Events Feedback on Events Freedman & Combs Workshop August 2008

The workshop by Jill Freedman and Gene Combs was attended by 160 participants. On the first day Jill and Gene introduced the narrative metaphor and illustrated how multiple story-lines can be developed resulting in shifting the meaning of problematic story lines. We looked at the kinds of questions that support rich story development and how we may listen for the absent but implicit in stories. On the second day we discussed the use of therapeutic documents with examples and focused on the use of documents when working with communities. Jill and Gene showed us a video in which Michael White was documenting the skills and knowledges of a very lively and busy five year old boy. On day three we focused on the way in which we listen for the poetics in narrative work. We ended the workshop with Jill interviewing Muriel as a client while we listened for the poetic and worked in groups of 8 people to express what we had heard through song, rhyme, physical movements and art. What a way to pull together the questions, note taking, documentation and poetic expression!

Some words of reflection from participants:

I was struck by the slow, contemplative way in which Gill and Gene conducted the interviews. They seemed unhurried and thoughtful during the interviews, taking their time to construct their questions. I really struggle with structuring the questions and now I have learned that I can take my time in posing a question. I noticed them reconstructing in the middle of a sentence sometimes. There is hope for me indeed!

I really enjoyed the workshop aspect of &lsquodeveloping stories&rsquo. In interviewing Frank, I was completely invigorated as his story of &lsquopaddling hard to catch a wave and then enjoying the ride&rsquo unfolded other aspects of his life which need &lsquohard paddling before enjoying the ride&rsquo. At first he related that picture to exams, and then he considered how he could apply that principle in daily life making sense of moments of hard work and moments of pure relaxation.

The session on documentation was encouraging to me as it reminded me of some of the documents we have created as a family over the years. ….I have realised that the aspect of taking notes needs a lot of work in my case. I just don&rsquot seem to be able to listen and take notes. My notes end up being a mumbo jumbo mess. Help!!!!

What a delight all the different interpretations and representations of Sam&rsquos story was. I was astounded at the creativity and beauty. The areas of language and creativity need to be awakened in me, and optimistically there is a small glimmer of hope there&hellip
Sonya Hunt

Jill en Gene se fynheid, sensitiwiteit, gentleness, respekvolheid, humor het afgevryf en ek voel gevoed (nourished) en verryk. Nie net was die werkswinkel waardevol vir ons terapie nie, maar ons het self ook ‘terapie’ ontvang. Die waarde van die verbeelding (imagination) en kreatiwiteit in narratief het weer vir my uitgestaan. Daar is so baie om te s&ecirc oor wat ek met my saamdra na die werkswinkel. Ek sal volstaan met: dit was amazing!
Carin Marais

I want to thank you for organising this workshop. It was a wonderful experience for me, not only because of the role play. Yet the responses I got form the groups was more I could have ever expected. Thanks again, Elize.
Muriel Kossmann

I completely agree with what was said in the public acknowledgement of you and your role in teaching and sharing narrative practices, but I want to add my personal bit as well! I am so grateful to you for all the work that you have done to create a community of people who value narrative practices. It was wonderful to be part of that community over the last three days and to experience the learning, the reminding, the encouraging, the connecting, the creativity and the joy that characterised the time. This would not have happened without you and the very special qualities and abilities that you bring. I feel privileged to know you and to have shared in these riches.
Daphne Cooper

Thanks Elize, Belinda &amp the rest of the wonderful team who made the F&ampC three day workshop possible &amp such a memorable success. l learnt so much and connected with many special and helpful people. I am already implementing the interesting ideas. I was also inspired by the respectful and generous way of working with individuals and communities that Jill &amp Gene so ably demonstrated.
Sheila Berry

I thought the workshop was great, especially as I learnt a lot of new stuff, like finding more freedom in working with documents, and also some basics of narrative therapy, that one needs to reconnect with regularly. The networking with other therapists was also good, and I found that in the workshop setting, working with folk outside of ones normal group, forced me out of my comfort zone, which was good.

Another highlight for me was to see how two well trained, gifted narrative therapists also sometimes struggled articulating themselves in therapy, but in the end come up with good questions, of therapeutic value…it kind of gave me hope for my work.

In our consultation groups you have voiced your concerns regarding narrative therapy in SA, also your feeling of ‘loneliness as a therapist’ maybe wondering if you are making a difference. I hope that after receiving the standing ovation that you did from all the therapists at the conference, demonstrates to you that you are making a difference, that you are not alone and you are much appreciated by all of us as therapists, for who you are, and the work that you do.

Thank you for making this conference the success that it was, I came home filled with new ideas and passion for my work.
Mike Witney

It is only now that I have a moment to sit back and reflect fully on the workshop and I really want to thank you for your continued commitment to helping us (the wider South African narrative community) grow in our knowledge and practices of narrative therapy. There are so many highlights of the workshop for me, but I will mention two of them: I was amazed at the humble way in which Jill and Gene adapted so graciously to the expressed expectations of some of the delegates to look at community work &ndash that in itself was a wonderful demonstration of what narrative is all about. (The actual content was also inspiring and very helpful for my work) For me personally, the section on poetry and narrative was a total surprise. I came because this was an opportunity to learn and I had thought that I would gain more from the questions and documents part than the part on listening with a poetic ear. I have never imagined myself to be a poetic person and I was so surprised to discover the connection to poetry that is in fact deep within me.

In addition, it is also so wonderful to make connections again with the people that I have met and worked with at previous workshops. Narrative workshops are never impersonal opportunities and I have come away from each workshop that I have attended feeling that I have made strong connections with some of the people who also attended. Therefore, meeting up with all these people again is always a joy.

Last week is more than just a happy memory &ndash I feel refreshed, reconnected to this community of people that I have increasingly come to feel more part of, empowered by more knowledge and even more committed to continue working in this wonderful way.

Thank you once again for all you did in allowing it to happen.
Anne Mc Donald

Thanks Elize for a wonderful workshop. I have had time to reflect on it and noticed that I was left feeling energised and positive. I cannot remember when last I had so many great conversations and met so many interesting a different people. I think you have a great thing going in the Cape. The creative spirit is alive and well.
Linda Dillon