AUGUST 16, 2020: Working Narratively in Research with Maggie Slaska, Akansha Vaswani, & Navid Zamani

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  • August 16, 2020
    5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Working Narratively in Research

with Akansha Vaswani (Boston MA), Maggie Slaska & Navid Zamani (San Diego, California)

Sunday, August 16, 2020: 5pm NY time

“As people interested in working narratively in research, we will share some of our experiences, influences from outside the world of narrative therapy that supported our principles, and challenges involved in the process. Each of us has been involved in a research project for our doctoral dissertations which we will use to illustrate 1) how we negotiated ideas of power to construct research questions 2) methods we used to incorporate social constructionist understandings of relationally informed meaning making in our work 3) how we navigated (continue to navigate) demands/expectations of our respective institutions.” Akansha, Maggie & Navid

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  1. Identify how a narrative framework can support developing research projects
  2. Learn about least 2 research methodologies that can be utilized in developing narratively informed research
  3. Develop an understanding of the challenges and usefulness of narrative research

Our Research Projects

Akansha – Psychiatrists’ Accounts of Helping Patients Discontinue Antidepressant Medication: A Discourse Analysis.

“While psychotropic medications can be helpful, not all people react well to them, and, in many cases, they are not needed. Prescribing psychotropic medications, including to children, adolescents, women, and older persons, not because they are indicated and needed, but because effective psychosocial and public health interventions are not available, is incompatible with the right to health” (Pūras, 2017, p. 19). This quote by Dainius Pūras, Special Rapporteur for the UN captures the problem of medicalization and the social justice issues that arise with overly aggressive pharmacological interventions. My dissertation research contributes to efforts to reduce non-evidence based or harmful medication use and identifies ways to center the a rights based approach to mental health.:

Navid -The ‘Usefulness’ of Post-structuralist Practices with Domestic Violence Offenders: Attending to Men affected by War and Immigration

  “Literature demonstrates that domestic violence understandings in 2019 reflect a heavily modernist, liberal humanist, neocolonial, and neoliberal American set of values that are hooded in progressive feminist values (Ferraro, 1996; Augusta-Scott, 2001; Dutton & Corvo, 2006; Jenkins, 2009; Jenkins, 2011; Zamani, 2020). Communities that are marginalized by dominant discursive considerations of the occurrence of violence in families are further dislocated by practices and approaches that replicate systemic and relational patriarchal and colonial forces (Bouteldja, 2017). My research is interested in exploring the “usefulness” of post-structuralist approaches, specifically laid out by Jenkins (2009), with refugee Middle Eastern men who have been court-mandated to attend a 52-week Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP). This presentation will explore the researcher’s own social location and process in constructing a philosophical foundation and methodology that aims to stay within a post-structuralist, de-colonial feminist framework.”  

Maggie –  Trauma-Talk: Women’s Co-constructions of Agency after Relational Violence. Trauma-talk is widely circulated both in professional circles and popular culture. My dissertation drew upon social constructionism, intersectional feminism and critical discursive psychology to analyze how a diverse group of women in Southern California discursively managed deficit and agentic identity positions associated with victimization after a violent relational event. I utilized narrative therapy-informed interviews and focus groups whereby questions aimed to explore the usage of trauma-talk,  highlight and elicit responses and actions taken after a relational violation or events of suffering. My research aims to explore women’s strategies of resistance, counter-stories to the ‘spoiled’ identity constructed by trauma-talk in order to expand the available interpretive repertoires used to make sense of relational suffering. Findings from this study suggest that women utilize commonly available psychological repertoires of ‘trauma-talk’ but they do not story themselves as damaged or broken; they discursively employed relationally-focused linguistic resources that position them as agents of change and “agency” was co-constructed collectively.”



Maggie Slaska is a lecturer in Women’s Studies and the Director of the M.A. Education (Counseling) and Trauma-informed Care and Restorative Practices Graduate Certificate program at San Diego State University. She has worked in the domestic violence and sexual assault victim advocacy field and is currently and marriage and family therapist in a LGBTQ-focused private practice. Her research and practice are interested in social constructionist and feminist theories of trauma, intersectionality and co- creations of empowerment, resiliencies, protests and resistance to the effects of trauma, social justice efforts and finally, improv comedy.


Akansha Vaswani is a 5th year doctoral student in Counseling Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is currently doing her internship at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center where she works in an early psychosis intervention program and with people impacted by severe and persistent mental health concerns and systemic constraints. Her early history of working in community mental health settings with families impacted by disability in Mumbai introduced to her principles of family centered care, client advocacy, and narrative therapy which resonated deeply with the kind of helper she wanted to be. Through the stories and experiences she heard, she learned the importance of foregrounding context when working with difficulties in people’s lives rather than locating them in internal or inherent dysfunction. Her studies in marriage and family therapy strengthened her commitment to develop clinical practice from a social justice, de-colonizing, feminist, and social constructionist lens. She has always believed that therapy must go beyond the therapy room and contribute to creating contexts that can lead to sustainable change and individuals and communities experiencing a sense of agency. 


Navid Zamani

“I’m an Iranian-American man who was born and raised in Southern California. I was raised in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas, until I moved to Davis, CA to continue my studies. After acquiring my BA in Psychology and minor in Music from UC Davis, I moved to San Diego to continue my studies at San Diego State University in Marriage and Family Therapy. I have resided in San Diego since 2010 and have fallen in love with the cultures, geography, food and music.

There are threads in my life that have been constant, and initiatives that have developed due to opportunities at the time and/or my location. Music has always been a big part of my life, and I continue to enjoy playing the piano/keys and the drum kit. I am an avid surfer, and enjoy outdoor activities with my wife, such as camping, hiking and biking around San Diego. Reading and writing have always been a pleasure of mine, and academia became a natural fit in this way. Gardening is also one of my obsessions and I also really love my dog. All of these hobbies are situated within a framework of experiences that come along with identifying as a heterosexual male, an Iranian-American and the experiences of biculturalism that accompany that, my ability to speak Farsi and English, my education, and the values I hold.

I grew up observing the charitableness of my family, and connected with the sense of urgency and gratitude that they experienced from helping others. I watched my mom always donate her time and money to the underprivileged and underserved. I watched my aunts (who are educators in Iran) advocate and stand up for students who often didn’t have a voice. I am continuously grounded by the love and compassion my wife models in her daily life. I truly believe that my community’s health impacts my health, and I am dedicated in supporting those in need.”


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2019-10-12T11:14:33-05:00July 24th, 2019|0 Comments

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