Posted by on Nov 25, 2016 in | 0 comments

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  • ‘Some of us have a body that we need to adjust in order for them to be a good place to live’: Belonging, resting places and gender talents — Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad


    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.

  • Explorations in trans* subjectivity— Kyle Sawyer


    This paper explores the enforcement of anti-trans* subjectivity and the ways in which trans* individuals are resisting, challenging, and creating new ways of being. Anti-trans* subjectivity is informed, defined, and enforced by discursive power, coercive power, and repressive power. This paper uses theories from Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Julia Serrano, Dean Spade, Joan Roughgarden, and many more to define the different types of power and explore the possibilities of trans* subjectivity as a place of knowing. This paper shows how trans* individuals are resisting an anti-trans* subjectivity by creating and introducing new and exciting possibilities of moving through and seeing the world in which we exist. For the unabridged version please visit: www.kylesawyer.

  • Non-binary Superpowers! A collaborative conversation between non-binary youth in Adelaide, South Australia, and non-binary youth in Calgary, Alberta — Rosie Maeder and Tiffany Sostar


    A common experience of folks who identify outside of binary gender is that of erasure, an experience of not being seen, fighting daily to ‘prove’ that our identities and experiences are ‘real’ and ‘valid’. In April and May of 2019, two small groups of Trans and Non-Binary (enby) young people and some of their loved ones came together on opposite sides of the world. Tiffany Sostar (they/them) and Rosie Maeder (she/her) hosted narrative conversations in Adelaide, Australia, and Calgary, Canada, and linked them through a collective document. This was the beginning of an ongoing trans-continental conversation exploring the skills, knowledges and experiences of Non-Binary young people and of the ways they are or hope to be seen and supported by loved ones. Tiffany and Rosie hoped to draw out rich, multi-storied accounts of Non-Binary experiences and to make visible the skills, knowledges and complicated superpowers required to resist rigid constructs of gender. They seek to further subvert Non-Binary invisibility by sharing these stories with other enby folks and anyone else who wants to learn more about Non-Binary experiences or identities ‒ including and especially Narrative Practitioners who work with Trans and Non-Binary young people.

  • The momentary hap of Bother— Jagur McEwan


    This paper is many things, it started as a conference paper exploring what would happen, as community service workers, if we stepped away from language like the ‘complex needs client’, instead playing with an archetype such as the Rascal, the mischievous ‘trouble maker’, and seeing the Bother in trouble as a way to connect, to a journal piece that invites you into a liminal space I shared with one particular client in an LGBTIQA+ specialist organisation, who taught me how the dispossession of hope, which I came to acknowledge as her resistance, in the face of not being deeply seen, but wanting to connect with others, was cause for honour. This journey is peppered with Queering narrative approaches such as externalising, re-authoring and acknowledging the absent but implicit as acts of exorcising that which has been internalised, carving alternative identities and writing oneself back in from the margins, so endemic in the struggles of the collective LGBTIQA+ communities and our histories of erasure. Finally, it has become a reflection on my decentred practice; a love letter that strikes the blood of my work.

  • A Journey towards Gender Belonging: Adam’s Story— Jodi Aman


    This paper summarises the journey of a sixteen-year-old young person who had felt displaced in the body of a somatic girl and now identifies as a young man. This has been a journey towards gender belonging. The information described in this paper was taken from a series of therapeutic conversations over an eight month period. Please note, that the use of pronouns and names within this paper may at times be confusing to the reader.

  • Responding with History and Story: An Interview with Joan Nestle— David Denborough


    Joan Nestle is one of the founders of the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York City and has been an instrumental figure in the documentation of lesbian history as well as a highly respected teacher and writer (see reading list below). In this interview, Joan elegantly articulates why she and others chose to respond to the pathologisation of lesbian lives with the creation of history and stories. This interview took place in Adelaide, South Australia. David Denborough was the interviewer.

  • 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.

  • The Gender Binary: Theory and Lived Experience— Julie Tilsen, David Nylund, Lorraine Grieves


    The acronym ‘GLBTQ’ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) is widely used to describe those individuals who inhabit spaces outside of the heteronormative standard. Yet the term ‘transgender’ is often not well understood and may be treated as an afterthought, if considered much at all. This paper focuses on interrogating the gender binary (male/female) which has created the context for gender transgression. Examples of deconstructing questions that highlight the social construction of gender and an examination of therapy with non-trans-identified partners of transmen are offered as ways to apply queer theory in an effort to expose the impact of the gender binary on people’s lives. Reflections from a queer-identified woman on her experiences as the partner of a transman are shared in response to this paper.


    This purchase is accompanied by a free article:

    Reflections— Lorraine Grieves


  • No Turning Back: Male to Female Transgender Journeys of Getting through Tough Times— Aya Okumura


    Female-to-male transgendered people face many challenges during their journeys of gender transition. These challenges can be all the more complex if transgendered people are simultaneously negotiating complexities of culture as well as gender. But along with these challenges also come celebrations, connections, and community. This paper describes the stories of five Asian and Pacific Islander transgendered women, and offers some questions which narrative practitioners may find useful to help trace the histories of transgender people’s skills and knowledges in moving through their unique journey.


    Free article:

    From Gender Dysphoria towards Gender Euphoria— Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad

    This paper is a brief reflection on ‘No turning back: Male to female transgenders’ journeys of getting through tough times’ by Aya Okumura, and ‘The gender binary: Theory and lived experience’ by Julie Tilson, David Nylund and Lorraine Grieves. The author explores some of the effects of transgendered existence on partners and families, and wonders if we can move from concepts of ‘gender dysphoria’ to ‘gender euphoria’.


  • Was It a Girl — or Was It a Boy?— Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad


    This short paper seeks to ask questions about sex and gender identity. It was originally offered as a keynote at the 6th International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference in Oaxaca, Mexico.

  • Gender belonging: Children, adolescents, adults and the role of the therapist – Revised— Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad


    This paper, originally published in 2001 and then revised 15 years later, describes key principles and practice of Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad, a Norweigian transgifted medical doctor and family therapist, when working with the families and networks of children and adolescents who display non-conformist or atypical gender expressions. This piece offers definitions for a wide variety of words and terms used to describe complex realms of gender, explores how responses to gender non-conformity have changed over time and continue to change, and conveys ways of ensuring that individuals displaying unusual expressions of gender have a chance to experience a sense of positive gender belonging.

  • Teaching in Genderland: therapy, performance, conveyance of knowledge and self-disclosure— Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad


    In this paper, bi-gendered Norwegian family therapist Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad, describes some of the joys, dilemmas and nervousness associated with teaching when this is understood to involve therapy, performance, conveyance of knowledge and self-disclosure.

  • Continuing Correspondence in Relation to Feminism and Transgender Issues – A Letter to Arthemis Rodhanthy from Joan Laird


    Joan Laird responds to a letter from Arthemis Rodhanthy which appeared in the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, 2004, No.2. 


  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!