Resisting Violence, Reclaiming Lives by Phillipa Johnson Cook

In this video Phillipa recounts fragments of a collective narrative film methodology and illustrates a process of using narrative practices and film in a community setting to discover, link, document, celebrate and inspire creative responses to violence. This project emerged from co-research with a group of young people in Ipswich, Australia who were responding to experiences of domestic and family violence. It represents a body of work that could not have been generated without the diverse contributions of many people and organisations. Phillipa originally shared some of the ideas and stories she speaks about in this video at the International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference in Adelaide 2014.

Phillipa is a practitioner whose experience includes community development, community education, social change projects, international aid and development, intimate partner and family violence, and working in the disability, child protection and school sectors. Phillipa is committed to working towards both healing and social justice with people experiencing oppression and hardship.

Key Partners in this project included:

JETZAC Production Company

Domestic Violence Action Centre



To watch the film please visit


To provide an outsider witness or send a message you can email Phillipa at


You might like to send a response to the questions:

  • Was there a particular image or phrase that you were drawn to?
  • What about this were you drawn to?
  • How did it connect to your life or work?
  • Where did it take you in your thinking?
  • Is there a small step or action that you will now take after watching this film?


To read more detail about this project, here is Phillipa’s article.



Collective Narrative Film Project Process

Individual Interviews

A journey of Many Maps

Linking Lives and Co-research

Group Work Exchanging Stories and Developing New Ones

Collective Narrative Script Writing

Co-creating Film

Experiential Story Development – Opportunities to re-enact preferred Values, Skills and Knowledge’s

Leaving gaps for new meanings

Gathering an Audience

Special Screenings & Outsider Witnesses


An Invitation

Contributions to others

Power Inversions and Reciprocity

Sustaining movement




References and further information:

Collective Narrative Practice

“As counsellors, therapists, psychosocial workers and community workers, stories of hardship find their way to us. In some ways, we are cultural receivers of stories of suffering (Waldegrave, Tamaseses, Tuhaka & Campbell, 2003). And often this suffering is linked to broader injustices: to violence, abuse, racism, poverty, sexism, heterosexual dominance. To be the cultural receivers of these stories brings with it awesome responsibilities; for instance there are responsibilities to comfort and to somehow alleviate hardship. But there is another responsibility that I am hoping we will also engage with. How can we receive these stories and engage with them in ways that not only alleviate individual sorrow, but also enable and sustain local social action to address the broader injustices, violence and abuses in our varying contexts? How can we provide forums for the sorrow, anguish and hardship of the stories that we receive to be transformed into collective actions? I don’t mean grand social actions, I mean local, meaningful, resonant, sustainable, social action or social contributions’ (David Denborough in Collective Narrative Practice, 2008, p. 192).


Attending to Responses

‘Although physically not visible, a gesture, mental escape, determined thought or memory, or purposeful blank face, is nonetheless doing something. The smallest of responses when attributed with significance can ripple
in ways we could never predict’ (Yuen, 2009, p. 7).

Yuen, A. 2009. Discovering Children’s Responses to Trauma. International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work 2007 No. 4


Creative Interventions & the STOP storytelling project

‘If stories of courageous acts of everyday people can be collected in one place, documented, analysed and then turned back to our communities, what further community interventions will be inspired’ (Kim, 2007, p. 38)?

Kim, M. (2007). Alternative Interventions to Violence: Creative interventions. In A. Yuen & C. White (Eds.), Conversations about gender, culture, violence & narrative practice: Stories of hope and complexity from women of many cultures (pp. 31–41). Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications.

Published on May 29, 2015

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Dani A

    What a beautiful way for groups to ‘unravel’ and ‘bind’, simultaneously!
    Well done – I’m so inspired!

  2. Avatar


    Thank you so much for sharing your work here. I especially like the way that you talked us through your project and have laid it all out for us. Sharing your knowledge and the knowledge of the group you worked with is so valuable and enriches our work and approaches. I look forward to sharing this way of working with youth with other groups.

    1. Avatar

      Phillipa Johnson Cook

      Dear Calvin

      Thanks so much for responding. Its great to be connected with others who find these narrative ideas enriching! All the best for sharing this way of working with young people and others – I and the young creative consultant team would love to hear about where it takes you!

      Warmly Phillipa

  3. Avatar


    Very interested in this way of working, having just started film school this year, so combining it with narrative therapy ideas is great to read about. thank you

    1. Avatar

      Phillipa Johnson Cook

      Dear Mahamati,

      Thanks for your interest in this way of working! I would love to know what sorts of projects or initiatives you develop in the intersections of film, narrative practices and your particular contexts!

      Warmly Phillipa

Leave a Reply