Cape Town visit by Trondheim Group 2005

We have come home from Cape Town strengthened, inspired and empowered. While we focused on Narrative Therapy, we also witnessed how narrative thinking is practised in a contextual arena relevant to the needs of the community. This was something we have not seen before. The way in which Elize approached our group showed that she was both well prepared and that her teaching was well thought out. She was both clear and concise. The enormous contrasts we witnessed in South Africa challenged us. We have no experience of dealing with this. The one moment we were staring at desperate poverty and sickness. The next, sitting in the lap of luxury. Yet this is something we chose ourselves to do, and something that we take responsibility for. We have many questions…
Having returned from South Africa, I now realize that what I do as a therapist means something. I recognized much of what Elize was talking about as important principles, knowledge and experience that I myself could easily relate to in my own work.
Alf Erik
I thought I knew most of the academic content we were going to cover, and this was in a way so. However most of my knowledge is in my head and based in my intellect. What we experienced in Cape Town had something to do with my emotions and seated deep in my stomach. I notice already that the conversations I have with my clients have changed. How I think about my work has changed.
My stay in Cape Town challenged me with very vivid and intense experiences. I see that these experiences and impressions already affect and colour me both on a professional level regarding the way I think, but also on a personal level.Somehow we managed to weave together our practical experiences with the theoretical.
I see from this trip to Cape Town how important it is to respect those we meet. I witnessed this many times in Cape Town. I notice also that the professional input from Cape Town has already changed the way I talk with my clients. Today, for example, I noticed that my reflections with a client were so different than previously. I see that I am more in my feelings and in my body when I meet my clients.
I was so impressed also with the balance in Elize between what she says and what she does.
Elize really made a deep impression. She seems to have opened something in me. My head and my heart seem to be in step with each other. I also found it difficult to cope with South Africa’s extreme contrasts. The one moment we were at the CTICC, then off to the townships, then suddenly sitting tasting wine on a wine farm…. Difficult!I was a bit concerned about being a sort of onlooker at others desperate poverty. However, the staff at Drakenstein created an atmosphere of safety and security, including me in their work. I wasn’t and outside onlooker, but a partaker…
I’ve taken part in many Narrative courses and workshops, but I got a completely new understanding through this visit to Cape Town. I experienced narrative therapy in my head, my body and my soul! I notice that this has affected the conversations I have with my clients. I am much more aware about the “thin stories”. I am a lot less afraid and am more concerned about the context from which clients come: political, social, and cultural…. I also see that I am coping with the heavy pressure at work differently. I think to myself, “OK. I can only do what I can do”. I sort of relax more. I feel that we have managed to make some very important contact with other people and I am wondering how we are going to build on this?
I am amazed to see how my colleagues in South Africa do social work in the community. They are very professional, yet they manage to come so very close to their clients creating hope and love and respect. We have been witnesses and this places a responsibility on us. We have a lot in our country. But they also have so much in their country. Faith. Standing together. Warmth. This makes me think that our country is in the process of losing something very important…
Kari H
I really enjoyed myself. It was so super to be there in all respects. The other secretaries should also have been there.
Anne Mari
I want to thank you Tony for showing and sharing your country with us. You are a builder of bridges. Everyone has said so much. South Africans are experts in seeing hope and finding hope. I was deeply touched by their openness, warmth, and the way they included us. So after having returned from Cape Town I’m going to teach myself about finding and holding onto hope. I’m going to hold on tight to hope, even in my most hopeless cases…
Today I sat listening to the story of a mother in a very difficult situation. I thought, now I’m going to open my heart and myself. I did. That became such an important part of this conversation. It created a very necessary closeness.
I remember what Elize said when she told us that the work she is doing has had a very high price. About how she talked about learning the art of therapy through hardship and struggle. How to live out our work through our body and soul. I remember for always the picture of Elize under a tree in her nannies’ lap…
I believe that this trip has changed this office and me. The church services. Standing in Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robin Island. Doing sorry. Doing hope and living hope, not just talking about hope is something I saw and witnessed in South Africa.
After I got back to Norway, I started wondering about what has happened to me/us in South Africa. It dawned on me that the South Africans had done something very wonderful for me/us and in such a way that I didn’t even notice it. They created a pool filled with love, generosity, compassion that we could swim in. In swimming in this pool I began finding myself – we began finding ourselves as a group – in a whole new way. It’s amazing, and a very precious gift they have given me and maybe to us.
Kari M
We started talking about this trip 4 years ago. I said to Stig then that this would never be possible to follow through. But we have made it happen and it has been an enormous success. I want to use the feeling of confidence that this gives me. We can actually make our dreams happen. This has helped me in coping with the enormous and impossible pressure we have here at work. I think to myself, that I am going to fix this. I’m going to cope.Elize has managed to integrate what she talks about with what she does through pain and struggle. She’s risked a lot. She’s fought a lot. This makes her a truly great teacher and she has just so much to offer. I was astonished to see how she practises narrative therapy.