We asked, “What are you most excited about in your everyday practice?” and this is what emerged. These mini-courses explore cutting edges in practice by experienced narrative practitioners. These courses are now in development- and will be ready one at a time. If you are interested in learning more about upcoming online courses, please sign up for the Re-authoring Teaching Online Newsletter. Fill out our contact form to let us know what captures your interest.
Queer Counseling & Narrative Practice with Charley Lang—open for registration
In this course, students will learn the assumptions, working principles, and beginning practices of postmodern, resource-oriented narrative therapy with queer-identified individuals, couples and families, through reading, online discussion, film presentation and instructor demonstration. Students will articulate an understanding of heterosexism and its marginalizing effects on queer clients and will demonstrate an ability to reflect on the broader political, psychological and sociological issues impacting queer-identified clients everywhere. Click here for more information and to register.
Many couples appear in our offices to debate the causes of their unhappiness, appealing to us as would-be judges, mediators, or referees. We listen as they subtly or egregiously assign blame, each to the other, for the relationship’s struggles and its members’ unhappiness. We’d like to help them leave blame behind, but often we merely spread it around: They come in blaming each other, and they leave blaming the families who raised them, the neurobiology they were born with, their own alleged lack of relational skills, or the therapists who were unhelpful to them. And then, when it’s our turn to be unhelpful, we blame them in turn.
What would it look like if we could truly escape blame as a way of talking about our lives? What sort of conversation would take its place? And to what end? Blame is an individual skill that allows us each—therapists included—to allege and assign causes for the unhappy present. Account-ability is a relationship skill that allows us to come to a shared understanding of what future we might prefer, and what stands in the way of that future. This course is about the conversations that are possible when Accountability emerges as practice distinct from Blame, and what we can do as therapists to nurture that distinction.
Courses now in development!
Narrative Therapy with Young People and Families: Partnering with Virtuous and Imaginative Partners with David Marsten—in development
This course will question the image of the hapless child. Popular notions would offer a view of young people as ‘precious but useless,’ and as ‘empty vessels’ incapable of knowledge production. In contrast, by seeking them out on imaginative grounds, they can be found at their most formidable. With the aid of parents, therapist, and boon companions (e.g. pets, imaginary figures, literary comrades, etc.) young people are invigorated to address Problems on creative and moral grounds. Problems too, are called forward, not by means of doctored language, but in the traditions established in storybooks where goblins, ogres, giants and witches are found to confront young protagonists. Over the course of therapy, young people become knowledge-able and capable of carrying a full measure of weight for the Problems that enter their lives, no matter how tricky or nefarious.
This course will:
- deconstruct the image of the hapless child
- make a case for an account of young people as capable
- treat parents and caregivers as partners rather than causal agents (i.e. with respect to either Problems or solutions)
- use transcript, video, and stories to provide a vivid sense of direct practice with young people and families.
The Art of Narrative Psychiatry with SuEllen Hamkins—in development
Narrative psychiatry brings the heart and agility of narrative therapy to the practice of psychiatry. What makes narrative psychiatry different from psychiatry-as-usual is that rather than focusing primarily on finding the source of the problem, narrative psychiatry also focuses on finding and cultivating sources of strength and meaning.
Narrative psychiatry combines narrative and biological understandings of human suffering and well-being. It’s is animated by the idea that we experience our lives and our identities through the stories we tell about ourselves and that we are embodied creatures fortified by and beholden to our biology. It relishes developing inspiring stories of a person’s resiliency and skill in resisting mental health challenges while dismantling narratives that fuel problems. It cultivates relationships, communities and resources that a person finds sustaining and examines what the doctor’s kit of psychiatry has to offer in light of the values and preferences of the person seeking consultation, authorizing them as the arbiter of what is helpful and what is not, including psychotropic medicines. Narrative psychiatry is a strengths-based, collaborative approach that offers myriad ways to provide person-centered, recovery-oriented mental health treatment.
Are you drawn to narrative practices and want to employ them more fully in your work with those who are dealing with challenging mental health problems? If so, this online course is for you. Designed for psychiatrists, psychotherapists and other clinicians who work in psychiatric contexts, the goal of this course is to enable participants to more fully apply the principles and practices of narrative psychiatry in their work. Through transcripts, videos, readings, practice suggestions, and online discussion, we will focus on:
- Developing collaborative, emotionally-attuned therapeutic relationships in psychiatric contexts
- Conducting therapeutic strengths-and values-based initial consultations that generate narratives of success in overcoming problems while also gathering information needed to clarify symptoms and plan treatment
- Externalizing and deconstructing problems, including psychotic experiences
- Cultivating stories of strength, meaning and agency with those using psychotropic medicines or facing tenacious psychiatric problems
- Creating strengths-based, collaborative medical records and treatment plans.