We at Re-authoring Teaching hope to contribute to a richer conversation about how, as a community, we make space for useful dialogue about all the variations and emerging approaches. In a previous News Blog entitled What are Insider Witness Practices, we posted some background information in the hopes that by educating ourselves, we can each decide for ourselves about the value, ethics and possibilities for this set of practices in training, supervision and higher education. Below you will find links to the Newsletter that sparked the controversy, to a previous newsletter that ironically argued against handling differences in the narrative community in injurious ways, and to some initial responses from those who feel like the descriptions of Insider Witnessing Practices have been inaccurate and unfair, and who feel that the process by which these concerns have been aired involved questionable ethics and use of power. We also include some of our Board’s contributions as we reflect on Narrative Luminaries, Online Ethics, and our intentions to continue this conversation.  Please join us!

Vancouver School of Narrative Therapy October  & December Newsletters

Regarding Injurious Speech

I feel quite strongly committed towards living the Musketeers code: all for one and one for all. I also feel it is crucial at this time that in order for narrative therapy to survive it is fundamentally important to collectively band together. Banding together in an ethic of trustworthiness.

I hold no pollyannaish belief that we have to fully agree with one another, or for that matter, have to become best friends or even like each other! But a certain amount of respect for difference and the realization that we may be pulling the therapeutic rope in the same direction might go a long way. Because participating in slanderous and injurious speech about our community members is (in my humble opinion) an entirely reckless way forward.

Stephen Madigan

Read More: October Newsletter

Regarding David Epston, Tom Carlson & Insider Witness Practices

Read More: December Newsletter

Calgary Women’s Health Collective Responses

Their Call for Next Steps

The Calgary Women’s Health Collective posted on their Facebook page eleven questions to the VSNT faculty, seeking to shed light on the December newsletter by Stephen Madigan, and toward repair and redress in the Narrative Community. Here are their first five questions:

Respectfully, we have some questions in response.
1.What has happened here?
2. How might members of the Narrative community make sense of the 2 recent newsletters, when the October newsletter warns of practices of injurious speech and calls for a spirit of solidarity and the December newsletter seems to be an unapologetic engagement in said practices of injurious speech?
3. What is the rationale for lowering the standards of fair and thoughtful critique of practice between members of our community to personal attacks of this nature? Do you all stand in agreement that the remarks in the recent December newsletter satisfy any ethical standards for our engagements with each other?
4. How do we engage in vigorous conversations with each other when we are in disagreement about practices?
5. What is the rationale of posting these remarks in a newsletter that does not leave the implicated parties with a way to respond?

The Calgary Women’s Health Collective
Read more: CWHC Call for Repair and Redress

Who Holds the Storytelling Rights?

Please read the second CWHC Facebook post, which questions the collective agreement about the contents – and tone- of the newsletter letter

We are calling on you to shed some light on the recent December newsletter from Stephen Madigan that evoked a royal “we” and so presumably was sent out in all your names. We at the CWHC have been long time friends and colleagues of Stephen Madigan, have attended his workshops, and have learned a great deal about beautiful Narrative therapy practices from him, including the aforementioned question about story-telling rights. In this light, the story that emerges in the newsletter is all the more baffling.
Calgary Women’s Health Collective
Read More: CWHC Post #2

What Can We Do