Course Description

Badge_NTInAction-QueerCounselAre you interested in deepening your understanding of how to use narrative therapy in your work with people facing mental health challenges? Are you a psychotherapist, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, nurse, case manager, or occupational therapist who wants to help those consulting with you more fully cultivate their resiliency and recovery in a collaborative therapeutic relationship?  Then this course is for you! Through videos illustrating key practices, readings, video presentations and experiential exercises, you will learn core narrative theory and a range of narrative practices that you can use in your work.

This course gives six lessons that focus on a collaborative approach that relishes discovering untold but inspiring stories of a person’s resiliency and skill in resisting mental health challenges while exposing and dismantling discourses that fuel problems. The course examines what the doctor’s kit of psychiatry has to offer in light of the values and preferences of the person seeking consultation, authorizing the patient as the arbiter of what is helpful and what is not. supports the patient to participate in and discover the ways in which they construct meaning, how they view themselves, what their values are, and who it is exactly that they want to be. These revelations in turn inform clinical decision-making about what it is that ails them, how they’d like to treat it, and what recovery might look like.   For an additional $20, registrants can earn 12 APA approved CE credits through Union Institute & University.  For course objectives, see below.

RESIZED SuEllen Hamkins

SuEllen Hamkins, MD

We are delighted to welcome SuEllen Hamkins, MD, as course faculty. SuEllen  is a psychiatrist and author with a passion for helping people cultivate their values and strengths in the face of challenges and difficulties. Her work centers on three main areas: narrative psychiatry, college student mental health and mother-daughter relationships. She is Assistant Director of the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine. SuEllen is a co-founder of the Mother-Daughter Project, and has created a series of videos on helping mothers and daughter thrive. Her most recent book is The Art of Narrative Psychiatry, published by Oxford University Press. To read more, click here.

SuEllen gave the 2015 workshop, Working with people facing severe and persistent problems, and has presented on the Collab Salon on Working with People Who are Living with Serious and relentless problems or Mental Health Challenges.

Please note: The course is designed for clinicians working with adults, children and families who are dealing with mental health challenges, including social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and nurses.

The Art of Narrative Psychiatry

art of narrative psychiatryThe course offers illustrations, exercises and applications as a companion to the book, The Art of Narrative Psychiatry – the first comprehensive description of narrative psychiatry in action. Engaging and accessible, it demonstrates how to help patients cultivate their personal sources of strength and meaning as resources for recovery. Throughout the course, we will refer to specific chapters.

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The Art of Narrative Psychiatry!

Companion book for this course!
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Watch our Introduction!

In a recent Collab Salon, SuEllen Hamkins briefly introduced The Art of Narrative Psychiatry: Sustaining hope, creativity and emotional attunement:

Course Objectives

Participants will:

  1. Gain an understanding of ways to persevere in deconstructing persistent problems and to dismantle cultural discourses that contribute to the chronicity of problems
  2. Develop skills in cultivating a person’s sense of agency when using psychiatric resources, such as psychotropic medicines
  3. Gain an enhanced understanding of ways to persist in cultivating the values and skills of a person facing severe problems
  4. Be able to identify multiple nuanced ways in which therapy can be influential despite persistent problems
  5. Utilize a peer consultation model to honor and extend the influence of the therapy
  6. Utilize a peer consultation model to invigorate the embodiment of the therapist’s values in the treatment

Lesson Descriptions

Lesson One: What Is Narrative Psychiatry?

No_NTInAction_01Lesson Description: Narrative psychiatry brings the heart and agility of narrative therapy to the practice of psychiatry. What makes narrative psychiatry different from psychiatry-as-usual is that rather than focusing primarily on finding the source of the problem, narrative psychiatry also focuses on finding and cultivating sources of strength and meaning. Narrative psychiatry combines narrative and biological understandings of human suffering and well-being. It’s is animated by the idea that we experience our lives and our identities through the stories we tell about ourselves and that we are embodied creatures fortified by and beholden to our biology. It relishes developing inspiring stories of a person’s resiliency and skill in resisting mental health challenges while dismantling narratives that fuel problems. It cultivates relationships, communities and resources that a person finds sustaining and examines what the doctor’s kit of psychiatry has to offer in light of the values and preferences of the person seeking consultation, authorizing them as the arbiter of what is helpful and what is not, including psychotropic medicines. Narrative psychiatry is a strengths-based, collaborative approach that offers myriad ways to provide person-centered, recovery-oriented mental health treatment.
Guided by: SuEllen Hamkins with work by Michael White, ? and ? 

Lesson Two: Narrative Practices for Strengths-Based Initial Psychiatric Consultations

No_NTInAction_02Lesson Description: If compassionate connection is the heart of narrative psychiatry, then eliciting healing stories is its soul. In narrative psychiatry, we begin seeking stories of strength and meaning from the very first appointment. As we listen to the story a patient brings to us, we also listen for the untold stories implicit in their narrative that may support their well-being. Fleshing out these stories, making them alive with detail, vivid with language and compelling with plot, strengthens them and gives them purchase to eclipse a disempowering, problem-dominated story.What we can know about a patient depends on what we are listening for. The openings for story development that we hear and the questions we ask in the first appointment lead to the co-creation of the narrative of the patient’s life that informs our understanding of the problem and of our treatment options. By eliciting narratives that lead to more nuanced, colorful, and balanced portrait of the patient and a more contextualized view of the problem, we can understand the nature of the problem and the patient with more depth, clarity and subtlety.

Lesson Three: Externalizing and Investigating Problems and Symptoms

No_NTInAction_03Lesson Description: Brief description?
Guided by SuEllen Hamkins, with work of ? and ?


Lesson Four: Cultivating Stories of Strength and Meaning in Treatment

No_NTInAction_04Lesson Description: We explore ? Based on Chapter 5 The Art of Narrative Psychiatry


Lesson Five: Narrative Psychopharmacology and Collaborative Treatment Planning

No_NTInAction_05 Lesson Description:[excerpt from Chapter 6 The Art of Narrative Psychiatry 3 paragraphs]

Guided by: SuEllen Hamkins, with ?

Lesson Six: Putting into Practice

No_NTInAction_06Lesson Description: Brief description of lesson
Guided by SuEllen Hamkins, with work by ? and ?

This course is now in development. Please watch this website for further information. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter (here).