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Full Workshop Descriptions

Therapeutic Conversations 14 Workshop Descriptions

Workshops will begin each day at 9am-noon with a break for lunch 12pm- 1:30 and begin again  at 1:30-4:30pm

Please note: Commentator/questioners and presenters may be added to workshops – and slight changes to the content of workshops may occur.

Day One:

1) A Few Questions that Matter
Narrative therapy questions are quite beautiful and – often described as an art form. Our workshop intention is to bring solidarity and hope to those of you who (like us) sometimes have difficulty locating and articulating this beauty. The workshop is designed for those of you who (like us) have direct insider knowledge about the term ‘therapeutically stuck’; can sometimes become bewildered by complex trouble spots; or simply find yourselves hoping clients aren’t noticing just how banal, flat and/or unimaginative the session questions are. As an antidote – we offer you a tour through narrative therapy’s key pre-suppositions and positionings that wrap around each and every question we ask – and don’t ask. Through tapes, transcripts and personal interviews we demonstrate how it was we first came to learn this unusual vocabulary and its accompanying array of unusual narrative therapy questions. If all goes to plan, we hope our collective 80 + years of narrative therapy practice experience will help you come away with a few little tricks to take back home with you, a better understanding of narratives central know-hows, the crucial sections of Foucault and Bruner to memorize, and what the actual purpose, direction, grammar and intention of our questions actually mean.
Presented by: Victoria Dickerson (Aptos), Jill Freedman (Chicago), Stephen Madigan (Vancouver)
Commentary: Mariah Romei (Vancouver), Anne Saxtorph (Copenhagen)

 2) Narrative Therapy Questions for Trauma and Violence Affecting Vulnerable Communities
Our workshop will present Rosa’s work with girls and women who have experienced sexual violence by using narrative therapy questions to address the impacts (body, mind, spirit, sexual and sexuality). Rosa will share how narrative therapy constitutes safe spaces where people can navigate away from the impacts/effects of sexual violence and – towards a place of agency (re-connections, healthy relationships and defining their own sexuality). David will discuss how narrative therapy questions are crucial in addressing the effects of transgender oppression, heterosexual dominance, and the violence of dominant gender norms through heteronormativity.
Presented by: Rosa Arteaga (Vancouver), David Nylund (Sacramento)
Commentary: marcela polanco (San Antonio)

 3) Transforming Narrative Therapy Questions From Craft to Art
David Epston devised Engaged Supervision as a structure for apprenticeship in the art of narrative therapy. Transcriptions of sessions provide the best surface upon which to see a reflection of practice and through seeing the practice ‘frame by frame’ the therapist can move out of the realm of stock questions and into the realm of improvisation. Through amending questions in transcripts ‘live’, David, Tom and Kay will demonstrate how practitioners can transform the craft of questioning into artistry.
Presented by: Tom Carlson (Fargo), David Epston, (Auckland), Kay Ingamells (Auckland), Sasha Pilkington (Auckland)
Commentary: Arthur Frank


Day Two:

1) Unbearable Weight: Encounters with a Deadly (and seriously tricky) Cultural Problem 
Externalizing questions, therapeutic letters and creating communities of concern are the holy trinity of an Anti-anorexia/bulimia practice. Without a full working knowledge of these practices (and the opposing anorexic/bulimic practices) our work places persons at risk and – borders on unethical practice. Anti-a/b has a dramatically creative and storied history dating back to David and Michael’s early work and – was well on its way well before narrative therapy became known as – narrative therapy. Often working on that fine edge of life and death, the evolution of letters, Leagues, Peer Solidarity Groups and counter-story questions were invented (as matters of life and death) to match the power and weight of our seriously pro-anorexic culture. David, Sheila and Stephen plan to give participants a close up experience of this work in all it many different and novel historical forms. The workshop is dedicated to the memory of Elliot Goldner – our good friend and brilliant Anti-anorexic advocate.
Presented by: David Epston (Auckland), Sheila Izu (Barcelona), Stephen Madigan (Vancouver)

2) Narrative Therapy Questions Designed for Grief, Loss and the Restoration of Relationships
When clients face moments that seem unspeakable, we are called upon to step into places of delicate questioning that requires skill and finesse. There is no easy externalization or quick fix map to guide bereavement conversations. Practitioners must construct creative responses to bring forth stories of relationships. This workshop will examine the aesthetic beauty in such questions while practicing the development of such nuanced skills. Among other things we will explore is letter writing from the point of view of the dead and helping clients create relationships through a moment in time or an object that encapsulates future possibilities.
Presented by: Lorraine Hedtke (Los Angeles), Helen Grau Kristensen (Copenhagen)
Commentary: Arthur Frank (Calgary)

3) Narrative Case Stories as Virtual Apprenticeships: Bringing the Artistry of Narrative Questioning to Life.
Have you ever found yourself in awe of the magic of the questions of skilled narrative therapists? Have you ever sat in wonder at the capacity of such magic-filled questions to seemingly transport people into entirely new worlds filled with possibility? As you have aspired to bring some of that magic into your practice, have you, like us, found that your own attempts to ask replicated versions of questions seem to fall flat? If your experience is anything like ours, then this workshop is for you. While there is a particular architecture to narrative therapy questions that is important to master, what brings narrative questions to life is a meticulous attention to the moment-to-moment interaction between ourselves and the people we work with. Learning the how, when, where, and why of asking the needed question at the precise moment requires that we go far beyond the available maps of narrative questioning. The workshop demonstrates a promising new pedagogy called narrative case stories to provide therapists with an immersive apprenticeship into the artistry of narrative questioning. Through this case story approach, we offer participants a glimpse of what it is like to be in the mind and heart of a skilled narrative therapist as they find their way through their work with a particular family.
Presented by: Tom Carlson (Fargo) Kay Ingamells (Auckland), Travis Heath, (Denver) Sasha Pilkington (Auckland)


Day Three:

1) Crafting Questions That Bring Children “Into the Know”
When problems make uninvited appearances in children’s lives, the questions we ask can serve as mini-platforms for knowing and action. Children can, at one and the same time, step into knowing in response to our questions, and witness themselves (and be witnessed) as producers of knowledge. Challenging traditional theories of “childhood” as a discursive category, this workshop will create space for fresh conceptions that free us as practitioners to turn to children when the going gets tough. With the use of video, transcript, and letters, we will show how to engage children effectively in extended therapeutic conversations. In the process, workshop participants will be given ample opportunity to develop lines of questions that will support their own family practice.
Presented by: Jill Freedman (Chicago), David Marsten (Los Angeles)
Commentary: Victoria Dickerson (Eptos)

 2) Theory, Questions and Practices Designed for Highly Conflicted Couple Relationships
As the joke goes: a post-structural theorist (John), a narrative therapist (Stephen), and a family lawyer/mediator (Jean-Luc) walk into a bar. And to their surprise (!) not only do they all happen to work with highly conflicted couples they also share a deep political and practice commitment that relationships are relational. The discovery prompts another round and they spend the day discussing how their practices respond to the idea that couple conflict is entirely shaped through discourse, culture and context. Patrons listening on seem fascinated when they discuss what transpires when couple conflict relationally interacts within the intersecting lines of post-structural, therapeutic and legal narratives. A traveller from Copenhagen joins them (it’s a pretty cool bar) and she proceeds to ask them vital questions about their practice questions and then – vigorously interrogates them to explain exactly why they ask the questions they ask conflicted couple relationships? Fortunately the bar has an LCD projector and screen (primarily used for karaoke nights), so they order another round and proceed to demonstrate videos, texts and slides of narrative informed relational practices regarding: theory, Relational Interviewing, various forms of relational letter writing, the creation of ethical documents/documents of values, and an entirely new legal practice known as Relational Mediation. Whew what a day! BYOB.
Presented by: Jean-Luc Forest (Vancouver), Stephen Madigan (Vancouver), John Winslade (Los Angeles)
Commentary: Helene Grau Kristensen (Copenhagen) and Ottar Ness (Trodheim) 

3) Aren’t Therapeutic Letters Actually Stories?
Why has letter writing been so integral to narrative therapy practice from even before it officially began?  Is a letter really a letter? Might it be better thought of as a story (or counter-story?) After hearing our presentation answer such queries, would you be interested in learning how some ‘letter writers’ of various genres discuss with you in some detail how they go about it?  If you are curious about any of the above mentioned, please join us.  Because this daylong teaching will be text heavy and – those intending to attend will be forwarded example of such ‘letters’ to be read ahead of time.  The early ‘informal’ research of Michael White and David Epston still stands: clients who receive such letters estimate them to be the equivalent worth of five sessions.  We invite you to come and find out why.
Presented by: David Epston (Auckland), Kay Ingamells (Auckland), David Nylund (Sacramento), Sanni Paljakka (Calgary), Sasha Pilkington (Auckland)

Informal drinks and discussion each day following workshops at the Granville Island Hotel Bar

Note: Due to high student enrolment VSNT does not, under any circumstance, offer refunds. If for any reason you miss any VSNT conference after payment is made, you are entitled to use the credit within 12 months for other VSNT based courses/conferences. Questions? Refer to FAQ section on the site or ring Mariah at 604.688.7860

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