David Epston is the co-founder, with Michael White, of Narrative Therapy. David is co-director of the Family Therapy Centre in Auckland, New Zealand and Visiting Professor, School of Human Sciences and Community Studies, UNITEC Institute of Technology, Auckland. His most recent book, Down Under and Up Over: Travels with narrative therapy (2008) was originally published by The Association of Family Therapy (AFT) in the United Kingdom, and is already out of print. AFT has generously given permission for the manuscript to be provided to interested parties for free. You can download your own copy on the Narrative Approaches website: Down Under, Up Over. Here you can find the article “Community Approaches – real and virtual – to stealing” by David Epston and Fred Seymour – and more. For further information about AFT and their publications, Click here.
Remembering Michael White
Living Narrative History & Practice
Narrative Therapy Co-founder, David Epston, Auckland, New Zealand, for the first time, tells his personal and professional stories of the origins of Narrative Therapy. Entitled Living Narrative History and Practice: Histories of the Future, David invites you to re-invent Narrative Therapy as he shares the history and the spirit of Narrative practice through story, song, poetry, and a remarkably open and humorous conversational interview with his old friend and colleague, Walter Bera. Videotaped in front of the participants of Kenwood Center’s Annual Spring Narrative Therapy Intensive in Minneapolis, MN, USA, on 25 April 2013, learn and experience the unique poetics, spirit, creativity and intellectual history of Narrative practice as David shares what he learned working with his father, his trek to New Zealand, his rigorous academic training and the first meetings with Michael White of Adelaide, Australia. They become personal and intellectual allies in developing first family therapy in their respective countries and later the ideas and practices that became known as Narrative Therapy. Put your seats in an upright and locked position for this inspiring and remarkable journey that will inspire you in your own life and work to re-invent Narrative Therapy… (Click here or on the screen to the left to rent this video for $.99 for 3 months.)
David’s playful approach invites mutual creativity in the resolution of family problems. His writings illustrate the hospitality, playfulness and “respectworthiness” with which David engages people facing difficult problems.Together with Jennifer Freeman and Dean Lobovits, David co-authored of the book, Playful Approaches to Serious Problems: Narrative Therapy with Children and Their Families, now available in English, Spanish, Chinese and German. Click here to read a brief description of narrative therapy with children. In 1997, following the publication of Playful Approaches to Serious Problems, David, along with his co-authors Dean Lobovits and Jennifer Freeman, initiated the website Narrative Approaches. The website devotes an entire section to Narrative Therapy with Children and their Families with co-authored papers, artwork and poetry.
David has contributed many excellent, provocative writings and first-person accounts for people struggling with anorexia/bulimia (a/b), their loved ones, and the practitioners who work with them. Biting the Hand that Starves You: Inspiring Resistance to Anorexia/Bulimia, co-authored with Rick Maisel and Ali Borden, draws from the authors’ decade-and-a-half collaboration with ‘insiders,’ offering fresh answers to life and death questions such as: “How does a/b seduce and terrorize girls and women? Why is a/b successful in encouraging girls and women to unwittingly embrace their would-be murderer? How can such a murderer be exposed and thwarted? ”
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, Family Therapy Networker, 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:
Alternative Sources of Bravery
Bravery and its transmission from one to another can be thought of much like a blood transfusion. As is well known, most people in good health have more blood than they need at any one time. As a result of this, they can safely transfuse their blood either into a ‘blood bank’ or directly into a recipient who urgently requires blood due to its loss through injury or surgery. The donor merely requires a few minutes to recover and a well sugared cup of tea and they are on their way again. However, they go away with a sense that their life’s blood is either now supporting the life of another or will do so in the very near future. I consider that bravery has been similarly transfused from one to another especially from time immemorial. In what follows is my attempt to render what I consider to be relatively commonplace to a ‘ritual’ which can be performed at any time and almost in any place. I use the term ritual as when I considered its commonplace occurrences, I realized these ‘transfusions of bravery’ took place almost always under extraordinary circumstances whereby one is responding to an emergency of another.”
The Poetics of Inquiry
What is a good question? Where do questions come from? How are good questions related to good stories? How do some stories surpass other stories? What have we been taught about inquiry in our training? What guides inquiry in narrative therapy? What are some narrative lines of inquiry? David Epston often addresses these questions in his workshops, writings and (soon) online courses.
Hosted by David Epston, The Corner is a regular column in The Journal of Systemic Therapies. Narrative Approaches has created an extraordinary Archive of The Corner. This includes: One Good Story Deserves Another; Mother Appreciation Parties; Clients who inspired you; Stories this time; A family and community approach to stealing.
The corner is reserved for innovation, not reiteration. David Epston
Many of these columns are based on Exemplary Tales – a new term for “case stories.” We invite Collab Salon members to login to review two Past Salons on Case Studies that featured David Epston and his colleagues.
- Case Studies: Writing, Mapping and Learning Practice (November, 2015): David Epston, Sasha Pilkington and Travis Heath
- Exemplary Tales: Writing, Mapping and Learning Practice, Part 2 (February 21, 2016): David Epston, Kay Ingamells, and Tom Carlson