therapeutic letters

Posted by on Nov 15, 2016 in | 0 comments

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  • Narrative Ideas in the Field of Child Protection— Alison Knight & Rob Koch

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    This paper explores the use of various narrative practices with children and their families in child protection settings. The first half examines how a ‘double listening’ approach and the engagement of outsider witnesses can be used with children who have experienced trauma and abuse. The second half of the paper gives an account of therapy over a number of months, with a family struggling with the effects of violence, alcohol and depression. Externalising conversations were found to be very helpful in allowing members of the family to work together in response to these challenges, rather than working against each other. These conversations were also documented through digital photographs of a child’s drawings on a whiteboard, which were then sent to the family as a form of therapeutic document.

  • Using Letters in School Counselling— Katy Batha

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    This paper explores the creative use of therapeutic letters in a school counselling context. A number of different types of therapeutic documents are described including letters of introduction and invitation, letters of reflection, letters to keep contact, and letters to summarise co-research.

  • Using Therapeutic Documents – A Review— Hugh Fox

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    The use of therapeutic documents is a key aspect of narrative practice. This paper describes four different categories of document – letters recording a session, documents of knowledge and affirmation, news documents, and documents to contribute to rites of passage. Examples of each of these documents are offered here and the author also shares some of his experiences, dilemmas and learnings in creating therapeutic documentation. This paper was originally created as a keynote at the inaugural Dulwich Centre Summer School of Narrative Practice which was held in Adelaide in November 2003.

  • Linking Lives: Invitations to Clients to Write Letters to Clients— Julia Gerlitz

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    This article describes an innovative form of therapeutic letter writing in which clients are invited to write letters to each other, rather than the more traditional narrative practice of therapists writing letters to clients. Two clients who both struggle with chronic pain and caregiver stress are consulting with the same counsellor and begin to write therapeutic letters to each other anonymously, with their counsellor passing the letters between them.

    Examples of the client written letters are included in the body of the article as well as the clients’ responses about their experiences with this innovative form of narrative letter writing. The author describes the intention behind this practice and offers suggestions based on her experience of how to facilitate the process. Most notably, this form of client generated letter writing decentres the therapist and highlights the client’s voice, provides an opportunity for clients to strengthen their preferred narrative, and creates communities of concern in which clients build relationships with each other that assist with decreasing the isolation and influence of problems in their lives. The article aims to inspire fellow narrative practitioners to link the lives of their clients through client-written therapeutic letters.

  • Narrative work and the metaphor of ‘home’— Katie Howells

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    This paper explores how homes – both as physical places and as metaphors– can be taken up in narrative therapy practice. The author first explores various meanings that people attribute to the concept of ‘home’, and then outlines some options for the relevance of the home metaphor to various maps of narrative practice. The paper then recounts three examples drawn from practice: first, re-authoring conversations with a couple leaving one way of living, dominated by addiction, to reclaim another; second, the documentation of the skills and knowledges of a young woman working to ‘stay close to home’ in dealing with anorexia; and, finally, a remembering conversation supported by the metaphor of home with a woman wanting to review her husband’s membership of her ‘club of life’ following his infidelity.

  • Narrative Therapy with Young People: What Externalising Practice and Use of Letters Make Possible— Dave McGibbon

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    This paper explores how preferred identities of young people can be made more visible through externalising practices and the use of therapeutic letters.

  • A storyline of collective narrative practice: a history of ideas, social projects and partnerships— David Denborough

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    Collective narrative practice is an emerging field. Building on the thinking and practice foundations of narrative therapy, collective narrative practice seeks to respond to groups and communities who have experienced significant social suffering in contexts in which ‘therapy’ may not be culturally resonant. This paper tells a story of this emerging field. It describes the author’s journey through the intellectual history of six key aspects of narrative therapy as well as richly describing a range of social projects and partnerships. In doing so, this paper provides an historical foundation to the emerging field of collective narrative practice.

  • The chasing of tales: Poetic licence with the written word in narrative practice— Carmen Ostrander

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    This paper explores narrative applications of the written word in practice, including recreations of innovations I have been drawn to in my reading and through conversations with people who have supported my development as a therapist. It also describes applications that extend the therapeutic use of the written word in the spirit of playfulness and creativity I believe to be at the heart of narrative innovation. Narrative influences on the written word in administrative contexts, letter writing, note taking and other creative forms are described, communicating the influence of a year immersed in narrative ways of working.

  • The Goodbye Feelings: Working with Children Living in Two homes – One with Mum and One with Dad— Carolyn Markey

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    Through descriptions of counselling conversations, this paper explores ways of working with children who are affected by parental separation and who move between two households. It includes extracts of conversations, therapeutic letters and a graph drawn by the child concerned.

2,021 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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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