Contemporary Narrative Therapy with David Epston and Kay Ingamells

First Course in New Series!

Course Description

Through a range of audio, video, text, and teaching tales, the first self-paced course in this series explores Contemporary Narrative Therapy, an emergent approach distinguishable from Classical Narrative Therapy (1985-2008).  Building on collaborations between narrative therapy co-founders Michael White and David Epston,  this foundational course explores both the craft and art of narrative therapy. We review and illustrate such foundational practices as the Poetics of Inquiry, getting to know a person’s uniqueness, Counter-storying, playful approaches & imaginative know-how, witnessing practices, and letter-writing.  Illustrations include a close look at the Sebastian interview and transforming anxiety to bravery with Lyle’s story. Check out this brief introduction to the Art of Narrative Inquiry.

Course Format

Preparing this course, Larry Zucker and I witnessed, recorded and edited a number of Zoom conversations between David and Kay. While we captured some  exchanges in video clips, we simply could not cover all in film. Hence throughout the course, we often supplement a given topic with an edited version of their conversation. Peggy Sax

As the first course in the new series, this course lays down the foundation for future courses.  Constructed around edited conversations between David and Kay, the course highlights specific articles, text, audio and video and whenever possible, gives specific illustrations.

Course Objectives

Participants will: 

    1. Gain an understanding of Contemporary Narrative Therapy as approach to narrative inquiry that David Epston has been developing with colleagues over the past 15 years.
    2. Identify how Contemporary Narrative Therapy aspires to embody Michael White’s spirit and his approach to the artistry of practice.
    3. Become familiar with internalized other interviewing as pedagogy for teaching the craft and art of narrative inquiry.
    4. Synthesize an understanding of and engagement with thinking with stories.
    5. Articulate five key contemporary narrative practices
    6. Identify aspects of a process of narrative questioning in at least one of two illustrations

To Register

Registration gives unlimited access to all course materials for personal use for an unlimited time.  You can start this course at anytime: all course materials are available on-demand, and adaptable to personal schedules. For an additional $25, registrants can earn 12 APA approved CE credits through Alliant International University.

Discounted rates available for students or fixed income, international registrants, and groups of 5 or more.
To Register
Add Alliant CE Credit $40
Registered? Click Here to Take the Course


David Epston

David Epston (Auckland, New Zealand) David Epston, co-founder of narrative therapy alongside Michael white, brings a sense of wonder, adventure and innovation to his conversations and collaborations. What makes a good question? What guides inquiry in narrative therapy? What are some narrative lines of inquiry? The collaboration between David and Michael began in the late 1970s, as continued for many years. David’s best known publications are White and Epston(1990), Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends; Freeman, Epston and Lobovits(1997), Playful Approaches to Serious Problems: Narrative Therapy with Children and their Families and Maisel, Epston and Borden(2004), Biting The Hand That Starves You: Inspiring Resistance to Anorexia/Bulimia, Narrative Therapy in Wonderland.

For more information, please review: David Epston: Improvisations, innovations and collaborations.

Kay Ingamells M.S.W., (Auckland, New Zealand) has been working with individuals, children, young people and families since 1990. Kay began her career working with troubled young people and children in residential care and in specialist agencies,  then spent nine years working in child and adolescent mental health. For the past ten years she has lectured in narrative therapy in higher education at undergraduate and post-graduate level and has been running a private therapy and counselling practice for children, families, young people and adults. For the last 12 years she has been supervised by the co-inventor of Narrative Therapy, David Epston, and has taught alongside David for the last 5 years. Kay has published several articles. She is currently writing and presenting about her apprenticeship with David Epston. She also provides one-on-one and group training called ‘Training Through Transcripts’, to narrative practitioners committed to bringing David’s practices into their own work.

Lesson Descriptions

Lesson One: Getting Oriented

We set the stage for Contemporary Narrative Therapy building on David’s steadfast commitment to improvisations, innovations & collaborations. Kay describes her apprenticeship with David. Together they describe their unique approach to therapy as art and training through transcripts.

Lesson Two: Remembering Michael

David remembers Michael White and imagines what might have come next if Michael had lived. Through Re-imagining Narrative Therapy: Histories for the Future, David further builds on the spirit of adventure and collaboration that he and Michael embraced. We watch a video of a conversation between Michael and Sal Minuchin, followed by further inquiry.

Lesson Three: The Craft & Art of Narrative Inquiry

How does someone learn the craft of narrative inquiry toward becoming a narrative artist? The lesson begins with the reminder that this is not about learning to become David’s clone.  Michael often referred to a quote by literary theorist  Lionel Trilling   “It’s the copying that originates.” Akin to improvising in jazz, first you learn the scales and then you leave them to one side to express your own creative bent.

Lesson Four: Five Key Contemporary Narrative Therapy Interviewing Practices

Lesson four explores five key narrative practices: getting to know a person’s uniqueness, counter-storying, playful approaches and imaginative knowhow, witnessing practices and letter writing.

Lesson  Five: Two Illustrations

This lesson explores the art of narrative inquiry as applied to David’s well-known interview and follow-up seven years later with Sebastian. In addition to exploring the original video and transcript, Kay gives her commentary.  Then we learn through David and Kay’s exploration of Lyle’s Story: Transforming Anxiety to Bravery.

Lesson Six: For Further Interest

In this final lesson we offer several next steps for people wanting more resources by David and Kay, individually and collectively. We also introduce Two Interviews with David Epston:  Counterstorying, Wonderfulness Enquiries & Witnessing Practices – the next course in this series- that puts into practice the principles covered in this first course. We include instructions for anyone who has signed up to earn CEs for this course. This short clip describes Teaching Through Internalized Other Interviews.