November 19, 2023
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Letter writing campaigns:
You never know what might emerge from a ‘roadblock’
with Amy Druker (Toronto, Canada)
November 19, 2023 Collab Salon: 4:00 – 5:30 pm NY time
We were working alongside people who had given up on hope when confronted with tragedies that they themselves had not invented on their own but had somehow blamed themselves for. Many of the persons we were working with had been convinced by the problem that death was a far better option than living…These therapeutic situations felt desperate, and many (if not most) of our clients’ bodies had been inscribed with a diagnosis of ‘chronic,’ meaning that, according to the psychiatric teams they were encountering, the problems our clients were experiencing were viewed as a life sentence. Our clients were viewed by the institution as persons who could not be helped. Letter writing campaigns were invented as a response to these life-threatening problems and our disbelief in chronic identities. The campaigns recruited the client or the person’s community of concern as re-membering, loving others who held onto different, competing and preferred stories of the client, while the client’s idea of themselves remained restrained by the problem and expert discourse. – Anja BojorØy, Stephen Madigan & David Nylund (2016)
Are you meeting with people who are living with Despair? Or where problem stories or descriptions have taken over a person’s identity, and/or where systemic, structural and/or institutional forms of oppression have contributed to ‘totalized identity conclusions’? (Eg. I’m a Troublemaker, I’m Too Damaged To Be In A Relationship, There’s Something Wrong With Me’). What guides your approach to conversations with people facing Despair, or where a person’s identity has been overtaken by a problem story? Amy Druker will share an attempt at a letter writing campaign with a young person who was (at the time of the proposed letter writing campaign) surviving within the carceral system, and what emerged when we encountered a “roadblock”. Amy will share a recorded interview with a friend of the young person who was surviving time inside, who participated in the project of helping her friend reclaim his life from Despair and Hopelessness.
The program will support participants to:
- Become introduced to the intentions/theory/ethics behind letter-writing campaigns within narrative practice;
- Have a chance to see a recorded interview (an alternative to letter writing that emerged out of a roadblock) and some of the ripple effects that emerged from this project;
- Practice letter writing;
- Consider how/in what ways this practice fits and/or doesn’t fit with their own ethics/politics.
Amy Druker (she/her) from Toronto, Canada, first met the narrative worldview when she was working as a harm reduction outreach worker in downtown Toronto. A co-worker encouraged Amy to attend a workshop on narrative therapy because of their shared ethics and politics. At the time, Amy was not interested in pursuing the practice of therapy, as she did not yet understand how the projects of social justice and the practice of therapy were combinable. This changed the day Amy attended her first workshop on collective narrative practices. Amy was particularly captivated by an approach to working with people that did not insist on the de-politicizing, individualizing and pathologizing of people’s suffering. Amy sought out work at a public agency whose programs (serving youth and families) were guided by narrative therapy, where she practiced for 7.5 years. Amy describes her time at Oolagen as one of the richest learning and unlearning opportunities of her life. She and her co-workers questioned taken-for-granted language and practices that did not align with their social justice values. Amy currently runs an independent practice where she consults with people of all ages for therapy, and engages in clinical consultation/co-learning conversations with therapists and community workers both in her independent practice and at a harm reduction agency in downtown Toronto. Amy’s practice is guided by the ethics of ‘doing’ curiosity, consent, collaboration and by a commitment to not insisting on the individualizing or de-contextualizing of people’s suffering. Amy has facilitated workshops on various topics related to narrative therapy since 2014, including introductory workshops, workshops on the politics of documentation, and on despair and suicidal thoughts. Amy is on faculty at the Narrative Therapy Initiative and the Narrative Therapy Centre. To get in touch with Amy, please email her at [email protected] or visit her website: www.amydruker.com
Venue: Zoom Meeting Room
Venue Phone: https://zoom.us/j/8024720481
Venue Website: https://reauthoringteaching.com/venues/zoom-meeting-room/Address:
We use Zoom for “meetings on a cloud” that bring together faculty and participants from around the world. Whether for The Collab Salon or a course webinar, these meetings usually last about an hour (sometimes a bit longer, but usually not more than 1-1/2 hours). Events are recorded, and then become available on-demand afterwards to Collab Members – or course registrants – whether or not able to join in real time.
Steps to Participate
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- Sign up so we will reserve you a space
- When the time comes, join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8024720481
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Meeting ID: 802 472 0481
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