Narrative Therapy & Neurobiology in Responding to Trauma
February 14 & 15 2018, with Maggie Carey and Sarah Atkinson:
Narrative Therapy offers practical skills that support workers when people’s lives have been impacted by trauma. Trauma can have the effect of establishing a sense of vulnerability, hopelessness and a feeling of being stuck in the past events and not able to ‘do’ life.
A Narrative approach can provide many hopeful possibilities in these circumstances. It picks up on the ways in which people, even young children, have responded to what has been difficult or traumatic and this can give entry points to develop stories of personal agency rather than victimhood.
Narrative ways of working have us looking to bring forward story lines that serve to make sense of the on-going painful experience of trauma or of difficult experiences.
In this workshop we will explore how some of the recent findings from the arena of neuroscience can support our practice. Many of these findings seem to have a direct correspondence with the practices of a narrative approach. A particular thread of this is the importance of embodied and affective experience, and how our neurobiology is organised to respond to threat and danger. This can help people who have experienced trauma to be able to make sense of both their actions at the time and subsequent on-going effects of what happened that continue to be difficult and often debilitating.
In this workshop we will also examine how memory systems store difficult or traumatic memories. This supports us to think about how we can bring language and words and stories to what are initially only body memories of emotional pain and distress.
This workshop will be useful for anyone wanting to develop skills in a narrative approach and for practitioners who are looking for ways to respond to people’s experiences of trauma. There will be a mix of input, discussion, skills practice and the sharing of case examples from Maggie and Sarah’s different areas of practice.
Maggie is one of the co-directors of Narrative Practices Adelaide, a centre for Narrative training, supervision and therapy that Michael White established before his death in 2008.
Maggie has been involved in the practice of Narrative Therapy since the early 90's and has been teaching it for the past 18 years. She has taught Narrative Approaches in many local and international contexts and enjoys the opportunity to teach both the theoretical principles of the narrative approach and the detailed practices that come from these philosophical underpinnings. She is known for her ability to make the narrative practice and thinking accessible to workshop participants and is energetic in her desire to have practitioners develop their own rich accounts of themselves in their work. Since 1994, Maggie has participated in a number of community projects relating to a range of issues in people's lives. These issues have included responding to grief and loss within Aboriginal communities, responding to people living with mental health issues and to homelessness, to people living with a disability and to women and children who have been subjected to violence.
Her current therapeutic work covers a range of issues that are impacting on people. A continuing focus is on how to keep an appreciation of the social and political context of people’s lives in the forefront of the work, while engaging in helpful conversations with people who come to therapy. Maggie is also very interested in what recent findings from the world of neurobiology can offer to practitioners in their work.
Sarah is an emerging Narrative practitioner with a Social Work background who has been working in the Mental Health System for the past three years. She has a strong interest in trauma and the impacts it has in peoples lives and particularly the link between trauma and people’s mental and emotional wellbeing. Sarah is interested in exploring the impact on people’s sense of wellbeing when they are given a diagnosis by the psychiatric system, and how to develop stories of people’s own know-how about their mental health, that can then contribute to an experience of agency in life.
Along with a solid Narrative foundation to her practice, Sarah has been working with the Hearing Voices approach for the past two years. She has also been attended training in the Open Dialogue approach and is interested in finding places where this approach can be used in responding to people in crisis situations. The importance of supporting people to connect with their own networks, and to have the opportunity for acknowledgement of their developing preferred stories, has stood out to Sarah as crucial in challenging the isolation that can come from any experience of trauma.
A downloadable flyer/registration form is available here.