I am like a butterfly catcher, waiting for the metaphor to rise up, so I can net it and display it to the clients, who if not gratified by the first attempt to have a concrete way to describe concerns that re plaguing them, usually satisfy themselves with some version. What is made concrete in the session itself is made doubly concrete in the letter.”
David Epston, “Extending the conversation.” Family Therapy Networker, November/December, 1994.
Letters and other therapeutic documents are closely associated with narrative therapy. Both David Epston and Michael White have conducted informal clinical research asking what letters are worth. Playful Approaches to Serious Problems (p 13) offers two questions and answers:
1- In your opinion, how many sessions do you consider a letter such as the one you have received is worth?
On average, a letter had the equivalent value of 4.5 sessions
2- If you assigned 100% to whatever positive outcomes resulted from our conversations together, what % of that would you attribute to the letters you received?
Letters were rated in the average of 40-90% for total positive outcome of therapy.
Here are 2 illustrations:
– Annals of the new Dave: Status: abled, disabled, or weirdly abled
Chronicled by David Epston, Dean Lobovits, and Jennifer Freeman
With an introduction by Sharon Murphy
– Joel, can you help me train Amber to be a guard dog? – David Epston, Sasha, Amber, Joel Fay, and Isha. Published in Journal of Brief Therapy, Vol 3, #2, 2004, 97-106.