1st Edition

Reimagining Narrative Therapy Through Practice Stories and Autoethnography

Edited By Travis Heath, Tom Stone Carlson, David Epston Copyright 2022
    284 Pages
    by Routledge

    284 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Reimagining Narrative Therapy Through Practice Stories and Autoethnography takes a new pedagogical approach to teaching and learning in contemporary narrative therapy, based in autoethnography and storytelling.

    The individual client stories aim to paint each therapeutic meeting in such detail that the reader will come to feel as though they actually know the two or more people in the room. This approach moves beyond the standard narrative practice of teaching by transcripts and steps into teaching narrative therapy through autoethnography. The intention of these 'teaching tales' is to offer the reader an opportunity to enter into the very 'heart and soul' of narrative therapy practice, much like reading a novel has you enter into the lives of the characters that inhabit it. This work has been used by the authors in MA and PhD level classrooms, workshops, week-long intensive courses, and conferences around the world, where it has received commendations from both newcomer and veteran narrative therapists.

    The aim of this book is to introduce narrative therapy and the value of integrating autoethnographic methods to students and new clinicians. It can also serve as a useful tool for advanced teachers of narrative practices. In addition, it will appeal to established clinicians who are curious about narrative therapy (who may be looking to add it to their practice), as well as students and scholars of autoethnography and qualitative inquiry and methods.


    1. Introduction: Writing Practice Stories -- A History of a Pedagogy

    Travis Heath, David Epston and Tom Carlson


    2. Wilbur the Worrier Becomes Wilbur the Warrior

    Kay Ingamells

    3. Mother Appreciation Parties

    David Epston

    4. A New Surprise of Existing: "The Last Thing I Ever Was – Was Silent": A Poetic Response to Patriarchal Malice

    Sanni Paljakka and Fabiola

    5. Blossoming in the Storm

    Sasha Pilkington

    6. Batman Returns: Love and Ethics in Narrative Couples Therapy

    Tom Carlson

    7. "Maybe We Are Okay": Contemporary Narrative Therapy in the Time of Trump

    Travis Heath


    8. Inspirited Contemporary Narrative Therapy: A Two-Day Workshop

    Travis Heath

    9. Conclusion: A Literary Means to Pedagogical Ends

    Tom Carlson


    Travis Heath is an associate professor at the University of Denver. His interests include looking at shifting from a multicultural approach to counseling to one of cultural democracy that invites people to heal in mediums that are culturally near. He has been fortunate to run workshops and speak in ten countries to date.

    Tom Stone Carlson is a professor in the Couple and Family Therapy Program at Alliant International University-San Diego and is the co-editor of the Journal of Contemporary Narrative Therapy. He has over 20 years’ experience teaching narrative therapy and is particularly interested in the development of experience-near pedagogies for new therapists.

    David Epston and Michael White (1948-2008) were the originators of narrative therapy. Their co-authored publications include Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends (1990) and Experience, Contradiction, Narrative and Imagination (1992). Since then, David has (co)authored 11 books, and offered trainings around the world and in Aotearoa New Zealand.

    "This book on contemporary narrative therapy re-embraces its inventive origins. It is filled with generative stories that at once re-ignite the imagination of therapists who have been vulnerable to the dictates of manuals, toolkits, and mechanistic practices that can paradoxically diminish the possibilities of the therapeutic endeavor. Accessible practitioner stories of narrative therapy and autoethnographic reflections take the reader on a journey into unmapped territories that awaken the spirit of playfulness, adventure, curiosity, novelty and surprise; the very lifeblood of therapeutic change. These therapeutic touchstones found throughout the book promote a refreshing look at the practice and teaching of narrative therapy that can invigorate practitioners and educators whose creativity and inspiration has been weakened by the rigidities of professional conformity. The text culminates with an intimate, aesthetically elegant examination of a new pedagogy in the teaching of narrative therapy that connects you to a sense of therapeutic magic and possibility." -- Dr. Gerald Monk, Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy, San Diego State University USA

    "Since the beginning of human history stories have been passed on from one generation to the next with messages about ethic, meaning, care and spirit from the past that can potentially create relief and meaning to the struggles of the present. Our stories represent the essence of our lives. The gift of this book is like the gift of those stories. Reimagining Narrative Therapy Through Practice Stories makes you wonder why we for so many years have been learning practice skills through exercises, analysis, and models – when indeed the stories in this book reveal the skills and spirits of narrative work. With the words of Nick Thompson, an Apache elder referred in the book: "This is what we know about our stories. They go to work on your mind and make you think about your life".

    The Authors propose "an alternative pedagogy for teaching narrative therapy. Rather than propose traditional inductive methods of teaching a priori theory followed by the subsequent skills and intervention," they "propose a deductive approach that intentionally avoids the use of theoretical jargon or reference to any particular set of practices in favor of painting a picture of narrative practice."

    You will love their stories. Reading this book is not like reading yet another textbook on therapy. It will not teach you but show you "the spirits of narrative practice".

    With this book the joy of narrative practice shows itself on every page. The authors put it this way: Stories "provide guidance in a manner that inspires your own imaginative capacities rather than the provision of manualized and regulated direction."

    The stories in this book made us laugh, cry, wonder and think about our own lives. We can think of no better way to engage with narrative practice." -- Anette and Allan Holmgren, Psychologists and directors of DISPUK, Danish Institute for Training in Narrative Therapy

    "'Show' outpaces 'tell' by miles—the tortoise always wins.

    This edited book gives the reader 'practice stories' that show how narrative therapy works, instead of telling us how to do the work of narrative therapy. It has the unmistakable cadence of the narrative storyteller, and thus becomes "travel companions" in our own practice. These stories allow us to live in an adventure full of creativity and ingenuity." -- Dr. Victoria Dickerson, Ph.D. co-author of If Problems Talked: Narrative Therapy in Action