This two-day workshop took place on Monday/Tuesday, June 13-14, 2016 at the All-Souls Gathering in Shelburne, Vermont. 12 APA Approved Continuing Education Credits through Union Institute & University were available.
What does Narrative Therapy have to offer?
This two-day workshop with Maggie Carey and Peggy Sax shared some of the Narrative practices that have been found useful as ways of working with people’s experiences of difficulty and trauma in their lives such as abuse or violence, intense loss, or being subjected to oppression or injustice. Trauma can have the effect of establishing a sense of vulnerability, hopelessness and a sense of being stuck in the past events and not able to ‘do’ life.
What is a narrative approach to trauma?
A Narrative approach offers many hopeful possibilities in these circumstances. It picks up on the ways in which people, even young children, have responded to what has been difficult or traumatic and this can give entry points to develop stories of personal agency rather than victimhood.
Narrative ways of working also have us looking at ways to bring forward story lines that serve to make sense of the ongoing painful experience of trauma or of difficult experiences. The opportunity to understand this pain as being a reflection of the person valuing certain dearly held beliefs about life (that have been transgressed) will be looked at. In exploring the affective experiences that are felt in the body, we can be supported by findings from neuroscience about the ways in which our neurobiology is organised to respond to threat and danger. This can help people who have experienced trauma to be able to make sense of both their actions at the time and subsequent ongoing effects of what happened that continue to be difficult and often debilitating.
An examination of memory systems and how we store difficult or traumatic memories supports us to think about how we can bring language and words and stories to what is initially only body memories of emotional pain and distress. The practices of creating a place for people to stand on ‘solid ground’ in order to have these conversations will also be explored.
- List micro-practices of Narrative Therapy are can be used in working with people’s experience of trauma.
- Compare neuroscience and narrative responses to working with trauma.
- Attend to the possibility of re-traumatization and the importance of establishing places of solid ground and “islands of safety” in the context of therapy.
- Develop skills in bringing forward stories of the ways in which people/communities have responded to trauma.
- Describe the impact of trauma on a person or community’s sense of identity.
- Utilize appropriate techniques to scaffold the development of stories of personal agency.
- Describe the “absent but implicit” for encoding implicit experience as explicit memories.
Maggie Carey is one of the co-directors (along with Shona Russell and Rob Hall) of Narrative Practices Adelaide, the centre for narrative training, supervision and therapy that Michael White established before his death in 2008.
Maggie has been involved in the practice of narrative therapy since the early 90’s and in the teaching of it for the past 18 years. She has taught narrative approaches in many local and international contexts including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Mexico, Brazil, England, Canada, Israel and Palestine, US, India, Hong Kong, South Korea, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Maggie enjoys the opportunity to teach both the theoretical principles of the narrative approach and the detailed practices that come from these philosophical underpinnings. She is known for her ability to make the narrative practice and thinking accessible to workshop participants and is energetic in her desire to have practitioners develop their own rich accounts of themselves in their work. Since 1994, Maggie has participated with Michael White and others in a number of community projects relating to a range of issues in people’s lives. These issues have included responding to grief and loss within Aboriginal communities, responding to people living with mental health issues and to homelessness, to people living with a disability and to women and children who have been subjected to violence.
Her current therapeutic work covers a range of issues that are impacting on people and she has a lively supervision practice with practitioners across many continents.
Peggy Sax, Ph.D. (Middlebury, Vermont) is in independent practice as a Licensed Psychologist, consultant, international teacher and international trainer. She has apprenticed herself to narrative therapy since the early 1990s. She is the author of several articles, the book, Re-authoring Teaching: Creating a Collaboratory, the companion Re-authoring Teaching website and founder of The Collab. Whether online, on-the-road or within her beautiful home state of Vermont, it gives her great joy to bring together favorite people, ideas and practices – to learn, engage, play and replenish together.