The Bergen Conference

Image by ZHANG Shaoqi

Third Nordic Narrative Therapy Conference 
Bergen Norway
MAY 4-6, 2022

The Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy and Narativ Praxis Bergen present The Third Nordic Narrative Therapy Conference. Highlighting International Presenters discussing new developments in narrative practice with children, couples and families.

**Please Note - New Nordic Narrative Conference schedule, workshops and presenters will be posted October 15, 2021

Teaching Faculty: Rosa Arteaga (Canada), Erling Fidjestol (Norway),  Helene Grau Kristensen (Denmark), Cecilie Erichsen Lærkerød  (Norway), Stephen Madigan (Canada), David Marsten (USA), Gunnar Martisen (Norway), Todd May (USA), Ottar Ness (Norway), David Nylund (USA), Siv Sæveraas (Norway), Trondheim High Couple Conflict Team (Norway), Jennifer White (Canada)

Dates: May 4-6, 2022

Location: Bergen Literaturhaus, Østre Skostredet 5, 5017

Bergen, Norway

Professional 3-Day Pass: 3,500 kr

Students & members 3-Day Pass: 2,500 kr

Proof of student status is required upon registration


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Rosa Arteaga, MA

Rosa developed an innovative narrative therapy/social justice/feminist inspired therapeutic practice to support girls and women of all ages, and diverse backgrounds who are experiencing complex trauma and violence. Her work takes the learner inside the complexities of gender violence through storytelling, session videos and unaltered transcripts. Rosa is the Clinical Director and Supervisor within a multi-disciplinary team with a nonprofit anti-violence women’s organization in Vancouver, Canada. Rosa is a longtime Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy faculty member. 

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Erling Fidjestøl, MA

Erling is recognized around the world as a leader in narrative theory and practice understandings in Norway. He works as a family therapist at the Robust Clinic in Oslo and for the last 16 years has immersed himself entirely in the study and practice of narrative therapy. He teaches narrative therapy to Family Therapy Graduate students and works with children, youth and their families suffering with a wide range of difficulties including high conflicts, and social, cultural and mental health issues of various kinds.

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Helene Grau MA

Helene is a co-founder of Praksis: The Centre for Narrative Therapy in Denmark. She was originally supervised and trained for many years by Michael White, presents workshops internationally, teaches narrative therapy courses at the University of Copenhagen and is a faculty member with the Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy. Helene publishes on the issues of Grief, Death and Hope and her therapy practice specializes in working with parents who have experienced the death of a child.

Cecilie Erichsen Lærkerød, MA

Cecilie is a brilliant up and coming narrative therapist who works as a family therapist at Bjørgvin Familiekontor in Bergen, Norway. She is a founding member of the inspired Narativ Praxis Bergen group, has studied extensively with VSNT in Canada, and works with high conflict couples, families and children. Her intensive rigour, imagination, fearlessness, and long hours of training and practice can be found on full display throughout all of Cecilies' practice workshops. 

Stephen Madigan, PhD

Stephen is an award winning Couple and Family therapist and best selling author of the books Narrative Therapy (2011, 2019). He is the Director of the Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy, content manager for the online interactive learning site, and consultant supervisor to Norway’s National Couple Conflict Team and Trondheim's High Conflict Team. Stephen teaches workshops around the world through session videos, unaltered transcripts, and live interview demonstrations.

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David Marsten, MA

David is the Clinical Director of Miracle Mile Community Practice in Los Angeles, California and has practiced narrative therapy for 30 years. He is the co-author of the brilliant book: Narrative Therapy in Wonderland: Connecting with Children’s Imaginative Know-how, a faculty member with the Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy, and teaches narrative therapy workshops internationally through session videos, unaltered transcripts, and live interview demonstrations. 

Gunnar Martisen, MA

Gunnar is a chef, nurse and family therapist and a leader in narrative practice understanding in Norway. Gunnar has trained extensively in narrative therapy in Sacramento California, and with VSNT in Vancouver, Canada, and worked for many years at Robust (Norway's only all narrative therapy clinic) in Oslo. He is a senior member of the Narativ Praxis Bergen group and works as a family therapist with high conflict couples, and families and children Bjørgvin Familiekontor, in his home city of Bergen.

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Todd May, PhD

Todd is the resident teaching philosopher and faculty member with the Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy. As a Professor of Philosophy he has authored sixteen books  including the beautifully written and readable texts on the ideas of Michel Foucault (2006) and Gilles Deleuze (2005). For decades he has been active in grassroots political movements and most recently in immigration rights and anti-racism campaigns. He is currently the philosopher advisor to the hit TV show The Good Place on NBC.  

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Jonny Morris MA 

Jonny is the CEO for the Canadian Mental Health Association in British Columbia Canada. He is most well know in the narrative community for using a post structural and narrative therapy framework in his up-close analysis of Youth Suicide. And through a collision of social artistry, narrative interviews, and outsider witness teams, Jonny has worked with insiders, service providers, and policy makers to re-imagine possibilities for change in policy and practice. Jonny is interested in studying the emergence of critical suicidology as part of a doctoral program.

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Ottar Ness, PhD

Ottar is a Professor of Counselling and Mental Healthcare at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway and a Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy faculty member. His research finds him traveling around the world teaching on topics such as relational welfare, public value, dignity, and the common good, as well as recovery in mental health and substance use.

David Nylund, PhD

David is a Professor of Social Work at California State University, Sacramento (USA), faculty with the Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy, and the Clinical Director of the Gender Health Centre, a community based agency serving LGBTQ communities. He has practiced narrative therapy for 30 years, is the author of several books and over 60 articles on narrative therapy practice, queer theory, and cultural studies.

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Siv Sæveraas MA

Siv is a systemic family therapist in Bergen, Norway who works as a family therapist with couples, families and children at Bjørgvin Familiekontor, in Bergen, Norway. Siv holds specific interest in the Tree of Life practice of narrative therapy, works as a teacher, supervisor and writer, and is a guardian for a number of single, minor refugees. Before Siv entered the field of family therapy, she had a long career as a feature journalist. 

Nina Tejs Jørring MD

Nina simultaneously trained to become a Narrative Therapist and a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was always her vision to make narrative family based approaches the way to respond to psychiatric problems and has subsequently built a Family Therapy Team in the Danish CAMHS. Nina has researched this work with families, loves her teaching with interns and her current project is writing a book on narrative family based approaches to child and adolescent psychiatric problems. 

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Jennifer White EdD

Jennifer is Associate Professor and Director, School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria (Canada). Jennifer has practiced in the field of youth suicide prevention since 1988 as a clinical counsellor, educator, policy consultant, researcher, and community developer. She is interested in studying contemporary discourses of youth suicide prevention through critically informed, relational approaches to inquiry. Jennifer seeks to explore alternatives to the standardized, expert-driven, one-size-fits-all, risk factor based approach to youth suicide prevention. 


9:15 am - 4:00 pm 



Day 1  - All Day Pre-Conference Workshops  

A) Crafting Narrative Therapy Letters to Children, Youth and Families – LIVE demonstration.

Nina Tejs Jørring (Denmark) & David Nylund (USA)  


Two of the world’s most creative therapeutic letter writers present narrative therapy’s imaginative collection of work with children, youth and families. David demonstrates work with queer and trans youth and Nina shows her practice with families struggling with complex psychiatric problems.  David then guides participants through a LIVE counter-story demonstration interview that serves as the backdrop to carefully outline the structure, purpose and creative possibilities involved with writing therapeutic letters. Participants are invited to write a response to the Live interview by writing a therapeutic letter (in either Danish, Norwegian or English).


B) A Framework for Thinking About Narrative Therapy Practice – Todd May (USA)


Michel Foucault was a touchstone in the formation of narrative practice.  Michael White relied heavily on Foucault's theoretical work to explain and formulate vital aspects of his non-essentialist approach to therapy.  Later, Michael immersed himself in the thought of Gilles Deleuze, although his death prevented him from a fuller integration of Deleuze's work. The workshop will focus on these two philosophical thinkers, and demonstrate how they intersect with narrative practice. 


C) Foundations of Narrative Therapy Theory and Practice - LIVE demonstration.

Erling Fidjestøl (Norway) & Stephen Madigan (Canada)                                    


Participants are introduced to the foundational theory and practice that guides narrative therapy interviewing including: 1) Relational externalizing, 2) Re-authoring values, 3) Re-membering conversations, 4) Crafting questions, and 5) Double listening. Participants experience the 5 practices as they are shown through 'slow showing' client session videotapes and LIVE demonstration of the practice.

4:30 pm – 6:00 pm



Post film discussion with: Gunnar Martinsen (Norway) & Helene Grau (Denmark)

The ranks of a men's choir narrative therapist Gunnar Martinsen sings with is comprised of 25 tattooed middle-aged men often found with a beer in their hand.  Every Tuesday night the unusual group gets together, lets go of their inhibitions, turns the choir into a reality to be proud of, that over time, begins to resemble a family. The award wining documentary centres on the choirs experience when receiving the news that one of them has only a few months left to live. The experience provides opportunity for the men to rediscover the values of friendship and connection.

8:30 am - 9:15 am 


Day 2 - Morning Keynote Address 

Critical Suicide Studies: Creating Worlds Worth Living In

Jennifer White (Canada) & Jonny Morris (Canada)


The keynote will discuss an up-close and experience-near accounting of how narrative therapy ideas are shaping critical approaches to expanding possibilities for living.

8:30 am - 9:15 am 


Day 2 - Morning Keynote Address 

Critical Suicide Studies: Creating Worlds Worth Living In

Jennifer White (Canada) & Jonny Morris (Canada)


The keynote will discuss an up-close and experience-near accounting of how narrative therapy ideas are shaping critical approaches to expanding possibilities for living.

9:30 am – 12:00 pm


Day 2 - Morning Workshops


A) Addressing the Effects of Bullying and Exclusion: Not single-handedly but sharing together. 

Erling Fidjestøl (Norway) 


Four previously unacquainted girls (age 12 to 14) have all individually faced years of bullying and exclusion. Introduced to the ideas of narrative therapy's definitional ceremony they have all accepted the invitation to come together in a shared sense of solidarity. Together they might come to see themselves less through the eyes of self-hatred and more through the compassionate eyes of one another. Through excerpts from a videotape of one of these sessions the workshop participants get a glimpse into some of the possibilities that non-individualistic practices has to offer in working with problems that so often leave therapists feeling impotent and powerless. 


B) From Complicated Grief to Society’s Complication of Grief. Helene Grau (Denmark)


As the diagnostic system continues to expand it is now possible to be diagnosed with complicated grief. As an antidote to this development, the workshop will examine a different perspective on grief. The problem is not that people are suffering from complicated grief. The problem is that our society is addressing grief and death in ways that complicate grief. This workshop will demonstrate how narrative informed conversations are addressing grief and death in ways that cultivate, honour and supports an ongoing relationship with the loved ones who are no longer breathing. The workshop will make use of transcripts to demonstrate narrative questions and pathways that support parents to develop and ongoing relationship to the child that is no longer breathing. 



C) Narrative Therapy with Children and Families (Part 1). David Marsten (USA)


The workshop will discuss and demonstrate direct narrative therapy practice with children in the context of family therapy. Key narrative practices will be addressed alongside David's newest ideas regarding narrative structure and dramatization.  Direct practice videos with children and families are used to demonstrate the beauty, skill and complexity of this work.


Lunch 12:00pm – 1:30pm

1:30 pm – 4:00 pm 


Day 2 - Afternoon Workshops 


A) Narrative Therapy with Children and Families (Part 2).

Cecilie Erichsen Lærkerød (Norway) & David Marsten (USA)


Once children are convinced their creative and imaginative know-how is not only admissible, but also encouraged in therapy, they are only too happy to take direct aim at solving problems. A Wonderfulness interviewing approach to narrative therapy with children and families will be demonstrated and discussed in wonderful ways. LIVE demonstration interview.


B) Our Bodies Our Minds: Rich Stories of Strength, Resistance, and Unique Outcomes.

Rosa Arteaga (Canada)


The workshop demonstrates Rosa’s twenty years of experience and thousands of practice hours engaging individually and collectively with girls and women who have experienced gender-based violence. She shares, examines and educates participants on a delivery model that goes beyond a trauma informed approach and towards a narrative informed, feminist, decolonizing practice.


C) A Relational Response to Dysfunction Focused Couple Therapy. LIVE demonstration.

 Stephen Madigan (Canada), High Conflict Couple Teams (Bergen & Trondheim, Norway)


Narrative Therapy informed Relational Interviewing is an alternative relational response to contemporary forms of dysfunction focused couple therapy. Stephen outlines the framework of his relational practice and then demonstrates the work through a LIVE interview with a local couple. After the interview, therapists from the Trondheim and Bergen Relational Interviewing high conflict teams will offer a response to the couple and then question Stephen (in front of the couple) about the relational questions he asked in the session.                    

4:15 pm – 5:00 pm


Day 2 - Afternoon Keynote Address 

Self-Deception. Todd May (USA) 


We all know that we deceive ourselves, sometimes about important aspects of who we are.  However, most views of deception are rooted in psychoanalysis, which individualizes self-deception and so neglects its social roots. The keynote will offer a framework for thinking about self-deception from within a larger social context, allowing narrative practice to integrate it without betraying the important insights of the practice

8:30 am - 9:15 am


Day 3 - Morning Keynote Address 

Still Alive. Helene Grau (Denmark)

The keynote guides participants through an interviewing practice that involves crafting relational responses to grief that re-story loss and death, and cultivate a continued relationship between the living and the dead. 

9:30 am – 12:00 pm


Day 3 - Morning Workshops


A) Tree of Life: Connecting through shared humanity

Siv Sæveraas (Norway)


Siv shares her intercultural therapy experiences from an impoverished neighbourhood in Nairobi Kenya, where she is implementing a Tree of Life narrative approach to reach beyond cultural differences and stereotypes. In this workshop she challenges dominant discourses on cultural competence, while exploring shared humanity as a resource in intercultural therapy.


B) Therapeutic Engagements with Suicide: Towards More Invigorating and Life-Giving Conversations

Jennifer White (Canada) & Jonny Morris (Canada)


In this workshop, Jennifer and Jonny work with participants to imagine alternatives to the standard “risk-factor” approach to working with the issue of suicide that can often reinforce individualizing, pathologizing, and medicalizing conceptualizations of persons. Drawing on practices of narrative therapy, relational ethics, collaborative knowledge generation, and politicized understandings of distress, we seek to complicate, diversify, and expand possibilities for responding to the complexity of suicide and self-harm.


C) Advanced Practice: Developing Therapeutic Questions (Part 1). LIVE Demonstration Learning

Helene Grau (Denmark), Stephen Madigan (Canada) & David Nylund (USA) 

*Please note: Advanced learning participants must register and attend both sections of this full day course


Learning to ask narrative therapy questions is a comprehensive mix of precision, skill, creativity and theoretical understandings. The Advanced Participant learns to accurately compose, understand and practice the purpose, direction, grammar, politic, temporality, imagination and creativity behind narrative therapy questions.


Lunch 12:00pm – 1:30pm

1:30 pm – 4:00 pm


Day 3 - Afternoon Workshops 

A) Relational Welfare and Narrative Practice: Dignifying lives and practices for persons with mental health problems. Ottar Ness (Norway)


Relational welfare is a human-centred and collaborative approach premised on human rights, social justice and societal sustainable development. Relational welfare means that welfare is a resource that people co-create together, where personal and collective relationships and environments are placed at the centre of development. In this workshop Ottar will present and discuss how narrative practice can promote better lives and communities for people struggling with mental health problems.


B) How and Why We Learned to Practice Narrative Therapy: A Down to Earth Discussion.

Rosa Arteaga (Canada), Cecilie Erichsen (Norway), Erling Fidjestøl (Norway), Cecilie Kristiansen (Norway), Gunnar Martisen (Norway) 

Interact with a wonderful panel who discuss personal stories and experiences about why they decided to study and practice narrative therapy. The workshop offers participants an up close, fun filled, intimate experience about learning (and how to learn) narrative therapy. The informal and interactive discussion is designed to answer your questions, offer a few secret learning tips, and encourage your future practice of narrative therapy. 


C) Advanced Practice: Developing Therapeutic Questions (Part 2). LIVE Demonstration Learning 

Helene Grau (Denmark), Stephen Madigan (Canada) & David Nylund (USA) 


*Please note: Advanced learning participants must register and attend both sections of this full day course


Learning to ask narrative therapy questions is a comprehensive mix of precision, skill, creativity and theoretical understandings. The Advanced Participant learns to accurately compose, understand and practice the purpose, direction, grammar, politic, temporality, imagination and creativity behind narrative therapy questions.

4:15 pm – 5:00 pm 


Day 3 - Afternoon Keynote Address


Queer Informed Narrative Therapy Practices David Nylund (USA)


David presents his award winning innovative work on a Queer Theory informed Narrative Therapy Practice. He highlights the contemporary issues of representation, homonormativity, transgender youth, trauma, violence, masculinities, gender binaries and more.