Keynote presentations

Information about Keynote addresses 16 & 17 August 2017

 Viewing narrative therapy through the lens of neuroscience presented by Janet Bytheway and Dr Dainty Meyer

 One of the exciting recent developments for local Narrative Practitioners has been the opportunity to learn more about affective neuroscience. Together with neuroscience specialists we are beginning to understand more about the effectiveness of our work. Janet is a clinical psychologist and narrative practitioner with a recent interest in affective neuroscience. Dainty is a psychiatrist and the facilitator of The Affective Neuroscience Playgroup with an interest in narrative therapy.

In this plenary presentation they will use a case example of Janet’s engagement with a family that experiences high levels of conflict while co-parenting. Dainty will assist Janet in her reflections by employing the lens of neuroscience to understand what happens in the brains of the parents and the therapist when working in these stressful conditions. They will focus on explaining, from a neuroscience perspective, how Narrative Practices are effective in this work.

Janet registered as a Clinical Psychologist in 1992. She completed her Master’s degree at the University of the Western Cape and did her internship at Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital in Mitchells Plain. In 1995 she co-founded the Blaauwberg Therapy Centre, a multidisciplinary centre where professionals can work together as a team.

Janet, who is an accredited FAMAC mediator, has a special interest in working with families in distress. In 2006Janet founded the Kids Voices Project (formerly The Play Therapy Team). This community project trains volunteers to do therapeutic play with children who might not otherwise have easy access to therapeutic services.

Dr. Meyer qualified as a pharmacist, obtained an Honors degree in Pharmacology from the University of Potchefstroom in 1982 and completed her undergraduate studies in medicine at the University of the Orange Free State in 1988.

She joined the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Cape Town, where her involvement included undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, work within the Adverse Drug Reactions Unit, the Medicines Information Centre, and the Medicines Control Council. Dr. Meyer specialised in Psychiatry at the University of Stellenbosch, graduating in 1998. She has been in full time private practice since 1999 in the Blaauwberg area, with a special interest in Affective Neuroscience. The Neuroscience Play Group was started in 2015, the result of a combined interest in medical teaching and affective neuroscience.

A Few Questions that Matter presented by Stephen Madigan

The keynotes intention is to guide participants through narrative therapy’s key theoretical understandings and practice positions that inform the therapeutic questions we ask – and don’t ask. Through tapes, transcripts and theoretical discussion, Stephen demonstrates the foundational vocabulary needed to relationally understand narrative therapy questions relationship with complex problem practices.

Stephen Madigan is the Director of the Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy, the first Narrative Therapy training site in the Northern Hemisphere. The American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) recently honored Stephen with their Distinguished Award for Innovative Practice in Couple and Family Therapy Theory and Practice.

In 2011, the American Psychological Association published Stephen’s book Narrative Therapy – theory and practice as the primer textbook on Narrative Therapy for all APA graduate school programs. The book is now on the APA best sellers list (which could not have been predicted as Stephen’s book represents a full on critique of scientific modernist psychology!) Stephen hosts the annual Therapeutic Conversations conferences (, and currently teaches narrative therapy training workshops worldwide.

Creative Practices in Narrative Therapy Training and Supervision presented by David Nylund

In this plenary address, David Nylund will discuss his experiences in training therapists in narrative therapy. The theory and practice of narrative therapy requires mentorship and ongoing learning.  David will share examples of supervision and teaching narrative therapy through the use of transcripts, live supervision, discovery learning, letter writing practices, and insider witness interviewing.

David Nylund, LCSW, PhD is a professor of Social Work at California State University, Sacramento and a faculty member of the Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy.   David is the Clinical Director of the Gender Health Center, an agency serving the needs of the LGBT community.  He is the author of several articles and books on narrative therapy, gender theory, and cultural studies.

 Opening and Closing sessions presented by Elize Morkel

 During the opening session I will give a brief overview of the contribution of Narrative Therapy in South Africa. I will highlight some of the recent developments in training and practice. As introduction to the conference I will point out how the keynote addresses and parallel sessions fit into the landscape of our local practice.

The closing session will be an opportunity to reflect on the learnings of the three days. Through sharing our experiences we will focus on the hopes and dreams that we hold for the future of our work. How do we hope to enrich and develop our practice and who can best assist us with this?

Elize Morkel is a psychologist in private practice in Somerset West. Narrative therapy has become a focus of study in the early 1990’s. She has travelled extensively to attend training and to present papers and workshops in other parts of the country and abroad. Since 1999 Elize has been offering training and supervision to colleagues and masters students from various disciplines working in a diversity of contexts in South Africa. Her training commitment includes invitations and the hosting of colleagues from overseas. Her doctoral dissertation in Practical Theology reflects on narrative therapy as a transformative participatory praxis within the South African context.