Sharing Stories: The Work of an Experience Consultant— Ellen Walnum


This paper introduces the concept of Experience Consultant. Ellen Walnum is a Norwegian woman with the experience of growing up with a mother who had psychiatric difficulties. She has also had the experience of a mental health crisis. Determined to put these experiences to work for the benefit of others, Ellen is now employed as an Experience Consultant working with professionals, with mothers who have psychiatric difficulties and with their children. This paper describes some of the key skills involved in the work of Experience Consultants. It also offers a vision for re-thinking mental health services as partnerships built on a combination of ‘professional knowledge’ and ‘experience knowledge’. This paper was crafted from an interview1 and was delivered as a keynote address at the 8th International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference, which was held at Agder University College in Kristiansand, Norway, June 2007.