There were more than five hundred colleagues that attended the conference in Kristiansand, a breath-takingly beautiful holiday city on the South Coast of Norway. With daylight well into the middle of the night, these three days were packed with activities and opportunities to catch up with colleagues and friends from all over the world. The programme was very, very exciting. All of the plenary sessions were very moving, thought-provoking, well-prepared and excellently delivered.
I attended five presentations that were really of a very, very high standard:
- Schooling, power-relations and the role of the school counsellor by John Winslade – John’s grip on the philosophy and research as well as practical implications within education made me wish that all the students and colleagues at Stellenbosch University Education Faculty where I teach part-time were there! Unfortunately his books were sold out when I went to look for it – will order copies to share with others.
- Narrative, collaborative and restorative/transformative justice therapies for the effects of sexual abuse. Walter Bera – Walter is an excellent presenter, his inspiring visual ways of working with Narrative maps, his clarity of formulation, his generous sharing and the effort to produce audio-visual material that supports his presentation was impressive. I learnt a lot and would love to read more of his work.
- Re-telling Gender stories. Kotze, Crocket, Gaddis – This team from Waikato University did a wonderful job in sharing their work and in stimulating our responses. I am looking forward to reading about their research.
- In the shadow of the volcano: Experiences of teaching about sexual assault. Mary Heath – How refreshing to hear a lawyer at a therapy conference -what a gifted teacher and what an inspiration as a person!!!
- Creative means of consulting with agencies. Jill Freedman – One of my favourite teachers in Narrative Therapy and a topic close to my heart and like always Jill brought me much to reflect on and integrate into my own work in agencies.
My own presentation entitled Witnessing as healing practice in the context of poverty and illness in South Africa reflected on my work as consultant to the staff of Drakenstein Hospice. I was joined in the presentation by Øyvind Sanvik, Magnhild Fiskvik and Ragnhild Eide Bustnes who reflected on their experiences as witnesses when they visited Drakenstein Hospice in 2005.
Many of the papers and contributions of the conference are published in the 2007 editions of the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work. More information is available on www.dulwichcentre.com.au.