scaffolding conversations

Posted by on Sep 22, 2016 in | 0 comments

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  • The dialectical narrative inquiry: Responses to Ambivalence and Insensitivity— Grant Thomas Ryan


    This paper describes the application of the dialectical narrative inquiry, a therapeutic approach that incorporates phenomenology and narrative inquiry within narrative practices in order to elicit double-storied accounts of people’s lives. I describe this approach through my work with Sarah, a 28-year-old university student who had been experiencing difficulties in her interpersonal relationships. Sarah and I were able to develop her personal dialectic, chart her landscapes through re-authoring questions, and clarify her positions regarding her problematic and preferred responses to experiences of ‘Ambivalence and Insensitivity’. Through the use of macro-scaffolding over subsequent sessions, Sarah and I were able to identify her personal values and her hopes and intentions for the future. We also identified specific barriers to enacting these preferences, and personal skills and knowledges that she would be able to draw on in order to move towards her hopes and intentions for the future.

  • Troublemaker Cards: Promoting the language of responsibility and prevention in men’s domestic violence— Ryan Greenwell


    This paper describes the use of Troublemaker Cards in men’s domestic violence behaviour change groups as an innovative approach to expose and challenge the dominant ways of being and thinking that support men’s violence and abuse towards women. While language that minimises men’s responsibility-taking for their actions is available and ubiquitous, the Troublemaker Cards offer an alternative, and promote the gendered and political understandings of violence and abuse in a respectful parallel journey of discovery. The externalising language used on the cards keeps the men’s identities separate from these discourses, and yet supports an attentiveness to their relationship with them. Guided by the cards in a ‘cool engagement’, the men are invited to explore and deconstruct the Troublemakers as well as build the foundations for second-story development. Evidence from practice suggests that once men experience this separation and foresee alternative territories to step into, they can better describe their relationship with the ‘Troublemakers’ in a ‘hot engagement’. In a context of accountability to women and children, the men create opportunities to propose how they will prevent potential future abuses and take action based on preferred relationships to the Troublemakers, such that they are not unwittingly reproducing dominant ways of being.

  • Playing and narrative therapy: Synthesising narrative practice and occupational therapy in work with children— Christine Ullmann


    This article explores combining occupational therapy with practices from narrative therapy. The contexts of play allows a site for working with both children’s physical challenges, as well as dominant problem stories. Throughout the paper, examples of work with individual children show the links between occupational and narrative practices, specifically in relation to situating problems outside of children, the use of scaffolding both conversations and physical challenges, and developing alternative stories that help children renegotiate relationships with the problems in their lives.

  • Using Michael White’s Scaffolding Distance Map with a Young Man and His Family— Mark Hayward


    This paper addresses the questions: 1. How can people become more knowledged about their lives, more in touch with those problem solving skills and knowledges that even young people exercise routinely in everyday life? 2. How can I render these knowledges visible, significant and relevant so they can form a basis for addressing current predicaments? 3. The gap between the familiarity of their problem experience and the not-yet-known of problem solving knowledges – how is this space to be traversed? 4. In trying to bridge this gap, where should I place my questions? And how should the questions relate to each other? I describe my early efforts to interpret and utilise Michael White’s Scaffolding Distance map.


  1. Thank you for this overview of Narrative Therapy. I am returning to practice after some time away, and these reminders are timely and appreciated.

  2. Hi Chris

    I really enjoyed watching your video about Narrative Walks. My project is based in Blaenau Gwent, in South Wales, Uk. I’m wondering whether I might use such an approach in my work with our Youth Service, who support young people between the ages of 11 and 25. Have you any thoughts on this? Are there any resources available, either free or to purchase?

    Best wishes


    • Hi Paul, m

      Much of my early attempts of the program were with the 15-20 year old age bracket and I found it worked really well. When I recently had an opportunity to run the program again with this age bracket – I extended the finish time so that could spend more time at the stop points and have a fire at the last resting place to talk about our intentions after the walk. This meant that we used head torches for the 2km which added a bit of a sense of theatre to the day. It was pretty cool.

      If you email me on I can send you the manual. Or ask any other questions via this page so others might share in the answers.


  3. Thank you for sharing your insights. This has been very enlightening as a student studying post-grad social work. Recently my tutorial group was discussing how professionals often use their interpretation and that clients may not get to see how some professionals interpret their stories, in this way many things can be missed especially what the client sees as being important.