Gathering #1: Building contemporary narrative therapy on what matters most to us.

What Is Your Narrative Backbone?

A conversation with narrative teachers exploring hopes for sustaining narrative therapy into the future, steadfast ethical commitments, concerns and rough edges, cross-pollination and collaboration, and special interests.

Facilitators: Poh Lin Lee & Akansha Vaswani-Bye

Confirmed conversationalists: Maggie Carey, Gene Combs, David Epston, Jill Freedman, Sarah Beth Hughes, Charley Lang, Gerald Monk, Marcy Rivas, Arturo Sanchez, Peggy Sax, Karen Young & Larry Zucker.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

4:00 pm- 7:00 pm EDT (New York time)

We begin our series of six bi-monthly 3-hour gatherings to explore contemporary and emerging narrative practices by reaffirming our narrative foundations. Which foundational ideas, practices, and ethics are most significant to the first-generation practitioners of narrative therapy, and how are they implemented in differing contexts? What would you add or change as you review our initial list of narrative luminaries that guide our practice?  Which ethical considerations are most important to you?

Please join this multi-layered conversation with narrative teachers exploring what matters most to us, as we re-invent contemporary narrative practice together.

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What is your narrative backbone?

    I have my narrative backbone. Everything I do radiates from that place. (Akansha)

Backbone refers to the central or most important part of something, providing support, strength, or structure. It can also refer to the spine, which serves as the primary support for the human body. In a figurative sense, backbone can describe someone’s determination, resilience, or moral strength. It is often used to describe individuals who have the courage to stand up for what they believe in, even in difficult or challenging circumstances.     Online A.I. definition

For our first gathering, our conversationalists all have extensive experience teaching and practicing narrative therapy. We asked everyone to share what matters most to them and guides their narrative work. While no one can do this alone, we each contributed video, images and text to this  “Padlet.”  Wow, just look at what we co-created! Together we set the stage for the rest of the series, which will re-envision the future of narrative therapy.

What is your narrative backbone?

Please click on the little box at the top right-hand corner to open the Padlet in a new window to see what we have co-created, documenting what matters most to us.

We look forward to you joining us for this unique experience of bringing together many cherished narrative teachers and practitioners.

Learning Objectives

This workshop will enable you to:

1. Describe several foundational narrative ideas, practices, and ethics that are most significant to first-generation narrative therapy practitioners.
2. Analyze how foundational narrative practices can be applied in different contexts.
3. Articulate ethical considerations guiding a narrative approach.

Gathering Conversationalists

We are thrilled to bring together a team of Narrative Teachers for this gathering.

Maggie Carey

Maggie Carey learned narrative ideas, ethics and interviewing practices as a close associate of Michael White, co-founder of narrative therapy. She was a founding member of Narrative Practices Adelaide, the center Michael started in 2008, just a few months before his untimely death. Alongside her colleagues Shona Russell and Rob Hall, she was involved in the teaching of narrative therapy and community work for many years, both in Australia and internationally. Prior to the establishment of NPA, Maggie was a cherished member of the Dulwich Centre teaching faculty. Now retired, Maggie thoroughly enjoys engaging with her home, gardens, family and community in Adelaide, S. Australia.

Gene Combs
Gene Combs, MD is a Co-Director of Evanston Family Therapy Center and founding members of the Chicago Center for Family Health, an independent affiliate of the University of Chicago.along with co-director Jill Freedman, they have co-authored more than 30 journal articles and book chapters and 3 books -- Symbol, story, and ceremony: Using metaphor in individual and family therapy, Narrative therapy: The social construction of preferred realities, and Narrative therapy with couples.... and a whole lot more!

David Epston

David Epston (Auckland, New Zealand) David Espton, co-founder of narrative therapy alongside Michael white, brings a sense of wonder, adventure and innovation to his conversations and collaborations. What makes a good question? What guides inquiry in narrative therapy? What are some narrative lines of inquiry? The collaboration between David and Michael began in the late 1970s, as continued for many years. David’s best known publications are White and Epston(1990), Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends; Freeman, Epston and Lobovits(1997),Playful Approaches to Serious Problems: Narrative Therapy with Children and their Families and Maisel, Epston and Borden(2004), Biting The Hand That Starves You: Inspiring Resistance to Anorexia/Bulimia, Narrative Therapy in Wonderland.

Jill Freedman

Jill Freedman, MSW is a Co-Director of Evanston Family Therapy Center and a founding member of the Chicago Center for Family Health, an independent affiliate of the University of Chicago. Jill practices therapy in the Chicago area and consults to organizations and schools. She is on the international faculty of the Dulwich Centre and teaches in the low-residency Master's program in narrative therapy and community work offered by Dulwich Centre and the University of Melbourne.

Sarah Beth Hughes

Sarah Beth Hughes works as a Couple and Family Therapist in Nelson, BC Canada. She was introduced to Narrative ideas through her work as the North American Distributor of Dulwich Publications throughout the 1990’s. She got the privilege of attending many of Michael White’s training and got inspired to do this kind of work herself. Along the way she also met many of Michael’s colleagues and friends including Peggy Sax who have helped her feed her passion for this work.

Charley Lang

Charley Lang, LMFT, is co-founder of Narrative Counseling Center, providing resource-oriented consultation services for individuals, couples, and families, in addition to strength-based psychotherapy training for pre and post-licensed therapists. He is the Director of the Undergraduate Psychology Concentration at Antioch University, where his courses include Narrative Therapy in Practice, Madness in American History & Film, Queer Counseling & Narrative Practice, and Shakespeare Deconstructed: Gender & Power Play. Always on the lookout for new and engaging alternative stories, Lang produced and directed several acclaimed documentary films, including the HBO award-winning Gay Cops: Pride Behind the Badge.

Gerald Monk
Gerald Monk PhD (San Diego, California) is the former Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program in the Department of Counseling and School Psychology at San Diego State University. He is a practicing Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, AAMFT Supervisor, and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. His research and teaching interests include Affective therapy, narrative mediation & conflict resolution, constructionist & discursive theories, restorative practice, and mental health recovery.
Marcy Rivas

Marcy Rivas (Seattle, USA) was raised in a tradition of helping others, with a strong sense of kinship, strong connections to the land and its storytellers. In 1986 working as a family therapist for child protective services, I was fortunate to encounter Michael White and have been exploring the ideas and practices of social constructionism and narrative therapy ever since. I’m interested in peer professional learning groups, and providing post graduate training in narrative ideas and therapeutic practice. A storytelling approach to life started for me at a young age with stories told of the land, who our people and kin are, how we were made, and how we can grow into ourselves through the stories we tell, calling on the strength of our ancestors and community, so we might create our life’s story as one of meaning, purpose, right living and well-being.

Arturo Sanchez

Arturo Sanchez, PhD (UC Santa Barbara, CA) has 35 years of experience teaching and supervising Marital Family Therapy for Doctoral (Northern Arizona University) and Master’s degree (California State University, Chico) students since 1986. He served as Coordinator of the MFT program at CSU, Chico, for 12 years. I have been teaching post-structural postmodern perspectives and methods to graduate students pursuing careers in Marital and Family Therapy
as well as School Psychology for over 35 years, if you consider my pursuit of non-normative perspectives found within multicultural and feminist counseling practices. The last 20-plus years have focused in earnest on introducing Narrative practice in the classroom. This effort culminated in supporting our next generation of Narrative students’ involvement in annual weekend trainings in Advanced Narrative Therapy Practices via David Epston’s annual Berkeley
weekend workshops. It has been such a joy to witness students’ creative abilities and personal know-how flourish and amplify as they engage/discover/uncover their respective storied lives.

Peggy Sax

Peggy Sax, Ph.D. (Cornwall, Vermont), is the founder and Executive Director of Re-authoring Teaching – the global learning community of narrative therapy practitioners, teachers, and enthusiasts that is represented on this website. Peggy carries a steadfast commitment to preserving, developing, and extending the legacy of narrative therapy. She loves to collaborate with colleagues across narrative generations, co-creating quality training materials and together building a narrative learning community. Having apprenticed herself to narrative therapy since the early 1990s, Peggy also works in independent practice as a Licensed Psychologist, consultant, international teacher, and international trainer. She is the author of several articles and the book Re-authoring Teaching: Creating a Collaboratory. Creating this online series is a dream come true for Peggy: working with people she profoundly respects, persevering to develop excellent courses together, and thereby contributing to a field she deeply values.

Akansha Bye-Vaswani

Akansha Bye-Vaswani Ph.D., was introduced to narrative practices in Mumbai when she began working at Ummeed Child Development Center in Mumbai in 2010. Here she was also introduced to principles of family-centered care, early intervention, and community-based advocacy. Her interest in systemic change took her to San Diego State University where her studies in marriage and family therapy strengthened her commitment to developing clinical practice through the lens of de-colonizing, feminist, and postmodern practice. Her doctoral work at UMass Boston, 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 currently an Acting Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine where she works on the implementation of family-to-family support programs for families of persons managing psychosis.

Karen Young

Karen Young, M.S.W., R.S.W. is the Director of the Windz Centre ( She designs and organizes trainings, provides narrative therapy supervision and consults and trains for many organizations and walk-in therapy clinics. For over 16 years Karen supervised and provided single-session narrative
therapy at a walk-in therapy clinic. Karen has been teaching narrative therapy for over 31 years and is a therapist with 37 years of experience. She has particular expertise in the application of narrative in brief and walk-in therapies. She has many publications regarding applications of narrative therapy and research in brief services including the Brief Services policy paper for the Ontario government (Duvall, J., Young, K., Kays-Burden, A., 2012) and the Brief Services Evaluation Project, 2014, a multi-organization evaluation of walk-in therapy services.

Larry Zucker

Larry Zucker is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Los Angeles, United States, where he has been practicing family therapy and training therapists for over 30 years. He currently teaches at the Southern California Counseling Center, as well as online through R-Authoringteaching.Com

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