The garden metaphor — Beata Mukarusanga

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Inspired by the folk cultural methodologies developed by narrative practitioners, such as the Tree of Life and Team of Life, this paper describes the use of gardening metaphors in work with adults and young people in Rwanda. Many Rwandans have experiences of farming and gardening and readily took up gardening metaphors to reflect on their experiences, developing ideas like the need to ‘weed’ unhelpful influences, protect themselves from ‘pests’ and keep their preferred values and skills well ‘watered’. Using this culturally resonant language allowed us to move away from Western ways of understanding to elicit and value local knowledges and cultural practices, including exploration of the ways in which expert knowledge about tending crops could be applied to the care of children. In this way, the use of gardening metaphors contributed to decolonising therapeutic practices.