The book Shifting Stories was inspired by Liz Todd, of Newcastle University, who asked me about the relationship of my work to Narrative Therapy. I had never heard of Narrative Therapy, and so Liz gave me a reading list, which I found completely fascinating. I subsequently attended an introductory course run by Liz and a couple of colleagues.
The field of Narrative Therapy was pioneered by the late Michael White (see, for example, Maps of Narrative Practice). Reading White’s work, and others’ in that field has been fascinating, and has enriched my approach substantially. I have learned a great deal from that approach, particularly with regard to enriching the plot. However, I should make it clear that I take such ideas and apply them in ways that a purist form that school might not approve of, or even recognise. I was particularly heartened to read of the importance which practitioners of narrative approaches place on the rekindling of hope. For some years, I have believed that one of my key skills is to help people re-discover hope in times of adversity.
Where I part company with the published work on narrative therapy which I have read so far, is in the belief (or their story) that this approach pre-supposes a post-modern view of reality, and the absence of any objective truth. I happen to believe in objective truth - but also recognise it is a very hard thing to verify, and a risky one to claim sole insight to. Indeed it is because of my belief in, and respect for, objective reality, that I am so quick to recognise the multiple subjectivities to which I and everyone else lend temporary credence. There is a further post on the subject of Truth, here .
If you wish to read an excellent book that applies the insights of White et al to organisational change much more directly than I do, and in a clearly structured way that is far closer to White’s philosophy and approach, I highly recommend Re-Authoring the World by Dr Chené Swart.
As ever, I am keen for others’ views on this - and every - post, so do add your comments!