testimony

Posted by on Dec 21, 2016 in | 0 comments

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  •  ‘Our story of suffering and surviving’: Intergenerational double-story development with people from refugee backgrounds— Emma Preece Boyd

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    This paper explores the use of double-story development and other narrative practices to work intergenerationally with people from refugee backgrounds. It examines double- storied accounts of the effects of and responses to trauma, displacement and other dif culties, using work with a family from the Democratic Republic of Congo as a case study. Response-based enquiries, externalising and re-authoring were engaged to seek out alternative storylines about skills, knowledges and values. These alternative stories were further reinforced through therapeutic documentation, metaphors such as Team of Life, de nitional ceremonies and other narrative methods. In particular, this paper offers examples of practice in which rich stories and preferred identities were shared intergenerationally with family members or trusted audiences, and how this contributed to reinforcing preferred narratives. The paper also describes the author’s engagement with collaborative practices in order to democratise expertise and address power differentials inherent in working across language and culture with often marginalised communities.

  • Discovering the good man: Double story development with a survivor of repetitive ongoing trauma in immigration detention—Janet Pelly

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    This paper explores the possibilities for transforming a trauma narrative while the person remains in a traumatic situation. It focuses on my work with Yasin (not his real name), a stateless Middle Eastern man who sought asylum in Australia in 2013 after a lifetime of persecution for his ethnicity, religion and attempts to seek protection. The paper describes the use of narrative practices, including double-storied testimony, re-authoring conversations and the Team of Life process, to help Yasin manage life in an immigration detention centre, and to reduce the frequency of his flashbacks and nightmares. The paper presents the efforts of one man to re-author elements of his life while trapped in an environment that both replicates past trauma and denies hope for a better future.

  • A Framework for Receiving and Documenting Testimonies of Trauma— David Denborough

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    This paper seeks to provide a framework for receiving and documenting the testimonies of those who have been subjected to trauma, violence and abuse. It is a framework designed to make it possible to receive and document testimonies in ways that are not re-traumatising and that, in fact, contribute to redressing the effects of trauma in a person’s life. The testimonies that are created can then be used for broader purposes.

  • Speaking the Unspeakable: Bearing Witness to the Stories of Political Violence, War and Terror— Pennie Blackburn

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    A paper such as this cannot do justice to the multi-storied nature of work with refugee people. I have chosen to focus on aspects of the work which relate to ‘speaking the unspeakable’. In doing so I shall be looking at ways in which, as therapists, we can bear witness to the stories that people bring with them when they are forced to migrate. I will look at the way in which we (the people I work with and I) try to find ways to give voice to their experiences that are restorative and that contribute to their capacity to re-claim or to claim identity.

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  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!

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