1st Edition

Reclaiming Lives from Sexual Violence Understanding Shame through Innovative Narrative Therapy

By Tim Donovan, Dale Johns Copyright 2022
    138 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    138 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book takes an innovative approach to using narrative therapy in counselling people who have been subject to childhood sexual abuse.

    Reclaiming Lives from Sexual Violence presents an illustrative case study of the authors, Tim the therapist in consultation with Dale the client, who was sexually abused as a child by a clergy member. The book is unique in documenting their therapeutic work using transcripts taken directly from their sessions together. This narrative approach invites the reader to consider different ways of engaging in therapy in order to challenge the dominant social discourses around masculinity and shame.

    Looking at shame from a position of value awareness rather than a deficit perspective, this book extends counselling to consider the individual experience as political and one that must be shared outside the one-to-one therapy environment. This will be an essential resource for beginning or established therapists and practitioners working with clients who have been victims of sexual violence.

    1. Paying reverence to the stories we hear 2. Ethics of care and understanding practices of self 3. Revealing and grasping the coat of shame 4. The politics of men’s pain – informing our ‘walking alongside’ each other 5. Deconstructing negative identity conclusions 6. Exposing the coat of shame and fighting to claim what is already yours 7. Positioning yourself in ways that acknowledge strength in what you stand for 8. Wrestling through shame and sharing stories of resistance 9. Discerning shame and speaking the truth with integrity – Dale’s Tree of Life 10. Dale’s re-claiming of integrity – ‘sharing a glimpse of my story with explicit detail’ 11. The joining of stories as a political act 12. Making visible the signs of social and psychological resistance 13. Dale moving out into the world with confidence in knowing the truth and having a deeper understanding shame 14. Connecting it all together - linking neurobiology, the body and narrative practice with Dale’s emotions, through story telling


    Tim Donovan is a registered mental health social worker, an experienced practitioner passionate about assisting people in living their lives in their preferred way. With graduate qualifications in social work and narrative therapy, Tim is committed to person-centred practice in supporting individuals, families and groups who have experienced acts of oppression.

    Dale Johns is a survivor of childhood sexual violence who has devoted his life to Pastoral Care and Advocacy, working with the lonely, homeless and drug affected. Dale hopes his story brings freedom to other survivors through gaining a deeper understanding of shame, and teaching mental health professionals showing care and compassion is a vital component of effective counselling.

    I commend Reclaiming Lives from Sexual Violence: Understanding Shame through Innovative Narrative Therapy for its originality, its generosity of spirit and its co-authorship. In addition, it takes up shame as a major concern, offering remedial strategies to render it ineffectual. But perhaps most significantly is that Tim, the counsellor and Dale, the survivor, who as they put it, ‘walked alongside’ one another do so once again in the most engaging and inspiring fashion in co-authoring this book.

    David Epston, originator of Narrative Therapy with Michael White, BA, Dist.Dip.Comm.Dev., MA (Applied Social Studies), CQSW(UK), NZAC, D.Litt (honoris causa)

    What a treasure of a book! For those wanting to know more about the practice of Narrative Therapy with survivors of child sexual abuse, how to walk collaboratively alongside those who have been subjected to sexual violence and to turn taken-for-granted understandings of shame into expressions of values held dear, Tim’s and co-author, Dale’s book, Reclaiming Lives from Sexual Violence: Understanding Shame through Innovative Narrative Therapy provides this and more. Its sensitivity, authenticity and clarity are to be commended.

    Sue Davidson, B. Soc. Sc., M. Soc. Sc. (Counselling), Advanced Cert. in Narrative Therapy (Dulwich Centre, Adelaide)