February 16, 2014


Peggy Sax

Michael White died suddenly in April, 2008. He left behind quite a legacy! Click here to read the “Remembering Michael” topic in the first section of the course Narrative Therapy: Foundations and Key Concepts. We brought together a number of recollections as well as recorded reflections on Michael’s intentions by members of Narrative Practices Adelaide.
Each year, we’ve archived reflections from the Collab, which we will include here. Feel free to keep adding!

March 15, 2014

Don Mcgillivray

Don Mcgillivray

I first met Michael when my Family Therapy instructor shared the video ” the firelighter” with the class in 2000. As I watched Michael listen to this family and their problem saturated stories; I was overwhelmed in a way that had me reflect where and how would I begin? What I experienced watching and listening to Michael join with this family felt like a “kitchen table – like” conversation involving some very serious problems. Michael’s calm, very curious, and smiling ways were just magical. Before my eyes, I witnessed a family co-create a plan in such a short period of time that just seemed unimaginable at the beginning of this conversation. I said to myself I want to have conversations like that!
Four years later in Edmonton I sat with 400 others in a very large hotel conference hall and listened to Michael share with us Scaffolding practices and watched videos of Michael working with children. I took copious notes ( 25 pages to be exact which I cherish to this day) and desperately tried to understand a way of using language which was so foreign to me. My traditional teachings kept dismissing what this man was sharing. But the caring wisdom of Michael created a courage within me to embraced this way of being with others and to persevere regardless of what the “voices” of other the teachings were uttering.
Two years later I was once again joining with Michael in Vancouver as 250 us gathered to hear stories of working with the Aborgines communities in Australia. During a moment of reflection about this work with the Aborgines Michael’s emotions pored out in front us of all. I so embraced this moment with Michael as my own experience with the Inuit of Canada’s Arctic came flooding back to me. I just loved how this man could be so transparent!

I never had the priviledge of a close and personal relationship with Michael yet to this day when I read his writings and the many others who have written about narrative practices there is an unexplained closeness.

This happened again as I listened to Maggie, Shona, Jill, and Rob.

Thank you!

Peggy Sax

Peggy Sax

Don, thanks for this reflection on Michael’s contribution to your life and work. I wish everyone had the chance to meet Michael in person- glad you were one of the lucky ones (even if you didn’t get to know him personally). I’m very happy you could take the time to listen to Shona, Maggie & Rob speak about Michael’s intentions.

We are having a crazy long winter here in Vermont- a few days ago, we got at least another 1 1/2 feet of snow. X-country skiing is fabulous. When not doing winter sports, I think a lot of people retreat to home projects/early spring cleaning. This is a preamble to tell you I have been going through stacks and stacks of old files – deciding what to keep/scan (into Evernote – that’s another topic), and what to throw away. Along the way, I’ve found MANY old notes from Michael dating back to 1992. I am enthralled to re-read the Dulwich Centre handouts from the early 1990s on power, Foucault, deconstructive listening, etc…I was younger then…and now it is interesting to re-read these notes with older eyes (and glasses!).

April 4, it will be 6 years since Michael’s death at 59. I have now passed him in age. I could not envision a world without his active leadership. And yet here we are…

Anyone out there listening in who never got to meet Michael in person? What’s it like to hear about him now?

What are some of your reflections on honoring Michael’s intentions in your/our work?


February 12, 2014

Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes

I am picking up on a old but important thread in this group – Michael. I am missing him lately and craving a good update on his current thinking. I used to be able to get that at least twice a year when I would meet up with him on one of his tours and sell his books at the workshops. This was so great as I got to hear his teaching, like Don did – write copious notes as he taught and showed videos of his work or did live interviews and then I had the privilege of hangin gout with hims and others at the workshop – often the people who sponsored him like Peggy! That is how I met my sweet and brilliant friend!

I know seem to continue to get twice a year full on cravings to see him and talk and laugh with him. I, often, as Maggie Carey describes sit down and have a chat with him – my internalized Michael. Or I re- read some of his articles and imagine his voice saying the words.

I am re- reading COntinuing the COnversation right now and my notes from a workshop on trauma he gave in 2006. I am holding onto some of his phrases and savouring them a bit and wondered if anyone was interested in savouring with me. Expanding my internal conversation a bit….

Right now I feel like, in my practice, I am being influenced by some great new information from neurobiology and while it is great – it is also causing me to sometimes slip out of a decentred position a bit.

SO I am trying to savour Michael’s words:

“our role is to create a context where people experience being knowledgable about their own life” Michael White – from workshop 2006

This means a lot to me and helps ground me in how I want to be. Does it mean anything to you? What does it mean to you?
How do you do this?

I look forward to any thoughts…….


February 15, 2014

Peggy Sax

Peggy Sax

Hi Sarah!

Thanks for bringing Michael into the forefront of our conversations. Strange how when Michael suddenly died, I wondered how we could possibly survive without him. Here we are. I too miss him very much, and often find myself in conversations with Michael.

Great quote, “Our role is to create a context where people experience being knowledgable about their own life.”

Lately, I’ve been completely absorbed in working on developing the first two courses in the Rich Story Development online series – Maggie Carey’s An introduction to Rich Story Development and Pathways to Rich Story Development. Maggie’s work- and teaching- brings Michael vividly into mind and heart. Look here at this little video of how I explain how I work.

We’ve made about 20 videos that I’m converting into lessons and topics. I can hardly wait to show you! In the meantime, have a look on What is narrative therapy, where I just posted a few snippets.

I also love how Maggie extends these ideas into new territory. Two examples come to mind – I’ll link these to sneak previews to her online course:
– how she put together the Statement of Position map and The Overall map to create the elegance of an Overall Map
– how she demonstrates incorporating the whiteboard into her teaching and many of her consultations (Using a whiteboard).

A few people lately have asked me why on earth do I put so much time into this project. Really it is a labor of love. Like you, Sarah, I feel a strong commitment to Michael to do my best to keep his ideas and practices circulating. You/we are so lucky to have known, Michael!


February 15, 2014

Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes

Hello again,

Judy – my email is [email protected] I am happy to share it. I am sorry I missed your request somewhere along the line. But happy to share it and excited to see what you are referring to – The Imagined Participant! Sounds very interesting – please share however and wherever it works for you.

Peggy – I love love love those snippets. Now craving for more!
Just those snippets give me some sense of new thinking and new ideas to weave back into my work. One small thing – Yes Landscape orientation for my whiteboard. I have it set up portrait orientation and it is somehow limiting like that and things get more hierarchal than I would like. I like the idea of side by side better. I will change that.

I use my whiteboard a lot as I like the visual idea – that we are both sitting back with some distance and looking at the stories. This also helps me keep in the person’s experience and away from me as expert. This is a good reminder.

What other ways do people help them keep with people’s stories and words and out of theory or our own ideas?

thanks again,

February 17, 2015

Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes

Me again,
I wanted to comment on our Salon conversation with Larry Zucker and how it was a good help to me in my wanting to honour Michael and keep his thinking alive in y work. Larry talked about how he worked out the words and ideas that he put into his powerpoint. He said this framework acts as a supervisor in his mind as he can hold onto this and keep more connected to his preferred ways of working. This helped me think of how I do this with my little notebooks full of ideas from Michael’s workshops. I have one particular little spiral bound book with notes from Spokane 2006 that I carry with me and do not always read but if I check in with the image of these notes – I remember to keep more decentred. This is how I get ongoing supervision from Michael.

I also loved watching Maggie’s snippets and can’t wait to get more!!

Yesterday I mapped out a conversation on my whiteboard with a client for our final session together. He said he found this so useful as he feels he is a visual learner. He took a picture on his cellphone and he said he will keep this image as a reminder of how he prefers to see his life and how he wants to connect with his grandfather as a re-membering was part of this map we drew. He is going to also put out a favourite picture of his grandfather to keep him more present in his life right now as he heads into a challenging few months of schooling.

I like these ideas of visual representations to help us keep in our preferred ways – whether a powerpoint, a notebook, a whiteboard, a photo, whatever…. lots of ideas….

thanks Larry and everyone for a rich conversation on Sunday,