What if … I were a king? Playing with roles and positions in narrative conversations with children who have experienced trauma— Sabine Vermeire


This article explores playful and creative ways of using different roles in work with children who have experienced traumatic life events. Imaginatively engaging with the standpoint of a doctor, a king or queen, or an admired person, can provide a new relational context for therapist and child, and can spark the discovery of more hopeful stories. Opportunities to step into unfamiliar positions, such as that of researcher, can similarly provide fresh vantage points and insights. We can avoid coercing children to speak, and instead allow them to ask questions and learn more about their experiences and those of others. From a new position, children can discover that they have ideas, knowledge and responses in relation to their experiences. They can reconnect with values that are important to them, evaluate their relationship with their dif culties, and take a clear stance towards their problems. The article is illustrated with an account of the author’s work with 8-year-old John. A range of narrative ideas and practices are explored and expanded in this context.