Mary Heath

Posted by on Nov 27, 2016 in | 0 comments

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  • 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.

  • Enabling conversations about sex and sexuality— Mary Heath


    In this paper, I argue that the capacity to talk about sex and sexuality is vital to effective narrative practice, though these issues are little discussed among narrative practitioners. Building our skills in enabling such conversations can better equip us to move in the direction of reducing violence, discrimination and coercion; creating safety and improving wellbeing. I argue that being capable of conversations about sexual practices is critical to important goals, such as ending sexual violence and eliminating discrimination against queer people. The capacity to speak about sexuality is also important in supporting people who wish to move beyond traumatic or joyless experiences related to sex and into living thriving and pleasurable lives. This paper invites readers to reflect on their own confidence and ability in enabling conversations about sex and sexuality. Finally, it provides concrete suggestions for people who would like to increase their capacity for relaxed conversations about sex and sexuality.

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    A reflection on Mary heath’s paper ‘enabling conversations about sex and sexuality by Barbara Baumgartner.

  • Up the Steep Side of the Queer Learning Curve: Some Things I’ve Learned about Sex, Gender and Sexuality— Mary Heath


    This article uses stories about everyday life to explore ideas about sex, gender and sexuality. It questions the dominant idea that there are only two sexes and two genders, and that sex should always be congruent with gender, drawing on queer theory – and intersex and transgendered people’s life stories. It also examines the challenges bisexuality and queer theory present to dominant ideas about sexuality, proposing that there are more than two sexualities, and that sexuality can change depending on time, circumstances, and other factors. The author suggests that people who believe that their own sex and gender are uncontroversial have much to learn from paying thorough attention to the richness of human diversity rather than accepting the dominant two-sex, two-gender story. She suggests that refusing to accept the limitations of the accepted accounts of sex, gender and sexuality opens the way to exciting conversations on these subjects. These conversations, and the social change which they are making possible, have much to offer to people who fit within the dominant models of sex, gender and sexuality as well as those whose lives are currently erased and denigrated by them.


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

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

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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