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  • Writer's pictureVancouver School For Narrative Therapy VSNT

As the World Spins

Hello Everyone: As you already know, the year of 2020 all happened.

Way back when in March the world did not actually stop – it just felt that way. The planet is still spinning, with us on it. With the December 21st winter solstice, sunlit days in the northern hemisphere will certainly grow longer, the spring will not withhold it’s cherry blossoms, and the year we are leaving behind will always be in the past, now. We are moving on.

When it is over, and it will be over, I think I will miss the tenderness with which we avoid one another, the way we make allowances, how considerate we became. The way we checked with each other about what was possible, or desirable. The way potential disagreements surged silently and were, for the most part, allowed to fade.

When it is over, and it will be over, my hope is the attention COVID-19 brought to issues of class, race and what essential means in the meaning and appreciation of essential workers, remains with us. My wish is our participation in everyday neoliberal individualism does not allow this to fade.

Although the year sometimes felt as though nothing had been achieved, in fact, the past ten months were filled with unrelenting, small labour, as we collectively ran up the down escalator, keeping familiarity present.

Meanwhile we were alone. Nobody came, nobody left. Emotions arrived instead – unheralded and sometimes unwelcome – and then were gone. They just blew on through. It can be hard to know your state of mind, when there is no one else in the room. Or so it seemed.

But I was not actually alone. This past year when all our luck ran dry was also a year when I was one of the very luckiest. I knew that, too. I held company, comradeship, with friends, family and colleagues. People often think of gratitude as a gentle emotion but the feeling I have for all of you who accompanied me through the silent unknowing is fierce.

Whatever we find important about the present moment, the future will have another take on all that. And that’s a fact. So it is important to me, for another little while, to hold the veracity of this year close.

This all happened. 2020.

The year I saved my best cologne for Zoom.

2021. Happy New Year!

As the old year ended I felt an odd creeping pressure. Coinciding with COVID vaccination announcements. Only 6 or so months left of living inside, this wrapper. Only so much time left to get down to getting certain things done the shut down affords. I’ve grown a hushed affection for the solace this quietude affords.

I do wonder. Will the once and returning excited hurly-burly teaching and travel schedule ever feel the same? Will airports? Will bare feet adjust to wearing socks? Will therapy feel different with couple clients sitting in the room? Will thoughts rev up after ten months of learning to rev down? Will music sound altered? Will remembering to forget 2020 happen? Will it loiter?

I do feel our crusade through 2020 fosters many possible rites of passage from what was once thought ‘natural’, to what became, to what might become.

The Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy is Changing

I remember a discombobulated feeling after our last live VSNT teaching unit finished up training on February 28th, 2020. Our preferred VSNT style is to approach our training with pack mentality. Now, each of us, were on our own.

As a team we predicted, fairly accurately, not seeing each other throughout the year. Gone were the drinks, dinners and dates teaching together in Bergen (Norway), Vancouver and Toronto. Gone. Just like that. Poof.

We have all grown closer, since then. Must be our group Zoom and drink nights. Humour à la carte. A staple ordered off the menu. Rich, intimate relational dialogue through a work we share, cherish and practice. Practice with no limits. Conversations we cannot have with others. Even, if we tried.

VSNT desire is offering the world of therapy a backstage pass into what our VSNT faculty have been creating. Inside the day-to-day secret workroom. The mad elves have been working. Steadily.

The clear intention is selfish. To see what happens when our teaching group ascends the platform to let loose and run free. Free range chickens. Speaking of nuanced understanding, the ecology of relational ideas, that changes how we receive story into the receiving context, most deliberately. Leaping forward. Easily. Enormously.

There is another desire to see how our new narrative practices are received by all of you, and to see how our relational interaction with all of you changes the future course of the work we do. Sweet recursion. So here it is . . .

Advanced Training for Advanced Narrative Therapy Practitioners

Michael White's non-individualist post-structural fundamentals taught in our 5-day Foundations and Developing Questions certificate courses continues to inform VSNT faculty teaching. Without a secure knowledge and understanding of how Michael comprehended his practice, neither the trying to be or already arrived narrative therapist would necessarily know how to navigate the stories told.

While at the same time we respectfully keep Michael's foundational ideas at the forefront of practice, VSNT faculty have been completely reshaping the structure of the interview, the questions asked in the interview, how we receive story into the interview, and the relational meaning of client experience inside the interview, room.

Our Advance certificate course is specifically designed to show the next evolution for – for Mid-level to Advanced-level narrative therapists and supervisors (and, where applicable, Professors and advanced practice Graduate Student).

The Spring 2021 Advanced Training for Advance Narrative Practitioners Certificate Course is ready for viewing and registration on February 1st, 2021. Write to register early or visit in 3 weeks time.


Queer-Informed Narrative Therapy Alex Filippelli, MA & David Rock Nylund, Phd Saturday January 23rd, 2021

Alex and Rock set out to create original practice ideas to support their now award winning Gender Health Centre in Sacramento California. GHC presently sees 250 non pay/low pay Trans and Queer clients each week!

The workshop guides participants through the key theories, values and practices of a Queer-Informed Narrative Therapy. Training begins with a handsome review of Queer Theory as a theoretical resource for narrative therapeutic practice. Alex and Rock then introduce new Trans theory, an emerging theoretical orientation that focuses on the importance of physical embodiment in gender and sexual identity.

Through slides show, client session video, and interactive discussion, participants will:

1. Learn and unpack heteronormativity and cisnormativity;

2. Learn key tenets of Queer and new Trans theory;

3. Develop relationally centered narrative therapy informed practices to advocate for queer and trans lives.

Workshop Date: Saturday January 23rd, 2021

Low Prices: $125 CAD Professionals

$80 CAD Students and members

Time: 8:15 am - 2:15 pm, Pacific Daylight Time (Vancouver, BC)

Location: Classes will be taught live through Zoom video conferencing

Foundations of Theory and Narrative Therapy Practice

30 CE credits granted by the CCPA

80% Sold Out

Enjoy narrative practice learning with six world-class narrative therapists, teaching alongside one highly imaginative philosopher. Participants receive inspired, practice based, live interview and video demonstrations and interactive experience on the relational intersection between narrative therapy theory and practice.

Online Teaching Faculty: Rosa Arteaga (Canada), Helene Grau (Denmark),

Lorraine Hedtke USA), Stephen Madigan (Canada), David Marsten (USA)

Todd May (USA) & David Rock Nylund (USA)

Dates: February 19th, 20th & 21st, 27th and 28th, 2021

Bonus Day Follow-up: March 6th, 2021

Time: 8:15 am - 2:15 pm, Pacific Daylight Time (Vancouver, BC)

Location: Classes will be taught live through Zoom video conferencing

Third Annual Nordic Narrative Therapy Conference Bergen Norway New in-person conference dates: September 22-24, 2021.

Incredible narrative therapy faculty line up including presenters from Canada, Denmark, Norway and the USA.

Workshop topics include: Children and Families, Grief and Loss, Trauma and Gender Violence, Couple Therapy, Developing Narrative Questions, Tree of Life, Suicide, and Creating Participatory Healthy Communities.

To view speakers, topics, schedule, location and registration click the button below.

Narrative therapy informed Relational Interviewing (RI) Couple Therapy Workshop

During 2018 through 2019 I taught contracted, in person, narrative therapy informed Relational Interviewing (RI) couple therapy workshops in numerous cities and countries across five continents (Africa, Asia, Europe, North & South America). These workshops were companioned with three years supervising and seeing live couples alongside High Conflict Couple Therapy Teams in Norway (who are skilfully practicing narrative therapy informed Relational Interviewing).

In Spring 2021 I offer a 4-day online Couple Therapy course demonstrating the relational practice of narrative therapy informed Relational Interviewing (RI). Workshop guides participants through new non-individualist relational practice ideas through video demonstrations of me working with Canadian, Norwegian and American couples.

To hold a place and register early contact:

Full details on February 1st: 2021

Beginning in January 2021:

1) I co-host a new theoretical series with philosopher and VSNT faculty Todd May. Todd introduces us to a philosopher he considers the missing link in narrative therapy: Maurice Mealeau-Ponty.

2) I co-host the ongoing long-play series with Harjeet Badwall (and guest David ‘Rock’ Nylund) on race, racism, and white dominance in Social Work pedagogy, curriculum and practice - through critical race theories, anti-colonial studies, post-structuralism, queer theory and narrative therapy.

3) I co-host the ongoing long-play series with Aaron Munro on his latest practices and ideas inspired by his relational work with shelter-less people. The series backdrop features the many characters Aaron writes about in his book Bad Manners. Rachel, a women Aaron met who lived on the streets for years and who is now a director of homeless shelters is our next guest.

4) I co-host with Rock and VSNT guests a long-play Q&A series discussing any and all questions members have regarding the intimate particulars of narrative practice and theory. Live demonstrations included.

Introducing Our Newest Associate VSNT Teaching Faculty

Harjeet Badwall, PhD: Harjeet is an Associate Professor at York University’s School of Work in Toronto Canada. Her areas of research focus on race, racism, and white dominance in Social Work pedagogy, curriculum and practice. She works from an interlocking analysis of violence and oppression and situates her work within critical race theories, anti-colonial studies and post-structuralism. Harjeet also practiced as a social worker for many years in the areas of racialized and gender-based violence, narrative counseling work, community activism and organizational change work. Harjeet's academic and practice work is committed to deconstructing and resisting the operations of dominant discourses in our world. Narrative Therapy ideas have been central to her practices and analysis of social and political concerns.

Ottar Ness, PhD: Ottar is a Professor of Counseling at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and Adjunct Professor at the Masters program of Family Therapy at VID Scientific University in Norway. He is the head of the Research Group on Relational Welfare and Well-being and 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. Welcome to the family Harjeet and Ottar. Welcome everyone to the year of 2021. Please feel free to contact me directly at Take care, have fun, and push that narrative practice of yours, forward. stephen

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