Posted by on Nov 15, 2016 in | 0 comments

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  • Sharing sadness and finding small pieces of justice: Acts of resistance and acts of reclaiming in working with women who’ve been subjected to abuse— Loretta Pederson


    This paper describes work with women who have been subjected to sexual and physical abuse. Ideas of searching for small pieces of justice through thickening stories of resistance to abuse and of reclaiming life from the ongoing effects of abuse, are explored through women’s stories.

  • Responding to Genocide – Stories from Rwanda


    It is now almost thirteen years since the genocide took place in Rwanda. We think our readers will be moved to hear of the work of organisations which are supporting survivors and continuing to seek justice.


    Contained in this pack are four articles:

    A Small Light as We Walk This Long Road: The Work of Ibuka— Kaboyi Benoit

    Kaboyi Benoit is Executive Director of Ibuka, the national survivors’ organisation in Rwanda. In the following interview, he describes how Ibuka supports the survivors of the Rwandan genocide, seeks justice for those who were killed, and honours their memory. This interview took place in Kigali, Rwanda. Cheryl White and David Denborough were the interviewers.

    Intimacy and Betrayal in the Story of Genocide— Rakiya Omaar

    Rakiya Omaar is the author of the book Rwanda: Death, despair and defiance and co-founder of the human rights organisation African Rights. In this interview, Rakiya provides a broader context in which to understand the genocide in Rwanda and describes the continuing efforts that are taking place to come to terms with these events. The interviewers were Cheryl White and David Denborough.

    Gift for Life: From Researching to Responding to Women Who Were Raped during the Rwandan Genocide— Elizabeth Rugege

    Gift for Life is a project supporting women who survived sexual violence during the Rwandan genocide. This interview describes this work, its history and the thinking that informs it.

    Reflections on 'Stories from Rwanda'— Yishai Shalif and Makungu Akinyela

    Two letters of reflection in response to the ‘stories from Rwanda’ articles.


  • Language Justice: Narrative therapy on the fringes of Colombian magical realism— marcela polanco


    When problems can talk, dead people can speak, hope can taste, and heart, soul and mind can dance together, a new discursive space is brought to life in therapeutic conversations. In this paper I discuss the reimagination of narrative therapy into my Colombian culture, adopting magical realism as a literary means to engage the imagination in therapeutic conversations. I transgress mainstream rational epistemological traditions of evidence to situate narrative therapy practice on the fringes of convention. I bring to the forefront the ordinary weirdness of narrative therapy conversations via the magical realism’s absurdity and creativity. I stage the discussion in Gabriel García Márquez’s Macondo in his novels to speak the unspeakable, to locate the unlocatable, to touch the untouchable, to hear the inaudible, and to utter the ineffable in our lives.

  • Walking away from ‘Illness Fears’: Glimpses of a narrative journey towards personal agency and justice— Jaqueline Sigg


    This paper describes a therapeutic journey with a man who reclaimed his life from ‘illness fears’ and their devastating effects. It invites the reader to become an audience to the client’s resistance to dominant mental health discourses and the pathological self-narratives these discourses shaped. The article highlights particular turning points where the client reclaimed places in his life that fears and medical discourses had previously occupied.

  • Forgiveness linked to justice: an interview with Charles Waldegrave



    Could we begin by considering your own relationship with the question of forgiveness? Has your thinking around the issue of forgiveness remained constant, or has it changed over time?

    Over the years, there has been considerable debate at The Family Centre about the issue of forgiveness. Between the different cultural and gender groupings in our workplace we have had many discussions about forgiveness and its place in our work and lives. In the past I would speak positively about the concept of forgiveness. I do not consider Christianity as in any way superior to other faiths. It does happen however to be the religion of my culture. Some things we do badly, like the ownership of truth. Some things I think we do well, and the concept of forgiveness is a good example of this.

    And yet, when I used to speak about my views on the significance and importance of forgiveness, this frequently led to considerable debate. It has been through these debates and conversations that I have come to see more clearly the particular implications that it can have when I as a white man speak on matters of forgiveness. When issues of forgiveness are being discussed, it makes a considerable difference who is speaking. When Maori or Pacific women talk about the hazards and possibilities of forgiveness, it evokes very different images than when white men such as myself have the same conversation. Not only have I been alerted to this, but when in the past I have spoken about forgiveness, the Maori and Pacific people with whom I work have reminded me that in some circumstances, if you forgive quickly, you don’t allow space for justice to be done.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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