In April, 2011, Maggie Carey, Shona Russell and Rob Hall recorded this conversation about Michael White’s intentions in starting Narrative Practices Adelaide (just a few months before his untimely death), in keeping narrative therapy flourishing, “as a beginning not an ending.” We’ve also added a transcript to read while listening.
Maggie: This is Maggie Carey, Shona Russell and Rob Hall. It’s the April 14, 2011. We are sitting in Adelaide in Narrative Practices Adelaide rooms, having a conversation about the small center that Michael got started, his intentions in relation to that center and our own ongoing work that has come from that time.
We’ve just had a chance to have a quick think about some of the intentions that Michael expressed in establishing this new center. Some of his intentions were around working with men, men who use violence in their relationships, and collaborating with other centres that were involved in the teaching and development of narrative practice.
There was an intention to look more into responding to people who lived with mental health issues and to form some networks around these issues, with other people interested in pursuing the same things. We’ve just started thinking about some of the ways we’ve responded to that.
Shona: One of his intentions also was to create a counseling center in Adelaide.
Maggie: Yes, that is where we are.
Shona: And also to be involved in continuing to bring developments to the field that Michael described as “social and human inquiry,” and the ongoing developments of narrative practice.
Rob: It’s interesting to remember how enthusiastic Michael was when we would meet in his kitchen as a little group to talk about these ideas and to build on them together. One of the things that was a bit new to me but really appealed to me when Michael invited us to set up the centre was taking about how we would link in with other services all around the world.
Like you were saying, Maggie, one of Michael’s interests was in working with men. It was a link we had, not only as friends, but in our concern about addressing men’s violence. That is one of the first clear starting points for us to work together as a team – to start to look at Michael’s understandings from his coursework notes and from conversations we’ve had with him about men’s violence, and to look at the work I was already doing, the framework Alan Jenkins had set up, and to re-examine that, particularly taking a narrative focus to that work with men. For me it was really a bit challenging but also very exciting – an opportunity to work alongside you two, and have Michael’s ideas worked with, made more obvious in the work that I was going to be doing.
Maggie: that was a lovely time, wasn’t it, to have the chance to work together – all our shared skills and knowledges, around practice, your 30 years of experience working with men, and to put them together in a way made it possible for people in workshops to get a handle on those skills & particular practices you identified as helpful.
Rob: 30 years of your practices as well? A total of? (laughter).
Rob: And the way of putting together a workshop, experiential as well as informative. And then took that across to Brighton, which had a good fit for me around Michael’s intention for how he hoped things would start to grow and develop – as a beginning, not an ending.