Series Live Workshop: Developing Questions #7 – Demo – Unique Outcomes and Reauthoring Conversations

About this Session

591209845_130x73VSNT faculty Helene Grau, Stephen Madigan, David Marsten & David ‘Rock’ Nylund and the membership watch a wonderfully inspiring 6 minute video clip of Michael White discussing the practice of developing reauthoring conversations with a family. The mystery, beauty and complexities continue to unfold about the practice of Unique Outcome Questions and Reauthoring Conversations.


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Comments (5)

  1. theresedeah says:

    I really appreciated hearing how different therapists: end sessions, start the next session and bridge between sessions. The questions presented and explored were very helpful.

    1. VSNT says:

      The point you make Teresa is something I enjoy so much about narrative practice in that the foundational and theoretical ideas at the heart of our work are often expressed in a wide variety of creative practice expressions. My sense is we’ll take this topic up (regarding how therapists prefer to end sessions and bridge into the next) in the weeks to come. Cheers!

  2. Emily Doyle says:

    Thank you so much for the discussion today, and for the invitation to continue the conversation in the comments!

    I wanted to take a moment and respond to Helene’s question “what do you notice is important to carry with you in the coming days?”

    As the conversation wrapped up, I’m still reeling from the impact of the questions asked by David (Rock) and Stephen early in the conversation, which were along the lines of “would you have liked to have yourself as a parent?” and “would you care to have yourself as a therapist?”

    I choose the word reeling because it seems to best capture the sensation of experiencing the different responses occasioned as an observer in today’s conversation. I experienced today as a supervisor, picturing the tone of voice in which I might ask a supervisee Stephen’s question and the context of the conversation we might be having together. At the same time, I experienced it as a therapist and pondered how I might respond if asked, with a very different reaction to considering it! I also listened to Stephen’s question as a client, and wondered how the therapist I’ve had a relationship with might respond, or how I might respond to her if she had asked me that about my own work, sitting with the difference in how I might respond if asked the question in my therapist position, and how I might respond if asked sitting in the client chair myself.

    Similarly, I experienced David (Rock) and David’s questions about experiencing self as a parent differently, and at the same time. I experienced the questions as a family therapist and got excited about how I might bring them into my practice (and as a supervisor how I might introduce them). I also experienced them as a parent to my two girls, and thinking along these lines is emotional for me (and my tears would likely be speaking to the responsibility I feel as their mom, the gratitude I feel for our relationship, and the boundless love and joy that I take in them). And then (at the same time) I experienced the questions differently as a step-mom. And as a colleague and observer in today’s conversation hosted in TCTV, I was also experiencing the questions in the context of the conversation.

    When the notion of social constructs was raised by Stephen and Brian, I felt a tension around the suggestion that the social contract could be left out of the conversation (or perhaps should be left out, to counter the expectation to “get somewhere” in therapy). On one hand, as narrative therapists our community has been working to promote understanding that the conversation is the therapy, as discussed today. On the other hand, we can’t stand outside of the context in which these therapeutic conversations occur, as if they could be considered a conversation without a social contract; there are things that differentiate our conversations as a professional activity (meaning, different than if we were having a conversation with a friend over coffee), there are politics and powers in play when the conversations occur, and in providing therapy we are delivering a product to a consumer.

    (ack – I’m realizing that I’m talking about social contracts not being a light-switch as either existing or not existing, and presented my thoughts are either/or…perhaps I should start referring to fingers and toes instead of two hands)

    So I’m asking myself – how can we best hold these competing tensions in our therapeutic conversations?

    I’m really appreciating how this conversation has been an invitation/opportunity to sit in my experience of these tensions. If I were to take a stab at responding to the question I just asked, I might suggest that I open myself to experiencing socially contracted conversations similarly to how I experienced the questions I discussed above. In different ways, all at once, being mindful of my context and responsibilities in the moment, but aware and open of the possibilities of the experience, and how they might be able to be held together and privileged.

    I look forward to next week!

    🙂 Emily

  3. VSNT says:

    Many thanks again Emily for what I experience as your ongoing sage conversation and reflections on the Developing Questions series discussions that of course – in reading what you have written – had me reflecting on your reflections of our reflections.

    One general reflection you had me thinking about is to (whenever possible), advocate for having a number of supervision sessions with our clients in attendance. When I have encountered the relationship the client/supervisor/therapist creates relationally together I feel we begin to openly address not only the power relations involved in the social contract of therapy but it can also afford critical reflection on how the relationship created between client/supervisor/therapist allows us to move within the roving and changing conversational positions we inhabit.

    Cheers and see you next week.

  4. Aaron Munro says:

    I just finished listening to Michael and the later conversation. I had a couple of reflective thoughts I wanted to share.

    To echo the conversation; I really appreciated the care and slow rhythm that Michael took in his questions, particularly in questioning into deeper territory to ensure his assumptions were not included in the inquiry. I think that particularly in the realm of family issues and perhaps specifically in areas that concern parenting it is difficult to leave our own learned discourses from our own childhoods behind. I found myself much like Rock listening to the conversations very deeply from the place of being a father myself. As a Queer and Trans father I feel often assumptions have been made in counselling but also at my child’s school and even on the bus about my role as a father. These assumptions can show up in insidious ways; such as assuming that I don’t equally share parenting; to people exclaiming on the bus that it’s amazing how “good I am with her”; or isn’t it great that I help out with grocery shopping. While I don’t think these assumptions are particularly true about all fathers in general, I do think it can be more disorienting when someone was never socialized as male during their own childhood. It got me thinking that I often compare my parenting style more to my mother’s than my fathers. How assumptions can be so disorienting that a counsellor making them is rendered completely ineffective.

    My favourite comment when my child was young was constantly after being told by random strangers that I was a good father, they would tell me we looked just like each other. We are not biologically related. I finally had to conclude that I must just look like a baby. 😉

    Seriously though, the conversation had me thinking that often when we sit so far outside of norms, it can make more visible certain discourses. For myself in this case, what it means to be a father and how fathers might experience say, disappointments or expectations in broad and unique manners. So, again I appreciated Michael’s care in rejecting assumptions. This was a good reminder for myself to take care with discourses that I might not have had the privilege to counter through life experience.

    Finally, Helene I really appreciated when you used the language, people “no longer breathing”. I worked through the first 4-years of the drug poisoning crisis in Vancouver and have struggled to find language after terrible events to talk to workers without inadvertently using language that leads to feeling of finality of relationship or isn’t culturally sound. I really liked this language as often those last few moments the workers are literally breathing for the person. Particularly with some local First Nations workers I have talked to that feel giving breath is really spiritual. This language offers in later conversations the ability to finalize the immediate lifesaving practice but not the relationship or experience. I’m interested in asking their opinions if it resonates with them.

    It feels to me like it could be really meaningful language for workers in this situation. I need to sit on it more, but I think it reflects a reality of what’s happened without closing down explorations that could be helpful. Thanks.


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