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The BIG LIVE Narrative Therapy Conference
Therapeutic Conversations 17
Granville Island, 
Vancouver, BC, CANADA

Image by Jeffrey Eisen

The BIG LIVE Narrative Therapy Conference
Beautiful Practice, Bursting with Ideas, Beaucoup de Fun
Granville Island, Vancouver, BC
October 27-29th, 2023

In 1993 VSNT hosted the first ever international narrative therapy conference. Finally, after 21 conferences + 100's of training courses + 1000's & 1000's of client session hours and a long 3.5 year COVID layoff, we are inspired to bring you the very best narrative therapy thinkers and therapists from across the world ~ LIVE! 

All practice based workshops are skill focused and designed to demonstrate (with videos and unaltered transcripts) the latest developments in narrative therapy theory and practice with children, families, couple relationships, groups, and communities.

Join VSNT each evening for the very best post conference day gatherings.
Connect, have a drink, relax, and meet up with presenters and community.

Sending you a personal heartfelt invitation to join us.


Teaching Faculty (so far): Rosa Arteaga (Mexico/Canada), Harjeet Badwall (Canada), Christine Dennstedt (Canada), Helene Grau (Denmark), Jodi Gray (Canada), Sharon Leung (Hong Kong/London UK), Stephen Madigan (Canada), David Marsten (USA), Todd May (USA), Aaron Munro (Canada), Ottar Ness, (Norway), David Nylund (USA), Rolf Sundet (Norway), Jeff Zimmerman (USA)

Dates: October 27-29th, 2023

Location: Granville Island: Arts Umbrella - Centre for Youth and the Performing Arts & the Granville Island Hotel.

Seating is limited ~ 20% sold

3-Day Pass: $600 CAD

Students and members: $500 CAD

**Students ID will need to be shown at checkin.

Presenters (so far)
Full presenters list coming ~ April 21, 2023

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Rosa Arteaga, MA

Through her narrative therapy informed feminist inspired and just therapy approach Rosa's work takes the learner inside the complexities of gender violence through slides and session transcripts. Her newest creative endeavour demonstrates her practice of interviewing the abused body and entering into relational contracts with the person and their body. Rosa is a VSNT faculty member and the Clinical Director and Supervisor of a multi-disciplinary team with a nonprofit anti-violence women’s organization in Vancouver.

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Harjeet Badwall,

Harjeet works from an interlocking analysis of violence and oppression and situates her practice within critical race theories, anti-colonial studies, and post-structuralism. She is VSNT faculty member and an Associate Professor at York University’s School of Social Work with a research focus on race, racism, and white dominance in social work pedagogy, curriculum and practice. Having studied with Michael White, Narrative Therapy ideas have been central to her therapeutic practices and analysis of social and political concerns.

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Christine Dennstedt,

Christine is a VSNT faculty member who has been deeply engaged in the narrative therapy Vancouver narrative community since completing her Master's degree in 2002.  By 2010 she had completed her PhD, working closely with the TAOS Institutes world renown director Dr. Sheila MacNamee. Christine's narrative therapy informed Doctoral dissertation articulated the interconnection between substance misuse and disordered eating in the lives of young women. Christine is now quite  involved in new practice developments in the field of psychedelic medicines and mental health.

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Erling Fidjesttøl, MA

Erling is recognized around the world as a leader in narrative theory and practice understandings in Norway. He is a clinical director and family therapist at the ROBUST child and family therapy Clinic in Oslo ~ Norways only all narrative therapy clinic. For the last 18 years Erling has immersed himself entirely in the study and practice of narrative therapy. He teaches narrative therapy to Family Therapy Graduate students, works with children, youth and their families and is a VSNT faculty member.


Helene Grau Kristensen, MA

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

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Sharon Leung, PhD

Sharon teaches, practices and supervises narrative therapy in Chinese/Cantonese and English. She first became an elite student of Michael White's in 2001 and over the two + decades since Sharon (alongside Dr Angela Tsun) was the narrative therapy teaching and training leader in Hong Kong.  Up until August 2020, she taught Social Work at Hong Kong Baptist University and was the Director of the Centre for Youth Research and Practice (CYRP). At CYRP, she organized and taught the One-year intensive narrative therapy training programme, supervised graduate students, and ran numerous collaborative projects with service users, practitioners and NGOs in Hong Kong. Sharon now lives and trains out of London/UK.

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Stephen Madigan, PhD

Stephen is an award winning Couple and Family therapist and best selling author of the books Narrative Therapy (2011, 2019, + 3rd Edition out in 2024). He wrote the first doctoral dissertation on narrative therapy, is the Director of the Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy, content manager for the online interactive learning site, and longstanding consultant supervisor to High Conflict Couple Therapy Teams. Stephen enjoys teaching, consulting, and supervising teams ~ world wide. 

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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 highly praised book: Narrative Therapy in Wonderland: Connecting with Children’s Imaginative Know-how, and longtime faculty member with the Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy. David teaches narrative therapy workshops internationally through session videos, unaltered transcripts, and live interview demonstrations. 

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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 seventeen books including the beautifully written and readable texts on the ideas of Gilles Deleuze (2005), and Michel Foucault (2006). For decades he has been active in grassroots political movements and most recently in immigration rights and anti-racism campaigns. He was also the philosopher advisor to the hit TV show The Good Place on NBC and a new book on moral philosophy by Mike Schur How to be Perfect (2022)


Aaron Munro, MA

Aaron is Queer and Trans identified and for more than 18 years has worked as an advocate, activist, and Agency director for the rights and dignity of unhoused people. Aaron's experience has led him to many ‘mental health firsts’ in Canada – including opening the first trans youth homeless housing project in 2017, and more recently in 2021, designed and opened the first homeless trans adult housing project staffed entirely by trans identified people. He is a VSNT faculty member and has produced several video documentaries on stigma, mental health and the homeless.

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Ottar Ness,PhD

Ottar is a VSNT faculty member, and Professor and Leader of WellFare: Nordic Research Center for Wellbeing and Social Sustainability at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). His training, research, and policy interests focus on relational welfare and well-being focusing on citizenship, public value, and social justice through the use of participatory action research and citizen science methodologies. He also has a special interest in relational recovery processes in mental health and substance use and how these ideas can create inclusive communities. Narrative and relational ideas have been central to his research practices and analysis of social and political concerns.

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David Nylund, PhD

Rock began practicing narrative therapy in 1990. He is a Professor of Social Work at California State University Sacramento, Clinical Director/Supervisor of the award winning Gender Health Centre, and longtime Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy faculty member. He has written three  books on Narrative Therapy: Narrative Therapies with Children and Adolescents (1997); Treating Huckleberry Finn: A New Narrative Approach to Working with Kids Diagnosed ADD/ADHD (2000); and Therapeutic Conversations with Queer Youth: Transcending Homonormativity and Constructing Preferred Identities (2013along with publishing 55 articles on a wide range of narrative therapy and cultural studies topics. He conducts ongoing narrative therapy workshops and supervision for mental health professionals worldwide.

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Rolf Sundet, PhD

Rolf Sundet is a specialist in clinical psychology, professor emeritus at the University College of South-Eastern Norway and, all round provocateur for the good of the people. He is also a freelance supervisor and has published extensively in both international and Scandinavian books and journals. Two of his special interests involve creative perspectives on returning to the real as a necessary focus in therapeutic practices and conceptualizations, and viewing psychotherapy as a process of making.

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Robin Evan Willis, MA, MCP

Robin holds a Masters degree in Counselling Psychology from Adler University and - a Masters of Arts degree in acting from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London England. After retiring from a successful acting career in both NYC and Toronto, Robin now works as a therapist in private practice and is also the centre piece of ideas and organization working as the Director of Operations for The Vancouver School of Narrative Therapy and BIG Conference coordinator. VSNT faculty and our international community highly value Robin's ongoing creativity, insight, and leadership.

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Jeff Zimmerman, PhD

Jeff Zimmerman is at the top of the list of veteran narrative therapist/teachers world wide. Jeff first began his apprenticeship with Michael White in 1988 where he became Michael’s closest friend in North America. Jeff has over 15,000 + hours of in session narrative therapy experience, and is the co-author of a tremendously astute and helpful book entitled ‘If Problems Talked’ ~ a wonderful primer of old school narrative therapy! His latest book ‘Neuro-Narrative Therapy – new possibilities for emotion-filled conversations’ is considered a must read book that was written well ahead of its time

BIG Conference Schedule (so far)

Daily Schedule: October 27-29, 2023 

(Registration 7:30am - 8:15am)


8:15am - 9:00am 



9:15am – 11:45am

~ Lunch 11:45am – 1:15pm 


1:15pm – 4:15pm

DAY ONE ~ October 27th


KEYNOTE ADDRESS. Helene Grau Kristensen (Denmark)

8:15am - 9:00am 


Relationships do not have to die. In our society, the people who we love and are close to become marginalized the moment they die. Our culture’s dominant ideas about death, relationship, and grief reduces them to be only memories in the past. The relationship is brought to an end as relationships in our Western society can only exist between two living bodies and the grieving person is expected to say goodbye and accept this new reality. Helene plans to introduced you to a Narrative Therapy approach to grief, and demonstrates how relationships can continue, despite death.



9:15am – 11:45am

Workshop A)  Street Talk – Reflections on Resistance to Single Storied Identities. Aaron has recently wrapped up a couple of decades as an activist and agency director working with people without housing/insecure housing on the streets of the Downtown East Side, Vancouver. Throughout his journey, he met hundreds of people who, often from a young age, were put in the position of resisting violent ideas about who they are. Aaron shares stories of people, who despite constant exposure to deficit and singular identity conclusions, adamantly refused to be dismissed and ignored. Aaron invites you into the communities he met. Aaron Munro (Canada)

Workshop B) Narrative Therapy and Neurobiology: Some “good to know” ideas about emotions. The workshop will focus on how emotions are transacted in our bodies and in our relationships, how they mediate trauma and safety, and their relevance to our current cultural context. For the last 15 years, Jeff has been speaking out about the helpful ways a post-structurally informed narrative therapy and neurobiology might relationally engage and even fit together. In a playful way, he demonstrates how current understandings about the brain and the distributed nervous system in the body might dramatically enrich and evolve our narrative therapy practice.

Jeff Zimmerman (USA)

Workshop C) The Practice of Therapeutic Letter Writing in Narrative Therapy: Rock is considered one of narrative therapy's world class therapeutic letter writers. After an overview of the historical roots and writing frameworks, various examples of letters are highlighted. Rock will then conduct a live 35-minute counter-story interview with a volunteer interviewee. Participants are then invited into a live practice experience of crafting their own therapeutic letter to the interviewee in response to the narrative therapy conversation they have just witnessed. David “Rock” Nylund (USA)

Workshop D)

Workshop E)

~ Lunch 11:45am – 1:15pm 


1:15pm – 4:15pm

Workshop A) Rich Stories of Strength, Resistance, and Transformation: Engaging persons in a healing process through collaborating with their body. The workshop demonstrates Rosa’s twenty-five 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, shows transcripts, and educates participants on a framework that goes beyond a trauma informed approach and towards a narrative informed, feminist, decolonizing practice. Rosa Elena Arteaga (Mexico/Canada) 

Workshop B) Working with children and families: Narrative therapy as high drama. The workshop demonstrates the necessity for therapists to help co-create a richly drawn character to drive the plot forward. David shows this through discussions, slides, and video tape sessions of his beautifully crafted and complex understandings of narrative therapy with children and families. He argues that as therapists we must not be hasty and view the context people find themselves in or the problems they face as eminently recognizable (e.g., deficiency, disorder) and thereby risk missing out on the mystery and suspense that every good story needs. David Marsten (USA)

Workshop C) A Philosophical Framework for Thinking About Narrative Therapy Practice. Michael White argued that without a solid understating of philosopher Michel Foucault's theoretical framework, a therapist’s narrative therapy practice will be severely limited. Philosopher Todd May guides participants into the political and ideological complexities of Foucault’s ideas and offers participants the all-important coherent link between post-structural theory and narrative therapy practice. Todd May (USA)


Workshop D) 

Workshop E)














DAY TWO ~ October 28th




8:15am - 9:00am 

Neoliberalism and the Climate Crisis. Todd discusses three intersecting moral aspects of the climate crisis ~ 1) that of rich and poor, where the rich are the major emitters and the major beneficiaries; 2) the intergenerational crisis, where each generation has the most to gain through emitting greenhouse gasses and passing on the problem to the next one; 3) that the dominant theoretical framework for discussing the crisis is cost/benefit analysis. Todd describes these storms and their neoliberal context as a significant aspect of the current background conditions confronting therapists.  



9:15am – 11:45am


Workshop A) Hikikomori: A Unique Narrative Project. In capitalist Hong Kong where people's worth is based on competition, greed and selfishness (and of course other dominant discourses related to academic achievement and job advancement), 'hikikomori' is a 'proclamation of response' (Michael White) from young people who want to maintain a close relationship with their values, commitment and purposes of life. Our narrative project found that this group of young people, though not willing to make social interactions with humans, were able to form strong bonding in the past or/and current relationships with their pets/animals. This narrative project was carried out collaboratively with other communities, NGOs, animal intervention agencies, and animal shelters. Jack, Chiu Tak Choi (Hong Kong) & Sharon Leung (Hong Kong/London UK)

Workshop B) Relationships are Relational: Narrative therapy informed Relational Interviewing with Conflicted Couple Relationships. Todd discusses certain complexities concerning philosophical ideas on non-individualism, memory, values/valuing, norms and normativity, meaning of care/caring, and the idea of narratability. Stephen then links these philosophical ideas with his new practices of narrative informed Relational Interviewing through slides and video demonstrations of his work with conflicted couple relationships in Canada, Norway, and America, . 

Stephen Madigan (Canada) & Todd May​ (USA)

Workshop C) Thinking With Deleuze: How to move on in the age of evidenced based practice. Rolf Sundet (Norway)

Collaboration is a necessary part of what is named as psychotherapy. At the same time political forces are strong in demanding that this collaboration must follow standardized principles embedded in a perspective on knowledge that puts a specific view on evidence at the centre. In this, the unique person seems to be lost in a Neoliberal haze using sameness as a central weapon. Rolf discusses the thinking of philosopher Gilles Deleuze and the primacy of difference in itself can help us manoeuvre in this ideological landscape. Keywords here will be singularity and uniqueness as necessary parts of narrative practice as a collaborative process of 'making together' with people in mental health services. 


Workshop D) Making Bathrooms Safer for Everyone: Jodi and Aaron speak from their individual locations (fem & masc) on how they have resisted pejorative gender notions for themselves. Speaking from lived experience they discuss their work with Trans people on the frontlines of this struggle, who demonstrate what bravery really looks like in fighting these hurtful social constructs. Jodi Gray & Aaron Munro (Canada).

Workshop E)

~ Lunch 11:45am – 1:15pm 


1:15pm – 4:15pm

Workshop A) Queer Informed Narrative Therapy with Trans Youth and Families.  Transgender and gender expansive youth face enormous challenges and risks such as: school bullying, lack of access to timely health care, mental health difficulties, homelessness, and physical violence. The workshop both illustrates and demonstrates Rock's newly created 5-step therapeutic approach with families, to bring forth parental/caregiver affirmation and support of trans youth. David “Rock” Nylund (USA)  

Workshop B) Relational remembering responses to “complicated grief": A narrative therapy approach. This workshop offers very different understandings and practice approaches to grief. Helene's plan is to guide you through the intimate experience of her session transcripts where you will witness significant “relationships” being created between grieving grown up children and their dead parent. She demonstrates how these children assist their parents not only by continuing their relationship, but by helping develop significant relationships between their parent and their future grandchildren.  

Helene Grau Kristensen (Denmark)

Workshop C)


Workshop D) 

Workshop E)

DAY THREE ~ October 29th


KEYNOTE ADDRESS. Harjeet Badwall (Canada) & David Rock Nylund (USA)


Race, Power Relations, Anti-essentialism and Identity. Harjeet begins the keynote with her research on race, racism, and social work practice. She examines the ways in which whiteness permeates the social work profession and therapy, through colonial continuities, white supremacy, and neoliberal individualism. Harjeet will present the concept of interlocking oppressions and utilize the work of critical race scholars to examine how Narrative practices may support anti-colonial and anti-racist conversations in our therapeutic work. Rock will then highlight cultural theorist, Stuart Hall, post-colonial theorist, Gayatri Spivak, and feminist scholar Ana Louise Keating’s and their ideas on identity, difference, and social justice--and how their ideas provide a framework for therapists from the dominant culture to act as a co-conspirator in relationship to whiteness, hetero/cisnormativity, and other forms of interlocking oppressions.

8:15am - 9:00am 



9:15am – 11:45am

Workshop A) 

Workshop B) Discussions on Difference and Identity. Philosopher Gilles Deleuze suggests nothing has a stable identity and it is difference that precedes identity. Rolf and Todd discuss these ideas and what they might mean to the practice of narrative therapy. 

Todd May (USA) & Rolf Sundet (Norway)

Workshop C) Couple Therapy: Relational Letter Writing to the Couple's Relationship. The workshop demonstrates the practice of narrative therapy informed relational interviewing (NIRI) writing relational letters directly to the couple's relationship. Stephen co-presents with a local couple he worked with in couple therapy and they outline the intimate experience of this relational letter writing experience in therapy and in their relationship. And they will collectively discuss what the experience relationally 'made possible' between therapist, couple, and the relationship.

Guest couple (Canada) & Stephen Madigan (Canada)


Workshop D)

Workshop E)

~ Lunch 11:45am – 1:15pm 


1:15pm – 4:15pm

Workshop A) Beyond Clinical Supervision: Narrative conversations with pain and suffering while inviting hope, strength and transformation. Rosa shares her many years of experience and just narrative therapy approach supporting social services providers, counsellors, and other professionals who work in the social service field. She and her invited guests then discuss their experiences of supervision and support in their work as active witnesses and participants in the lives of people experiencing tremendous pain and suffering.

Workshop B) 

Workshop C)


Workshop D)

Workshop E)

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