Tributes to Michael

Michael White

Michael White had a profound impact on many lives, and on the development of key concepts of narrative practice. His ideas, practices and presence live on in our lives and work. It is still hard to believe he is no longer here, and that we won’t suddenly hear that he will soon be presenting a workshop at a nearby town.

Here are some favorite tributes to Michael that begin with remembrances by members of the Power to Our Journeys Group.

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Michael, now that you are absent
But implicit, proofs of your genius and warmth
Are sprouting everywhere

Michael, it’s a new Spring that none of us wanted
To see without you
To build new places on which to stand
To form archipelagos, and then,

Continents of meaning to sustain your work
Discovering better identities
In gardens and stories of possibility, everywhere

Michael, you gave us the new earth

The plowed fields,
The extraordinary seeds
The particular knowledges
The planting maps
All fruits of your hard work

Daily, you handed them to us
Patiently explaining
And now,
It’s early Spring, It’s raining
Time once again for the miracle of growth

Pam Smith
April, 2008

From 1983- January 2008, Michael was the co-director of The Dulwich Centre, an independent centre in Adelaide, Australia involved in narrative therapy, community work, training, publishing, supporting practitioners in different parts of the world, and co-hosting international conferences. The Dulwich website is brimming with writings about narrative therapy/practice, trainings and workshops and FREE Dulwich Centre Email News. Among the many resources on the Dulwich Centre Website, we highlight “The Michael White Archive” and “Explorations: An E-Journal of Narrative Practice.”

Narrative Practices Adelaide

Maggie Carey, Rob Hall, and Shona Russell

Maggie Carey, Rob Hall, and Shona Russell

In January, 2008, Michael established “Adelaide Narrative Therapy Centre (ANTC)” – a new centre for narrative teaching and practice in Adelaide. He described his intentions in this way:

The Adelaide Narrative Therapy Centre has been established for the further development of narrative practice. This centre will provide counselling services to the community, and training workshops on a range of topics relevant to work with individuals, couples, families, groups and communities. It will also provide a context for exploring the implications, for counselling practice, of recent developments in the fields of social and human enquiry. This website will be further developed over the coming months, and will include items of significance to practitioners who are responding to requests for assistance with a wide range of problems and predicaments.”

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Bringing Michael’s Presence into Teaching

Who is this “Michael White” Fellow? Maggie, Shona and Rob – as Michael’s close colleagues – reviewed their work at Narrative Practices Adelaide since Michael’s death, with their understanding of Michael’s intentions in mind. In this audio recording, they describe several experiences that reassure them that narrative ideas and practices are having a life of their own even for people who never knew Michael. They reflect on how they aspire to bring Michael’s presence into their teaching – the ethical position of the work, the careful, thoughtful way Michael spoke. As Rob says, “Behind the practice of narrative is such a strong, powerful and helpful ethic in terms our engagement with people, what people mean to us, and what we can all mean to each other.”

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Children, Trauma & Its Consequences

Michael White loved to be in the company of children, and his work with children was filled with beauty, laughter and intrigue. He often spoke about the extreme importance of finding ways for children and families to address trauma. He received many referrals of children in child protection services as well as with larger systems such as Aboriginal communities impacted by suicide. In Africa, he met with over 60 agencies providing services to children impacted by AIDS epidemic.

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Rich Story Development

Michael White described narrative explorations as journeys with therapists as companions, guided by a range of therapeutic practices or maps. These journeys awake in people a sense of agency, a realization that they can actively shape their own lives. We are delighted to welcome teachers from Narrative Practices Adelaide to guide us in studying practices that develop rich story development.The Rich Story Development Online Series begins with the course, An Introduction to Rich Story Development, by Maggie Carey, now open for registration. Here is a brief description:

The Evolution of Psychotherapy

Here is an excerpt from the conversation between Michael White and Salvidor Minnuchin at the 2005 Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference, Anaheim, California: