, allowing it to sit in the public space without giving the viewer too much information. Documentation in any format is a very valuable tool in therapy as the articles have expressed.

  309. Sherri from Melbourne, Australia here. I found all of the projects inspiring and heart-warming, and I think that the essence of empowering people to find answers and strength within themselves and their community is a great foundation for any project or initiative.

    I just wondered if anyone has experiences of working with interpreters when taking a narrative therapy approach and how they have found this?

    Secondly, there was a specific issue that cropped up amongst clients who had migrated to Australia and presented with pain and injury as a primary diagnosis, but were referred for support with symptoms of depression and anxiety (potentially PTSD also). Are there some good narrative resources on pain management and links between physical and mental health that are available or examples of initiatives targeting these issues with people from a narrative perspective?

    Thanks for such a richness of resources and materials you’ve provided here.

  310. London-UK

    Reflections on the Narrative Metaphor

    The narrative metaphor offers a framework for social constructionist ideas to be implemented in a psycho-educative way to service-users. I think it’s strengths lie in the commonality with reading novels (which most have been exposed to). It also provides a temporal transcendance to childhood. The idea of the simplicity of texts, at this level, moving along with what one would be capable of during adolescence and into adulthood. By the end of this process, the expectation would be that the ability of the client to produce thick and rich complex stories, would grow in the way that ability does with development.

    Psychotherapy is a developmental intervention. This framework offers a structure through which a practitioner can conceptualise growth in non-linear terms.

  311. In my current role, there is a large demand for administration and care coordination documentation and correspondence to be regularly sent. It has at times provided oppoopportunity to adapt this towards a more personalised and individual theraputic letter. I feel challenged to do this, yet affirmed by David’s words on the power of written language. I often spend lengthy periods trying to find the exact words or expression to articulate the right tone and meaning within correspondence to clients. The idea of inserting reflective questions to keep the collaborative spirit alive within correspondence.

    Wellness and Safety Plans are a tool I already use as a planning document, and they can be documents of knowledge or documents for circulation. I’m frequently looking for more ways to make these documents more client-centred and a process where they feel more engaged and better understood, rather than just a document that needs to be completed.

    In previous roles, I have utilised a peer worker as an outsider witness. This was a really effective use of a person with a lived experience in engaging clients and initiating deeper conversation about people’s experiences of managing their mental health. This resource is not as freely available in my current role, and it has left me aware of the value of an appropriate and skilled outsider witness.

  312. I have recently been reading about shame and how it impacts of our perception of ‘who we are’ as opposed to ‘what we do’. I can see how externalising helps people to separate themselves from the shame of the problem/s in their lives and thereby allows them to work towards a future not being controlled or debilitated this shame.

  313. The absolutely soulful images of Shaun Tan, lends credence to the notion that documentation is not just about writing and/or speaking, its also about producing images as documentation, no matter how naïve or unformed they may be. I have devised a system of easily made stencils to depict emotion (I don’t make them, they are made by class participants), which as immediate visual nudges are often increasingly more emotive than words. Words, sometimes hastily written and written ‘the same’ are visually quite one dimensional in accessing creativity in order to solve problems. Further, I have also found that people are quite reticent to share written words, as though committing them to paper gives the emotion a notion of guilt – ‘what if someone else found this and read it’, whereas a glyph can actually have great meaning for the maker, allowing it to sit in the public space without giving the viewer too much information.

    Cheryl Penn
    South Africa

  314. Hi Tiffany

    I just watched your video. It deepened my understanding of how to work with hopelessness when it knocks on my own door and that of others. Thanks a bunch.

    • Hi Gene,

      Thank you for this comment! Your and Jill’s work has been so meaningful in my own practice. If you ever want to chat about hopelessness, or if you have ideas about furthering this work (which feels very embryonic), I would be so interested!

  315. London calling! Thank you for sharing your introduction stories – Really looking forward to this course and learning more about how to integrate this Narrative element into my current life/work world!

  316. Greetings to all from the Netherlands

    I found the Dulwich Centre and this course because I came across the Charter of Storytelling Rights, which I resonate with deeply. Likewise I’m very excited to learn about Narrative Therapy and the narrative metaphor.
    To me this is like a new lense through which to look at my own and other peoples’ life; a way of looking that is not etched in stone but fluid and creative. To become aware of our dominant or thin story and to realize it is a construct (instead of ‘the truth’), and that there are more constructive narratives possible that work for us rather than against us to me is incredible freeing. I was reminded of Erich Fromms work ‘Mans search for Meaning’, how our freedom to choose how to give meaning to our experiences is something that can never be taken away.
    Interesting as well that our own narratives exist within the context of cultural and societal narratives; which can either constrict or strengthen our sense of personal agency.

    I find this introduction to the narrative metaphor and thin and thick stories very enrichening and it awakens my curiosity about the narrative that people in my life have about themselves. And to re-examine the narratives I have about them in order to maintain my dominant narrative.

  317. I am really enjoying the humble approach of narrative therapy, particularly in regards to relating to people of diverse backgrounds. The “introducing sugar” reading was such a great use of externalising to engage with a target group that have not related to health information presented in other formats.

  318. As much as I value words I am reminded again and again of the connections we make to place through images, metaphors and sound. That many opportunities exist if we are open to exploring them for people to step away from the heaviness of things like shame, that what lies beneath is strong because it drives many along without quite knowing how or why. To bring that which is hidden forward is such a gift to witness, participate in and experience. It reconnects me to the many reasons why I love counselling for it is so much more than simple words.

  319. In listening and reading of resistance and survival I am taken to a place of reflection. Reflecting on my own family’s story of leaving a home country because of the impact of war, of traumas that have occurred in our family both known and unnamed, and my own experience of family violence. Taken to a place to reflect on the strengths shared and drawn on to ensure emotional and psychological survival. The part that music, words and dance have played across generations. How easily these can be lost when we take a path of avoiding pain when we don’t know how to carry it with us and don’t know how to seek support to do the same … and how powerful, hope full and strengthening it is to collectively find ways to trust to feel again, to connect in our humanity and nourish those parts of self that are still there in spite of the traumas.

  320. In my work as a teacher I have seen how young people understand and crave stories quite naturally and how it is possible to use this urge to enhance their learning. In my own life, the power of story has also had a significant influence on my development. In my mid-twenties I hiked the Camino de Santiago from Pamplona and had 33 days, while walking, to reflect. Each day I wrote in my journal about the journey and, nearing the end, I could see how transformative the journey had been. On the trail I had finally had the chance to re-evaluate the experiences of my life to that point. In the months afterwards I took it upon myself to try and write down the most important events of my life up until that point. This exercise continued the process of re-evaluation, wherein I began to see who I was throughout all of the events in my life in a new way. None of this was planned (well, the lessons were planned while I was teaching and I *did* put a good amount of planning into packing my bags for the Camino). My students’ craving for story came naturally, my mind went to the place of story while hiking unbid, the desire to write my life story came from within – this points to something powerful.

    To me, the narrative metaphor is a name for something that humans do anyway – we long for and enjoy stories AND they can help us to understand ourselves and our lives.

    Thank you for this free on-line course. I’m looking forward to the rest.

    All the best from Vancovuer, Canada.

  321. Writing from The U.S.

    Watching the TED TALK on “The dangers of the single story” is what resonated with me for this portion of the lesson. People could really benefit from this talk because we all fall victim to the single story as well as abusers and users of the single story.
    Avoiding the single story mindset takes active thinking to push yourself to be a more evolved human to better your relationships, your way of thinking, and your environment.

  322. Hi, My name is Jennifer!

    After reading this I believe externalizing is not only a key concept for Narrative Therapy, but also for daily living. If people weren’t as judgmental and didn’t objectify people seeing them purely as their problems life would be a whole lot kinder.
    It’s important to take a step back when you believe you know the answer about someone.
    I also think I should attempt to not only use the concept of externalizing with clients and my relationships, but should also attempt using it for myself.

  323. Kitchener, ON Canada
    I found the WHO video very helpful. The visualization of the dog really seems to capture the spoken description. The visual magnified the spoken word. Thank you!

  324. Greetings from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.
    The narrative metaphor allows us to understand how our stories are shaped by our own perspective and the influence of others. I am intrigued by the complexity of story lines and the impact of the rich and the thin aspects of story. It seems the narrative metaphor works to open the individual perspective to encompass the many stories that are part of their experience. The work of Chimamanda Adichie, along with the line diagram visual, are particularly useful in demonstrating this concept.
    The variety of video, audio, and written formats provide an interesting mix for this online learning. The written and audio presentation from Michael White allowed me to experience the information in different ways. Thank you! I look forward to the rest of the course.

  325. I really loved the WHO video and the statement of position worksheet for mapping. In my experience externalizing can be done relatively easy but I think this lesson has made the point that there is a level of shallowness that can be done (as a therapist trying to externalize) that limits the depth of the therapeutic activity that can easily follow.

  326. Love this version,it brought tears to my eyes. Beautifully sung as well.

  327. It is so inspiring. So beautifully sung. The version by Judith Durham makes my spine tingle

    Politicians of all persausions take note as it will happen !!

    It actually reflects what a lot of Australians feel deep down

    • A beautiful rendition with great lyrics – what a voice! All Australian’s should join forces and make this change happen. It’s about time and this is what the people want.

  328. Yes yes Please I have thought about this a lot I am sick of seeing our children sing this song and lie about us having boundless plains to share !

  329. Absolutely love this. An anthem to be proud of.

  330. Bill Stewart from Kenosha WI. I enjoyed this section. In discussing critical thinking and privilege, I reflected on the opportunities in my life and experiences that led me to becoming a professional in this career. While i do not take any of this for granted, I think it can be difficult to take ourselves out of our positions but it is important to do so in order to build empathy and understand our clients better. As a director of a therapy agency, I encourage my staff to gain a deep understanding of our clients and families, therefore strengtening the relationship we have with our clients and better understanding how they view their own strengths and challenges.

  331. This was a very interesting section. I will be making efforts to integrate outsider witnesses in upcoming sessions for sure as i do see the benefit of it. Our work involves a team approach so often outsider witnesses are formal supports such as other counselors, professionals etc. Finding informal witnesses may be challenging as often in our cases, the family all contribute to the client’s thin descriptions and are not seen as outsider witnesses. I think one thing to possibly discuss is changing the family’s role to that of witness which would then assist then in reframing and redefining the thin descriptions as well. Sorry thinking out loud 🙂

  332. This was a solid introduction to the course. I feel that storytelling is an important part of our culture and defining ourselves within our family and social contexts. It is how we interact and engage with others, identify commonalities and form deeper connections.

  333. Dec 19 2018
    Northern Territory.

    When an individual experiences trauma, they change. At the present level of human social empathy and mentality, these changes become stigmatising and are viewed negatively, becoming part of the trauma, forcing the individual/group to the fringes, experiencing isolation…The worst of outcomes. Narrative Therapy metaphor, seems to give opportunity for the traumatised to tell their story, become normalised through experiencing acceptance of extraordinary outcomes from extra ordinary circumstance, including the intricacy of other running narratives from the past, to form healthier and even transformative future narratives. A skilled NT practitioner would be like a godsend for the traumatised who are unfairly judged and stereotyped and garbaged.

  334. I love it! Original words written 1878. High time they reflected modern Australia, as these do. I have shared it on my Fb page. Will also send ti to selected players.

  335. Brilliant and absolutely has my vote for the national anthem.

  336. Yes yes, this includes us all, would gladly stand and sing this with pride.

  337. Absolutely love this Anthem. I would love this to become our National Anthem. It says so much more than the other one. Please send it to our Politicians and get them to listen to it.

  338. Amandine Rozet from Turkey

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

    I really appreciated the world health organization short film. I always understand and learn more quiclky with images. I could understand the concept of externalization “intellectually” but now I understand it with all my mind.

    What sort of problems could be externalised in your context?
    Teenagers feel that they are “unfit” to their world (school and parents) and this is highly emotionnal for them. By externalizing the problem, it is easier to define it and to remedy to it.

    What difference might this make?
    Externalizing allows me to deeply understand the problem and its issues instead of going too quiclky to the solution (I’m a coach and “solution-oriented”). The person will feel more listened I believe and the therapy will be more efficient.

  339. The original anthem was for a time that was not inclusive of all the peoples of Australia. These lyrics are more rational, meaningful and relevant. Let us change the lyrics of the anthem! ASAP

  340. Love it, it gave me goosebumps. I will happily learn to word and embrace this new Anthem. It embraces inclusiveness and equality for our. This sacred land needs to adopt is powerful Anthem. Have lit on repeat, makes my heart swell with pride.

    I have sent this to my friends and family who are culturally aware and tplaced it on my fab wall.


  341. I really like these words and I would vote for them to be adopted as the anthem … bonus, not a girt in sight! Seriously though, these words express what I would like our values to be in this land, and reflect an intention of reconciliation.

  342. This is brilliant. It’s fair, just and inclusive. I would happily stand and sing this. I love the powerful wording and the journey from past to future. I love that it reminds us to respect all cultures and to look after the place for future generations, and tells us to respect the nations of the first peoples. From the depths of my heart, thank you for this Judith Durham, Kutcha Edwards, Lou Bennett, Camilla Chance and Bill Hauritz.
    Side note: Kutcha Edwards has an amazing set of pipes on him

  343. This is very moving. I would happily sing this anthem shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with all my brothers and sisters in our island nation. What a difference this could make in the world. I’ve shared this and will learn the words.

  344. I love this and would love to sing this. The song filled my heart with love and an appreciation for all that is. Please make this our national anthem.

  345. Absolutely love this! should be our anthem!

  346. The Shame Mat is such a powerful tool for physically representing the externalisation of Shame. I can only imagine the energy shift when the women experienced this for the first time – I’m sure the yarns would have freely flowed that day!

  347. This TED talk is so powerful. Reflecting on my experience as an Aboriginal woman – this speaks to the daily challenge of redefining the single (or more specifically,dominant) narrative that is ever present for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

    • I found myself reflecting on the conversations that I have had with an Aboriginal woman who works in my team. She is very strong and part of her resistance to colonisation is how she curates her story and doesn’t allow others to interpret it or tell her what should or shouldn’t be in it. Through her I have learned some more stories that have helped me be curious beyond the single story. Narrative has powerful effects for both the teller and listener.

  348. The narrative metaphor is created through the linkage of particular events, in line with a particular theme, over time. Emphasising these connections can make sense of events, however by creating a singular dominant story we can flatten our experiences and disempower ourselves by overlooking the variety of stories which exist. Chimamanda’s linkage of power to the single story is an interesting concept that I would like to further explore, as internal and external power relates both to the creation and the endurance of these stories.

    The narrative metaphor encourages practitioners to seek gaps in dominant stories and question what is being told. The concept of thin and thick descriptions is valuable as it directs practitioners to question thin conclusions of the self which are created by dominant, problem-saturated stories. While it makes sense theoretically for therapists to collaborate with clients in re-authoring stories, encouraging practitioners to seek ways to ‘richly describe’ these alternative stories provides direction in practice.

    Sydney, Australia

  349. I heard this Anthem on FB, just loved it. Yes, let’s change the pathetic one we have and us this one, it is so much more relevant.

  350. Thank you for the amazing opportunity. I’m looking forward to learning.

  351. Fantastic. Fantastic. Fantastic.
    Everything about it is just sublimely Fantastic!

    I’m of British heritage but born in Aus, as were some of my Grandparents and have never felt connected to the old anthem. I have been secretly praying for an new anthem, and a new flag for that matter, for our sublime country for Decades now.
    I’m so glad you hear the call of the people and have crafted this master piece!
    I’m going to invite my tribe to join me in singing this with me…..Video it….and send it over.
    I can’t wait to be a part of this change. It’s time!
    It’s sublime and definitely holds all people living on this magical land, Australia, in one container as ONE peoples.
    Thank you!
    Let’s make this happen!!!

  352. Hello fromm Turkey where I currently live with my family. Thank you for this alternative way of learning (wich is so closely related to educationnal innovations). I was being frustrated by not being able to learn Narrative practice within a community and here it is!
    As an expat, I can experiment in my day to day life how our stories about ourselves are constructed -which can be good when the story is positive about our skills “I’m this and that; I do this or that”- and how expatriation/migration can de-construct this main story. It is a challenge for a lot of expats to accept to change their stories even tough their new life demands it. I accompany them in this new path. The alternative story is like a new gem found inside you.
    Years ago, I personnaly experimented it when someone, by a few questions, changed the way I was seing my life and made me feel as an author to my life and not anymore as the victim of it. Also, I can see a lot of commun points with NLP and hypnosis which are also my tools and frameworks when coaching.

  353. I found the reading “Listening for more than one story” particularly interesting and very practical. I like the idea of making a list of the effects of the trauma in order to demonstrate that these issues do not define the individual but instead are effects of the trauma they have experienced. On the flip side making a list of the stories of resistance/healing/reclamation is a nice positive way to round it off. Both lists give the counsellor opportunities to explore further with the client. Looking forward to implementing this into my practice.

    • I loved the talks and the understanding that there are different untrue and true story’s, I can relate to the way the story’s were told about the Aboriginal people in all parts of Australia during Colonisation. How a Nation of people are judged on these story’s.

  354. What struck me was the reference to indigenous practitioners from Just Therapy. I had the honor of hearing representatives from Just Therapy (and purchasing their book) years ago here in Canada I believe in Calgary. I was struck that this was just starting to be part of their conversation in the 1980’s how far we have come – and how far we have to go – in terms of de-colonization and honoring the stories and profound wisdom past and present of indigenous peoples throughout the world (including Canada, Australia, and NZ)

  355. Love it and would love this to be our national anthem. I have shared and am going to continue to share this with others. Thank you!!!

  356. This is fantastic! A really powerful message for kids to grow up with

  357. Thank you so much for writing this article. Your wisdom surrounding the illness narrative being about the person with the illness and, (in this case, me),and the relationships between the family and the “medical professionals” providing the treatment,has left me in a place of isolation, anger, sadness, terror and all the varied nuance of emotion in between. This journey has been a very lonely one trying to get the help I need after a bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Even though I distracted myself by staying busy with work and school, my mind-body-spirit completely fragmented and broke down without my permission. I’ve been left in a space of despair. My providers post surgery have been dismissive at best, and arrogant, condescending, and rude at worst.

    I’ve gotten through many traumatic situations in my life and I’ve always been able to come out on top. After dwelling in the chaos narrative for months, I am finally at a place where I am moving into a healthier quest narrative . My plan is to use this pain as a purpose so other people who have surgery causing adhesion’s, and constrictions in the soft tissue or (fascia), don’t have to deal with this type of reductive, authoritative, and frankly , quite ignorant and harmful type of treatment.

    Warm Regards,


  358. i would take out the word And before honouring the dreaming…its not an add on it stands on its own…will sound better and makes the stepping into dreaming clearer.
    Other than that tiny adjustment, i feel this is extraordinary…i want the tshirt. I want to help

  359. This makes my heart sing with happiness. Please,can this be our new anthem

  360. I’ll be singing it this way from now on.

  361. This was very thought provoking. The outsider witness idea still seems a bit scary and difficult to me! But I love the idea of a letter summarising the work done together, and also a collection of documents of knowledges, I could imagine starting with something like that. Carmen from Sydney Australia.

  362. This makes me proud to be on this precious land! Go the change!

  363. Kind and spiritual- brings peace to my heart
    Congratulations I am guessing this wasn’t created in a day. A lot of thought has gone into this. Peace be with you.

  364. Our Anthem as it should be…love it !

    Thank you to everyone involved in pulling it all together so beautifully……it’s made my day.

  365. This an awesome anthem, the words have the meaning that is appropriate to all Australians. The best national anthem I have heard with heartfelt sentiments. I would certainly stand for this. We need the words to be published online so they can be reproduced. I will certainly take this to my children’s school with a request that it be used.

    • Hi Mandy, We’ve added the lyrics above and there is also a link to a printable pdf of the lyrics!

  366. Kutcha you have nailed it!!!

  367. Oh my! Words that actually make sense on so many levels….. And resonate very deeply! Please lets change it!

  368. can you add a link to a transcript so we can print it out for practice and Australia Day 2019 – if we can’t quite change the date for 2019 – at least we can tweak the anthem

    • Done 🙂

  369. Goosebumps here ❤️ Well done to the lyric writers! This is what I would happily sing, what would move my heart every time. Surely most Australians would agree?

  370. This makes sense. It speaks to what the country/nation is and should endeavor to be. It’s current but would speak to future generations of Australians. I live in the USA but would be proud to sing it and hear it sung. Its sentiments would instill a noble purpose in those who sing as citizens and stewards of the Australian continent.

  371. I love this version. I want to learn the lyrics and sing this. They are meaningful and suitable words for our national anthem.

    I wish we’d all simply start singing this.

  372. Love the anthem. I refuse to sing the current one as I have never agreed with it. Would sing this one.

  373. Mark, this talk was freeing to me. I don’t measure up with society’s norms and have been feeling like a loser. Now I am starting to see that as soon as I find my own truth, there is no need to adapt or live up to something. I am an ok person right now!!!

  374. The best possible Australian anthem we could possibly have. I love it and have shared with everyone I know. I would be so proud to stand for this anthem!!! Well done

  375. Your video has really made an impression on me, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Your reflection about weaponized positivity and the neoliberal admonishment to “do something” in the face of hopelessness for me really highlights the paradoxes of engaging in activism in late stage capitalism. We have weoponized positivity on the one hand and the way we are expected to respond is often to demonize (or weaponize!) hopelessness… like your sister said, in all that it is the capacity to see people as they are that is lost. As you guys wrote in your letter to Dr Ford”: What’s clear has been the value of “holding on to integrity”, of acting despite knowing the result might not be what one hopes for. Sending lots of love and solidarity from Santiago, Chile.

    • Hi Kitty,

      Thank you so much for this comment! These paradoxes of engagement are so real, and so thorny. I would love to hear if you have any further ideas or if you’d be interested in chatting about this.

      I was really inspired by the #EducaciónNoSexista movement that happened in Chile last year, and would be so interested in hearing about any ripple of effects of that action.

      Returning all that love and solidarity! Tiffany

  376. Hi, Nicola here from Perth, Western Australia.

    Which resource in this chapter particularly caught your attention and why?
    I really liked the way Mark charted his externalising conversation. He noted that he spent more time on the earlier steps of externalising and that these were necessary before step 4 (the ‘values’) could be truly addressed.

    What sort of problems could be externalised in your context?
    As an audiologist I tend to work with specific problems (for example hearing loss, tinnitus, hyperacusis and misophonia) but Auditory Processing Disorder is my speciality. Children are brought to my clinic for a range of reasons but ‘poor listening behaviour’ is usually one of them and some kind of label is usually mentioned e.g. a parent may say ‘I was the same when I was a kid and I always thought I was stupid and I don’t want that label for my child’ or ‘we’re not sure if he is autistic or a bit deaf or he has an Auditory Processing Disorder’ or ‘we’re not sure if he’s just naughty or he really has a problem’ and so on. In fact, one of the difficulties of working in Auditory Processing is that has been stigmatised to some degree by various people because we’re working with parents who are occasionally accused of ‘label shopping’ for their children. I am deeply keen to find skillful ways of having these conversations with parents and children in ways that externalise the problem from the child, and conversations with children where they can label the problem themselves and de-centre the problem from themselves.

    What difference might this make? I think for many of the children I see, they undergo multiple assessments and understand there is a problem of some kind and are at very high risk of internalising it. I always check with parents if they’d like me to discuss test results with the child involved or with the child in the waiting room, and most choose to have the child involved. I think it is critically important that I find ways of explaining test results that externalise the problem from the child and give the parents and very importantly the child some space from the problem.

  377. This is Paddy Farr from Eugene Oregon USA. For me, in order to define critical thinking, I first have to look at the etymological roots of ‘critique.’ The word ‘critique’ has a direct connection to the crisis, or from Greek κρῐ́σῐς (krísis). In Greek, κρῐ́σῐς (krísis) means:
    Decision, determination, judgement
    Trial, sentence, accusation
    Quarrel, dispute
    turning point or decisive point of disease progression
    It is from this that Marx posits the capitalist system, because rates of profit fall with the rising rate of production, has an internal contradiction thereby forming the engine of historical materialism. However, in Marx’s view of crisis, it is not only “turning point or decisive point of disease progression,” but also the engine of critique that provides the materialist view the funds for developing a revolutionary force. It is as such that critical thinking becomes revolutionary but in a postmarxist poststructuralist work this moves beyond a mere class analysis. In the work of Outlined by Salome Raheim, the binary between bourgeois and proletariat become one intersection within the overall structure of dominant narratives. Hence, the binary of rich and poor requires the addition of a multitude of addition lines that intersect class at key moments: race, sex, gender, ability, education… Critical thought becomes the theoretical movement pressing grand narratives to the brink of destruction, toward the abolition of oppressive conditions without positing an end point. Here, negativity becomes the force that moves the world. This is what critical thought means to me.

  378. This is Paddy Farr again from Eugene Oregon USA. In this module, I was particularly struck by the importance of what Michael White termed decentered and influential practice. The explanation through the four quadrants seemed to restate his quotation from the previous module that solidarity “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.” The deconstruction of binary relationships between clinician and patient through decentered and influential practice this brings the importance of solidarity to light as a social-political relationship between two subjects, an intersubjective becoming. In just this way, the decolonization of identity stories by Tileah Drahm-Butler becomes the flowering of subjectivity as an agent act of resistance. Decentered and influential, the relation of clinician to patient becomes a shared story of struggle.

  379. This is Paddy Farr from Eugene Oregon USA again. One of things that drew me Narrative Therapy and one of the things I see reflected in the readings above is the strong connection to solidarity and decolonial practices. Here in the US, we have just gone through the national holiday Thanksgiving, a holiday which the dominant narrative portrays the pilgrims as giving thanks for what we have by stuffing ourselves with turkey and sugary sweets. Yet, beneath this narrative is the history of colonization and slavery where white colonists have stolen land and lives in order to create the nation as it exists today. Doubly ironic is the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, people across the nation fight (quite literally resulting in riots and assaults) one another in shopping malls for the best Thanksgiving deals on Christmas presents. My family is bicultural and biracial, and we take part in an alternative: the National Day of Mourning wherein we fast followed by Buy Nothing Day wherein we break our fast and get together as a family. We, along with many of our loved ones, take part in this as a protest that builds an alternative to the dominant grand narrative of manifest destiny by pointing out the connection to genocide that these holidays forget. It is practices like these, the building of collective narratives through solidarity, that I see related through these modules.

  380. This is Paddy Farr again from Eugene Oregon USA. As I read through the various projects and writings in this module, I was reminded of what drew me Narrative Therapy: the focus on anti-oppression politics and critical theory through story. I was reminded of my earlier work in the anti-violence movement through social-political-community organizing for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, discrimination, hate violence, police brutality, migration trauma and prison slavery. These efforts culminated in art and protest by and for survivors in Tucson Arizona USA where the stories of survivors became the narrative basis for political action. In my current practice, I have integrated writing and song about the loss and struggle involved with drug use, homelessness and psychiatric survival into the formation of punk rock music therapy. Every week we come together as a collective to play punk music as reminiscence, to write punk rock music about our past and to transversally eliminate the boundaries between clinician and patient. This module was especially important for me to re-realize the importance that the narrative has on my work.

  381. This is Paddy Farr again from Eugene Oregon USA. I have a few thoughts. In David Newman’s paper and talk above, he posits that therapists should recenter therapeutic discourse on the written word as a potential path out of common pitfalls. Newman work reminded me of Jacques Derrida’s recentering of the written word over the logocentrism of speech. From the letters of authors, explains Derrida, comes their death and life through the object. Moving out of this symbolic Death, I recalled the work of Judith Flores and Silvia Garcia on the testimonio with torture Survivors of the Pinochet regime. Together, the therapist and survivor would create a document as testimony against the regime wherein the survivor would tell the story of their torture. The death of the author becomes their immortality over the death of the regime.

  382. Wow, to find a free online course for Indigenous Narrative Therapy is fantastic! I look forward to learning more!

  383. This is Paddy Farr again from Eugene Oregon USA. Here are some thoughts. As I began reading the explanation of externalizations in the FAQ, I made the prima facile connection to psychodynamic externalization as a defensive mechanism wherein problems are posited to occur from outside the self. In Vaillant’s view, this is a more adaptive defense but still beneath higher defenses such as sublimation. In psychodynamic work, this can be used as a phase of ego building wherein the individual becomes more capable of adapting to conflicts. However, this view has always struck me as potentially victim blaming, and as I worked on through the chapter, I found the notion of externalization more and more closely aligned with my own analytic work. For me, in both Clinical work and personal therapy, the externalization of trauma and oppression from internal conflicts has provided a means for pointing out the impetus of the problem as beyond and outside the mind. I was doubly affirmed as I listened to Mark Hayward describe the importance of focusing on responsibility, or what I have always thought of as accountability, as different and distinct from the externalization. Both are possible and necessary within clinical work: the problem is the problem and yet the person has the capacity to transform.

  384. My name is Paddy Farr from Eugene Oregon USA. Thank you for this course! This is amazing! I have a couple of thoughts.

    The constellation of points, a few of which are plotted within the narrative, explained by Jill Freedman and Gene Combs of Narrative Therapy Chicago, brought up thoughts of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno’s concept of the constellation where ideas are to objects as constellations are to stars. Thus, the narrative which is formed through the plotted points becomes a narration only after the narrator has developed the construction. The narration is only one of many that can be developed by the constellation just as a constellation in the heavens could just as easily have been constructed with a different combination of stars to form a different picture.

    When Alice Morgan writes that “I have tried to explain, narrative therapists think in terms of stories – dominant stories and alternative stories; dominant plots and alternative plots; events being linked together over time that have implications for past, present and future actions; stories that are powerfully shaping of lives,” I am struck by the parallel of Narrative Therapy to the work of Jean-Jacques Lyotard. Where Lyotard focuses on the end of the grand narrative in his “Post-Modern Condition,” Narrative Therapy seems to have the potential to complete that work on the individual level. Thus, to deconstruct the dominant story means to restructure the stories which arise from beneath the dominant narrative.

  385. This is fantastic. Often I feel ill-equipped in terms of how to relate to young people from Indigenous communities who contact me for counselling. Understanding what can be seen as colonised language is such an important first step for me in this course!

  386. Given that I am working in a Centre Against Sexual Abuse this was a very informative video and I know I will be able to utilize some of these practices in my work with women who have experienced sexual abuse, developed a mental illness because of the abuse and now have the further stigma of mental illness and/or addiction. I will be able to work with women on preferred identities and in this look at ways that they are re claiming their lives from abuse. Acknowledging that I am a male I will be rigorous in the way I approach my work as I no doubt will have my own biaises.

  387. I have several issues come up recently in my life that have been deeply entrenched in colonialism … I try now to use narrative as a form of self care and resistance both personally and in my arts practice .. I have also engaged with a narrative therapist

  388. I believe in this so much… that we are our own experts in our stories by telling our stories we empower ourselves in a culturally appropriate/safe way and is really important for our people to be heard.

  389. thank you for your lovely welcome I am a proud pakana woman/mother/grandmother/artist/mentor I work with young Aboriginal people at risk with in the education system

  390. The exercise of telling our story is political, and has a sense of justice. Returns the ability to have control over life and its course. It is a very powerful exercise and necessary mainly in cases where there has been abuse. I find the material presented in this course very beautiful and useful.

  391. Hello from QLD! I am currently studying counselling and find myself drawn to narrative therapy for many reasons – the way it can empower people with many different life experiences.

    I work with young adults and through many conversations with them it seems social media is a source of joy and despair – so one of my interests is in this area.

    The stories we tell of ourselves on social media has a huge impact on our identity – how we may see ourselves, how we want others to see us, or how they interpret us.

    Many of the dominant stories of our lives are shared or cemented in social media which do not allow for complexity – it is so easy for people to be viewed in one way due to comments, photos and similar posted online.

    I wonder if this single sided presentation is what we as a society are taught to offer up – to provide a clear identity and direction in life. With so many influences and pressures for people to act a certain way, be on a certain path by a certain age, perhaps the single story is a way to gain a sense of control over who we are.

    Narrative therapy will allow us to understand all of our skills, successes, and stories, rather than define ourselves by one.

  392. Thanks to each one of you for your words. It is very good to be able to access this virtual training space as a person interested in narrative practice and in having a critical view at the discourses that colonized us.

  393. Externalising allows the problem to be de-centred from the client. This allows some freedom from the problem, to enable the client to view the problem as separate to them and examine it’s varying affect and influence on their lives. It is important for therapists to take care in these externalising conversations to allow clients to describe and name the problem for themselves, and also to externalise positive virtues the client has described in their lives. This allows a means to richly explore and describe alternative storylines. It’s also important to be aware of not incorporating this approach into other humanistic psychology approaches but recognising it as a separate post-structural approach.

  394. Thanks for sharing. It is a lovely thought, that a story is told then retold in a positive and stronger way that builds.

  395. Great introductions, looking forward to hearing the content 🙂

  396. Hi, Nicola here from Perth, Western Australia. A narrative to me means the telling of a story which occurs over time. A metaphor is a literary device where you refer to one thing by mentioning another, and by doing so you compare one thing to another or draw attention to their similarities. So to me, the narrative metaphor is where we refer to one’s life or identity as a story. What does this make possible for me personally? Something that struck me was in Michael White’s interview he mentions a young man telling his story to a social worker, who then recounted her ‘take’ on his story. This allowed him to relive his experience from another viewpoint with another set of possible interpretations and emotions – how powerful. And when a narrative therapist listens to someone’s story (the problem-saturated one), they are listening to the ‘untold’ story…the exception…the anomaly…the strong story that is invisible to the teller at that point. By encouraging the storyteller to go into detail about those anomalies the storyteller tells (and hears through re-auditorisation or listening to themselves) another side to their story, some threads to their story that are hopeful and counter to the problem storyline.

  397. Lovely to hear each person’s welcome – we are all so unique!

  398. Having worked in Aboriginal Communities in Urban, rural and remote contexts, David’s mention of the Palestinian inspired work around “Justice is a form of healing and healing is a form of justice” resonates strongly.
    The internalising of the colonisers dehumanising language is something so apparent in the intergenerational trauma here. It appears Narrative Therapy may be helpful in giving us ways to tell and live inside new stories and possibilities without being re traumatising. “As people begin to inhabit and live out the alternative stories, the results are beyond solving problems” – I love this! Thank you for giving this information so freely!
    Looking forward to learning more.

    • Hi, Ann from Ireland. Just starting out on my journey of Narrative Practice and I am really enjoying it. Lots to learn and I love the Charter and how it is laid out. Looking forward to the rest of the course.

  399. Very excited about Narrative Therapy and using it in my work place.

  400. Fantastic initiative that will allow me to apply for the Masters.

  401. The Introduction of Sugar is a great example of how to use externalization within group work and how to reduce if not end with feelings such as blame or shame. I did really enjoy the video in which the depression is represented by a black dog and I think it creates a pathway on fighting stigma introducing the idea of separating people from their problems (“The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem”).

    Working within the mental heath services
    I feel there is so much work to do within the field of personality disorders. Starting to externalise problems and behaviours could bring new approaches and new ideas in the way we engage with people.

  402. Hello,
    Just wondering when I will know if I completed the course successfully.
    Many Thanks

    • Hi Emer,

      Thanks for your question! We have passed you essay onto our tutors and will email you the essay feedback and certificate once it has been marked.


  403. What does ‘critical thinking’ mean to you?
    Critical thinking to me means objectively trying to understand an idea, or a concept, taking into consideration the context of how it can be interpreted from my own experience and point of view and being able to explain it clearly to others around me.

    How might your practice be different on account of your engagement with these materials?
    I have become familiar with the post-structuralist way of thinking and considering about ideas over the years and have tried to implement this way of understanding when talking about such broad topics as privilege. It has opened understanding not only in me, but those around me who I have engaged in conversation with.

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

    Working alongside people in anyway, in my opinion, is a form of collaboration. Specifically though, my form of collaboration as a physical fitness instructor involves working with people in a one-on-one setting as well as in groups to achieve their optimal physical health, which can often encompass mental health as well.

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?

    Willingness- whether it be on part of the therapist or instructor or the patient/client, both parties must be willing to accomplish their intended goals, otherwise it becomes something other than a collaboration. Rather it becomes a stratified structure where one person has more power over the other.

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

    Be open to create more relationships with people in the community in order to open new pathways to collaboration.

  405. Hi!
    I´m Cristina and I’m writing from London.
    I love this course, Thank you for sharing all these materials.
    Narrative metaphor is a beautiful way of understanding human beings as a whole (history, values, culture, life events, abilities, skills…). I have been working in mental health settings for a while and sometimes you can find people seen as a single story. Brilliant the conference given by the novelist Chimamanda Adichie about this and how single stories can participate in the creation of stereotypes.

    It is really important to encourage people to tell their own stories and to help them find alternative stories that might help them overcome life difficulties.

  406. I love that clients get to ‘take home’ the therapeutic process, and it’s potential for ‘endurance.’

    The suitcase documentation is such a wonderful idea. I will be looking for ways to utilise something like this in the future.

    When I worked with teenage girls rescued from the sex trade, we had them document their life & transition with a map similar to Ncazelo Nucbe-Mlilo’s ‘Journey map’. At the end of several sessions of hard work, our girls asked if they could hang their beautifully coloured Life Paths next to their beds. Even though their histories were full of betrayal and sadness, they felt victorious and hopeful with their beautiful pieces and outcomes. We covered origins, places visited, places they still want to go, milestones achieved, storms (we externalised these times / events), ways they came through the storms, goals, possible obstacles ahead & ways to overcome those barriers, gifts received, ways they hope to grow, and areas they want to contribute to… We emphasised skills and knowledge learned, survival kit, core values, circle of support and obstacles overcome — all significant contributors to an overarching positive perspective of themselves and their future. We had also documented the ‘Tree of Life’ with them, so there were some repeated reflections.

    I am now working in a high school context, supporting 16-year-old boys as they document their journeys… Their reflections and discoveries have been both heartwarming and powerful. We are encouraging them to focus on character strengths and overcoming. The creative / sensory space is an enjoyable and non-threatening way to engage them in sharing their stories, processing their feelings, and projecting their forward choices. They have learned new things about each other and themselves. And will also have something to take home with accomplishment and pride.

    I have been so encouraged by the therapeutic benefits with this form of documentation.

    I appreciate how Esperance Munyarugerero mentioned that they brief the audience beforehand.

    (AJ — Sunshine Coast, Australia)

  407. I am sitting here with my jaw somewhere on the floor. Actually it fell several times as you spoke. First it was about activism. Never thought of myself as one, I am a ‘follow the rules’ kinda person all along, as I wanted to be ‘good’. Well, I think I’m at an age where I could gladly say, am not anymore! I had grown up being told that my elders knew better. That “medicalised & sanitised” terms of suffering hides the human sufferings and injustices. I know that I’ve been getting rather annoyed when someone is immediately dismissed as PD (personality disorder) as though that explains why we can treat the person a certain way. Like it’s strange for a person to be in despair after being physically and mentally abused for the last 30 years??

    Your other self-care idea as the breakdown of our resilience, as it’s not just a personal responsibility of not being able to take care of ourselves, so hence burnout. I love what you said “Burnout denies that it’s social structures of inequity and social injustice that harm all of us.” Butting our heads against discourses, norms… I was falling off my chair laughing so hard when you said you drank water and did yoga, but doing those have not built one housing unit in your city 🙂

    I’d write more, but these are the two that I thought I’d share with you. Hearing you, have firmed up my belief in doing more of what I have been doing, to connect more deeply with the people who come to see me, to get to know their stories, their actions of fighting against injustices and norms that have caused harm to them. To continue doing those “immeasurable outcomes” because they do matter.

    • I was so excited tripping over myself (obviously my typing is much slower than how the words/thoughts were popping into my heads!). I wanted to share that two things really struck me. One, the idea that mental health or people’s experiences have been neatly squeezed in a box by mental health diagnosis; and the other, about selfcare being a collective care. Thank you so much for this.

      • Thanks so much for your response Anny, it is so important to know the work resonates, because that is what feeds my hope and solidarity
        peace vik

  408. In just one chapter of the book, I have become more aware about culturally sensitive therapies. In particular, asking the client to define their problem and what that means to them was very helpful. I am curious to learn more and to feel more confident in this approach.

  409. The power of the written story read back in the person’s own words. No assumptions or interpretations – just written as it was said.

  410. I enjoyed hearing all the welcome stories.

  411. Thank you. I am a Navajo living on Cree land in Canada. I appreciate you sharing the article on grief. It is true, we as Indigenous Peoples experience a lot of losses. It is sad because it is driving our people to addictions , suicide, abuse of themselves and others. Many are ending up incarcerated. I believe ceremonies and our own ways of spirituality and our stories will heal us and help us recover from our losses.

  412. I love this stuff – it’s standing up to and challenging the predominant voice of colonisation that we all too easily wear inside whether we like it or not

  413. I’m writing from sydney, australia. I can see the value in using these externalising conversations to reduce shame, and therefore open up the use of the imagination in finding a solution and understanding. I work with women with drug and alcohol issues and they experience a lot of shame which can make it hard to see solutions. Thanks for a fantastic course!

  414. I’m writing from Sydney. I loved Chimamanda’s talk and it made me think about how we naturally make connections between the thing someone has just said, and some pre-existing idea in our head, without necessarily checking whether that is appropriate. I like the way this approach doesn’t define people as one thing or another, both can be true and many other things besides. I found the charter very empowering. Looking forward to the rest of the course.

  415. Queenie from Manila Philippines here.

    I found the tip of using a document as a reminder extremely helpful. The case where the lady carries a small card in her wallet and reads and rereads her alternative story is particularly useful. Too often, people leave the counseling room happy and relieved, but are not able to continue this in their daily lives. Having a document to remind them would be most helpful. I immediately thought of a friend who would benefit from this practice.

    I also like the Narrative in Suitcases example. Children often find it hard to express their inner thoughts and creating a document which shows their hopes and dreams is a wonderful way to overcome this challenge. This is something I hope to apply in a similar way in the future.

  416. I am really interested in how Michael White places the work of family therapy in relation to narrative therapy. His emphasis on the importance of considering the ‘problem’ of the individual to be related to all family members and that of the community. His linkage of family therapy to feminism was surprising for me, as I have never made such links between the two approaches before. The stories and interviews opened up a new school of thought within my personal and professional practice framework.

  417. Hello,
    The Mt Ego Self-help community project was particularly of interest to me as I have not thought about linking narrative practices to social and economic development before. The steps which the project offers the community are also very practical. It is astonishing to find out how we can work towards empowerment and establish self-determination of social groups and community using this technique.

  418. Finding out more about the different types of documentation as mentioned in Hugh Fox’s article has opened my thoughts on how I can apply this to my current work place practices. I seek to further explore the usage of “document of knowledge” for future clients as it provides them with physical evidence to refer back to in challenging times.

  419. Hello ,

    I found this chapter very interesting. Externalising problem is something we often think about doing but may not necessarily understand the reasoning behind or know how to do it effectively. The chapter, especially the video delivered by Mark Hayward offered an effective and descriptive explanation of this and allow me to apply them to my current and future practices.

  420. Hello everyone,

    My name is Minh Thu. I am in Sydney. Learning about what Narrative Therapy is has been very helpful. I especially like the work of Alice Morgan in her book, What is Narrative Therapy. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to understand more about this technique. Alice offered simplistic explanation in how this form of therapy may look like in counselling and community development. The case examples were also extremely helpful. I believe using and/or keeping in mind such technique would be extremely useful as it empowers the individual/group people we are talking to and allows us to look at the problem as separate from the individual/s.

  421. Thank you for the information … Islamic and good Australians … they help open up our country with their camels…may God bless us ALL…

  422. Even though my story remains part of my lives, my lived experience, I don’t have to live out or from the ‘old’ pain story, I can create a new story encompassing the strengths and learnings from my lived experience. Once I create the new story that facilitates healing opportunity I can then practice living out that new story until it becomes the dominant story line and the ‘old’ story gradually has less influence in my life.

  423. Nakkiah Lui made a impression on me in a talk once when she urged the audience to always, every day, check our privilege. I still think about that a lot.

    Lucy, Wollongong

  424. The Shame Mat is certainly something I would like to incorporate into my work place in dealing with children and families, in a positive way for children to open and acknowledge their identity.
    Unfortunately most families I work with will not openly disclose they are of First Nation descent, until I acknowledge that I myself am.

    There is still a sense of shame for some families that is hard to break down that barrier.

  425. Looking forward to the course, and putting it into practice in my school.

  426. Which particular ideas or stories intrigued you?
    I really enjoyed reading Cheryl White’s transcription of a conversation Michael White had with a patient regarding losing a button on his pants. I thought the idea of being on a level playing field with someone seeking treatment went a long way in humanizing the patient and giving them the opportunity to provide help in a situation instead of just seeking it.

    Why do you think these things stood out to you?
    I think it is because of the idea that when in a patient/therapist dynamic there is always the idea that one person has everything going correctly in their lives and the other person is looking for help from the other in order to accomplish that as well. It can often create an imbalanced relationship and cause the patient to rely on the therapist for every problem in their lives. Thus making it much more difficult for a patient to improve.

    What from these histories would you like to take with you into your future practice in some way?
    The aforementioned idea that the therapist is also a work in progress just like the patient and that it is a collaboration between both to improve each other’s lives together. Yes, the therapist is there as a guide, but maybe not as someone who knows it all. By having this type of dynamic I believe it creates an atmosphere where additional healing can be achieved instead of slowed down.

  427. I am glad to enroll in this course.

  428. I Like all the introductory stories. Looking forward to the course. Thanks to Aunty Barbara and Dulwich for making it available

  429. This is such a fantastic idea,and an opportunity to learn how to do this in practice.

  430. Narrative Metaphor is clearly depicted by Morgans analogy of driving . This gives a clear picture of relation of negative and positive events in framing our life story. The connecting dots metaphor of Jill Freedman gives a clear picture of framing of our dominant theory.

  431. It is so valuable to be reminded again of the power of privilege. One can slip so easily into sustaining the narrative of privilege, without questioning it or its impact on others. Sue, Canberra, Australia

  432. I think we do the same thing with individuals who have heard voices. We tell one story, we give them one label and when they try to tell theirs we say they are “delusional”. It’s important to hear everyone’s story and what they are experiencing in their own words.

  433. Looking forward to this course! I live and work in Whitehorse, Yukon and we have some similarities over here 🙂

  434. I’ve noticed with adolescents in particular, a tendency to talk about “my depression” and “my anxiety” as if they were talking about inherent traits they possess that make them special. It becomes their identity, and they tend to seek out others who also take a diagnosis on as part of their identity. It’s almost second nature to externalize problems with younger children because it’s necessary to use metaphors, stories, and play in therapy. I really found all of the examples given quite useful, and I love how externalizing problems can naturally reduce shame.

  435. Hello all!

    I’m Adam and I’m writing this from London, UK.

    I think it’s brilliant that such a comprehensive collection of resources have been pulled together in one free online course – so thank you to the Dulwich Centre! I’m sure many people have and will continue to make use of it and help to spread the word about narrative therapy.

    In terms of contributing to the discussion about the narrative metaphor, I think this and narrative approaches more generally can be so effective because it is something we can all relate to. People are natural story tellers. It’s something that makes us human. It has been a part of our make up for tens if not hundreds of thousands of years and most of us, one way or another, have been engaging with language, and therefore narratives, from a very early age.

    I think the narrative metaphor can be an effective tool for building on the stories people bring into the room. It can provide a way to explore the more ‘problem saturated’ narratives and reframe them to develop richer, more balanced alternatives. It’s a process and approach that spikes my interest and I am curious to learn more as I work through the course.

    I look forward to reading through other comments on here and hearing your thoughts.

    All the best,

  436. I really like the Tree of Life documents, particularly the reflection on our roots, skills, directions and relationships. I can see myself using this activity in a my current context working with young people, who often, with their limited life years, can get so engulfed by their current dominant story as its presence has sometimes been for a large chuck of the lives. I can see you people responding really well to the reflection on their roots and the distances and directions they have come already in their lives.

  437. I am a psychologist that has received lots of training in using narrative approaches in addressing multiple problems. I recently became more vested in wanting to acquire more skills and knowledge around supporting people struggling with effects of drug misuse/abuse and other addictions. I am grateful for this body of work that you are freely sharing with people like me.

  438. This section made me think about how often young people introduce their problem to me using medicalised or psychology language. “I have anxiety” is probably one of the most common things that young people tell me in our first meeting. Usually the young person has been told this or has done their own research and is trying to map their own experiences onto this medicalised or professional model. From my experience with young people, this process alone seems to cause helplessness and sucks any sense of agency the young person has over these experiences.

    These resources, particularly Sugar, really made me reflect on the ownership of language and the role that I as a therapist play in providing a platform where the young person’s language takes a primary position. As I think about this, I’m wondering about how this matches up with messages the young person receives from other players. For example, schooling and education sometimes encourages a passive position to learning and creating understanding. Depending on how strong these messages are in the young person life might determine how readily they engage in the ownership of the language we use.

    • I’ve noticed with adolescents in particular, a tendency to talk about “my depression” and “my anxiety” as if they were talking about inherent traits they possess that make them special. It becomes their identity, and they tend to seek out others who also take a diagnosis on as part of their identity. It’s almost second nature to externalize problems with younger children because it’s necessary to use metaphors, stories, and play in therapy. I really found all of the examples given quite useful, and I love how externalizing problems can naturally reduce shame.

  439. I was really drawn to Aunty Barb’s story for a number or reasons. There is a clear parallel to the injustice experienced by Aboriginal people and the injustice that Maori in NZ have experienced as a result of Pakeha (white people) domination. Too often, their grief from their loss of culture, goes unacknowledged.
    I’ve often thought how uncomfortable it must be for some clients to come to our centre and sit in a room they’re not familiar with to share their stories. It was so lovely to hear of Aunty Barb sitting with her young client to ‘tell stories under the trees’. Why do we need to call what we do ‘counselling?’ Just the name of it suggests that we (counsellors) are in a dominant position.
    Like the Aboriginal people, Maori also hold onto their loved ones who have died.Aunty barb talked of a gathering of Aboriginal families where they were encouraged to find ways of remembering that made it possible for people to see themselves through the eyes of their loved ones. This is a powerful way for people to remember stories and memories and to shift how they currently see their lives.

  440. Thanks so much for putting this course online and sharing it freely. The idea of narrative therapy is really resonating with me as very important.
    Things that stand out are the danger of a single story, the way we choose (and allow others to influence) our dominant story, the need to curiously be attentive for evidence of an alternative plot to our lives.
    I think these ideas will be very helpful to me personally, but also to those I work with, in remote parts of the NT.

  441. How would you describe the narrative metaphor?
    In my mind, the narrative metaphor is this perfectly chaotic bubbling fluid. Each crew and valley makes the next and at any one moment there is a dominant peak. I enjoyed reflecting on my own dominant narratives and the role that my own development and journey, in particular the connections to people and places, has played in bringing a particular story to the surface. I also liked reflecting on this metaphor as a global concept, that our stories in relation to others is just a story, nothing more, and one of many. I like the space for flexibility and accomodation this allows for.
    Thinking in this way gives me a sense of hope in relation to some major political, social and environmental issues that I care deeply about. It removes a sense of finality and indisputable truth. In my practice, it gives me a way to give my clients the space and power to be the ones to make these changes, on their own individual lives but also on this broader social scale.

    Lucy Wollongong

  442. Aotearoa, NZ
    Critical thinking for me is the belief system of the practitioner engaging in practice and how this may then influence our client relationship.
    A reminder to remain the naive enquirer with safe and honest supervision.

  443. Aotearoa, NZ.
    As a social worker working collaboratively means that I work broadly to identify issues and become involved in social justice matters.
    What makes it hard is the privacy act and funding issues that create silos.
    I am always interested to network and build relationships and try to think out of the box.

  444. The Narrative metaphor for me described timelines and themes of events that link and often reinforce together a persons story.
    Thinking about stories in this way i reflected that there is scope for creativity to utilise perspective such as using small figures, asking someone to read or interpret out story etc

    • Cheryl Penn: Artist/writer/lecturer/motivational speaker, South Africa. As an artist who is engaged in workshops/lecturing dealing with art tools/subject matter to access instinctual creativity and conceptual thinking, the narrative metaphor is vital in understanding what underpins peoples approach to any sort of creativity and/or creative thinking. Narrative Therapy is essentially the power of story telling to personally understand identity, problems or a particular life view. Thin, or for that matter ‘thick’ stories are particular sorts of information and experiences which govern the way we see things. Nudges towards a new/richer plot are used to encourage a far more generous version of information about our lives than we currently experience. A story told through experimental art and/or through written words gives the narrative physical evidence. To speak is to verbalize and to realize, but to paint and write using the same narrative nudges somehow makes reflection more meaningful (in my experience!). Narrative Therapy has definitely enriched my course material in that it gave me the tools to uniquely connect art and therapy.

  445. Brilliant, I work for Danila Dilba in Darwin, I am a white male social worker, I work for one of D/D’s health clinics in the Darwin CBD.
    The importance of men being able to “yarn” with each is so important, as is older men who can fit into the role of mentors for younger blokes.
    These videos are fantastic, bravo to everyone involved in these interviews.

  446. Hello! I’m writing from the Philippines

    I found the video with Mark extremely helpful. The way the questions are phrased to enable us to go through the Statement of Position map, the sample responses to a client’s narration — all these were good concrete examples on how I might use externalizing when talking to others.

    It also struck me how open and non-judgmental we must be when facing and talking to the person with a problem. This attitude is a must to be able to do the statement of position map well.

    • The easily stated summary of externalizing the problem by giving it a particular look/feel/texture/color/shape is very visual. It again reinforces the idea that putting a name to, or creating some kind of visual glyph (eg the black dog) externalizes and acknowledges the problem without invalidating it in anyway at all. When looking at a problem, people mostly see the person – in a sensory manner (sight) and so by externalizing the problem, one creates a new visual space for IT to operate in. By giving the problem a ‘look’, the person can more easily respond to the problem in the third person and thereby gain a more objective view to a mostly subjective issue. This externalization can provide a more intimate position on the problem. Even using the + or the – symbol as a drawn visual aid and spider diagraming the positives and negatives can nudge further understanding of their position. Should the person draw/paint their own version of the problem, it belongs to them and this artistry prevents the therapist from being the primary author/artist of the problem. Even the use of the chart by the person together with the therapist provides a readable diagram for both parties. Colors can represent notions/emotions very effectively.
      Cheryl Penn, Durban – South Africa

  447. The narrative metaphor to me highlights how each person can embody various ways of being and acting. We are not just one ‘person’ we are able to tap into many different characteristics depending on which storyline we are following. By recognising and developing our many stories we can become more empowered.

  448. Sue from Canberra, Australia. Loved the Mount Elgon project with its focus on reliance and strength. How empowering for this community to be able to speak their hopes and dreams and then work towards realising them.

  449. I’m from New Zealand. My role involves working in therapeutic ways to support change within families. Although we hope to see change take place within communities it may take decades before significant change can be seen. I was really struck by the enormous potential when whole communities are involved in working towards change. The collective sharing of knowledge and skills has enormous strength. This was reiterated for me by the wonderful use of a bundle of sticks to show that each stick is so much stronger when brought together into a bundle.
    The Tree of Life and the Mt Elgon Community Project resonated for me in the way they brought together the past, present and future. I loved the way a “rich textural heritage” was created in the Mt Elgon project by asking the people where their hopes and dreams had come from; who had passed them on.”Raising heads above the clouds” is something I will use in my work.

  450. The narrative metaphor, as I understand it at this point, is the notion that people digest their reality and understand themselves and others through story. It is also the understanding that, for a reason that is not yet completely clear to me, we tend to cling to a single story. Maybe it’s easier? Maybe the single story is a powerful well-structured one that is clear to us? Maybe it was born out of urgent necessity for sense and provided comfort through its internal logic, a calming simplicity which one is naturally reluctant to let go of? Maybe it was reinforced by people who were meaningful to us? Based on this understanding, the narrative metaphor encourages us to pay attention to this story’s periphery, to listen for divergence, for complexity that can be used to thicken the plot or create new stories. It is also a tool that gives us the opportunity to take a step back and recall that we are not only the main characters of our stories, but also their storytellers, writers and editors.
    The dominant stories I tell me about myself are often quite rigid and severe. Inviting the narrative approach into my thinking gives me the possibilities of agility and playfulness. It enables me to listen to softer stories that I may already be trying/wanting to tell; stories that are not heard because they haven’t been given the space, time or attention they need to be fully told. It invites curiosity and creativity into my personal storytelling, and reminds me that memory, reality and truth are not set in stone. They are shaped by the voice and tone I use to tell them, by the circumstances in which I allow/invite them to emerge, by the words and structures I choose to tell them through, and by the roles and dominance I give certain elements (characters, events, etc.) within them. The narrative metaphor gives me the possibility to continuously challenge, create and get to know myself by experimenting with the ways in which I interpret my life.
    I’m writing from Ramat Gan, Israel (:

  451. I was a member of ANTaR Victoria and tried to get Federal Parliament to change the lyrics.Letter back from Malcolm Turnbull saying no.
    Also had meetings with the AFL and I believe we can win them over to sing the new lyrics at Dreamtime.

  452. Having commenced a Masters of Counselling which is based in post-modern epistemology and therapeutic approaches which are embedded in the this epistemology. Clients as the expert in their own lives – Just as they have the glue to become stuck, they also possess the solvent to become unstuck.

    What I find liberating about Narrative Therapy is it’s focus on engaging in conversations which are collaborative and non-pathologizing. I enjoy the process of listening to client language and stories and deconstructing dominate narrative – thickening stories.

    • The narrative metaphor, as I understand it at this point, is the notion that people digest their reality and understand themselves and others through story. It is also the understanding that, for a reason that is not yet completely clear to me, we tend to cling to a single story. Maybe it’s easier? Maybe the single story is a powerful well-structured one that is clear to us? Maybe it was born out of urgent necessity for sense and provided comfort through its internal logic, a calming simplicity which one is naturally reluctant to let go of? Maybe it was reinforced by people who were meaningful to us? Based on this understanding, the narrative metaphor encourages us to pay attention to this story’s periphery, to listen for divergence, for complexity that can be used to thicken the plot or create new stories. It is also a tool that gives us the opportunity to take a step back and recall that we are not only the main characters of our stories, but also their storytellers, writers and editors.
      The dominant stories I tell me about myself are often quite rigid and severe. Inviting the narrative approach into my thinking gives me the possibilities of agility and playfulness. It enables me to listen to softer stories that I may already be trying/wanting to tell; stories that are not heard because they haven’t been given the space, time or attention they need to be fully told. It invites curiosity and creativity into my personal storytelling, and reminds me that memory, reality and truth are not set in stone. They are shaped by the voice and tone I use to tell them, by the circumstances in which I allow/invite them to emerge, by the words and structures I choose to tell them through, and by the roles and dominance I give certain elements (characters, events, etc.) within them. The narrative metaphor gives me the possibility to continuously challenge, create and get to know myself by experimenting with the ways in which I interpret my life.

  453. Loved the Sugar illustration. This could equally be used to work with depression or anxiety. Found it judgemental and empathic and externalising allowed the separation of the person and the problem. Very powerful.

    • I have just finished reading the article on “Sugar”, which was written so well I could imagine Sugar standing in front of the group, growing stronger, diminishing, and talking in language that the people could understand and relate to. She offered a way to talk about the problem of diabetes that allowed her audience to see it as that–a problem that exists but also that there are other ways to think and talk about the problem.

  454. What strikes me is how inherently non-judgemental and compassionate this approach/technique of externalising the problem is. The clip with Mark Hayward was helpful for me in understanding how this happens. I would like to say that without embodying non-judgement/acceptance/unconditional positive regard (which no study can teach), though, the technique (and all techniques) would be rendered unhelpful and meaningless.. Perhaps there’s room to be open about one’s judgements/reactions in a sensitive, respectful, therapeutically helpful way within this approach? I no doubt will learn about that! Robert – Gold Coast, Qld, Australia.

  455. So freeing to come to the realisation that we are not what we have been told we are – by our family, society, key people in our lives.. And how we can choose different realities to build our sense of who we are.. broadening our consciousness.. Seems a very powerful approach, orientation, and way of thinking & being. How much kinder can we be to ourselves and to others when we stand in this space?

  456. At the end of her introduction Philipa said “ always take your time”. I really heard it this time and it was certainly important for this chapter.

    There was so much to process in such a small number of words. Particularly as I am doing this alone at the moment and the chance for proper discussion will not come soon. I feel a bit psychologically paralysed by all of the ideas to consider in relation to privilage. Having others to discuss it with seems vital in order to be able to pull it apart into digestible amounts.

    It pervades many areas of my life I am sure and will require much concentration in many situations to explore and find different ways to mitigate it. (Dublin, Ireland)

  457. The narrative metaphore is a way, Narrative practice work, that in the first way tries to add arguemantation, provided for the people cunsulting rather than for an institution, to the main plot of the people’s stories. In this particular way, what this metaphore tries to do, its to enrich people’s stories, in a way that they ‘catch’ a newer perspective about what’s happening in their lives.

    this metaphore warns us about the danger of a single storie telling: Enclousure, struggling, get bogged, presure, an so on. Thats why this therapy works to desolve this matters, and pushes away all, to increase stories and open endings.

  458. The Sugar story was amazing. What an insightful way to set up a safe environment for people to ask questions and gain an understanding of diabetes. I also loved the Balck Dog video.This was a great visual aid to support an understaning of externalising a problem.
    I found it really helpful to work through the transcript of mark’s conversation with Joey, particularly the way Mark dropped back a level when Joey was not yet able to indicate his position. I’m from Whangarei in New Zealand

  459. Hi, Alex Here, From Mexico

    The thing that i find most fasinating is how Michael’s White ideas developed through out time to end up being one of the most interesting ways of dealing with people’s problems. It is quite amazing how through the sharing of ideas with his partner David Epson everything came together to build this way of seeing people and their problems.

    Specifically, what I like the most is how they both changed the whole game in how other psychologic theories and practices treated with ‘patients’, and how they used to see their lives (phatologizing their life with ”inner concepts”).

    Instead, they noted that, within cultural contexts, power relationships, narratives of power,gender biases, racial and socioeconomical views, most of the people’s problems coulded be deconstructed, ending up in the frase: ”The person is the person, and the problem is the problem”. In other words, watching people as something separeted from the problem.

    Such a relief!

    In general, I find all of the Michael´s White work and ideation as a very important bundle of ways of treating with people, their conditions, and their problems. A way of including them into the conversation and a way of acknowledging their experience.

    Thank you very much.

    I look forward to get to know more of the practices included into the narratives approaches as I read through the chapters.

  460. 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

  461. I found this chapter very interesting! This, because of the usage of the therapeutic documents, in counselling context. At the same time I was reading this chapter, I was reading other book too about this same topic, and in it I found very interesting statements about the using of documents in therapy, and how this idea was brought to the narrative practices.

    The mind idea is that documentation always has been an importan vehicle to ”add” seriousness and respect to human deals and relatios. For instance, when a couple get married, a document is considered very importan to legitimize the union. When a lawyer comes with an arrest order to someone house’s the situation becomes more intriguin , and at last, if I buy a house or a car, I will want a ”paper” that states this good is mine.

    Coming back to our talk, it is very intelligent how authors of narrative practices noticed that, and included that way of legitimize into the counselling context. I like a lot how this way of work can improve therapeutic process, cutting the number of sessins used to deal with people’s problems.

    On the other hand, the way of working with audiences is wonderfull! I liked a lot the quote saying: Within witness audiences people may be seen in their own terms! I found further more interesting the analysis laying under this witness practice. Not replicate the relations of power people may come with, instead looking always out for the unexpected outcomes in order to thicken stories.

    I also loved how the outsider witness practices document give hints on how to procced within the usage of this practice, and ways in how ”not to”: Not applaud, one of the most important, I think.

  462. Hola/ Hello Friends Of DC!

    Well, my coments about this Map on externalizing conversations are: It’s great to see that there are some practices that allowe people to take distance from what they call their problems, specially when it’s been soo long since they have been strugguling with them.

    At the same time I Could say that the efects of externalizing are great! Because they provide a point where to ”pull” to an other places: richer stories!

    In an other book I read that the questions we make thru externalizing conversatinos are called ”relative influence questions” because they try to find what are or were the effects of the problem, what are the present of the problem, and where do we want to go regarding the problem.

    Also a very good point I can find here, it’s also the chances we have to separate ”Qualityes” and to find out how they were created.

    Thank you Dulwich Center

  463. The concept of the narrative particularly resonates with me. I’m a social worker who is counselling veterans and their families. They come with stories of trauma and fractured relationships but what I see is strength and resilience. Seeking alternative and thickened stories will help to illustrate their inherent strengths and resilience.

  464. I was inspired today to read of the ‘stand’ taken by Primary school student Harper Nielsen:

  465. I found the role play of ‘sugar’ very enlightening and something that can be used in many situations. It takes the focus of the individual to see the problem as a live entity.

    This could work well in OCD particularly pure O.

    Having OCD as a separate entity from themselves may invite them to recognise the problem is not them.

    The mapping of conversation was also insightful to enable me to expand conversation. Also to be mindful of the questions I am asking clients that they may not be ready for, it allows me the opportunity to create the space where clients can reflect and gain their own insight.

    It was very much a relief to know that within narrative practice, perpetrators of violence in whatever form are given the space to take responsibility for their actions and its impact.

  466. What made it for me in this chapter is the notion of poststructural way of thinking. It is very important to be at the look out for ways of speaking that better describe peoples experience at the therapy room, and I think that the externalized way of talking has come to fulfill this neccesity.

    I deeply find appealing the notion that our identity is shaped by other differente factors such as family background, historical and social contexts (that are completly moveable, or at least more than those ”inner self components”) rather than the ”inner and fixed personality”.

    This notion, is in many ways liberating, specially in those cases where a heavy tag has been putted. Alchoolisim, Drug addiction, Poverty, and so on.

    In terms of critical thinking, It is to me spotting the advantages that a statement said for a person in power puts him/her in to. Also, looking for the intentions that might be hiden on a discourse, and seeing the ways in which I may be able to separete me from the undesireble effects.

    I’ll be always in the look out of ways I may be contributing to spread privilage and relations of power, even though I know it is a work that has its difficulties.

    Alex, from Mexico

  467. It is certainly hard and difficult to have this kind of conversations as a natural way. It is true that most of the people in this post-modern world is looking to have a good and confortable live, specially when the social system is constructed with that pourpose. Study a degree and you”ll have better job opportunities than if you don´t study any of this school degres. So, it is hard, specially for profesionals like me (psychologist) and many others not to enjoy ourselves in the privileges the schoolar and social system its been putting into our heads since they exist.

    But I also understand that our responsability as profesionals, and highly educated people, to take into consideration the other peoples’ life conditions in order to try to push in a way that favors them in ways otherwise they wouldn´t.

    I don´t know how I am sounding with this text, but I consider my self a person who is always considering how all that I’m saying may be affecting the people sorrounding me, taking in consideratio also their life conditions. Even a friend how may not be doing as well as me in a profetional career, for instance if he/she is not able to pay for a cup of coffe that I’m able to pay for, either I invite my friend the data at the coffe shop, or if I consider that my friend would feel offended, I may offer or suggest going to an other more-at-their-capacity cofee shop.

    It is very joyfull thinking in this matters of privilege and power, as a individuals, and always trying to make the best for our friends or family members and people in general in order to make them feel good with themselves and creating an enviroment where respect is always present.

    Alex, From Mexico.

  468. Hi from Dublin,Ireland again. I enjoyed thinking about collaborating as I was reading this chapter and was particularly struck by Sue Manns reflections and practice change in relation to writing in peoples notes. I used to write in a set of shared notes and I understand how alienating it must feel to people to have a set of notes about them that they cant look at whenever they like or contribute to in a meaningful way. This was very refreshing for me and something I would consider trying in the future. It was also interesting that not everyone showed an desire to write collaboratively in the notes.

    I also found the detail of Amanda Warrall’s communication with June about SP very enlightening. It was interesting to see how to June realised what she valued and how this in turn led to discovering new ways of managing SP.

  469. Using Externalising with clients has enabled them to create a separation between them and the problem. Within that space they have been able to connect the dots they had previously not been aware of. Allowing them to recall other layers of their story.

    This process has enabled me to listen and ask questions in a different way, to be a witness and support to clients on their journey to recovering themselves. It has also given me the vocabulary to widen the conversations within the therapeutic space.

  470. Hello everyone,
    My name is Joanne and I am currently based in Townsville, North Queensland. I work as a social worker at a women’s centre and have an interest in narrative therapy as way of helping people recover from trauma, particularly domestic violence and sexual assault. I recognise that I am very early in my learning journey but already finding much that resonates such as the continual reinforcement of the dominant narrative metaphor (or story) in our lives and how it can be changed by applying different lens or perspectives. Also,the comment about externalising the problem and the solution is sometimes not the personal.

  471. Hi there,
    My name is Celine and I come from Sydney. I have come to the Dulwich Center to learn more about and familiarise myself with the healing conversations of narrative therapy. I am a trained counsellor and psychotherapist and I am currently doing an undergrad in Psychology.
    I find Narrative practice a very powerful method of retelling and reinterpreting our life experiences. I loved Alice Morgan’s text. For me part of the power of narrative therapy is the ability to change our overused and often unhelpful story lines when reliving past experiences. Why are these narratives still running and what purpose do they serve us or our clients? Introducing and exploring new narratives can have such a powerful effect and challenges us to think differently about ‘the problem’. Thinking of stories in this way makes me realise that there are other narratives, gaps in storytelling, strengths and positivity within the self talk of clients struggling with particular issues and that the current narrative is not the only story that makes up this experience. There are in fact several narratives from which we can grow and learn – returning power to the client.

  472. Hello, I am a Clinical Psychology registrar who works across a diverse population. Narrative practices fit well with my way of looking at the world. Life is not a single linear path. A metaphor I often use is that our lives are like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The pieces ultimately fit together but as we build the puzzle, pieces seem to overlap or be missing, or sometimes turn out to be in the wrong spot or the wrong way round. As a qualitative researcher I believe individuals to be the expert in their life, that the perspective of an issue or situation is the truth for that person at that time, and that it is possible to have contradictory views at any one time.

  473. I am writing from Vancouver, BC. I have really enjoyed reading about collective narrative practices, and I think my initial reaction to it says a lot about how rare this kind of work is in therapeutic work. I think the idea of communities banding together and sharing their resources of healing with one another to be beautiful, and I kept being struck by how little work it would be for the therapist to allow these groups to share with one another. In the past I worked at a school with autistic children and the approach was so directive, that the idea of taking a step back and allowing people to share with one another instinctually gave me a feeling of slight anxiety, as if I should “be doing more.” I think this says a lot about how we are trained to lead the therapeutic process, and although how directive we need to be varies between contexts, this reaction confirmed what some of these training sections have been saying about the agenda of the therapist and how it can stifle expression and exploration for the one in therapy.

    I can speak from personal experience about the power of collective narrative practice as well, although I did not realize until now that I have been a part of one of these practices. Years ago I was asked by my therapist to join a panel of adolescents and young adults who had grown up in high conflict divorce households, and the event was attended by psychologists, therapists, lawyers and judges because they wanted to hear experiences from the child’s point of view. At the time I imagined this experience to be about helping the field, but I remember even without going with the intention of therapeutic growth how beneficial it was for me. It was a place where my experiences involving pain and confusion had value for others, and that knowledge provided a very profound feeling of validation and respect in my experiences. This knowledge gives me a sense of hope in using collaborative narrative practice in the future.

  474. I am writing from Vancouver, BC in Canada. I find many of documentation practices interesting, particularly the documents of knowledge/authority described in the Hugh Fox paper. Reading about narrative practice has been fascinating as a whole because I find it encapsulates what many of us instinctually do in daily life to cope anyways, but contains it in documents that can be used and looked at repeatedly. I think the idea of carrying a document of authority around like Anita did could be very helpful. The points that were documented struck me as similar to the things we try to tell ourselves all the time when we are trying to create a change in our lives, but when it is only what we’re telling ourselves there is so much room for shame to take over. I thought writing it down and having it onhand at any instance would be a great way to stay on track and remember our intentions for a shift in identity or lifestyle.

    I love the idea behind documents of circulation as well, because I think so many therapeutic modalities are so individually focussed that the impact of community is left up to chance. The idea of circulating documents of intention about one’s identity is a lovely idea but I am curious what would happen when they are not met with understanding, which I am sure happens all the time. I am curious to learn of some of the methods used in helping individuals to cope with that.

  475. I am in Dublin, Ireland and I enjoyed reading about the Tree of Life projects and was interested that it could be used so effectively with adults and children. The importance of the forest appealed to me as a way of highlighting the value of our community and family and friends. One of the biggest difficulties people often face is a feeling of isolation and feeling they are not alone can be very healing. Using the roots to help explain why the person is where there are allows their story to be heard but it becomes clear that this is only one piece and there is a lot of room for alternative stories.

    I was also interested to hear how songs were being used to strengthen people and their stories. Music is so powerful and we given its potency we don’t use it enough to help us to feel understood and less isolated.

  476. Hello, my name is Athina. I come from Greece, Ioannina. I am teaching at the university. I have also worked in parents’ counselling. I’am also ivolved in teachers’ personal and professional development, recently in terms of narrative practices. I really enjoyed narrative metaphor chapter of this online course, so thank you for this!
    I think of narrative metaphor as a whole paradigm of thinking, feeling and acting. Stories can be a significant resource through which we can make contact with the language of our inner lives and the context within which they are shaped.
    Storytelling encompasses past, present and future. It can be a vital “tool”, permitting a more enriched understanding of ourselves, our lives and organization of our experiences. It reinforces critical thinking, dealing with feelings, exploring and revealing alternative stories, discovering our strengths, taking action and reclaiming our rights and our lives.

  477. Hello, I am Kirsten, writing from Melbourne Australia. The resource that most struck me was Aunty Barbara Wingard’s story ‘Introducing Sugar.’ There was a playfulness to the interaction she had with the community of Aboriginal people, and I had a sense of why people engage so well with characters. It is fun – it connects us with our long history as storytellers. I also enjoyed Mark Hayward’s presentation – especially the delight he took in figuring out which questions to ask next.

    In my context, as a mental health practitioner, the problems that could be externalised are the problems that people might start out calling ‘low self-esteem’ or ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety.’

    I think it would make a difference to rename and characterise these problems, because many people hold a view that their problems are part of them. Because of this, change seems like an impossible task. Having space between the person and the problem would help folks to understand why the problem is a problem, what supports and lessens it, and what steps could be taken according to someone’s own position and values.

  478. I will be sending this through all social media and work distribution lists. I would love to put this on my phone so I can play it to other Australians throughout my journey.
    I would vote for this as our National Anthem in a heartbeat!!

  479. Externalization create space between people and the problems they have in their lives, which creates a huge amount o relief. I have seen clients blaming themselves for the issues and got trapped in the trouble without being able to jump out of it and view it from a different standpoint. Also personify the issue really inspires, I think it will be particularly helpful when working with young clients. I also really appreciate the attitude shared in the end that we are exploring the experiences with our client together. We don’t adopt the position of expertise, but rather standing in a curious perspective to help them explore different ways of viewing their live

  480. When I think about what I have learned about narrative therapy in this course, two aspects come to my mind: one, which seems to be the foundation, is an attitude of critical thinking. This means to me encountering myself and other human beings with an open heart, with compassion and with the knowledge that everyone’s experience is different and influenced by many social, political, historical and other contexts. This is a principle that I feel very much commited to. I am developing this attitude or way of life through my nonviolent communication and mindfulness practice. I can see various effects of this practice in my professional and personal interactions with others, especially as it helps me to listen with empathy and care.
    The second aspect is the therapeutical skill in which I see myself as a co-researcher who supports the author in developing thick descriptions about themselves while leaving the authroship with the author. Here, I really like the method of externalising and, in my context, of outsider witnesses. I am a community worker and rarely work with individuals/clients. Therefore, some of the tools (e.g. therapeutic letter) seem weird to me and I will figure out if and how they could be useful in my work. But, in the work with communities which have experienced traumatic events, I can see how bringing witnesses to the stories can bring about change. This is something I would like to experiment with.

    I’d like to thank all who made this online course possible and shared their valuable experience and thoughts with the intention to enlargen the community and create collaborative spaces for growth and learning. I am also grateful for the many comments I was able to read which helped me understand some of the ideas better and see the diverity in which the content could be understood, relfected, summarised, paraphrased and translated. Thanks to all!

  481. This is Johanna from Colombo.
    I really loved this chapter, thank you!

    My previous understanding of ‘critical thinking’ was very much determined by a structuralist approach meaning that logic and objectivity played a major role in thinking or assessing my or other people’s thoughts. However, I resonate much more with the poststructuralist view that focuses on the experience and context of people’s thoughts. As others already commented, critical thinking means to become a child again that looks at the world with curiosity and blank pages to fill. It probably doesn’t mean I need to be blank, but it invites me to become aware of the lenses through whih I look into and at the world. What really caught my attention was a word by Mary Heath on safety. How can we transform our concept of safety in order to enable more loving interactions with ‘the other’? How can we protect ourselves less and collaborate more?

    I also really enjoyed the writings on privilege. I have experienced some of the restraints personally and it used to make me angry to hear them as I am longing for more people to understand how much power and privilege contributes to the violence and inequality we see in this world. Reading this collection of things people say in their defense reminds me that it is challenging to talk about power and privilege especially since it is a phenomenon that cannot be approached from an individual perspective although it is certainly individuals who benefit or suffer from it. This helped me to be a little bit compassionate with people who I experience as defensive in relation to the discussions on power and privilege. I haven’t gone through the questions yet but I am planning to gather a few people to regularly meet and discuss them. So I am very much looking forward to that practice!

  482. Reflecting on the reading material and video’s watched I have been made more aware of while a person is sharing their story to look for ‘ Acts of resistance’ and ‘Personal agency’ in their stories and to get them to give more detail to where they may have got this from. I have a guide to use now when dealing with indigenous inmates who have lost a love one. What stood out for me was getting the person to tell me their thoughts on how they may have contributed to the life of whom they speak about. I think this would benefit the person, as they are in prison isolated from family and can have feelings of shame, not being able to attend the service. Creating the space for the person to see by talking about the positive effects they have made to another person’s life and becoming more aware of their own identity, would be very powerful to use with indigenous males.

  483. While reading ‘Strengthening Resistance – The use of narrative practices in working with genocide’ I admired the work of the Rwandan trauma counsellors, assistant lawyers and the Dulwich team in their workshop. Sharing stories from other communities like the Aboriginal people from Port Augusta and their stories, stories of resistance and survival. One quote from ‘A message from Ibuka to the Port Augusta Aboriginal Community’ which I found very powerful and really resonated with me so I have chosen to end this paragraph with it.

    We want to say to you that we are together with you in sorrow. Your sorrow is our suffering.

    Reading Aunty Barbs message of support in the Dignity and Pride, Strengthening Resistance (pg36), to be able to sit and listen to my elders share their stories, their art and dances empowers our mob. Joining with others in dance, song and laughter – when you have lived through genocide, revelling and enjoying life has new meaning. As with my culture our people have endured feelings of despair and hopelessness. I felt pride and privilege as she talked of our ways of resilience and resistance. As an Aboriginal woman, I have listened to the stories and I still watch in our modern times the continuance of systemic oppression. How we have survived genocide and overcome generational traumas through love of our culture and peoples. I’d like to share a quote that was shared during a work meeting last week by one of our non-indigenous staff “They buried us in the ground but they didn’t know we were seeds” I found this quote to be profound as again it demonstrated how our parents, grandparents and great grandparents have suffered overwhelming sorrow, terrors and pain and loss, and of our resilience to keep moving forward.

  484. I had heard of the Shame Mat and the purpose behind it. Which led me to using it in when I facilitated my Positive Futures Program for indigenous men. When first using the mat the participants were a bit hesitant, but after using it a couple of times the men were comfortable using it before each session. The outcomes I have seen since using the mat have been positive. The men have been more open in talking about the reasons why they commit domestic violence on their partners. There has been more disclosers and exploration into behaviours, feelings and consequences of their actions. Since using the mat I have found that they are more engaging, and want to participate in the program. Also very accepting of being challenged around there offending behaviours, I believe the use of shame mat has enabled this to happen.

    On many occasions over the years I have questioned myself, why do I keep fighting for positive outcomes for my people. Through the reading it made me think and become aware that I am not alone in this fight and there are many more indigenous passionate people out there doing the best they can and fighting on not matter how many times they have been disappointed , they get up and continue on with the fight. Kerry has shown this through her ability to overcome adversity and strength to become one of the respected leaders of her community. By telling her story through using poetry as a form of therapy she has found a way to move forward even in her darkest hours. I will take from the reading that we all have struggles through life but we have to find the strength to overcome these hurdles. This reading has given more than ideas I can utilise in work practice. It has given me a new outlook into my life and the reason why I am passionate about the field of work I have chosen to do not only for myself but mainly for outcomes for my people.

  485. I resonate a lot with all the efforts described to work more collaboratively with communities or individual clients. It is good reading about the success stories as they open up the space of what is possible. I am wondering though what challenges people face during these efforts? In my own experience with working collaboratively I have seen quite some resistance and been lectured many times. So, I would enjoy also hearing some of these stories and how people deal with resistance.

    In the recent years I have become more and more aware of the issues of power and privilege and how I may perpetuate violence through my actions, words and thoughts. The past chapters on narrative practice have reinforced my desire to estbalish a decentered influential posture that allows for the author to discover knowledge and skills and leaves the authorship with the author. I feel a little impatient and nervous with regards to the posture and the informed not knowing as it requires intense and continued (spiritual) practice and still there are many situations to come in which I will not manage to adhere to these principles that are so important to me. So, I am hoping to find and build community that will help me along this path.

  486. (Calgary, Canada)
    I am going to ‘think outside the box’ here and not follow the question guidelines, but instead share some thoughts (cheeky, I know, I just can’t help myself)

    Critical thinking is a topic that is frequently on my mind, particularly when hiring, coaching and training new staff members. I find that often individuals struggle with thinking outside the box and when they are able to do so they are challenged with presenting their differing ideas in a way that is respectful. This is something that I am thinking about as we look closely at how my agency recruits, hires and coaches our new team members.

    I appreciated how this concept was related to privilege and power and that these two elements greatly influence one’s ability to be uncomfortable and think critically. Learning to sit in the ‘discomfort’ to agree or disagree with others and yourself is definitely a challenge as it can require a great deal of humanity and humility, both are traits that traditional western education often “school” out of us along with the idea of “professionalism” (not wanting to be seen as incompetent.) I see these challenges with individuals who have recently graduated from degree programs. Thinking critically however; perhaps there is a problem with how I am eliciting feedback from these individuals, given my power in my role.

    Often a question I ask myself is “what am I NOT seeing here?” it encourages me to take the perspective of the ‘other’ and expand my view. I will add “It’s enormously difficult to discover how some of your most deeply held beliefs had led you into wrong choices” (Brookfield, 2012, p 57) but I will add the disclaimer that “wrong choices” can be substituted with “not the best choices.”

  487. Hi there!
    I particularly enjoy the collaborative approach both in the relationship among ‘therapists’ as well as between ‘therapist’ and ‘patient’ modelled by Michael White and David Epston. Therefore, I really like the idea of being a co-researcher rather than establishing the duality of therapist and patient. I am wondernig what practices have worked for others to reach the state of ‘informed not knowing’?

  488. Many thanks for this video. I supervise several groups of fabulous Case Workers who are all to aware of the games ‘insults to attachment’ and ‘trauma’ have played in the lives of their young clients. I look forward to sharing information gained from this video with the Case Workers during our up-coming supervision sessions.
    Strength be with you as you continue your work

  489. I was struck by Mark Hayward’s conversation with Joey. It was interesting to see how he worked with Joey to establish his position about the bullying as it was not easy for Joey to find the words. A lot of time was spent on establishing a common understanding of what the bullying looked like. It felt important for Joey to have his say about this.

    I found his discussion about balancing the persons responsibility and not defining the person by the problem thought provoking. At work, I have found being able to separate the person from the problem to be very helpful in particular with children who often feel powerless in situations.

  490. (Calgary, Canada)

    In a previous role where the main part of my job was to develop assessments for families experiencing homelessness and create and coordinate services, I would collaborate with the families in authoring their own story. I would use a variety of tools to spark conversation and elicit information from the families about their perspectives of their lives; historical, current, hopes and dreams, what services they thought might fit for them etc. Occasionally co-authoring stories through assessments and service plans could be challenging, particularly when families had a very different truth of their experiences than anyone else involved (often when there was significant and pervasive mental health diagnoses.) It was difficult to strike a balance between presenting the family’s truth in an honest way that would also resonate with professionals (without alienating the professionals delivering the services before they even began serving the families.)

    Continuing to expand tools being used may make collaborations such as this work better. Finding creative frameworks and tools to assess from that vary from the typical western frameworks being used could better support this process. As an example, using the First Nations Medicine Wheel to better understand a person’s life experience may be a more relevant tool to spark conversations with someone who resonates with that understanding of life.

  491. The Shame Mat invented by Aunty Kerry Major and Aunty Dolly Hankin is a tool I want to incorporate into my practice. Immediately I thought of the wall, a common description my clients’ use in describing their journey to find work/employment. For instance:

    “All those skills I have to learn, it’s just a wall that is too high to climb” or

    “There is a wall between me and that job and I just don’t know how to break it down” or

    “You tell me about these skills or bricks as you put it that I can use to build a path but I see those bricks as something to break down not build up”

    Where the woman at Murri Court Woman’s Group “wiped” the shame away, I’m thinking of clients stepping over a small brick wall, one metre by half a metre, polystyrene or something, with a tagline such as: The first step is the hardest, or something similar. I’m looking for a physical action of commitment.

  492. (Calgary, Canada)

    I very much appreciated Aunty Barbara Winegard’s perspective on silent crying and the dangers that this can “eat away at a persons spirit.” So often vulnerability has negative associations instead of being understood as a means to heal. I’m also thinking about how males in particular are often socialized to not be vulnerable and how this can contribute to a variety of issues, such as domestic violence.

    I will definitely be using the analogy of silent crying as a way to talk about pain and grief in my work moving forward. The imagery is impactful and may lessen perceived vulnerability of the emotions that lead to silent crying, by some.

  493. A reflection on Re-membering Practices by Cheree Morton

    Saying Hullo Again (White 2016, p. 95) resonates with me. I am often yarning to clients who have lost a family member and the hullo again metaphor strikes a chord with me as I am sure it would with my clients as each of them are finding ways to deal with the loss of a loved one in their life.

    My client stated that she was feeling depressed because she had a lot of sorry business over Christmas and lost her sister/cousin (In Aboriginal culture we describe our cousins as our sister/cousin or cousin/sister which is culturally respectful and honouring). I thought about the hullo metaphor and began asking her re-membering questions. I first began to have a discussion with her about externalising the depression explaining that the depression she was feeling was outside of who she is, separate from her, she looked confused so I continued with the re-membering questions with her.

    After yarning with her about Aboriginal people being spiritual people and discussing the way we often carry the people we have lost with us (Wingard, B 2001), we also had a yarn about honouring our people who had passed away and that it was ok to do so if she wished, (Wingard B 2011), She began to elaborate saying, “our family who passed away are always with us, but I still feel lost without her”.

    I said, “How does the loss make you feel’?

    She said, “Isolated, worrying all the time for my children”

    I said, “If your sister were here now, what do you think she would say about the way you are trying to deal with her passing and about the worrying you have for your children”?.

    She said, “I don’t know, I guess she would want me to be the best Mum I can be to my children and to stop worrying for my children”.

    I said, “What would your sister say about you as a mother to your children”?

    She said, “She would say I am a good mother, a caring loving mother”,

    I felt my re-membering questions began to fade so I started yarning with the kids about their attendance at school, one of the children was a brilliant artist, I said to her, “would you draw me a picture or a painting that would describe the feelings you are having that stops you from returning to school and show me next week when I come over for a visit”? She said, “Yes”, as she enthusiastically nodded her head. As I left the family home, the mother, said, “Thankyou sis, I feel so good”

    As I was driving back to my office I began thinking about the following week when I meet with the family again and how I could continue the re-membering yarns with the family as I could see that they resonated with them and the family began to open up because my clients face lit up when I asked her questions about her sister/cousin.

    I was also reminded of another conversation I had with a client.

    She described the frustration she felt with family members who were interfering in her relationship and how her x-partner had let her down. She began to describe herself as a failure as a mother because her relationship “failed”, she further explained, she moved into a new home, applied for domestic violence order because her x-partner was abusive toward her and transferred the children to a new school.

    Sometimes in Aboriginal culture, when you marry or have children with an Aboriginal man or woman you often take on the whole family, Aboriginal people often have this joke with one another, in our family we do. We are very family orientated and sometimes this can feel like a hindrance for people who are not aware of the bond we share with our Aboriginal families.

    I began to explain the club of life to my client, I further explained that there are good and bad people in our club of life and we can sift out the bad people who don’t serve us or our families well and keep the good people in our club of life, those who make a positive contribution to our lives” (Russell & Carey, 2004 p.47).

    I said, “How does the failure make you feel”

    She said, “Debilitating”.

    I said, “if you were to name the failure, what would you call it”?

    She said, “draining”

    I said, “If you could see yourself through another’s eyes, and see how you moved house to a safe environment for your children, you applied for a domestic violence order and you left the abusive relationship, what would you say about that person”?

    She said, “I would say that that person was a good mother, a mother who put her children first, strong and resilient, a person who could do whatever she wanted when she put her mind to it”.

    I said, “would there be a name that could describe that person”.

    She said, “yes, strong woman”

    I again felt my landscape of enquiry began to dwindle but when I reflect back on my conversation with this client I could see the potential for a sparkling moment and re-authoring of the the thin description my client had of the failure.

    Having a yarn with those who’ve passed away (Johnson 2018), I began thinking about our ancestors and how important it is to keep their legacy alive, to honour them. I thought about questions I could implement with clients who often speak about their ancestors with sadness and mourn at the loss of them and other family members.

    I reflected on questions such as those described in the Remembrance: Women and Grief and Loss (Denborough, Pitcher, Leibeherr & Hedtke 2011), with particular focus on three themes, the cultural, the spiritual and the legacy questions. Some questions I reflected on were;

    “Are there any things about our ancestors who have passed away that you would want to carry forward in life for you and your family’?

    “Do you think our ancestors had cultural ways of responding to grief and loss that would be significant to you’?

    “As you deal with the grief and loss of your ancestors, culture and language, can you think of ways our ancestors would want us to engage spiritually and culturally to keep their legacy alive”?

    What questions did the readings/videos raise?

    The following is more of a thought rather than a question or a dilemma. Aunty Barbara Wingard (2001) talks about how Aboriginal people sit in silence because of the loss of a loved one is to painful to speak about. I find the Aboriginal people in my community have forgotten how to honour their loved ones who have passed.

    Re-membering conversations give our people, our families permission to talk about their loved ones who have passed in respectful and honouring ways, thereby keeping the spirit of the loved one who has passed away alive because their spirit is our spirit.

    Our ancestor’s voices weren’t often heard and as a result Aboriginal people can sometimes feel like they are not heard, that they don’t have a voice, maybe that’s why they are silent. I’ve named this, “silent tears behind a bottle” because too often drinking is how some of my people choose to cope with grief and loss.

    Some Aboriginal people in my community have forgotten how to grieve a lost loved one, re-membering conversations help us to honour them and to sit collectively and celebrate them as their spirit lives on in us and through us, their spirit is in the land, the trees, the rivers, oceans and the animals that often visit us from time to time to let us know that they are near.

  494. I was deeply moved reading how people face their loved ones, who are going through hardship, with so much love and care. And I am mourning that so many (young) people all around the world are facing hardship due to the effects of patriarchy, colonialism and other social, political, economic or cultural inequalities. I was pleased reading about so many different innovative projects and I am still listening to the Friday Talks. As I am also working with communities, I have a better picture now how collective narrative practice can be used in commmunity work.

  495. I’m writing from Colombo, Sri Lanka. In my context, songs and rituals have a great importance in social life. Although I get the impression that they often focus on the hardship rather than the skills and knowledges, this chapter helps me acknowledge the opportunities of using songs and rituals for documenting knowledge and skills and creating thick stories. While reading the examples of documents, I was wondering whether any skill that someone mentions how they deal with a problem is useful to document. I understood from this chapter that the skills are not judged by the therapist or narrative practitioner. Is that accurate? Does that mean that I might support skills even though I might think that they are not effective skills to handle a problem?

    I really enjoyed reading the paper on outsider-witnesses. The questions that can guide the outsider-witness are very helpful to keep track of what is relevant to listen for. I particularly like that this practice enables a more collaborative approach as the witness might learn as much as the storyteller. I can imagine that this feels very empowering to the storyteller. I will definitely try to integrate reflecting teams or outsider-witnesses more into my work.

    • Dear Johanna,

      It’s good to hear from you. Sometimes people name skills that are helpful in some circumstances but not others, sometimes they name skills that are have both positive and negative effects … so care does need to be taken in relation to fully exploring the effects of various skills. But yes you are right, within narrative practice we are not the judge of this … we create contexts in which those most affected by problems and how people are responding to them are making the ‘evaluations’/judgements’. I don’t want this to sound simplistic though as sometimes we need to be really aware of all the people being affected by a certain problem or a particular skill that is being mentioned. We also sometimes hear a number of different skills people are using and deliberately pay more attention to some rather than others. I hope this makes sense. And I hope all is okay there in Colombo. I am writing from Lake Kivu in Rwanda!

  496. Which resource in this chapter particularly caught your attention and why? The black dog video was really helpful in the way it was gentle in explanation. The narrator described a range of situations and progressions of depression, while consistently externalising it as something that was with him, rather than of him.

    What sort of problems could be externalised in your context? As a practitioner in a high school, a range of issues can be externalised such as problematic behaviours, negative self-perception in relation to achievement, and of course mental health issues.

    What difference might this make? I have already found that externalising student achievement and separating it from the self is helpful to students, who then produce much better reflective essays and identify ways to improve their work, as opposed to seeing themselves as incapable, or “a C student”…

  497. Story telling has always been a powerful vehicle for teaching and learning. When I was introduced to the idea of seeing how my own personal story was connected to the archetypal stories of old, some how it redeemed my personal suffering. Each time I look back over my own life I see that I adjust and rewrite it according to what lens I am looking through. For me Narrative Therapy is developing this idea. How to of discover other aspects of our life’s story, that will enhance rather than diminish us.

    • Kia ora koutou katoa, hello to all. My name is Kirsten. I grew up in Rotorua, New Zealand. Now I love in Melbourne, Australia. I am a writer and occupational therapist. After exploring these materials I feel really excited to journey onward! I am thinking about how it is not just what we do as people, but the stories we tell and are told about the “doing” that influence our wellbeing. After listening to the interview with Michael White, and hearing his story from practice, I thought about how open and attentive narrative practitioners must strive to be – in order to hear the events that don’t fit with people’s dominant storylines. When it comes to dominant stories, it seems like we are often such convincing storytellers and such willing listeners! I am feeling some compassion for my elders who imparted damaging and limited storylines to me in early life. I don’t think they had much more available to them. I would love to be part of assisting people to see what else might be available.

  498. Hi, my name is Nic – I am training to be a Guidance Counsellor in Queensland, and am Hard of Hearing myself. I have heard ‘narrative therapy’ a bit in my studies so far, and have come here to learn more, as I am beginning to shape my own approach to counselling. Some key things have emerged from this chapter that I have really engaged with such as the ‘not knowing’, empowering and client-directed approach. My personal goals as a counsellor (and a teacher) align with these ideas in that I believe that clients are the experts of their own experience. This comes from my own experience as a person with a disability – it is irritating when I am told what my experience is (instead of being listened to). I am excited about learning more!

  499. My name is Glen. I live in Newcastle, Australia.
    What does ‘critical thinking’ mean to you?
    Constructive questioning, asking myself questions about things that I have taken for granted, particularly what I believe and “know”, stopping to consciously think from another perspective and generative alternative perspectives. I particularly enjoyed Judith Butler’s point about placing findings and evidence in their context. On one hand, critical thinking and questioning is creative and enjoyable. On the other, it can be tiring and, at times with professional colleagues in meetings, I have wondered if I’m the only one willing to question myself and the ‘shibboleths’ of current psychology practice… Oh dear, I’d better stop at there.
    How might your practice be different on account of your engagement with these materials?
    Therapist as expert can be so comfortable and familiar, at times it’s like an “addiction” and part of that addiction is that I still think at times working in that mode can have useful a (though much smaller) place, I just wouldn’t want to be doing it unquestioningly, but taking seriously post-structuralist ideas and how everyday practices of power can be so pervasive, I’m very conscious what consequences could follow, e.g. reinforcing my own privilege and inadvertently taking a therapist-centred position. Central points for me include: keep front and centre that people are experts on their own lives and circumstances, my own ideas and contributions to therapy conversations are the product of history and culture (not a privileged ‘truth’) and to actively seeking to create conversations in which operations of power (e.g. institutional and historical factors, gender bias, normative expectations regarding sexuality and so on) and associated restraints are better understood or I try to make these a little more visible.
    Do you have any stories or sayings that keep you connected to ‘critical thinking’?
    The corny old cliché that ‘knowledge is power’ comes to mind. Another key word here is ‘privilege’. This chapter has done a good job showing that knowledge, power and privilege go together. It’s not so much a saying but I am reminded of the distinction between a small t-truth of perspective and a capital T-Truth, which I now see equivalent with a structuralist claim to knowledge. As tempting as it is to think I can arrive at a capital T-Truth, it’s more useful to see knowledge / truth as a product of culture, history and an ‘at-this-moment-in-time’ perspective, inevitably a ‘small t-truth’, of which there are always going to be complementary ones. I am also reminded of a Sufi teaching story about two guys who go to a sage / Sufi teacher, each tells his story and asks for the sage to declare for the truth of his claim, after each has spoken the sage says, “you’re right”, then one of them says, “Wait, we can’t both be right”, the sage replies, “You’re right”. This story underlines for me that the sage had seen both perspectives and a larger perspective as well, and in my thinking about the story the sage doesn’t feel that he / she has to be pinned down by being “right”. It’s not about “right” or “wrong” anymore, it’s about your point of view.

  500. My name is Glen. I live in Newcastle, Australia.
    Solidarity and a de-centred stance are the two ideas / concepts that resonate at this moment as commitments and intentions. One aspect of Solidarity for me is an ‘ironclad’ commitment to people who seek my assistance that “the problem is the problem”.
    An aspect of a de-centred stance for me is a commitment to people being the expert on their lives and it is only the person seeking assistance (the young person K) who can describe what living with this problem is like and to say what his position (or positions) is (are) in relation to it. These are K’s stories to write, not for his father or I to foreclose in some way on what one or both of us believe should be the narrative arc of the stories. I respect K as having authorship.

    This is a question I will think about further. One recollection is work I did over twenty-five years ago with a man (I will call him “J”) who was struggling with the effects of cocaine, alcohol and gambling addictions on his life. We had reached a point where our conversations had not seemed to make much difference and J conveyed that he was in a ‘dark place’. Somehow we stumbled into his relating a story to me. A friend had told him when he went through the turnstile at the racecourse that he was given a pumpkin in place of his real head. From there we talked about “Mr Pumpkin Head”, what it said and what its urges were and so on. We laughed – at last! I had no idea at the time that it was an externalising conversation. Back then I did not know anything about narrative ideas and practices. Perhaps I have been trying to recreate the influences of Solidarity, a De-Centred Stance and Imagination in my work each day that people consult with me ever since “Mr Pumpkin Head”…

    A recent example comes readily into my thoughts. I have in mind work I have been doing with a young person, who I will call “K”, who is about 10 – 11 years of age and his father. We reached a point when it looked like the work of the past six meetings had just “conked out” and had come to nothing. I encountered the effects of Frustration and how it extended its invitation to me. It says things like, “I’ve done all I can”, and worse! “The parents have shamed this kid… And he (K) has internalised a representation of self as bad…” and so on, a range of statements based on structuralist assumptions, with internalising attributions. When the Frustration gets me in its grip, I can feel the influences of Hope and Imagination draining away.
    I ‘started again’, made inquiries from a curious, ‘entering the territory for the first time’ stance. The central features of the problem emerged anew and its influences, which seemed to become apparent more clearly than before. I recalled Mark Hayward’s ‘statement of position’ synopsis. I inquired with K regarding what living with the problems (the Anger and the Guilt) is like for him. I have written this question down and given K & his father a copy of this. I have asked K to consider this question between the end of our last meeting and our next meeting.
    I think the young person and his father noticed that I was very much present for them and present in an imaginative and ‘poetic’ way at times too, which is something that I have always tried to do but it would likely be ‘intensified’ in this last session. I found it a more refreshing and creative experience. Mostly it would be positive because I perceive that people appreciate the efforts I am making. Perhaps sometimes it could be negative. When people use metaphors to describe their experience I might get ahead of them a bit too much and I need to stay as ‘experience near’ to people as I can. However, I do not anticipate that the people consulting with me would likely experience any ‘negativity’ as such. I perceive that they would experience me as both compassionate and optimistic. Overall, “Yes”, it definitely suits me. The main reason is because I would like ‘my therapist’ to be informed by the same or similar commitments and intentions.

  501. Hi there!

    My attention was caught especially by the Black dog video and the Sugar story. It visualised in a very clear and persuading manner what it means to externalise a problem. I also liked the idea of finding an experience-near description of the problem as I can see how it leaves ownership with and acknowledges the specific experience of the person. I’m thankful for the questions given as examples to further help the person separate themselves from the problem. However, I am wondering how people with traumatic experiences are able to work with the questions and self-reflect in such a way about their experiences or themselves. What other more playful and less cognitive methods could be helpful to externalise problems?

    What sort of problems could be externalised in your context?
    In my context, the problems of social, political and economic exclusion and discrimination could be externalised. I am worried though that seeing the context might not ease the hardship as the context is unlikely to change. So I am curious about the next step. And I am also wondering if I would use same techniques if I work with groups rather than individuals.

  502. I did love this chapter in plenty of parts. For one side, I did love when it poped-up the text of ”Just Thereapy”, which includes some of the ideas I been thinking about early this and the past year related to the ”Resilience”. In my conutry it seems that many psychologyst have tilted them selves into expresing and commenting about the ”’resilience” in ways that highlight it as a desirable quality to develop as a person. It keept my attention that very few are currently considering positions where external factors are golden-key to band things and descriptions that happen around people, families, and other social settings. It resonated heavily with me, because of the frustration it may cause for families in consentrating themeselves in conversations -in the therapy room- where everything pin-point the to them as responsible for they misfortunes.

    Also, I loved how in the presentation the speaker Trileah Drham-Butler developes externalized conversations to address the presense of shame and guilt in people’s lives.

  503. I did love this chapter in plenty of parts. For one side, I did love when it poped-up the text of ”Just Thereapy”, which includes some of the ideas I been thinking about early this and the past year related to the ”Resilience”. In my conutry it seems that many psychologyst have tilted them selves into expresing and commenting about the ”’resilience” in ways that highlight it as a desirable quality to develop as a person. It keept my attention that very few are currently considering positions where external factors are golden-key to band things and descriptions that happen around people, families, and other social settings. It resonated heavily with me, because of the frustration it may cause for families in consentrating themeselves in conversations -in the therapy room- where everything pin-point the to them as responsible for they misfortunes.

    Also, I loved how in the presentation the speaker Trileah Drham-Butler developes externalized conversations to address the presense of shame and guilt in people’s lives.

    Great Chapter

    • Chihuahua, México

  504. My name is Johanna, I’m a peace activist. I often work with people who have experienced war or experience long-term social, political, economic, and/or emotional exclusion as individuals or groups.

    The idea of narrative metaphor resonates a lot with me and connects to similar ideas that I appreciate in other fields like restorative justice or nonviolent communication. In particular, the idea that we shape our own identity by the stories we tell about ourselves. What I believe about myself is based on which story I pick to describe myself. In my understanding, the narrative metaphor acknowledges the diversity of experiences we make thus the diversity of different, colourful, ambiguous, soothing, distracting (to name just a few) stories we can tell about ourselves. The art, which narrative therapy seeks to support, is to establish openness and curiosity in my heart in order to be able to develop thick descriptions of who I am as well as to see the other person’s multiple stories rather than judging after the first single story that I perceive. I understand it as an invitation to see me and others beautiful with all the aspects that are part of life. And here comes the second part that I appreciate which takes the interdependence of humans and the wider context into account. I do not exist in a vacuum. How I pick the stories that I choose to be my single story is also determined by family, culture, society, history, politics etc. As a member of a family, community, or society I thus also share responsibility in having set the conditions for a person to tell a story about themselves that might not be contributing to life. In my context, I enjoyed reading the Charta and the important aspect of enabling persons who have experienced traumatic events to contribute to others’ lives (I am not sure if that was part of the first chapter or I read it in another book on narrative practices that I am reading parallelly).

    I am curious to learn more about the use of narrative therapy for social change processes.

    And I also would like to share my gratitude for all the comments here which have inspired me. I enjoyed reading so many different descriptions!

  505. I would like to send my deepest thanks to all of the Men and Elders who contributed and shared their knowledge in these insightful films. As a woman who is privileged to work with families in the local community it has greatly increased my understanding of the experiences of men whose voices and worldviews are often overlooked in working with families due to a range of social and cultural reasons. Through sharing your stories you have enabled me to be more mindful of the important role you play in the lives of not only your families but building stronger communities. Thank you.
    Human Services Worker

  506. Which particular ideas or stories intrigued you?
    David Epstein’s ideas regarding co-research and an ethnographic imagination were intriguing. Michael White, so characteristically, explains the importance of solidarity with people who are seeking assistance. Solidarity is such an important principle to live by. The old adage about ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you’ comes to mind. In other words, I want “my” therapist to have solidarity with me, so I believe that I (as a therapist) should have solidarity with people seeking my assistance.

    Why do you think these things stood out to you?
    Co-research and ethnographic imagination stood out because they provide a perspective that is both practical and a fresh perspective. I perceive that these concepts, when brought to life (as David does so well), emphasise how unique each person and family are. David’s (and Michael’s) approaches to conversations can be playful too, so there is great scope in these concepts as well.

    What from these histories would you like to take with you into your future practice in some way?
    Solidarity stands out as a deeply humanising component of the work with people who come to see me. My training is in psychology and while there was training in counselling skills and person centred therapy, it did not bring to the fore a concept like solidarity. This is one that I will treasure. Thank you.

  507. In what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?
    I have used the practice of collaborative note taking previously, though not with Narrative practice specifically in mind at that time. I was influenced by solution focused ideas, with the central emphasis on cooperation. I would pause 10 minutes or so before the scheduled end time for the meeting. I asked people what were the points that came to mind which they wanted to me to write down in a summary. I conveyed points that I recalled too, asking if these were something that they would like added. The main focus was to list ideas and strategies that people had used which they had found practical / useful. I photocopied the notes, giving one copy to the person seeking assistance and keeping one for the record.
    Looking back, what made it possible was having the initiative to engage people in a cooperative way. The feedback from people was positive and it encouraged me to keep doing it for a while.

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?
    A psychologist that I was working with at the time talked with me about not giving clients notes or records, as they (the clients) might use these as part of a formal complaint against me / the psychologist. This had an intimidating effect on me. It took me to a frightened place, where I took on features of what has been termed “defensive practice”. I did not question what I had been told. It might not even be accurate from a complaints process or legal standpoint. With hindsight I am able to think more independently when professional colleagues sharing opinions of this sort.

    If these ways of working fit for you, what next steps could you take to build partnerships/collaborations in your work?
    I plan to reinitiate a practice in session of collaboration / consultation regarding what people would find helpful to have written, such as naming the problems, its effects upon lives, aspects of their lives which stand outside the influence of a problem, their skills and knowledges, unique outcomes and the history of these, their position in respect of the effects of the problem, and one or two questions they would like to consider further (e.g. that encourage a person / family to thicken an alternative story).
    Given my previous experience, what seemed to make the difference was that the work had respected that people were already competent, bringing skills, resources and ideas, it was a more energising and creative relationship “space” and I sensed that people (well most people) appreciated this.

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

      I’ve entered into collaborations in different ways, in my professional and private or personal life and a lot in between. It’s been possible for me when people want to work together with me, sometimes sharing knowledge and skills, maybe this won’t always feel equal even though it might feel fair.

      What might make it hard to enter into these practices?
      For me feeling judged would make it hard to enter into collaborative practices.

      If these ways of working fit for you, what next steps could you take to build partnerships/collaborations in your work?
      I have just started planning some workshops with a headteacher for parents to have opportunities to meet together with me if they want.

  508. I am writing from Dublin, Ireland and am enjoying reminding myself how pervasive and persuasive stories are. In particular, it demonstrates to me how limiting and potentially damaging diagnoses can be.

    Like many others, reading and watching here has allowed me to reflect on my own biases and where I have allowed myself to be captured by the single story and also where I felt uncomfortable about a story but allowed myself to be persuaded to accept it (working in mental health). I hope that I can start to become much more aware of it now as this way of viewing peoples lives makes the most sense to me at present.

    I am also curious about how the insights that we have gained through narrative thinking might influence parenting in general.

    • Hi everyone, my name is Sue and I work in schools with children and families in the UK. I am enjoying finding ‘new wings’ and new ways of using language through the narrative metaphor to de-centre/quest for space and potential. I find this is both a challenge and a ‘homecoming’. I feel a commitment to learning more in every day practice and hope to be able to meet up with practitioners in the UK when possible .

  509. Beautiful.

  510. David Epston’s interview really captured my attention – in particular his explanation of how an ‘ethnographic imagination’ is central to his approach to co-research. A quote which stood out for me was: “To be able to assist people to know their own knowledge is still a considerable form of expertise”. What this reminded me is that, just because many of the underlying principles of narrative therapy feel intuitively in-line with my own values and preferred ways of working with people, I shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that it is easy to put into practice!

    Aunty Barb Wingard’s account of her work also really stood out for me. In particular the descriptions of how she has supported people to make explicit links between justice and grief which is very powerful.

    The transcript of Michael White’s conversation with the man in a secure mental health ward also jumped out at me. It got me questioning the explicit and implicit training I have received about avoiding bringing myself into the conversation. I was impressed with how he shared his own vulnerability in that moment to authentically engage with the ‘patient’ as an expert/equal. I also acknowledge the concern raised by a contributor below that talking about your trousers falling down might feel unsafe or inappropriate for some clients but I feel the uderlying principle he modelled is very helpful.

    • Which particular ideas or stories intrigued you?
      The solidarity and the respect of vulnerabilities.

      Why do you think these things stood out to you?
      Because I need to adapt this solidarity appropriately for each person with whom I am working. I need to be solid with the light-heartedness as much as with the deadly seriousness of each person in their situations. And I am interpreting lightheartedness sometimes according to its sense of still being alive even though such serious stuff is going on or has occurred.

      What from these histories would you like to take with you into your future practice in some way?
      I would like to take the sense of being able to connect with the unspeakable, not to disassociate or be distracted, to stay present with the person

  511. Hi to all my name is Tara-Lea; counselor located in Northern Territory Australia. Very much enjoyed exploring the applications of narrative metaphor. I really likes the idea of finding events that do not fit with the dominate theme, and clients ‘loading’ these events up with meaning – to create and play with these alternative themes – as they become visible. The idea of being curious around the foundations and steps that came before really grounds the new theme. It was really very lovely in high lighting how much choice and agency we have in re-authoring and authoring our own life.

  512. I was particularly taken with the community conversation with Mr/Mrs AIDS and Mrs/Mr CARE. I love how the concepts were externalized and personalized in a culturally sensitive and appropriate way. I can see a great deal of applicability in a community setting (potentially even incorporating some ‘process’ in address community dynamics such as discrimination) but also in more micro practice. I’m thinking about potentially exploring the role-play idea in therapy with children in acting out concerns, such as, “naughtiness” or “trouble” and interviewing the child or parents while they play “trouble” or “James without trouble.”

  513. I’m an Assistant Psychologist working in Kent, South-East England. I first came across narrative therapy approaches while working with older people, and I have always been keen to learn more about it.

    A basic explanation of the role of a therapist is that they are able to listen to a person’s description of their situation, and help them to see the’outsider’ perspective on the situation, offering alternative explanations. Too often, I think, we can take control of the therapy room and remove some of the power from the client, coming to conclusions ourselves and offering these to the client as solutions. Narrative therapy is necessarily more collaborative, with the therapist retaining some of the detective role, but giving the client more agency in their role as story-teller.

    On a global and political scale, we are forever being reminded of ‘The danger of a single story’. Listening to Chimamanda Adichie, I thought how lucky I was to have been brought up so open-minded, but while reading about thin description I realised just how many single stories I hold about my friends, my family, and myself. Are the stories we give about who we are multi-stranded, positive and empowering, or are they limiting and bland? I’ve noticed that I often give a very thin description of myself, and when I don’t have much to say I start to think that I must be very boring!
    It struck me that it must be very hard to know what to say in your first meeting with a therapist: in this situation, maybe the thin description is a very good starting point.

    I’m looking forward to the next chapters!

  514. Hello there, I am hailing from Calgary, Alberta Canada.

    This segment really had me thinking about how refusing to be informed by one story is an act of protest, protesting that a person can be deduced to a singular thread. I am seeing parallels between narrative and Non-Violent Resistance (NVR) in that exploring other story lines is an announcement that the individual, family or group and the therapist are no longer willing to accept a one-dimensional view. I find this concept very liberating and can see an immense opportunity for empowering those who have been dis-empowered by being seen in one way.

    Through this, I can see how narrative can really lend itself to being combined with multiple modalities and frameworks in an effective therapeutic intervention. I am looking forward to exploring how this looks as I move through this course.

  515. I feel that only privileged people would talk about privilege and I think sector workers have a lot of shame about the privilege that they have and the downplay it or play up their marginality. I used to struggle a lot with shame about apparent privilege but I lost my privilege when I was incarcerated. Privilege for me is something to be cherished not to be ashamed of. Like when I was returning to Melbourne one night on a train and I sat with kids from the country and relised even though I was living in a rooming house I was in fact privileged as I experienced so many opportunities. Privilege involves cherishing going for a swim this morning.

    • What does ‘critical thinking’ mean to you?
      It means remembering to be conscious of as many of the relevant innate prejudices and biases at macro and micro levels. It reminds me to question my own background and journey through my life and how this may influence my thinking.

      How might your practice be different on account of your engagement with these materials?
      It might be more reflective and more rooted in evidence-based research. It might be more open to examination of where concepts and ideas originate.

      Do you have any stories or sayings that keep you connected to ‘critical thinking’?
      Sometimes I ask myself am I “dancing to a drum”!

  516. I share a similar background to what Mary Heath recounted in her reading – coming from a small country town where intolerance and structural injustice for Aboriginal and migrant families was accepted as the norm. My own journey with critical thinking has been incredibly life-giving, and I can pinpoint key times in my life where I was immersed in intentional communities who taught me to value critical thinking and critical, intentional and meaningful engagement with the world. Being critical of myself and my role in my community is a strong value of mine now, and something I always want to be promoting in my life and my personal and professional circles.

    In my work with Aboriginal Australian young people in and out of custody, critique of oppressive systems as the breeding ground for recidivism and ongoing maladaptive behaviours is essential – these kids’ presenting mental health issues have not emerged from a vacuum and their ongoing contact with often punitive and shame/blaming systems often create more barriers to recovery. I try to be critical and both macro- and micro in my work with clients, but also have to work with my team to provide education and encouragement for workers in these punitive systems to understand the systemic influences on each young person’s behaviours and needs.

  517. It sounds like externalizing is a practice that supports aligning with the client and walking beside them as opposed to looking down upon them. As stated earlier, the therapist is not the expert but more of a guide who is as interested as the client, in discovering what props up the problem and what gives it legs.

  518. Great! This “we are in together” and all other tips are really fantastic! O=Not only people with certain disabilities need help from family, friends, but also I think this is relevant for all human beings.

    After all, who can say that their are away of waves of life? Thanks to these young people!

  519. Is there an idea or project that stands out to you most at this time?
    I really enjoyed reading and learning about the project involving the Tree of Life.

    What about this idea or project has sparked your enthusiasm or curiosity?
    I thought the idea of placing the past, the present, and the future together on a Tree of Life design would make it clear where the children are and where they wanted to go. And having this design in front of them could only be beneficial. It seems to me, and I have done this myself as well, that most people can tend to float through life without much of a plan nor a record of what they have learned and how to implement that into their lives for the future. By laying it out in this way, it might help the children strive towards a goal to better themselves. And whether they reach that goal is beside the point. It is the heading of a direction that is beneficial.

    In what ways might you begin to experiment with these ideas or methodologies?
    I might try to create my own Tree of Life for myself for the previously mentioned reasons as well as encourage those around me to do the same. And then see if there were any effects on the person’s as well as my own growth and development.

  520. Hello everyone. My name is Brenda and I’m a hospice palliative social worker living and working in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada. My work with residents is within a limited time frame. I am able to engage the dying and their families/friends in narratives about who they are and what they have done within their beautiful lives. My greater work with narrative therapy lies with the bereaved and circumstances surrounding their grief. Thank you so much for providing these videos, forums and materials to draw from. I’m looking forward to continuing in this free on-line course.

  521. My name is Nyirinkwaya Serge, from Rwanda a small country in East Africa, also known as the country of a thousand hills! I was moved by hearing your wonderful stories on ways of being uncles, mentors, dads, grandfathers and friends.

    I am married and a father of two daughters and one son. Your words were so inspiring for me as I always seek to be a good dad and mentor for. Beyond that, my professional work involves engaging with communities to provide psychosocial support to vulnerable children and young people. One of the difficulties we encounter is to engage men when in our traditions, child care is mostly attributed to women. So, what you are doing is really unique and admirable, and If you allow me that, I will use your examples as a contribution to how men can find ways of working with children and not be boring!!

    I liked the Ngukuthati Men’s Shed T-shirts and words that “suicide is not the answer”. I am very sure that this will have a strong impact on the young people you are trying to support. Your initiative reminded me of a personal story where I got support from men that belonged to a same community-based organization as my father before he died.
    I lost my parents and siblings when I was 16, during the genocide against Tutsis that bloodied our country in 1994. My father refused to involve himself in the genocide, so perpetrators from his community came and killed the entire family. I was also injured but could survive. In the period that followed the tragedy, although I did not have suicidal thoughts, but whenever I got through hardships, I would wonder why I survived as if I wished to have died with others.

    There was then this man Daniel, that was a friend of my dad, they belonged to the same community-based organization, supporting young girls with vocational skills. Whenever Daniel met me, he would ask how I was feeling, how I was doing at school and if he could be of any support. We did meet only three times in the period I was going through hard times but those were real sparkling moments. He gave me hope, support and reasons to believe in life. Daniel died in 2002 but what he did for me, the steps I could achieve from his little support are still memorable. When I heard about your initiatives, I thought about Daniel. I think I would call you the “Daniels” of the young people you are trying to reach out to in your communities. Your messages are so powerful and I can tell you that what you are doing now will have a long-lasting positive affect in ways you cannot imagine, even when you will be no longer alive to see it. The story of my Dad and Daniel illustrates this.

    Some of the stories on being a role model for children, being patient with them, talking to them in a non-degrading way, keeping links with kids no matter what, spending good time with them, the desire to offer them the best so that they can see a good future, all this resonated with what my community needs to strengthen. I wonder what children and young people in your communities would say or feel when hearing or watching these films! Can you think about that? Surely, they would be proud of their dads, uncles, grandfathers…!

  522. Hi all!
    I’m am located in Sydney, am currently completely my masters in psychotherapy and work with youth within the community setting. I have an undergrad in psychology and a dip in art therapy.
    I am so excited to do this online course and am hoping to deep my knowledge of narrative therapy and develop some skills to use with clients. I would also like to use narrative therapy with in art therapy processes.
    Walking along side our clients from a place of not-knowing as we support re-construction of their story from thin to thick and rich understanding, sounds like a valuable way to serve others in times of difficulties.
    I can really see this being a beneficial process for individuals from all walks of life at all stages of life, particularly within times of crisis and depression. I also picked up so hints of solution focused therapy and jungian psychology.

  523. Brothers from the Aboriginal way of being uncles, mentors, dads, grandfathers and friends film series. I have been blessed to get a chance to watch your conversations on film from the your amazing project. My heart was really opened as I heard men of different ages and experiences discussing what is important to aboriginal men in Australia. As a Black man in the United States your conversations remind me once again that the experience of colonization and the harm it does to our communities is not unique, but also the resistance to colonization and harm is also not unique. In fact the clearest message I heard from you in the films is the importance of resisting and holding on to culture and community strength. I was particularly happy to watch and listen to Shawn Major in the films talking about his work with young boys and it reminded me of how important re-membering and re-connecting to nature, community, traditions and values is for our mental health and well being. I also smiled and cried some as I listened to the young men discuss racism and segregation and shared in the experience that I think we Black folk have of using humor to soften our experiences of racism sometimes. I resonated so much with what seemed to be the overall message to me that it is important for us to learn as men to live in peace in the Western world with our own culture. Our cultures are our road to remaining healthy and surviving for the day when we will know complete liberation. Thank you brothers again for this wonderful series of conversations with the men of your communities.

    Makungu Akinyela
    Ph.D., LMFT
    Licensed Couple and Family Therapist
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA

  524. My name is Glen. I live in Newcastle, Australia.
    Is there an idea or project that stands out to you most at this time?
    A couple of months ago I completed a two day training course on the topic of domestic and family violence. Following this I invited staff from “Caries Place” (Domestic Violence and Homelessness Services in the Newcastle and Hunter areas) to come to a meeting at my place of work to talk with us about their services. Two women from the service did a good job providing information and valuable education about the link between family violence and homelessness. The projects that I read about in the on-line course very much reminded me of the work of the staff at Carries Place. What really impresses itself on me is the overlap between narrative ideas and the philosophy of Carries Place having to address patriarchal social structures, and have politics in mind. One of the staff mentioned “fighting the good fight”. The work that they are doing (and the sheer scale of it) on such a tiny budget is humbling for me, indeed.

    What about this idea or project has sparked your enthusiasm or curiosity?
    My professional training is in psychology, which tends to localise problems internally. I find it refreshing to keep in mind that serious problems such as domestic and family violence have their linkages to power structures and social inequities. In particular, giving women a safe place as an option seems so common sense but it takes the advocacy and courage of these women to make it happen. I perceive that there is so much inertia in our community regarding these issues.

    In what ways might you begin to experiment with these ideas or methodologies?
    One thought I have is that I am more sensitised to power and the possibility of violence in partner and family relationships. It is one of those topics where the more I understand, the more I am able to perceive. I much more often suggest to women to consider their experience from the point of view of domestic and family violence. I perceive that the conversations with women have changed toward a more practical, grounded basis, in addition to empathic support. There is so much more to understand in this area of work…
    Another aspect of this chapter that resonated for me was “Songs as a response to hardship and trauma”. People seeking assistance have related to me that particular songs were important to them and a couple of people have brought in their guitar and sang their own compositions. A person who is consulting with me at this time has written a whole book of poetry that describes his encounters with alienation, marginalisation and despair. These are so important for people and honouring their creative expression is a great part of the work that I have the privilege of doing.

  525. The concept of co-researching mirrors something that I’ve had in mind for the past couple of months – the concept that therapy is 50/50 and to not work harder than your client.

    The genesis of this concept (or rather the conditions that lead to it) was my psychological training where I was expected to plan each intervention, administer it and have a quantitative improvement post-intervention. It’s easy to see how this creates an imbalance in the relationship and focuses the sessions on on symptom reduction or increase in functioning.

    This lead to a lot of anxiety in me and a restlessness in therapy to always be ‘doing’ things. As I finished by training, practicing more independently and getting better at co-researching problems with clients, the changes were palpable. Therapeutic conversations felt less twitchy and flowed better. Clients exuded more calmness and power and I felt much more relaxed and in the zone.

    It’s still something that I struggle with, but it feels like it’s a concept that has embedded into my practice. I feel it is a great encapsulation of narrative therapy and social work – that two heads are better than one and that all our stories are worthwhile and deserve to be told.

    • From the UK
      Think about just one thing that has particularly resonated for you about narrative ideas and practices that you have been trying to apply more in your work.
      Identity and identity migration
      What would you call the principle or idea? Give it a name. Say something about it – describe what it is about, your understandings of it, in your own words.
      I would call it “route” acknowledging its potential to find a way and have lots of different ways and still be there as it sounds like ‘root’ and may sprout as well.
      Give some more details about it, e.g.: When did you first notice this idea or principle in the work? What told you that it was important to you?
      I noticed this especially when I was studying Shiatsu and learning the theory and practicing with my fellow students and eventually people from the general public. I think this was when I reconnected in a different way with my own body and its memories. This prompted and enabled me to attend a year’s training course on trauma.
      What are you currently doing that you would say is a reflection of this particular idea, practice or principle? Say a little bit about the times you thought you had managed to apply the idea or principle to your own practice.
      I am currently exploring and sharing some concepts of identity in relation to mental heath and the impact of torture and abuse.
      I think I managed to apply this to my practice both by seeking support for myself and sharing support with individuals and a particular family group.
      When you did it, what did you notice? How did it affect, for example:
      The conversation you were engaging in at the time? I noticed a sense of relief and that the conversation became wider ranging and included more ‘not knowing’
      Your thoughts about yourself? I am learning more about myself and others
      The other people who were with you? They said I’d heard them.
      Your hopes or plans? I hope to continue to develop this further through research, reflection and practice on both a personal and professional level and I plan to do some more training when/if this is possible.
      Your feelings? With support, I have been able to have my feelings and to find these strengthened my resolve. The kindnesses shown to me deepened compassion and enlivened my processing.
      What was this like for you? This was like a re-connection with my past identities that came to help me out and introduce themselves to what was going on. Did you like it or not? Yes
      Did it suit you or not? Yes Or something in between?That too
      Why is it that you give this evaluation? Because this is what I found in answer to these questions this morning. What did it seem to fit with? It seemed to fit with the situation that is the most difficult and challenging to me at the moment.

  526. Another mind-blowing chapter!

    – I love the idea of the influential, de-centred sweet spot – reminds me a bit of the concept of flow.

    – I love how, again, something seemingly intellectual and pretentious like critical thinking is re-framed as something warm and humanistic. Reminds me of how clinical formulation is really just telling someone’s story with a bit of a critical thinking perspective.

    – Have always wanted to get my head around structuralism – what an incredible summary. I think of the fixed vs growth mindset concepts as well as the neuroplasticity stuff – the hope for change at any stage and age.

    Brian from Sydney, Australia

  527. Wow – so many light bulb moments in this chapter!

    – I love how the whole approach came about from such an incredible relationships – the concept of partnership as creating a context for creativity is so powerful, and the perfect metaphor for therapist/client relationship.

    – I love how the approach draws from so many sources – philosophy, politics, social change, anthropology. I feel this eclecticism is necessary in order to address the rich tapestry of humans and their difficulties – something I feel was missing in my psychology training.

    – I love how irreverence, humour and a kind of punk rock attitude is built into the DNA of the approach – not being afraid to have your pants down is very important!

    Brian from Sydney, Australia

  528. My name’s Jen – I’m a mental health clinician in a State forensic mental health team working with Aboriginal Australian kids who are in and out of custodial care. My clients all have significant levels of complex developmental trauma and have been viewed as ‘problems’ their entire lives. My clients have also experienced high levels of institutionalisation, which has served to deeply internalise messages of themselves as only their offending behaviour.
    Externalising is both crucial and problematic in this professional context. As Mark noted in his example of Joey, externalisation must be carefully used in discussions about problem behaviours that harm self or others. It is a difficult line to walk in utilising externalisation to challenge deeply entrenched and internalised narratives about themselves (“I’m fucking useless, everyone says so”) while also supporting the kids to take ownership of the consequences of offending behaviour in a way that prompts motivation for change.
    I particularly found steps 3 and 4 of the slideshow interesting and something I want to incorporate into my work more – supporting clients to examine their views/values around problems in their lives as a motivator for change. I like the focus on clients as experts and authors of their lives, including where they want their lives to be going. For a client cohort so dependent on systems, it’s important to promote as much sense of empowerment and choice as possible!
    Looking forward to what else I will learnt throughout this course.

    • My thanks to the many contributors. My name is Sue and I work with children and families in schools in the UK I am finding this online resource encourages me to question and reflect on my practice whilst also offering support and structure to keep safe whilst experimenting/exploring.

  529. Wow, this was a big start for me. I am a teacher, not a social worker or therapist. I spend a great deal of time getting to know students, the changing social structures within the school and the social dynamics of the youths that I work with both as a community and individually. In my position I think that the narrative metaphor is a practice that would allow students to discuss their concerns or hardships more openly, without fear of negative impact. It highlights the importance of the story we tell of ourselves and the power it can weld. Chimamanda Adichie expresses how dangerous and misleading a single story can be, one that youths are so very good at telling themselves. This practice allows opportunities to gather more information, build new meaning and then consider renewed pathways that young people can take ownership and control of for themselves.

    To be able to think about stories in this way, opens opportunities to develop strong positive relationships with the students, as it creates authentic communication allows empathy and compassion to develop and builds trust with the students, which can be a critical factor in assisting them on their journey. There is a focus on positive education or strength based learning in my school and this would link into these focuses as the narrative would allow students to acknowledge when they have operated at their best, shown strengths such as perseverance or overcome different levels of adversity. I feel that this practice has the potential to celebrate our youth, acknowledge their struggles, seek justice (a high priority with the age group I work with), and look to the future in a positive way.

  530. For the first time in my life goosebumps and all stood to sing what should already be our National Anthem, I am encouraging my kids to learn the new Anthem, I going to approach our school and request permission to sing our new Anthem. I’m not sure what else I can do besides sharing on Facebook every morning until everyone I shares their views.

    • Me too,amazing words.This should be the anthem.I would be a proud white to stand for this version

  531. What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?
    I really enjoyed the idea of documents being used as a rite of passage. In my experiences talking with people, it can be easy to identify a problem, speak about it, move away from it and realize they don’t have to identify with it, but the last step- changing themselves so their problems permanently leave- to be the most difficult implementation. By outlining this necessary step towards total health, using a document as a rite of passage, I believe, can be very helpful in that it gives a clear and precise path to change and growth.

    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?
    I will definitely be using the idea of laminated letters for patients to read as well as the aforementioned rites of passage documentation.

    • Hi there, my name is Sue and I work in schools with children and families in the UK. The people I work with had already authored recordings of any sessions/meetings. Now I can understand more of how the written word can be there in a different way for people. I think that I was biased by my past negative experiences and now I have gained more courage by listening and reading about these possibilities and this opens up a different future which I want very much to apply wisely.

  532. My name is Glen. I live in Newcastle, Australia.
    What forms of documentation might be most relevant or resonant in your context?
    I think letters recording a session might be most relevant and resonant. I can see much more potential in this concept than I could before. For example, I believe that with a collaborative spirit, putting aside 10 mins of the meeting, inviting a person to summarise their ideas, strategies, attitudes, skills and so on, that they / the family judged to be relevant and worthwhile (e.g. managing the effects of a problem, or constitutive of alternative / preferred story developments), these could be hand written by the person (a family member) or me. Another aspect that represents a shift for me is to include one or two questions in the letter / document that the person / family judge to be interesting and promising for them to think further on. In the past I had provided people with a summary (of content / points) but I had not invited conversation around what questions they / the family would judge interesting and useful to think about afterwards.
    Another idea I have is that concepts such as ‘documents of knowledge’ and ‘letters recording a session’ very much overlap, without there being clear lines distinguishing them. I am an avid reader of poetry and enjoy dabbling in writing it too. I perceive that some people may be interested in writing their own poems in sessions. For example, an older person was married to a woman for 55 years, he was showing me photos of his wife and the images and themes could flow naturally into verse, rather than take prose form, or some combination of the two. It’s not something that I would decide beforehand one way or another, it would be something that unfolded in the meeting in consultation, guided by what the person or family judge to be helpful.

    Are there particular ideas or practices you found within these materials you might draw on in your future meetings with people?
    In addition to the thoughts above, I have an opportunity to work with colleagues seeing families. Reading the “outsider –witness practices: some answers…” (Maggie Carey & Shona Russell) with its ideas regarding “metaphors of resonance and transport” was great for me. It was so nicely balanced with the “Hazards and what to avoid” and “Hints” in a practical way. I made some handwritten notes as I studied this and it has energised me to share my notes with colleagues at our lunch time meeting on Friday. I have found outsider-witness / reflecting team consultations with families to really provide something “extra” by way of help that the “therapy as usual” could not do. I’m paraphrasing one of the hints here, “Link what I am saying about my histories of life to the important things the client / family has said” and “refer to the values, hopes and dreams that the person / family has spoken about”. I enjoyed and appreciated these useful hints to keep the focus on the developments that could be constitutive of alternative / preferred stories.

  533. My head is spinning as I spent the afternoon reading Freire as I listened to Silvia Frederici. It was a real treat to engage with these difficult and immense challenges. Lots of big names. Like Deleuze and Guattari who critique the tree and offer up a rizome instead. The tree of life has come under a lot of criticism but perhaps I will do one as a document. Rolnik. I really like the resistance Freire offered to normalisation that is so much a part of neo liberal global capitalism. It is an instrument of repression and violence. I was struck by the repeated references to food production , consumption and impoverishment – and practices of collectivism. I think I was struck by a kind of jump or leap that was being made from the private self to the collective and community – or the commons. And I found Reynold’s resisting calling out about community, activism and respect. I struggle socially and therefore I struggle with respect and self respect – and it is manifest in community hatred and self hatred. Perhaps this is in fact more common than I think – many struggle with falling short, falling down, back sliding, relapse and going against their values. I think I would like to work on a document about this. One area I struggle in is private housekeeping – a labour the Frederica critiques in terms of collective work and gender – and may I add disability, racism and poverty. I really liked Freire’s critique of charity as I engage with a number of so called charities to meet basic needs like food and clean clothes. The labour of reading has me thinking about cooking -communal cooking, but also reducing waste, and fanzines about yoga and being involuntary, and to keep drawing. I struggle with the falling down of anger – a kind of stuckness but it is social as I rage against being disadvantaged and being excluded and marginalised an oppressed – and I struggle and resist the oppressive power that my anger encounters like police and mental health workers and exclusions from community organisations and school. That kind of anger is pathologized and now we have the regulation movement that seeks to regulate with evangelical zest as in yoga in marginalised settings and equine assisted therapy for delinquent students. I often also get angry in therapeutic settings and it leads to rejection or exclusion. Try as I might – I have not had much luck with narrative therapy but as stated those spaces to socially enage with and resoist personal problems that are hard can be small and the openings to hope and healing close as fast as they open – and when we find these sanctuaries or refuges we as often encounter violence and repression. I like the way Frederici talks about political violence and repression and the impoverishment of numerous communities around the world – and since the intervention options in Aboriginal remote communities are limited. Their artists – many women – are now working under slave like conditions. And once more I stir up Frederici’s critique of labour and gender and marginalisation as slavery in the global economy.

    • re: #13: Art Fisher and Nancy MacDonald

      Hello, I’m Sue from Essex, UK and I found listening to this radio show on your site was inspirational. I particularly liked the way they talked about starting off and how they came to be where they are now. They recognised their privileges and what more needs to grow without becoming overwhelmed or disheartened, staying with the project.

      • In what ways might you begin to experiment with these ideas or methodologies?

        I’ve been experimenting for a while and now I want to liven up reflective practice with other agencies’ staff.

  534. Brian from Sydney, Australia here.

    Love love love these two concepts!

    As a school psychologist, using documents of circulation to friendship groups and rite of passage documents for year 6 and year 12 could be fantastic.

    Peers, parents or trusted teachers could be used as outsider witnesses to great therapeutic effect.

  535. I love the concept of the experience-near description – beautifully humanistic and person-centred.

    In a school counselling context, learning difficulties could be a useful thing to externalise – a way of relieving the significant shame and self-stigma that students experience.

  536. Hi, my name’s Brian and I’m a school psychologist from Sydney, Austraila.

    The narrative metaphor strikes me as an incredibly intuitive way to understand so many aspects of human psychology – the construction of meaning, cognitive schemas, cognitive attribution to name a few. I love how natural it feels, and how we can use concepts that people are already familiar with to re-frame thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

    These concepts provide a framework to explain these concepts to children and adolescents, and the potential to design engaging and creative interventions.

  537. I really enjoyed reading Hugh Fox’s writing. I have been thinking that my cat’s vaccination certificates are important documents in my life as I provide a safe and caring home for my cat in difficult circumstances such as living on Centrelink benefits below the poverty line. I prioritise providing good food for him and making sure he has a flea treatment each month. I prioritise being affectionate and not abusing or neglecting him. Perhaps I am like the mother with schizophrenia who struggles to find evidence of my goodness and competence in circumstances of vulnerability where I fall down, fail to achieve my values, struggle with hatred and self hatred, embarrass and humiliate myself and live with experiences of repeated failure and rejection. Perhaps my cat is an outsider witness as he sits by the bathroom door each morning when I have a shower. HE offers unconditional love and acceptance – he counters my self loathing of my now middle aged and chronically ill and over weight body. I am also thinking of many institutional documents which counter my preferred identity as I struggle with repeated experiences of rejection and failure and related self loathing, anger and fear that robs me of the times when I succeed or achieve a sense of confidence and competence. I have accumulated many negative documents which speak of repeated failures and aberrations like high levels of anger and non compliance and homelessness as evidence of mental illness and drug addiction and disability and impairment. My journey lacks documents. Being homeless has led to loss of education certificates from University and TAFE. I held on to a document revoking a CTO as if this was an achievement. I remember this process and achieving preferred outcomes with drug treatment regimes involved skills in self advocacy and keeping calm that I never thought I possessed. Experiences of loss also involve loss of documents such as drivers licences and passports. Another outsider witness was my Royal Commissioner Counsellor where a small space opened where I could tell preferred stories of my life – and also seeing a narrative therapist who was also an equine assisted therapist. But institutional power is vicious and brutal and those spaces of witnessing, growth and healing disappeared so quickly in the retribution from various persons in my past like a psychiatrist who has power as an authority on who I am despite having not seen me for ten years. I am thinking of documents of poverty like Centrelink documents and prescriptions for what I call poverty pills that disfigure and incapacitate – and what about AVO documents. I have listed a lot of authority documents with harsh judgments and authority language of pathology. As I rail against these documents I have written protest letters to authorities like politicians calling for both systemic and structural changes and acknowledgment of the unsaid and for changes in my identity. I am now reminded of other outsider witnesses like a priest who suggested that I shine a light on the evil that I encountered in my life – and of churches and religious workers who offered unconditional welcome and hospitality and refuge and sanctuary-or the shining lights of a country town bearing witness to my suicide attempt ten years ago.

  538. I find Narrative Therapy a very exciting way to work as it fits with my beliefs with regard to not pathologising people and not blaming the victim but working with people in a non – judgemental way that locates the problem outside of themselves and therefore works against self blame. The approach I utilise the most is the thickening of a person’s story so that clients who think they have never been able to cope are able to identify that so many times they have been able to do this. I would like to employ writing letters to clients as I think,(the evidence indicates this) that they would be able to have this letter to remind them of the positives that came out of a counselling and how they have been able to do many things in their lives despite the ‘thin narrative’ they have internalised. Though I have always tried to think about power and privilege in a relationship I am now more acutely aware of this and will be more reflective and think about power and privilege in a deeper way.

  539. This has been my favourite module so far with all articles being of interest. Mary Heath’s article with the influences of her own childhood and how they were challenged at university was very interesting and illustrated how despite the ‘shell’ of a decent middle class existence the experience is still alive with racism. Its look at the Dimensions of Critical Thinking was enlightening,very comprehensive and thought provoking. The series of articles about power and privilege again linked personal experiences to structural issues and as with Mary Heath’s article illustrated the invisibility of power and how in an era of an attack on political correctness a discussion about the insidiousness of power can easily be shut down. The final article on post structuralism was encouraging as you could see how this perspective lends itself to Narrative Therapy. In terms of my own work helping people who have been sexually abused this module highlights how personal issues such as sexual assault are often silenced by power,(churches and other institutions) together with what voices are heard and what are silenced.

  540. The article on Collaborative Responsibility: Narrative ideas in practice was of particular interest to me as I work as a Hospital Social Worker where the language of the expert is privileged and much though we are supposed to work in a client centred manner this is often very difficult because of time constraints and accountability that goes upward to management and not outward towards the client. Working quickly is valued but this often leads to ineffective, superficial work that is hardly empowering to the client. This article emphasised partnership and not assessment with the power language of the supposed expert being replaced by a common and richer language based on the context of a persons life. Also important was the story of June the person with Social Paranoia and how the Outsider Witnesses were touched by her story and how this was empowering. In both these stories it was again apparent how the ‘thickening’ of the story helped clients and how alternative, ( and more hopeful) stories are always present. This was underlined by the final video where Indigenous voices were heard and how shame stops people from enjoying fulfilling relationships, entering employment, accessing services – where the narrative of damage is so powerful instead of the narrative of strength and hope that so many other stories can tell if the therapist only allows them to be told. All these approaches will benefit my work as shame is present with sexual abuse, people’s stories with regard to sexual abuse have often been silenced and they do have many strength/survivor stories.

  541. With respect to externalizing problems rather than objectifying and oppressing people as problems, I find that these spaces are small and that openings to liberation and insight close over before a new story where the person is not the problem gets enough traction to flourish. I find that externalizing is hard in the face of oppressive systems like the mental health system where the person is always the problem. I experienced that process of externalizing when I undertook Equine assisted therapy and when I went through a Royal Commission process. But personally I always encountered back lash from the system and sustained healing has eluded me.

    • Hi Fiona, i’m interested in how systems work too, especially mental health in the UK. i am encouraged by a story Michael White tells about a social worker who went against the system in response to a child. Have you come across this? I wouldn’t have known about MW’s work with people or the Dulwich Centre and narrative therapy until a week ago when I heard through staff working with a young person diagnosed with ‘complex trauma’ sectioned in an adolescent unit. I am wondering if there are any other exceptions in the mental health system. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some more somewhere that I don’t know about yet.

  542. Hi, Alex Here, From Mexico

    The thing that i find most fasinating is how Michael’s White ideas developed through out time to end up being one of the most interesting ways of dealing with people’s problems. It is quite amazing how through the sharing of ideas with his partner David Epson everything came together to build this way of seeing people and their problems.

    Specifically, what I like the most is how they both changed the whole game in how other psychologic theories and practices treated with ‘patients’, and how they used to see their lives (phatologizing their life with ”inner concepts”).

    Instead, they noted that, within cultural contexts, power relationships, narratives of power,gender biases, racial and socioeconomical views, most of the people’s problems coulded be deconstructed, ending up in the frase: ”The person is the person, and the problem is the problem”. In other words, watching people as something separeted from the problem.

    Such a relief!

    In general, I find all of the Michael´s White work and ideation as a very important bundle of ways of treating with people, their conditions, and their problems. A way of including them into the conversation and a way of acknowledging their experience.

    Thank you very much.

    I look forward to get to know more of the practices included into the narratives approaches as I read through the chapters.

  543. Hi, my name is Glen. I live in Newcastle, Australian.
    Which resource in this chapter particularly caught your attention and why?
    The concept of charting, with the four components (if ‘components’ is accurate), roughly from my memory: 1. characterising and naming, 2. (connections, I cheated & I looked that part up) and effects of the problem, 3. (experience and) position (regarding the problem) and, 4. Values (why?) The numbering could imply a sequence though and Mark Hayward pointed out that the conversation itself mostly moves all over the place, rather than following an orderly sequence.
    Why? Because I have tried externalising a number of times and it had gone well usually but occasionally it hadn’t turned out quite as anticipated. Recently, a seven year old and his mother gave me feedback that I had “lost” them and was trying to externalising a problem as part of the conversation with them. In retrospect I had gone too fast. I had missed the component of (experience) and position completely! Mark suggested that if a person (family member) is not making sense of a position question, it is useful to revisit characterising and naming and (connections) and effects of the problem. I feel a bit embarrassed, it seems obvious now. That’s learning!
    What sort of problems could be externalised in your context?
    There are a huge number that could be seen through this lens. I ones that I am greatly looking forward to are diagnostic labels (e.g. anxiety disorder). I think the challenging part is asking questions that encourage the person seeking assistance to see themselves as expert on their experience, rather than expecting or looking to a professional (i.e. in this instance, me) so much for ‘strategies’ [or solutions / answers?].
    What difference might this make?
    My experiences, albeit limited so far, is that it brings refreshing imagination and creativity into the work. I found that people often naturally talk in metaphors and metaphors are woven into our language anyway, it provides a much more flexible and interesting way of working with people. When the work is going well, it can be exciting to help people bring out their own ideas, skills and creativity.

  544. Great though sad to read, (due to the extent of the trouble) how Aboriginal people deal with grief. Also great to hear about the rigour that has gone in to this sort of therapy from Michael White and David Epston. Though many times I have been told that we are client centred the notion of solidarity that Michael talks about asking workers to truly think how they would cope if they had the lives that some clients have had really struck me as genuine and something that I truly believe in. The story with regard to Sam was particularly good at how a simple act can level the playing field. In general the humanity of both Michael and David was inspiring.

  545. In what ways might you begin to experiment with these ideas or methodologies?

    I like the idea of using songs in a therapeutic context, Instead of asking the client how they are feeling, I may ask them what song resonates with their current feelings? or ask them to find a song for homework that fits their current mood.

    Music is very powerful and I believe it is a very underrated and innovative therapeutic tool. I really enjoyed listening to the songs that people had created as part of their recovery or response to a certain action.

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

    With being reflective, I would have to say my last/closure session with clients is not always up to the standard that I would like to provide. It can be more about feedback and administration due to organisational constraints with time then therapeutic, therefore I really like the idea of writing a letter prior to the end of session and providing it to the client during the session. I feel their is more thought involved with a written letter, then saying goodbye and thank you verbally. Furthermore I agree with some of the comments below, for clients it gives them something to keep and take home, a memento of their time in the service and maybe how much they have achieved/moved closer to their goals of recovery.

    • I like this idea! I think clients would like to have a summary of the work done together. (Carmen, Sydney Australia)

  547. Hi, my name is Glen. I live in Newcastle, Australia.
    Describing the narrative metaphor… How to start? One possibility is that there are many ideas that can contribute to it as a concept. One idea coming to mind is it is a metaphor suggesting that as humans we make meanings out of experiences through our stories. There are so many experiences in life that one story cannot ever encompass its meaning in a definitive or final way. I think the metaphor suggests that we can hold a perspective in which life experiences can be understood through multiple stories that overlap, which allow for ambiguities and contradictions. Another idea is that the metaphor reminds us to be respectful of our common humanity, as our stories are created in contexts which are personal, historical, political, cultural and social. An idea that I find appealing in the metaphor is the encouragement it provides for us to make a place for creativity, imagination and playfulness in our lives. Also, to look for previously neglected aspects of experience that could be drawn on for other stories, or alternative stories, of our lives. I perceive the metaphor suggests that we can try to story and re-story our lives in ways which are respectful, enriching and affirming of ourselves and each other. I would best stop here and move on to the next question…
    Thinking about stories in this way makes possible more possibilities, it encourages me to stop and reflect (as I am doing now) about story creation as an act by a person in time, located in place as a narrator (a character/s act), making a narration (making meaning/s), with a narrative (events and characters put together in a plot of a story). My intuition is that it is an act which we are immersed in constantly, and another is the act of reflecting on it at the time which allows us a better opportunity of respectful, affirming, vital and enriching stories. It encourages me to reflect on my own stories as these inform what and how I understand my own experiences and how I perceive the experiences of others, indeed, my stories could at times inform how I misunderstand or perhaps fail to perceive aspects of the experiences of others. I am drawn to the idea to hold my own stories tentatively (e.g. heavily influenced by culture, and my place as a professional with ‘expertise’), as these could be limiting, to remain curious and patient! If I am thinking that I understand someone’s stories and I “get it” (understand), it is better to pause, reflect, offer my perception/s and thoughts / ideas and invite comment. I think it makes possible for me a listening and perceiving from a perspective that is very respectful and also aware of my limitations.

  548. Hi, I’m Bernadette from Vancouver, Canada and I’m a Spiritual Health Practitioner (or sometimes called a Hospital Chaplain!) working in a downtown Vancouver hospital.

    I would describe the narrative metaphor as one which is open to all manner of interpretation and am reminded of the story (ancient parable!) of the “Six Blind Men and the Elephant” as each describes what they experience. Each describes what they perceive to be the fullness of the animal yet each is describing a completely different interpretation of component parts of a far greater whole. (Check out YouTube – Natalie Merchant (The Blind Men and the Elephant) who sings this ancient story to wonderful upbeat music!)

    I loved the short video clip of the “dots” and in my work with patients who suffer from mental health illness I have often shared when speaking to ‘meaning making’ how we can connect the sacred dots of our lives. It helps to visually see the many MORE dots that are there which we have not considered and how rich a life we live and how different we can interpret our life as we so choose. It opens my eyes to my own “story” which I speak to in the singular and helps me realize there are many more and how life is multi-storied!

    Listening to other people’s stories is what I am privileged to do each day in my work. However, I love that through this online course I am challenged to continue to listen to the ‘gaps in between’ or the events NOT part of the dominant “thin” story and to visit these events with my patients to explore together and help co-author an alternative story. As was so aptly coined “There is a TAPESTRY of stories” in us all!

    Thank you Dulwich Centre for this course!

  549. Hello,
    I’m an occupational therapist writing from Hobart, Tasmania.

    How would you describe the narrative metaphor?

    As we go through our lives, we create memories and events. We link these memories and events into our stories, our way of viewing the world and our own identities. When stringing this story together, we can often miss the complexity of memories, focusing on the key moments that ‘fit’ within the paradigm of the story. The narrative metaphor involves looking at all these memories, those told in our stories and those that which we tend to ignore to create a richer story which represents our lives more holistically and creates new possibilities.

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

    As an occupational therapist I have seen people link elements of their identity to create a learned helplessness, where they I identify that because of having a disability they are unable to participate in activities. Setting goals can be difficult as the client does not acknowledge that there is possibility for change. I see that by supporting a client being able to re-examine their lives and identify, it creates space for hope and setting new goals.

  550. Thank YOU Mark…this talk really resonated with me and the angst I’ve felt in performing social work duties throughout my career…it always felt just a little bit smug of me to suppose that I could understand, ‘help’, guide or problem-solve with clients. I also felt that the more direct the service work I did the more ability I had to be able to really have a glimpse of the other person’s reality and view…and how they coped with their realities. Wonder if this could be taught in social work, medical, therapy and nursing course work to remind us what the ‘helpers’ bring in their ‘tool kit’?

  551. Hello again from Melbourne, Australia!
    Critical thinking for me has components of analysis, evaluation and lack of bias. I would agree with Judith Butler’s definition of deconstructing presuppositions – as a therapist this is an integral part of self-reflection for me.
    I have often invited clients to critically analyze or deconstruct a “problem concept” with me. I find this to be collaborative and use it as an opportunity to help them develop a new skill which I hope they will use even after therapy to find solutions or reframe their stories.

  552. I’ve been interested in Narrative Therapy since I first learnt about