Dulwich Centre is currently involved in a wide range of narrative projects. We invite your participation as we continue to expand the boundaries of narrative practice. If you are interested in any of these themes please contact us!
Narrative Therapy Charter of Story-Telling Rights
Over the last few years, we have become increasingly interested in refusing to separate ‘healing and justice’. As the counsellors of Ibuka in Rwanda state: ‘We never separate healing from justice. These go hand-in-hand. We see in our work how justice is a form of healing and how healing is a form of justice.’ Here at Dulwich Centre, we are now involved in exploring the question ‘what is narrative justice’? When people have had many of their human rights violated and then turn to counsellors, psychologists and/or therapists for assistance, it is vitally important to consider their ‘rights’ in how their lives are spoken about. Because the difficulties people are experiencing are the result of trauma, injustice and human rights violations, narrative therapy responses to trauma take very seriously people’s ‘storytelling rights’. Narrative therapy defends people’s rights to name their own experiences, to define their own problems, and to honour how their skills, abilities, relationships, history and culture can contribute to reclaiming their lives from the effects of trauma. At the 10th International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference in Brazil, we launched a ‘Charter of storytelling rights’. Already a number of individuals and organisations have indicated their wish to endorse this charter. The Charter has been written by David Denborough on behalf of Dulwich Centre Foundation. For more explanation see David discussing the Charter on a free on-line video at Friday Afternoons at Dulwich
Article 1 Everyone has the right to define their experiences and problems in their own words and terms.
Article 2 Everyone has the right for their life to be understood in the context of what they have been through and in the context of their relationships with others.
Article 3 Everyone has the right to invite others who are important to them to be involved in the process of reclaiming their life from the effects of trauma.
Article 4 Everyone has the right to be free from having problems caused by trauma and injustice located inside them, internally, as if there is some deficit in them. The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem.
Article 5 Everyone has the right for their responses to trauma to be acknowledged. No one is a passive recipient of trauma. People always respond. People always protest injustice.
Article 6 Everyone has the right to have their skills and knowledges of survival respected, honoured and acknowledged.
Article 7 Everyone has the right to know and experience that what they have learnt through hardship can make a contribution to others in similar situations.
Responding to intergenerational conflict
When the older and younger generations are in conflict within families and/or communities, this can bring considerable hardship. This is perhaps particularly true in immigrant and refugee communities. How can narrative practices contribute to intergenerational honouring and assist in building intergenerational alliances? If you are using narrative practices to respond to inter-generational conflict we would be interested to hear from you. For more information, see the short video: The Kite of Life: From intergenerational conflict to intergenerational alliance.
Bedwetting project – seeking your assistance
We are now seeking the assistance of practitioners who have been using narrative ideas in response to the problem of bedwetting. We are particularly interested in hearing from people who are working with children and families who are living in contexts of fear, disruption or other hardships. The impetus for this request comes from a recent visit to the TRC in Palestine whose workers are responding to children and young people who are wetting their beds in the context of living under military occupation. We’ve also been in touch with practitioners here in Australia who are working with children in immigration detention centres. And we would like to hear from workers in women’s refuges and indeed anyone who is using narrative ideas inresponse to bedwetting either at work or in their own families. We are interested in individual, family and broader collective responses to this issue. We would like to explore ways of sharing insider knowledges about responding to bedwetting. If you have used externalising conversations or other narrative practices in relation to this issue please email:
Narratice coaching and organisational practice
Inspired by recent visits to La Fabrique Narrative in Bordeaux, France, and the European Systemic Business Academy in Vienna, Austria, where groups of organisational consultants are vigorously engaging with narrative practices, we have become very interested in the possibilities of ‘narrative coaching’. Over the coming years we will be engaging in partnerships to explore how narrative therapy ideas and collective narrative practice ideas can be used within organisational contexts. We are now planning on compiling a paper for the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work on this theme. If you are interested in contibuting to this paper please send us a short description of the ways in which you are using narrative pracitices in organisations. Please write to us c/o
Responding to family and friends of those who have committed suicide
We are currently in the process of creating resources for those who have lost a loved-one, friend, or family member to suicide. The resources will also be relevant to practitioners who are trying to respond to this issue in their work. The project is being coordinated by Marnie Sather and David Newman. If you would like to be involved in the development of these resources, please contact us.
Memory, forgetting, and narrative responses
We are currently vitally interested in considerations of memory – how memory is shaped by narrative; how traumatic experience is remembered (or not), skills in forgetting; how ‘good memories’ can protect us; considerations of ‘social’, ‘collective’ or ‘community’ memory; how narrative practices can be used to respond to traumatic memory, and so on. This interest is linked to two separate projects: Dulwich Centre’s formal partnership with Ibuka: the national genocide survivors’ association in Rwanda (see the publication Working with memory in the shadow of genocide) and a partnership with Alzheimer’s Australia and KAGE physical theatre company in relation to a project on dementia. Your ideas, suggestions, and contributions are most welcome.
Talking about sex and sexual practices
How can counsellors and therapists ensure that those who consult us are comfortable and able to speak about their sexual practices, preferences, difficulties and pleasures, particularly if these are outside the mainstream? In coming months, we are interested in publishing and holding workshops for therapists about ‘talking about sex and sexual practices’.
How can narrative practices be used to spark social action and economic ‘development’? For some years, we have been interested in how narrative practices may be relevant to the field of economic ‘development’ (we place the word ‘development’ in parentheses to acknowledge the critique of mainstream economic development perspectives). Recently, we have published the inspiring work of Caleb Wakhungu and the Mt Elgon Self-Help Community Project based in rural Uganda. We are very interested to hear from others who may be using narrative practices in social action projects and/or in economic ‘development’ contexts.
Mental health and families
Over the last few years, we’ve been involved in a project relating to the experience of those who grew up with parents who have significant mental health struggles. Ruth Pluznick and Natasha Kis-Sines have expanded this work to include working with mothers who have mental health concerns. Now the project is entering a third phase. We are soon to focus on the experience of parents who have children who are struggling to deal with mental health issues. In coming months, we will be sending out a series of questions to co-research the experiences, hard won knowledge, and skills of parents in these situations.
We have recently uploaded to this website a range of songs that were created through the use of narrative practices. We would be very interested to hear from other practitioners/musicians who are combining these realms. Over time, we hope to create an archive of such songs on this site.
Are you a narrative therapist who is researching the effects and effectiveness of your work and/or your organisation’s work? If so, we would be interested to hear from you. For more information about narrative therapy and research, click here.
Addressing men’s violence against women and state violence
Dulwich Centre has had a longstanding commitment to explore ways to respond to and prevent men’s violence against women and, at the same time, prevent violence of the state. These issues intersect when the police and prisons are put forward as the only appropriate response to men’s violence. Dulwich Centre is interested in community projects with groups of men and women who wish to address men’s violence against women without involving the police or prison systems. This is a challenging area of work. We are interested in being in touch with others who are engaged with such community projects. Please contact us.
Deconstructing Addiction League
This is an invitation to those engaging with narrative ideas and practices in relation to issues of addiction and the use of alcohol and other drugs. Initiated by Anthony Corballis in the USA, and David Denborough in Australia, a number of people are now interested in developing a 'league' for deconstructing addiction.
Preventing Prisoner Rape Project
The 'Preventing Prisoner Rape Project' is a national project here in Australia aiming to: raise awareness about the issue of rape in prisons; reach out and support prison rape survivors; support those workers both inside and outside prisons who are trying to deal with this issue of sexual violence in detention; and bring about appropriate law reform and changes to prison administration in order to prevent prisoner rape. While our key area of concern relates to men's and women's prisons, we are also concerned about sexual violence in juvenile justice centres, secure mental health facilities, and immigration detention centres. We are currently seeking practitioners who work with women survivors of sexual violence to assist us in creating a support package for women survivors of prisoner rape.
A continuing invitation to narrative practitioners to address privilege and dominance
This project has been initiated by a group of therapists, community workers and educators from Samoa, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia, USA, and the UK. As professionals and wage-earners we live with a considerable degree of privilege and freedom. At the same time, we represent a diverse number of cultures. While some of us live with white privilege, others of us live as Indigenous people and as people of colour with the ongoing effects of colonisation and racism. Our backgrounds also differ in relation to gender, class, and sexual orientation. What we have in common is a deep sadness at much of what is occurring in the world and a commitment to play our part in continuing to foster communities of therapists and community workers in which broader relations of power are acknowledged and addressed in our work. If these are matters that you are grappling with in your workplace, we would like to hear from you. Follow this link to see the document we have developed about privilege, and then write to us! Thanks!
If you would like to contribute to any of these projects please email us! If you have particular ideas for other projects or themes that would expand the boundaries of narrative practice, we would also be interested to hear from you. Thanks!