Professional Narrative Portfolio – Narrative Practices in language and therapy

Professional Narrative Portfolio – Narrative Practices in language and therapy

Throughout history humans have been telling stories, recounting and adapting through the ages. Even now I still remember all the stories I grew up hearing, nursery rhymes and books that I must have re-read a dozen times, they stick with you and become a part of who you are. Stories don’t just remain with us because we like them, but because we are invested in them on a higher level. ‘Stories are a fundamental part of life used on a daily basis as a means of self expression and as a way to make sense of life.” (Weick 1995). The links between storytelling and learning are critical to the ideal of narrative therapy and applied to interview practices in a classroom setting to improve journalistic education and interview practices. We use the practice of storytelling to make meaning, by linking each experience across unknown gaps with reflection and deliberation. During these moments our capacity to express ourselves through narrative forms is widened, we are able to reassess and reconstruct events and learn from sharing our own and others experiences with individuals.

 

Narrative therapy is a collaborative and non-pathologizing approach to counselling which employs the ideal that people are the experts of their own lives, as such this narrative approach views problems as separate from people and assumes that viewing themselves through their self worth; skills, abilities, values, commitments, beliefs and competencies will allow the individual to overcome issues. This ideal of practice takes all aspects of life into consideration. Personal blocks or issues such as class, race, gender, sexual orientation and ability. Counsellors and therapists are engaging with narrative ideas and practices to work alongside people in resisting the effects and influences of problem stories and deficit descriptions. This involves active listening and finding the clues to the person’s personal story, discovering the values and desires that make up the individual. Identity stories can invite either a negative to a positive influence in the way people see their own lives and capabilities. Within a narrative framework people’s lives and identities are seen as a culmination of multiple narratives forming a depiction of an individual.

 

The implementation of storytelling in reflective learning for development education in adult students, using McDrury & Alterio’s model, represents how individuals identify, tell and build on a story through collaborative processes. This is something we developed on in class, the idea that the process of building a story with someone helps both participants walk away with what they needed. The level of engagement of both the audience listener and recounter both participated and remembered more when having constructed a story, or used a narrative element in the recount. In some cases it’s to reflect on deeper meanings of the story, to make sense and understand a situation. Those that chose to tell a meaningful story or share something about themselves found that they had more of an impact, on those who listened and within themselves. Stories have the effect of filtering a person’s experience and thereby selecting what information gets focused in or focused out. These stories shape people’s perspectives of their lives, histories and even their own futures. These stories of identity are stable and solidified in the minds of the individual. Narrative therapy provides a means to refocus the lens on this camera and can help to reshape a person’s stories and life.

 

The elements presented and language used are inherently important for the speaker, taking this into account leads to a better understanding of who the speaker is. They are speaking from their point of view, an aspect that is key to the storytelling element of narrative therapy. The view of the main subject must always be taken into account to properly understand the meaning behind their chosen words. ‘Narrative therapy has been associated with the assumptions of postmodernism and social constructionism; both of which support the notion that there are no truths, just points of view.’ (Doan 1998). Language is imperative to this process, as assumptions inform narrative practice we must learn to look beyond the tendency to reify metaphors. The extent to which stories of entitlement and privilege can be taken is empowered by the human tendency to make gurus of leaders and use metaphors with a cultural understanding needed, ‘Once a metaphor has done it’s job of sense making, the metaphoric quality tends to become lost or submerged. The ‘as if’ quality is forgotten and users began to speak in literal terms. Language becomes reified” (Pepper 1942). For instance the usage of the word ‘God’ would have a completely different weight depending on the speaker’s religious beliefs.

 

Semiotics teaches us that words have power, as such the choices in language that an individual uses. Language and words are influenced by past experiences and environmental circumstances, understanding these influences is key to understanding the individual.

 

The importance we place on these words emphasise the dangers of a story, of the misunderstanding that can occur due to bias or language barriers and the power that words may have. Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie openly discusses the risks associated with only allowing a single narrative to speak for a person or people. Chimamanda unravels the ideal behind narratives becoming self-actualizing, something she does not state is either good or bad, when internalized by those for whom the narrative represents. She discusses these texts and stories when taken and allowed to exist as stereotypes outside of their origins. Warning of how the world is flat in literature, that we only hear a single story about one culture or country, risking a critical misunderstanding. It is our lives, our cultures, that are composed of many overlapping stories. It is Chimamada’s wish to have these stories shared, so that children would not have the cultural misunderstanding and experiences of misjudgement that she experienced. How we raise a child to see the world, even through mediums like books and online, should be a true and honest reflection of the world.

 

Narrative therapy consists of understanding the stories or themes that have shaped a person’s life. It allows us to understand the experiences a person has lived and what has held the most meaning to them. The what choices, intentions and relationships we value and remember. Narrative therapy tell us that it is these experiences that are a part of an even larger story that has a significant impact on a person’s lived experiences. Through means of drawing out and amplifying the stories that matter the most and have impacted the individual the most narrative therapy works to allow people to find themselves. This means that narrative therapy focuses on constructing and building the plot which connects a person’s life together.

 

These are just some of the areas of Narrative Therapy, at least the areas that mattered the most to myself. Over the course of thirteen weeks we covered and discovered our own forms of Narrative Therapy within our distinct degrees and personal interests. Narrative practice has only touched the tip of the iceberg in study, this practice is an innovative and interesting practice that is groundbreaking to the understanding of humanity and the individual. To find out what really matters to someone is important, through narrative practice we can understand each other. This is a skill that really matters in life, more than anything else I’ve learned in this degree.

 

References:

 

Doan, R.E., (1997) Narrative therapy, postmodernism, social constructionism, and constructivism: Discussion and distinctions. Transactional Analysis Journal, 27(2), 128-133.

 

Doan, R.E., 1998. The king is dead; long live the king: narrative therapy and practicing what we preach. Family process, 37(3), pp.379-385.

 

Ferguson, S 2014 “Using narrative practices to respond to Stigma Stalker in the workplace a journey with Joe”, The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, no.4, pp.1-15.

 

Josephs, C. (2008) The Way of the S/Word: Storytelling as Emerging Liminal, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 21(3), 251-267.

Pepper, S., (1942) World hypothesis. Berkeley: University of California Press.

 

McDrury, J. and Alterio, M. (2003) Learning Through Storytelling in Higher Education. London: Kogan Page.

 

Author unknown, 2016, ‘About narrative therapy’, Narrative Therapy of Toronto, viewed 13th of June, 2016, http://www.narrativetherapycentre.com/narrative.html

 

In reflection.

Reflection.

Narrative therapy can have many interpretations to people, depending on what therapy means to the individual. For those who have been through therapy sessions like myself the idea of having to turn the tables and become the one using these techniques on another was confronting. The power that comes with creating an effect on another with words is immense. At no point was this the point of our classes, or narrative therapy in conjunction with interviewing techniques, but essentially it was what I felt we had unknowingly learned. In our interview assignment we were asked to search the individual of our choice, to find a pivotal moment. To do this then a line between a normal conversation and another must be crossed. A trust had to be built between the interviewer and the interviewee. This trust is fragile and sacred, it was always respected in the room and I value that greatly.

The importance of words was been touched on in this class,with the understanding we have of semiotics and semantics within the media practice from previous classes in our first year. The art of listening became a key skill to employ, a keen ear was needed. I touched on Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie again due to just how much her story and experience really opened my eyes to the history of the narrative in our society and the world, how this history and representation of people was integrated into ourselves through innocent means of storytelling.

Learning how to connect to someone became a focal point of this class as people willingly entered into our space to reveal intimate and hard moments of their lives. In order to understand who they were and how they had come to be the person they were now it was important that they, through some coaxing and careful patience, explain the harsher realities of life. For some it was personal loss that derailed their lives and changed them forever, others woke up one day and found themselves somewhere miles from where they started with no memory of how they had reached there. It was the culmination of all these events in their lives that set the road for where they were, it showed us what they valued. We learned to see how people saw themselves and what about themselves they valued the most.

It turns out this was what we were meant to take away from this class, at the very least. That we needed to learn to value and evaluate ourselves. This isn’t necessarily an academic necessity but something everyone should know, regardless of their education level. To find the good in yourself and to be able to help others see their self worth too. In a world where we are plagued by a serious lack of self worth, especially in Australia it’s normal to be modest. This class taught me to explore who I am through the practice of Narrative Therapy and through self introspection.

To me the idea of narrative therapy represents two things; understanding and listening. The understanding of the world and knowledge needed to understand culture. The ability to listen to someone and hear the real meaning behind a story. These are two parts that mean something to me, something I do identify with deeply. These are skills that have more than just a classroom application, these representations and more are life skills that everyone should know. From this class I have gained a life skill and a different approach to interviewing.

Meda 101: Moving Image Project

 

 

The idea behind this moving image project was to create a story, to tell a tale, using only a soundscape captured by another Meda 101 student and photographs of the Wollongong area.

The soundscape I selected was from Georgie Demertzis who had constructed the narrative, using only audio from Fairy Meadow, mixing the mechanical and technological with landscapes. The audio distorts the image of reality, changing the natural landscape into a feeling; a sense of anticipation and urgency. These are the points I chose to focus on and bring out with imagery. Enhancing the unease one feels from the recording by adding a new level of distortion, not revealing the whole image either, leaving the audience still unsure and at unease.

Three little sources

Narrative Therapy

Throughout history humans have been telling stories, recounting and never forgetting. Even now I still remember all the class stories I grew up hearing, nursery rhymes and books that I must have re-read a dozen times, they stick with you. Stories don’t just remain with us because we like them, but because we are invested in them. ‘Stories are a fundamental part of life used on a daily basis as a means of self expression and as a way to make sense of life.” (Weick 1995). The links between storytelling and learning are critical to the ideal of narrative therapy. We use the practice of storytelling to make meaning, by linking each experience across unknown gaps with a reflection. During these moments our capacity to express ourselves through narrative forms is widened, we are able to reassess and reconstruct events and learn from discussing our experiences with individuals.

The implementation of storytelling in reflective learning for development education in adult students, using McDrury & Alterio’s model, represents how individuals identify, tell and build on a story through collaborative processes. This is something we have been developing in class, the idea that the process of building a story with someone helps both participants walk away with what they needed. In some cases it’s to reflect on deeper meanings of the story, to make sense and understand a situation.

The elements presented and language used are inherently important for the speaker, taking this into account leads to a better understanding of who the speaker is. They are speaking from their point of view, something that is key to the storytelling element of narrative therapy. ‘Narrative therapy has been associated with the assumptions of postmodernism and social constructionism; both of which support the notion that there are no truths, just points of view.’ (Doan 1998). Language is imperative to this process, as assumptions inform narrative practice we must learn to look beyond the tendency to reify metaphors. The extent to which stories of entitlement and privilege can be taken is empowered by the human tendency to make gurus of leaders and use metaphors with a cultural understanding needed, ‘Once a metaphor has done it’s job of sense making, the metaphoric quality tends to become lost or submerged. The ‘as if’ quality is forgotten and users began to speak in literal terms. . . i.e, it becomes reified” (Pepper 1942). For instance the usage of the word ‘God’ would have a completely different weight depending on the speaker’s religious beliefs.

(The importance of words has been touched on in this class but I feel that this is an area we could perhaps go back to, with the understanding we have of semiotics and semantics within the media practice.)

Finally I want to end on the dangers of a story, of the misunderstanding that can occur due to bias or language barriers. The following video is a TED talk by a Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who openly discusses the risks associated with only allowing a single narrative to speak for a person or people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg

Chimamanda unravels the ideal behind narratives becoming self-actualizing, something she does not state is either good or bad, when internalized by those for whom the narrative represents. She discusses these texts and stories when taken and allowed to exist as stereotypes outside of their origins. She warns of how the world is flat in literature, that we only hear a single story about one culture or country, risking a critical misunderstanding. It is our lives, our cultures, that are composed of many overlapping stories. It is Chimamada’s wish to have these stories shared, so that children would not have the cultural misunderstanding and experiences of misjudgement that she experienced. I felt her plight and after the TED talk, her story and narrative, I understand her.

To me the idea of narrative therapy represents two things; understanding and listening. The understanding of the world and knowledge needed to understand culture. The ability to listen to someone and hear the real meaning behind a story. These are two parts that mean something to me, something I do identify with deeply. These are skills that have more than just a classroom application, these representations and more are life skills that everyone should know.

References:

  • Doan, R.E., (1997) Narrative therapy, postmodernism, social constructionism, and constructivism: Discussion and distinctions. Transactional Analysis Journal, 27(2), 128-133.
  • Doan, R.E., 1998. The king is dead; long live the king: narrative therapy and practicing what we preach. Family process, 37(3), pp.379-385.
  • Josephs, C. (2008) The Way of the S/Word: Storytelling as Emerging Liminal, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 21(3), 251-267.
  • Pepper, S., (1942) World hypothesis. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • McDrury, J. and Alterio, M. (2003) Learning Through Storytelling in Higher Education. London: Kogan Page.

MEDA 101 photography assignment

Chosen area: https://andrewhodsden.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/assessment-1-2016-area-32/

Due to the crispness of the audio and interesting mix of ambient sounds in Andrew’s audio piece I decided to enter area 32 and photograph elements I had heard. Initially in the audio the sound of bicycles and bells were prominent but when I ventured out it was virtually empty.  Instead I focused on the sounds of water running, the river, and nature.

I was able to locate most of the sounds from the audio, even coming across the birds. I have organized the images into the order of the audio piece as I hear or visualize aspects of the landscape to match.

IMG_9949IMG_9916IMG_9888 IMGP5257IMGP5290 IMGP5282IMG_9881

#5. Competing

Winning feels good, losing feels bad. Simple really.

As a team it’s rare for us to lose, so in those times that we do it feels even worse. The game and doubt can consume you, force you to replay and question each action in the moment. It is important to remember this isn’t the end. For most of the season we are undefeated, only losing at the most important point, the grand final. Having won the majority of the season means that we did win overall but to have lost the trophy hurt.

Maybe this year will be different.

#4 Team and community.

Being a part of a team is more than just friendship, it’s a partnership and a trust. You trust that they will do what is necessary when you pass on the responsibility of the ball to them, that they can succeed. This is similar to how teams work in a workplace environment, it depends on trust.

In a sporting team every member matters, you boost up those who are new or inexperienced and you support those who have the confidence to steal the show. Meeting up a few times a week with these people, pushing each other to train and run harder each time, creates that sense of belonging that we want. There’s no entry conditions to this group beyond a shared love of the sport. It binds us together, under the guidance of the coach and club. It doesn’t matter age when you are on the field, all are equal and have an influence on the outcome of the match. We are in it together.

We search for community all our lives, a social interaction that is entirely necessary to our mental health and development. It is imperative that children find a community like this, even if it is social sports. Create connections and communities with those of a similar interest.

BCM 311 reflective introspective

I recently held a class presentation on positive psychology and one of the tasks involved filling in this worksheet. 0057 On it students were required to encircle what aspects of themselves they recognized on the sheet. I walked around watching the groups discuss and try to convince each other of traits they believed their group mates to have but were very tentative in their own circling. I realized in this moment how difficult it can be to view yourself, or describe who you are in a positive way, which is something that is important to be able to do. In BCM311 we are attempting to find out who we are and how we would present ourselves for future job prospects, but I’m finding out this isn’t as easy as you may first think.

The ability to confidently call yourself a positive trait is not a common procedure, may even be considered condescending to others around you and so its far from the norm to have that confidence in yourself. I found whilst being interviewed by my fellow student that even looking back on an instance that was an impact to my life it was extremely difficult to pin point why that is and how I was feeling in that moment.

The skills that we are trying to learn here is to find the underlying motives and meaning in narrative storytelling and interview practices, to find out why the person has used that particular word. This is an amazing skill to have once we really hone it in, but for now I’m just happy to enjoy the experience.

Post 3: The game.

The first game.

There’s a feeling of relief when the ref blows the final three whistles, signalling the end of the game, more or less depending on the score but because the gruelling exercise is over for the day.  We’ve won the game, but the best part is being able to stop and just sit. In that moment of stopping the rush of relief is followed by a flood of endorphins and it is only a small part of why I am here. It is only one aspect of many;  the team, the sense community, the fitness, the competitiveness and the structure.

There’s more than one reason or outcome of our actions, regardless of our initial reason to start, every action has a consequence and for me I play sport not because it makes me happy, but because I enjoy every aspect of it.

Meda 101 sound project: Audio Snap-Shot

AREA 59

 

 

The idea behind creating a snap shot, condensed into only 60 seconds of recorded audio, to recount the nature of the area I was assigned forced me to re-evaluate ambient sounds. The two clear distinctions along the bustling highway road and dense bush reserve was the ideal of ‘Industrial vs nature’. Traffic was a big factor, as well as general ambient noises of a busy highway with constant bus stops and cars rushing by.

The nature sounds. Without having thoroughly researched the natural fauna and flora in the area then it was completely unusual for the experience. The mix of fauna and flora created a unique mix of sounds located only in this specific area. The snapping of the reeds as I walked and the give of the undergrowth was completely different to the sounds I had imagined I would find.

The narrative story of the audio conveys the recorder’s experience of exploring this place and the way in which the area changed as the audio gets further in the bush and away from the hustling and bustling of the industrial road.