On All Things Counter, Original, Spare, and Strange: The Poetry and Heart of Narrative Therapy

  • March 29, 2019 - March 30, 2019
    8:30 am - 4:30 pm

On All Things Counter, Original, Spare, and Strange: The Poetry and Heart of Narrative Therapy

with Tom Stone Carlson and Sanni Paljakka

 March 29-30, 2019 (Friday-Saturday)
Eastview at Middlebury

Middlebury, Vermont 

Over the course of our two days together, we will highlight recent developments in narrative therapy that seek to bring forth stories that have literary merit; stories that counter damaged identities, stories that sing, and stories that love and beckon us forward. We will share examples of our own work and recent collaborations with David Epston including Insider Witnessing Practices and the use of poetry, art, and performance in ways that seek to restore the beauty, honor, and dignity of persons lives. Rather than being a “how to” only, we will offer participants an inside view of these practices through the use of videos, transcripts, and performances of the work. Our hope is that this event will re-ignite your sense of curiosity and passion for what is possible in this work.

We will spend the majority of the second day engaged in a live consultation interview to show what goes into preparing to tell a compelling and poetic story on behalf of the life of a client of one of the participants. This will be a lively and interactive interview where participants will engage directly in practicing and proposing questions based on the ideas and concepts learned from the previous day. Throughout the interview, we will stop and start along the way to highlight and discuss key practices associated with transformative storytelling.


Sanni Paljakka is a narrative therapist who works at Calgary Women’s Health Collective. Tom Stone Carlson is a faculty member at the North Dakota State University and draws on narrative ideas in his teaching, supervision, and therapy practice. Both Sanni and Tom have been captivated by narrative ideas and their capacity to restore honor and beauty to people’s lives. After a chance meeting at a narrative therapy conference, they discovered a shared interest in practices that seek to place beauty at the center of their work with others; Sanni through her innovative use of poetry and Tom through his use of art and performance. These ‘strange companions’ have discovered that their different backgrounds and contexts have lead to a spirited, playful, and enlivening energy that draws their audiences into a lively relationship with narrative ideas and with one another.


Please review these recommended references in preparation:

A house of good words: A prologue to the practice of writing poems as therapeutic documents:  Sanni Paljakka (Calgary, Alberta, Canada). Journal of Narrative Family Therapy, 2018, Special Release, pp. 49-71. www.journalnft.com

Insider Witnessing Practice: Performing Hope and Beauty in Narrative Therapy: Part Two: Tom Stone Carlson and David Epston. Journal of Narrative Family Therapy, 2017, Release 1, pp. 19-38. www.journalnft.com


Venue Phone: (802) 989-7500

Venue Website:

EastView at Middlebury, 100 EastView Terrace, Middlebury, Vermont, 05753, United States


EastView at Middlebury is a retirement community next door to UVM/Porter Medical Center campus and around the corner from Middlebury College. Their beautiful upstairs meeting room has space for up to 50 people. Nearby accommodation in Middlebury – and other nearby towns- includes Inns, B&Bs, state parks, rooms in private homes. Please send your accommodation inquiry to Contact Us and we will do our best to help you find just the right place.

2019-01-15T09:21:00-04:00May 23rd, 2018|0 Comments

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