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  •  August 16, 2020
     4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Working Narratively in Research

PLEASE NOTE: Our Collab Salons will all now take place one hour earlier (4pm NY time).  Remember to check  your time on a world clock before joining us. Also, during these challenging times, we are opening this Collab Salon to members and non-members. Come join us!

with Akansha Vaswani (Boston MA), Maggie Slaska & Navid Zamani (San Diego, California)

Sunday, August 16, 2020: 4 pm NY time

“As people interested in working narratively in research, we will share some of our experiences, influences from outside the world of narrative therapy that supported our work, and challenges involved in the process. Each of us has been involved in a research project for our doctoral dissertations which we will use to illustrate 1) how we negotiated ideas of power to construct research questions 2) methods we used to incorporate social constructionist understandings of relationally informed meaning-making in our work 3) how we navigated (continue to navigate) demands/expectations of our respective institutions.” Akansha, Maggie & Navid

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  1. Identify how a narrative framework can support developing research projects
  2. Learn about least 2 research methodologies that can be utilized in developing narratively informed research
  3. Develop an understanding of the challenges and usefulness of narrative research

Our Research Projects

Akansha – Psychiatrists’ Accounts of Helping Patients Discontinue Antidepressant Medication: A Discourse Analysis.

“While psychotropic medications can be helpful, not all people react well to them, and, in many cases, they are not needed. Prescribing psychotropic medications, including to children, adolescents, women, and older persons, not because they are indicated and needed, but because effective psychosocial and public health interventions are not available, is incompatible with the right to health” (Pūras, 2017, p. 19). This quote by Dainius Pūras, Special Rapporteur for the UN captures the problem of medicalization and the social justice issues that arise with overly aggressive pharmacological interventions. My dissertation research contributes to efforts to reduce non-evidence based or harmful medication use and identifies ways to center the a rights based approach to mental health.:

Navid -The ‘Usefulness’ of Post-structuralist Practices with Domestic Violence Offenders: Attending to Men affected by War and Immigration

“My dissertation is concerned with examining, and addressing the effects of the knowledges that inform practitioners who are working with couples that are experiencing domestic violence (DV). This inquiry is housed within post-structuralist understandings, drawing on the works of Derrida, James, Foucault, Gergen and Wittgenstein.  Utilizing a critical affective-discursive psychology methodology, guided by narrative-informed questions, Navid’s research aims to explore and understand the epistemological framework that informs couples counselors when making decisions about couples in violence. The thesis aims to offer a critique of the current Domestic Violence understandings, the anticipated trajectories of these ideas, and recommendations for practice and research. These recommendations for practice invite practitioners into embracing complexity and moving away from manualized, reductionist approaches to domestic violence. This includes deconstructive considerations of Western, colonialist assumptions about healing in relationships, the power/control wheel, and the “cycle of violence”. Ultimately, the dissertation addresses two elements. First, the presentation of a critique of the field that will deconstruct specific assumptions that constrain DV practitioners and policy-makers from delivering effective practice in the field of DV. Second, the outcome of the research offers specific practice strategies that move practitioners beyond the current practices and towards considering domestic violence within relational considerations.”

Maggie –  Trauma-Talk: Women’s Co-constructions of Agency after Relational Violence. Trauma-talk is widely circulated both in professional circles and popular culture. My dissertation drew upon social constructionism, intersectional feminism and critical discursive psychology to analyze how a diverse group of women in Southern California discursively managed deficit and agentic identity positions associated with victimization after a violent relational event. I utilized narrative therapy-informed interviews and focus groups whereby questions aimed to explore the usage of trauma-talk,  highlight and elicit responses and actions taken after a relational violation or events of suffering. My research aims to explore women’s strategies of resistance, counter-stories to the ‘spoiled’ identity constructed by trauma-talk in order to expand the available interpretive repertoires used to make sense of relational suffering. Findings from this study suggest that women utilize commonly available psychological repertoires of ‘trauma-talk’ but they do not story themselves as damaged or broken; they discursively employed relationally-focused linguistic resources that position them as agents of change and “agency” was co-constructed collectively.”



Maggie Slaska is a lecturer in Women’s Studies and the Director of the M.A. Education (Counseling) and Trauma-informed Care and Restorative Practices Graduate Certificate program at San Diego State University. She has worked in the domestic violence and sexual assault victim advocacy field and is currently and marriage and family therapist in a LGBTQ-focused private practice. Her research and practice are interested in social constructionist and feminist theories of trauma, intersectionality and co- creations of empowerment, resiliencies, protests and resistance to the effects of trauma, social justice efforts and finally, improv comedy.


Akansha Vaswani just completed her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She did her internship at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center where she worked in an early psychosis intervention program and with people impacted by severe and persistent mental health concerns and systemic constraints. She began practicing narratively in Mumbai when she worked at Ummeed Child Development Center where she was also introduced to principles of family-centered care and client advocacy. Her interest in systemic change took her to San Diego where her studies in marriage and family therapy strengthened her commitment to developing clinical practice through the lens of social justice, de-colonizing, feminist, and social constructionist practices. At UMass Boston, her research focused on drivers of institutional corruption in psychiatry and solutions for reform, particularly the practice of deprescribing and rational prescribing grounded in informed consent. She is excited to continue her professional development as she starts a postdoctoral fellowship in Psychosis Treatment and Recovery at the University of Washington (Seattle) this Fall.


Navid Zamani

“I’m an Iranian-American man who was born and raised in Southern California. I was raised in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas, until I moved to Davis, CA to continue my studies. After acquiring my BA in Psychology and minor in Music from UC Davis, I moved to San Diego to continue my studies at San Diego State University in Marriage and Family Therapy. I have resided in San Diego since 2010 and have fallen in love with the cultures, geography, food and music.

There are threads in my life that have been constant, and initiatives that have developed due to opportunities at the time and/or my location. Music has always been a big part of my life, and I continue to enjoy playing the piano/keys and the drum kit. I am an avid surfer, and enjoy outdoor activities with my wife, such as camping, hiking and biking around San Diego. Reading and writing have always been a pleasure of mine, and academia became a natural fit in this way. Gardening is also one of my obsessions and I also really love my dog. All of these hobbies are situated within a framework of experiences that come along with identifying as a heterosexual male, an Iranian-American and the experiences of biculturalism that accompany that, my ability to speak Farsi and English, my education, and the values I hold.

I grew up observing the charitableness of my family, and connected with the sense of urgency and gratitude that they experienced from helping others. I watched my mom always donate her time and money to the underprivileged and underserved. I watched my aunts (who are educators in Iran) advocate and stand up for students who often didn’t have a voice. I am continuously grounded by the love and compassion my wife models in her daily life. I truly believe that my community’s health impacts my health, and I am dedicated in supporting those in need.”

Recording of August 2020 Collab Salon

Continuing Education Credit

If you are earning Continuing Education Credit, we are required to submit a separate evaluation for each Collab. Please fill in this evaluation form, save all the evaluations in a folder on your computer, and then send all twelve together at the end of the calendar year to Contact.

In the spirit of experimentation, here are two versions (word and pdf). Can you let us know which works better for you?