Shortly before Michael died, he and David Epston had a plan to get together to reflect on the future of narrative therapy.
We didn’t want to start until we started, but Michael did hint at what he had in mind. In speaking aloud of this, I do not believe I am breaching any confidentiality, as it was our express intention to merely reculer pour mieux sauter or retreat backwards in order to better leap forwards and publish prolifically. That is how we imagined edging towards our respective dotages. But perhaps now we would have much more time to sit down and talk, think, read, exchange notes, and so on, rather than hurriedly catching up in the midst of conferences, at workshops where we were already fully engaged or at times overwhelmed with responsibilities. We weren’t thinking of a sinecure, but just more time. Journal of Systemic Therapies, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2016, pp. 79–87, p 81.
We include here David’s reflections on this imagined gathering, followed by several of David’s collective and collaborative initiatives that embody the spirit of narrative therapy.
David Epston reflects on the future of narrative therapy, and imagines a meeting with Michael White. "To start all over again."
As follow-up to an earlier conversation (Psychotherapy Networker Conference, 2003), Michael exchanged with Salvador Minuchin at The Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference (2005). Salvador insisted that there was something more guiding Michael's practice than following maps of narrative practice. David Epston David wrote further about Michael's approach to improvisation in his Introduction to Michael's Narrative Practice: Continuing the Conversation (2011), edited by David Denborough. Here we'd like to highlight initiatives that combine skill-building and improvisation.
As the counterpoint to Michael White’s Outsider Witness Practices, Insider Witness Practices (IWP) represent a dramatic re-imagination of narrative therapy practice through the use of performance. David Epston, Tom Stone Carlson - and others- are currently exploring, researching and performing these practices, with intent to return narrative therapy to its very beginnings; a history for the future. Through a one-session performance, clients become witnesses to a hope-biased portrayal of their lives as performed by their therapist. This portrayal is intended to situate the significant events of clients’ lives within rich story lines that serve as a revelation of their moral character as persons. As a result, clients become both an insider and outsider to their own lived experiences and are afforded the unusual opportunity to experience their own selves as if they were an ‘other.’ From this insider/outsider vantage point, they are able to experience heightened levels of meaning making, self-compassion and self-appreciation. The results in this experimental IWP approach have so far have exceeded participants’ wildest expectations.