Foundations and New Horizons

The Evolution of Narrative Therapy

Nearly 40 years ago, Michael White and David Epston founded Narrative Therapy, establishing the philosophical foundations, key concepts, ethical considerations, and specific practices.  Their enormous contributions – collaborative and individual – inform how we position ourselves as narrative practitioners, view problems as separate from people, and guide our narrative inquiry. Building on a spirit of wonder, adventure, and innovation, Michael and David expressed the hope and intention that we would continue to experiment with different modes of inquiry, develop new practices, and integrate these cherished ways of being with people who fit with our local experiences and socio-political contexts.

When  Michael suddenly died in 2008,  we wondered what would become of narrative therapy. David has continued to infuse narrative therapy with an innovative, playful spirit, developing an approach to narrative inquiry with colleagues over the past 15 years that David brings to his conversations and collaborations.  Over the decades, in response to changing professional, social, and cultural contexts, narrative practices have evolved in many ways, establishing Contemporary Narrative Therapy.  A new generation of narrative therapists has emerged!

What I Learned from My Mentor

In addition to resting on the shoulders of our intellectual ancestors, the evolution of narrative therapy builds on mentors who are preparing the next generations(s) by supporting local practitioners in their early careers, bringing narrative practice to higher education settings, and teaching workshops in Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand.

What I Learned From My Mentor is a community project linked to the Across Generations Hot Topic. Initially, we edited five short videos from Narrative Camp 2019 to capture learnings from cherished mentors. From these accounts, we began the What I learned from my mentor’s Youtube playlist (see below). These short YouTube videos honor our mentors through stories about specific learnings that shape us in our work and lives. In particular, we wish to recognize unsung heroes and heroines across narrative generations while paying particular attention to people of color – mentors, and mentees -whose voices have often been rendered invisible by our history and institutions.

What I learned from my mentor

The Spirit of Narrative Camp

For many years, our Vermont Narrative Camps brought together narrative therapy practitioners and teachers across generations and around the world to explore innovations and themes relevant to everyday practice and to refresh the spirit of our work. This shared living experience by the lake affectionately became known as Narrative Camp, with many participants staying in cottage rentals on Lake Champlain for the entire week. We helped to find cottages that soon became filled with a blend of consultation groups, individuals, couples, and families. We strove to create rich learning experiences where participants could further develop skills in narrative approaches in collaboration with others while experiencing outdoor living, shared meals, and lively conversation. Please check out Remembering Narrative Camp for further glimpses!

In addition to making music and connections, Narrative Camp was also a place where we made videos. We recorded our workshops for future online courses. And we also recorded conversations that we then edited into Youtube Videos. We made over 50 videos! Check out above where we showcase a featured video as well as 20 of the videos on  The Vermont Narrative Camp Playlist. You can find the entire Vermont Narrative Camp Playlist on our Reauthoring Teaching Youtube channel.

Plans are underway to offer our next Narrative Camp in southern California. Looking back, this shared living and learning experience by the lake profoundly influenced the evolution of the Re-Authoring Teaching community. We ask ourselves:

  • How might we combine the spirit of learning side-by-side with outdoor rejuvenation to create unique informal learning opportunities?
  •  How can we support the emergence of fresh voices and new ideas?
  • When meeting face-to-face is not possible, how might we bring the spirit of adventure and new possibilities to our online offerings?
Remembering Vermont Narrative Camp
Vermont Narrative Camp YouTube Playlist

Across Narrative Generations: Co-sparking together

 Thank you all for allowing us to be both students and teachers, bearing witness to each other’s lives in the ongoing new creative developments of narrative ideas and practices, now and into the future.    Walter Bera

Join us as we witness—with delight—the emergence of new voices within a generation of narrative practitioners. The presence of these “fresh voices” contributes immeasurably to our learning community. We are co-learning together as we envision new horizons in narrative therapy.