Irene (trauma survivor) and Christoffer Haugaard (psychologist) developed a practice of witnessing in relation to Irene’s alter ego in fictionalized life stories. This developed out of necessity in order to address an intensely traumatic life history and powerful identity conclusions that were out of reach for regular conversation. The approach that we developed used two essential survival strategies from Irene’s childhood: Her invention of an alter ego and her imagination of having an audience to the injustices in her life. Over time, these practices became the central structure of our collaboration. In this collab salon, Christoffer will describe this practice with examples and present Irene’s account of the effects.
In July 2020, the BIPOC narrative community was launched with the intention of providing narrative practitioners of color a supportive space to discuss “local” ideas, innovative practices, amplify one another’s work, and process their experiences. The community organizers also hoped to mentor and support newer narrative practitioners, and practitioners working in spaces that did not privilege narrative ideas or postmodern therapy practices. As the community enters its second year, planning committee members Ingrid, Candea, Shuo, and Akansha shared lessons learned and their hopes for how they envision the community will grow and be sustained in the future.
October 16, 2022: A Response to The Hegemony of Standard English: Storying lives bilingually across languages
We are advocates for justice in language rights. Through our explorations of bilingualism we address the hegemony of standard English. We speak from the perspectives of our languages: Black Talk/Ebonics/Slang, Farsi, Fenglish, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Chilean Spanish, Colombian Spanglish, Spanglish, Colloquial Spanish, and standard English. We discuss efforts to respond to various linguistic landscapes from the vantage point of our lived experiences and practices in the United States. We explore ways to integrate languages through improvisation and creativity, beyond the lexical and grammatical rules of a language. We hope to describe our response to standard English to co-exist in the creative use of inter-lingual lives that seek to ensure that the juxtaposition of English therapeutic and daily-life landscapes is integrated into various settings. We discuss the contextual, relational, therapeutic, and training potential offered by bilingualism across various languages as well as the necessary transmutations in theory and practice.
April 17, 2022 Collab Salon: Letter as Threshold: Inhabiting Metaphor in Narrative Letter Writing Practices
We live through the narrative metaphor, yet many of us as Narrative Therapists find ourselves lost when invitations to metaphor beckon at the edges of our therapeutic conversations. From the forgiving editorial space of Narrative letters, this presentation invites participants to identify, expand, and inhabit metaphor to externalize problems, develop unique outcomes, and recruit an appreciative audience. Akansha and Randy will share some of the metaphor-centered letters they’ve written and invite participants to begin exploring metaphor in text while collaboratively resisting the gravitational pull of Cleverness that sometimes keeps pen from paper.
What does it mean to “author your life?” Like all things, the phrase has no fixed meaning. It is just a collection of words. For us, the phrase takes us to the politics of meaning-making and calls into question who has the rights to claim authorship of anything. We stand in support of the idea that you have special authorship rights when it comes to whatever it is that matters to you, whether that is your personal identity, events that have taken place in your life, or a project that you are taking up and care about. Writing what you think and feel, and why, in your unique way is precious and no one has any right to demean or diminish it. No one else has a right to evaluate what you think or how you express it. They can share the effects that it has on them or take a different position, but they don’t get to cast judgement on the legitimacy of your position or the quality of your expression.
In this Collab, Sasha discussed some of what she has been learning since the law changed in Aotearoa and facilitated a conversation about narrative practices that might be helpful when a person is contemplating how they want to die. Sasha described some examples of conversations with people who: chose to die through assisted dying, who deteriorate suddenly before the assisted dying assessment process has been completed and with people who change their minds and opt to die with palliative care support only. There was an exchange with participants who had experience in this area of practice.
How can we develop working relationships across narrative generations to become mentors to each other? What are some of the fresh ideas and different nuances persons from different generations are adapting to narrative practices from their cultural and historical contexts? This gathering brings together two narrative practitioners in conversation across narrative generations. Akansha will interview Peggy Sax, a narrative therapist and Founder of Re-authoring Teaching and Trishala Kanakia, a fairly new narrative therapist and the Re-authoring Teaching Assistant. We hope to spark ideas about how narrative practices are being applied in diverse work contexts and also to highlight the fresh and different nuances each practitioner may bring in as they use the practices with their know-hows, wisdoms and adaptations.
What's getting in the way of curiosity these days? Justine D’Arrigo and Chris Hoff will explore the practice of Scenarios and how narrative practitioners can use Scenarios in the effort of reinvigorating curiosity and composition in their practices. Michael White (1997) wrote that when someone is considering entering some form of liminal space, like the co-creation of possible futures, that it is important to engage in some predictions of the experiences that one might expect in these efforts. We believe that White (1997) knew that the significant periods of confusion and disorientation, and at times despair and desperation that often accompany journeys into liminal space could shut down these efforts, and have these travelers turn back toward more familiar territories. We think one tool that can support a cultivated liminality and composition is the practice of Scenarios.
David Epston has invented many imaginative, and startlingly successful ways of disappearing problems for children and young people, which he has documented in stories from his practice in many publications. This Collab revives David Epston's longstanding work with the problem of stealing, primarily with young people, which he developed in the last 70s/early 80s.
Narrative Therapy inquiry offers novel and exciting opportunities to explore membership in online communities and spaces. Whether it is through involvement with Discord servers or Team Speak or through informal groups through Facebook or WhatsApp, complexity and sophistication can be co-discovered in online communities. Vast possibilities exist around speaking about these groups and communities in Narrative Therapy and, in particular, the importance of these communities can be privileged and elevated instead of obscured or diminished.
November 20, 2022 Collab Salon: Improv Narrative: Saying “yes, and” in narrative therapy and social work across the globe
The principles of improv theater (making your partner look and feel good, counting on chaos and uncertainty, showing up for the moment) seem to be relevant to the current collective moment where there is still a lot of uncertainty. We became curious whether improv wisdom ideas and practices can go hand in hand with the narrative therapy and community work. We decided to talk to narrative practitioners from all over the world about their experiences around improvisation. This Salon will showcase the highlights of those conversations, provide space for reflections and new practices to emerge and, hopefully, give us an opportunity to play some improv games.
How will narrative practice sustain and transform in the coming years and decades? While honoring our mentors, we take delight in the emergence of newer voices within a generation of narrative practitioners. Here we bring together voices from around the world to learn more from them about their narrative initiatives and collaborative spirit. Please join us in welcoming- and learning from -Raviraj Shetty & Jehanzeb Baldiwala (Narrative Practices India, Mumbai India), and Alfonzo (Poncho) Diaz (Colectivo de Prácticas Narrativas, Mexico City, Mexico).