Monday, August 26, 2013

Change the story, change your life

A leading American counsellor is in Top End to train local therapists on the power of narrative therapy and helping clients ‘re-author’ their lives.

Relationships Australian NT invited preeminent Chicago-based Narrative Counsellor Jill Freedman to Darwin to lead an intensive four-day workshop on ‘Working with Families from a Narrative Perspective’ this week.

Narrative therapy was developed in the late 1970s and is based on the concept that peoples’ identity is shaped by the events in their lives and their interpretation of these accounts.

A narrative therapist will work with people’s life stories, the effects, meanings and the context in which they were formed.

“We want to work with people to bring forth and thicken stories that do not support or sustain problems in their lives. We help them facilitate the development of new stories about themselves or events, which are more empowering and satisfying,” Ms Freedman said.

“As people begin to inhabit and live out alternative stories on an event, the results are beyond solving problems. Within the new stories, people live out new self-images, new possibilities for relationships and new futures.”

Ms Freedman explains that narrative therapy empowers people and takes into consideration the broader cultural explanations for their life.

“Parents may bring their son to counselling because of concerns about attention seeking behaviour. This behaviour may make it hard for both the parents and the child to notice other positive behaviours. An exploration of alternative stories can create space for change, such as those on how the boy overcame troubles in earlier times in his life.”

Relationships Australia NT Chief Executive Officer Marie Morrison said around 20 local counsellors have registered for the workshop, with places still available.

“We are very excited and honoured to have Jill Freedman here,” Ms Morrison said.

“This is a great opportunity for our counsellors and those in the community to enhance their skills and learn more about this practice from the very best and enrich their narrative practice.”

Jill Freedman is a Director of Evanston Family Therapy Centre in Chicago and co-authored three books and more than 30 journal articles and book chapters on alternative methodology.

She teaches Narrative Therapy internationally and in 2009 won the award for Innovative Contribution to Family Therapy by the American Therapy Academy with her partner Gene Combs.

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